A New Skin

Together for the first time, oldskin and newskin. The replacement skin I bought from Ralph Hoehn’s www.pouchboats.com, shipped Monday, arrived today. Ralph told me I could expect it after the weekend, so I was surprised to see UPS pull in the driveway this afternoon. Were it not for the fine grains of sand inside the hull, and some slight wear on either side of the split rear deck just aft of the cockpit, I’d say the hull was brand new – not even a scuff mark on the keelstrips. I figured Boat Day would be faded skin’s Last Hurrah, but it looks like my Owl Creek exploration last Sunday marked the honorable end to a long career first as Pouchboats’ demo-boat, and as my own faithful Rocinante’s hardy covering.

I was at home for the blessed event because I got sick at lunch – either the cold coffee I consumed this morning in Lincoln County (who knows, maybe it was older than 24 hours and had grown something to which my intestinal tract and immune system objected), or that sandwich I had in my lunch. Anyway, suffice it to say I’ve felt worse today than I’ve felt in well over a year.

I had to open the box right away to see just how red the deck.

Then, because I felt a little better after crashing until two, I decided to remove the old, faded skin, and replace it with the new. Spattering rain fell as I took the box outside and removed the new hullskin, all bright and smelling of supple PVC, laying it on the grass beside where I’d set Campsis Radicans.

The new skin didn’t come with deck bungees, but that deck-hatch should prove better than equally useful, and I’ve still got the bungee from the old deck. Some other differences I noticed immediately:

  • Red deck has Pouch logo in two places, fore and aft, as well as upon the hatch cover

  • Tuck-in ‘tab’ all around the cockpit opening is separated from the deck by a sewn piece of deck material

  • The aft deck closure has been changed from the sewn-in plastic tube-strip (which I’ve had to repeatedly sew up again) to a more tightly integrated plastic tube strip sheathed in white fabric

  • The hull structures used to center and keep centered the frame in the skin are velcro rings glued in place at the factory, as opposed to the strips with snaps that’d been added by Ralph to the original skin. This skin came with the standard toggle plugs for the air hoses used to inflate the sponsons – the old skin came with a T-fitting to inflate both sponsons at once, thus evenly.

  • The sponson sleeves are no longer “free,” they are sewn to a PVC tab, and stuck down forward of the cockpit opening – dunno why. And the straps hanging from the sponson tubes with PVC loops through which to run the lines from the rudder pedals to the rudder cables are not to be found in the new skin, which kind of sucks, because I liked that feature – kept them out of the way of my knees. EDIT: Later, looking at this photo, I realized it is upside-down, and that my statement above is wanting. Of course the sponson sleeves are attached, sewn in, all along the tops of the sleeves where the hull meets the deck fabric. Earlier iterations, that is, in the old skin that came with my kayak, had sponson sleeves that were loose all along their bottoms. Perhaps the change noted above is intended to aid in centering and keeping centered the frame in the skin, keeping the sponsons even in relation to gunwales?

  • The new skin came with a set of rudder cables enclosed in long tubes that will, undoubtedly, prevent wear a their points of entry into the hull, as well as preventing wear and possible fouling where they would otherwise have come into contact with flotation bladders and whatever drybagged gear is carried beneath the deck aft of the cockpit.

  • New skin’s rudder bracket (probably there’s a real, nautical term for it that I don’t know) is held in place by nuts and posts, whereas the original skin’s rudder bracket is held in place by rivets

I overexerted myself this afternoon, and failed to properly center the skin in the frame. By the time I went back into the house, my clothes were soaked in the stinking sweat of sickness, and I’d been unsteady on my feet as I picked the reskinned boat up and set it on its sawhorses. Perhaps the 303 I ordered will arrive tomorrow, and I can treat the deck to prevent rapid fading tomorrow after work. If I’m feeling well enough, I’ll also try to recenter the frame in the skin.

Here’s hoping I’m feeling well enough to participate in Boat Day on Saturday.

3 thoughts on “A New Skin

  1. Quite a difference, the new skin looks nicely bright and very new. The old one still looks very much usable, so now you’re probably searching for a new frame for the old CR-skin.

  2. I’m more interested in Klepper single or Pouch E65 – something a little shorter, with a little more rocker, for the smaller flatwater rivers in this area…OR, something much bigger like the Seavivor Greenland Solo. In fact, I know I’d prefer the Seavivor, but if I could find a bargain, older T-9, AE-I, or E65, I’d probably try to convince my wife its purchase would be a good idea. Heck, I might even be able to talk her into paddling a boat, herself.

    When I first purchased the E68, I got it at a price so low the seller insisted I not reveal the full extent of the bargain to anyone. The cost of the replacement skin, while not as deeply discounted was certainly reasonable, so I’ve agreed to ship the old skin back to him. I think he’s planning to experiment with methods of attaching a coaming he’s developed for another boat. Always happy to aid in R & D.

    That old skin is still serviceable. I was planning to use it until the sun so weakened it that it tore, then buy another boat (Greenlander Solo), as Pouch no longer manufactures the E68 (bad decision, because in a lot of ways, it’s a great boat).

  3. After paddling Woods Reservoir and the Elk River last weekend, I noticed that the boat’s right keelstrip appears to be coming loose along the edge of its length, toward the bow. The original skin’s keelstrips adhered better, never came in any wise loose. I expect better things of Pouch, but can easily stick the strip down as needed.

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