Why I Went With A Plastic Boat

Composite boats are great.  Their stiff and usually lighter weight, which gives better performance in distance.   But when speed over time isn't a concern, what does composite, whether it be glass, carbon fiber, or carbon-kevlar do for you?  Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful.  But when I went looking for a boat for specifically rock gardening and surfing and BCU 4/5 training, a lot of people who offered me their opinions poo-poo'd the idea of a plastic boat.  And I don't get it.

I love my glass Cetus, but when I was purchasing a second boat I knew I was going to beat up, composite just didn't seem like the right answer.  Yes, I can repair glass, but that is a time consuming headache.  Hearing that crunch and grinding of composite materials when I'm scraping off rocks that I misjudged is distracting and makes me cringe.  With plastic, I feel the boat bottom out as a waves pulls away I don't even think twice about - my conscience is clear.

This video shows me slamming my plastic Delphin into the rocks when rock gardening in Jamestown, RI.  Even with the waves being very calm that day, I have no doubt this would have punctured a composite boat. 

To give context, while rock gardening with the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association (RICKA), I was moving past a small rock outcropping when the wave pulled back a after a larger swell and revealed a rocky bottom that my Delphin bottomed out on.   Having hit bottom, my boat was temporarily immobile which allowed the next incoming wave to slam me in to the rocks.  I reacted by going on an edge, which sacrificed the bottom of the boat to save my body from crashing into the rocks.

At the end of the video you can see a significant dent and gouge in my Delphin that would have surely cracked gelcoat, and likely punctured, any composite layers underneath.

Carl SanfordComment