Gear Review: P&H Volan Sea Kayak
The new P&H Volan has arrived on the west coast. So of course, when Seth from Next Adventure Paddle Sports Center suggested we head out for a demo paddle I grabbed the opportunity. I had been wanting to test the Volan in the conditions where I do much of my paddling.
Seth and I met up at Cascade Head on the North Oregon Coast. This venue has a one-mile flat water river leading to the Ocean. During our paddle out I was able to see how the boat handled without the effect of any environmental forces. I found the Volan held good speed, tracked nicely and I felt comfortable with the outfitting. Since sea kayaks are meant to be controlled by use of their edges, I decided to do some maneuvers on the way out. The edges on the Volan, and Virgo which I currently own, have a different feel than other sea kayaks that I have paddled. The boat responds to minor course corrections with ease. I would describe the actual edges of the boat as being further over than most others I have paddled, which may be why the boat felt so stable in rougher water. As the Volan’s edges are engaged you will feel an immediate response to your desired directional change.
Exiting the river mouth onto the ocean, we followed the high rocky cliffs offering protection from the windy rough seas. I found it easy to tightly maneuver along the surging shoreline.
We paddled beyond the protection of Cascade Head into high winds blowing whitecaps across the ocean swell. I immediately felt confident with the stability of the Volan, an outstanding feature in rough confused water. We set off downwind toward a distant cove with the sea directly at the stern. The Volan tracked nicely while paddling with a 15-20k tail wind and following seas. We changed direction, with the wind now quartering from the stern, I dropped the skeg keeping on course with little effort. We entered the secluded cove that we were shooting for by navigating a line between breaking waves. Once inside we landed for a short break on a beautiful crescent shaped beach surrounded by high cliffs.
Launching for the trip back, we paddled directly into the wind and seas as we exited the cove. We then turned toward the protected river where we started to complete our journey, the wind and swell now at an angle off our bows. The Volan consistently stayed on track as I tested the boat at all angles in relation to conditions.
Bottom line, the Volan is stable, comfortable, tracks well and is maneuverable on flat water or in rough ocean environments. I think it will make a great all-around boat to build confidence and take on whatever journey you have planned.