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Can the experts name this kayak


Aug 12, 2020
Looking at this kayak online and owner doesn't know the make/model. I'm not sure if it will have any information in the boat and it is a couple of hours to go and look. Wondering if anyone in this brain trust can help me out. I'd like to be able to study the specs online. It is 16.5' British built. I am looking at it as a day paddler. I have my lovely excursion boat. Also thoughts about the design would be helpful, I'm gaining skills, might learn to roll one day. Looks like lines need replacing, not sure about bulkheads. Tiny hatch covers, I'd have to get smaller drybags even for my ditchbag.
It looks perhaps to me like an older Nordkap, Pehaps an HS model, see this link Nordkap HS The HS designation stands for "hull standard"' Scroll down until you see the colour images and the words Nordkap performance flagship. The upswept ends, the deck, including the pump, hatch and deckline arrangements all say Nordkap to my eyes. So does the "semi-hard chine" that is visible at the rear end of the boat. The hatches on the original Nordkaps were hard plastic threaded covers that screwed onto the deck fitting. So that is something else that you could enquire about. So does the "semihard chine" that is visible at the rear end of the boat.

There may perhaps be a label inside with the manufacturing information and serial number somewhere inside, depending on how old it is. If it is what I think is may be, it is a bit of a collector's item and a much loved model if in good condition. Nordkap marketed a model called the Nordkap Forti in 2015 I believe, which was a rebuild based on a plug taken from an original model boat they found somewhere in the UK. My sister in law has a pristine original Nordkap HM that was one of the first two imported into B.C. in the late 70's or early 80's if I recall the timeline correctly.

I am very reluctant to be labelled an expert, and in fact I may be wrong in my identification. But I've been around the for a while and paddled a lot of boats. So that's my two bits for what it is worth.

Cheers, Rick
I think SalishSeaNior nailed it! The kayak above looks similar to a posting here, where the author mentions purchasing a Valley Nordkapp with an ocean cockpit in 1984. Another posting here details the evolution of the Nordkapps, which also seems to match the one in your pic, might give you more info on the build.
Good question John, and the answer is no, Norkapps are all in the 18 ft range. So what might it be?

The only other early Brit boat that comes to mind, and that came in a 16.5 inch length, is the P&H Cappella 167. They were first built in the early to mid 90s. There is not a lot of history for that boat on line.

The earlier models had the small round hatch covers front and back as in the one we are trying to identify. So, yeah, right length and very similar look. Here is a link to a review of the Capella that might be of interest. It is more of an all round design than the Nordkapp which is long, narrow, fast and tender to paddle for non-expert paddlers.

If it were me, I would still ask the seller to look for a plate or manufacturer's label inside. There should also be a serial number etched on the rub strip near the stern I think. Finally, what do the two decals behind the rear hatch say?

I have never paddled a Capella, too small for me, but they were a popular kayak back in the day.

Here is a link to a post for a 2006 model Capella for sale on this site with images from a couple of years ago for comparison. The one in the image above in this post would likely be from the 1990's. I suspect that this is the correct ID now.

Cheers, Rick
Thanks for all the expertise everyone. I will go and take a look at this boat soon and hopefully find out more and take it for a test drive. Interesting articles! It does look a lot like these earlier Valleys
I think you've just about nailed it, however the stern and bow appears incorrect but the cockpit deck details appear to match. So maybe this is the previous Umnak that Hutchinson used as some of the inspiration for the Icefloe? Or maybe it's a fjord?

Here's a more contrasty view of the ckpt region of the jpg that cyclegranny shows - look at the depression around the pump right behind the ckpit:

Here's an Iceflo and compare the depressions - similar shape detailing, huh?:

but the bow and espec the stern sure are not similar - cyclegranny's on top, Icefloe below:


And here's the likely candidate Fjord with [the first?] an early retractable skeg - does the unknown have a skeg?
[however is listed as 16'-10" [513cm] by 24" - could the length be off?]:

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It looks like the current concensus is an early P & H model. I found this 2012 P & H Brochure archived on line with all the models of that time listed, lengths, specs, images, etc. I am still favoring an early build of a Capella. The hull and shape of the boat just looks right and the specified length of the boat fits too.

It will be interesting to see if Cyclegranny has a look and can find a maker label inside to solve the mystery.

