- Meg McCall
Installing Adaptive Kayaking Equipment
This is the fourth in a seven part blog series describing the Juballa family's experience in getting a fully adapted kayak for their young adult son, Raymond. Go to the end of this post to see other articles in the series.
If you haven’t noticed by now, the Juballa family are real go-getters, so when it came time to installing all of the adaptive products Raymond would be using, they were fully prepared! By coincidence, I happened to be staying about an hour away from the family, so I offered to spend the day with them getting everything set up.
On the day I arrived, Rosanne and Raymond had put the installation instructions for every single piece of equipment into a three-ring binder, separated by tabs. They had hauled all the gear onto the back deck where we would be doing the installation and laid out all the tools needed for the day. Armed with drills, wrenches, screw drivers and a few miscellaneous tools, we collectively set about tackling each product installation one by one. Ruby Juballa, Raymond’s slightly younger sister, took photos and video footage throughout the day to document the steps we took. You’ll see them throughout these posts.
First, we installed the kayak outriggers, also called stabilizing floats or pontoons. Outriggers are essential for many adaptive paddlers because they exponentially increase the stability of the kayak, reducing (but not eliminating) the risk of capsize. There are a wide variety available on the market, but we believe the kayak and canoe outriggers that Angle Oar provides are, by far, the best value.
We had to ensure that the outriggers wouldn't impede the paddle stroke, so we placed them as far back on the stern as possible. As you can see in the video above, installation was relatively straightforward.
The only slight challenge we encountered was that some of the holes that received the push pins were very tight, so in one instance, we used a small, round rasp to create a little more room.
Next, we began attaching the support mount that holds the Versa Paddle. For most sit-inside kayaks, the t-shaped Hinged Mount attaches to the front coaming using a small hinged plate. The Pungo, however, has an extremely long cockpit and includes a removeable console, or dashboard. For this installation, we attached the hinged plate directly to the console instead of the coaming and reinforced the drill holes with small aluminum plates beneath and on top of the plastic.
After a little trial and error, we decided to attach the side stabilizing brackets (not shown in this photo) by pushing aside the padding on the sides of the cockpit. Before we finalized their placement, Raymond sat in the cockpit to ensure the distance to the paddle felt right and that his kayak stroke did not interfere with the outriggers in back.
We tackled installation of the adaptive seat from Creating Ability, which Raymond needed to support his trunk and help him remain fully upright, last. The seat was designed such that it can be placed into certain models of kayaks, including the Pungo, using the existing seat’s attachment hardware. After a little fiddling with the rod at the base of the seat (see photo), the base of the chair easily snapped into place.
The side supports of this particular chair could be adjusted based on the physical requirements of different paddlers. The one slightly challenging part was understanding how to use the two pull cords that held the back of the chair in an upright position. The installation instructions were straightforward, but we initially questioned whether the cords alone could support all the weight. Ultimately, they worked just fine on the maiden voyage.
All told, it took us a little over three hours to get the major pieces of adaptive gear installed. In addition to seating, outriggers and a mounted paddle, we also added a pole flag to the back of the kayak for added visibility.