Cheers, Rick
I will probably go and look next week and report back, I agree the stern not the same as on the nordkap, looking more like early fjord picture to me
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Here's the range of P&H Capellas in 2007 [there's quite a few of diff lengths, some close]:
[I agree that the Fjord is just too long at 16'-10"]


but to my eye, the stern profile is noticably different and the bows vary a bit but still differ a little from the unknown.
Because there are so many capella models, it must have been successful and other variations around for quite a few years and so . . . . ?
We await the interior label!!
[I agree that the Fjord is just too long at 16'-10"]
My understanding is that the seller reported a length of 16'7".
I've often found errors of a couple of inches or more in reported measurements when buying kayaks, so I wouldn't use those numbers to eliminate any good candidates.
The deck mold with that unique pattern/recess aft the cockpit, and the layout and style of deck fittings, and the location of the skeg control all send my vote to the Fjord.
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The above absolutely looks like a Hutchinson designed P&H Fjord to my eye.
Hutchinson’s Icefloe had a very pronounced stern keel (similar in concept to the Nordkapp HM stern), which caused it to track very hard, but made it really difficult to turn (it feels positively immune to most turning strokes). The Fjord had a really different stern. Although I have never had the opportunity to paddle a Fjord, I believe that it was the newfangled ‘adjustable skeg’ that inspired Hutchinson to completely eliminate the heavy ‘molded stern skeg’ of the Icefloe, and go in the opposite direction - resulting in a very loose stern. The idea being that you would have a very maneuverable boat (but with very little tracking, and poor manners in wind), that could be ‘tamed’ by deploying the drop skeg.
My feeling is that this was all happening at a time when adjustable skegs were extremely new, so designers were very much still figuring out how best to implement the use of this new technology.

*Note that in the text below the term ‘skeg’ is used to describe the shape of the hull at the stern. Nowadays we kayakers tend to use the term to specifically mean just the retractable blade that drops out of the hull.

It’s really cool to look back on how today’s kayaks were developed. There always a certain amount of trial and error in the evolution of designs.

Here’s some very old ad copy:

Was Designed as a fast, long range, deep sea expedition kayak, capable of withstanding the severe storm conditions which can be found on the open ocean.
The stable midsection is coupled with an almost straight keel and a specially moulded stern to hold the kayak on track in a quartering Sea.
The high powerful bow and straight stern, which is reminiscent of the hunting skin boats of labrador and greenland, is designed to slice down onto oncoming seas and then slice cleanly out again, thus giving the paddler a dry ride in steep oncoming head seas.
The icefloe is a straight running kayak and needs no rudder. Turning can be easily carried out by simply leaning the kayak over and using a sweep stroke,which allows the kayak to spin around.
LENGTH: 16ft 8ins
WIDTH: 24ins.
WEIGHT: From 44lbs.

The Fjord was designed after a request that the icefloe should be made more manoeuvrable when used in the more enclosed areas and yet still be used for open sea jouneys.

The upsweep of the bow was made more gradual by removing 1" from the for-foot.
This together with the removal of the skeg in the stern, altered the whole character of the boat.
To give the fjord straight running qualities when the need should arise a drop down skeg is used inside the hull at the stern.
A sliding control just to one side of the cockpit combing allows the skeg to be raised or lowered at will.
During test conditions in winds of force 4 to 5, in a quartering sea it was only necssary to move the control knob to the half way position in order to hold the kayak on track.
With the skeg fully raised it is possible to turn the Fjord Quickly, thus making it ideal for coping with surf conditions close inshore and amongst rocks.
LENGTH: 16ft 8ins.
WIDTH: 24 ins.
WEIGHT: From 42 lbs.
John is absolutely right about dimensions often being confused. I can also think of several instances where the manufacturer published incorrect dimensions for years.
And by the way, the weights quoted in my last post were almost certainly complete fantasy. Boats were almost always significantly heavier than advertised.
A random fun fact is that Derek Hutchinson’s kayak designs were always 17’ or under, because (as he liked to quip) nothing longer would fit in his workshop/garage. So, at least as he told it (and he was a real character), length was more a function of his workshop space than of any other factor.
the following is a google translation from Harrie Tieken's blog. Harrie had a prior relationship with P&H [who took over the bankrupcy of Hutchinson's mould maker] and so started Netherlands business relationship with Hutchinson:

[clip] Derek then had a huge influence in promoting the sea kayak sport. It was harvest time [a good business time?] for Tiekano and a lot of kayaks were sold at that time.


[Harrie Tieken with Icefloe models] [coincidentally, look at the lousy matte hanging over that hook, heh heh]

One of his models, the Ice Floe, was a good boat, but difficult to maneuver in certain situations. I spoke to Derek and asked him if it was possible to rid the Ice Floe of the huge skeg and sharp bow.

A deal was made that I would make a model change in my workshop and that it would be judged good or not by Derek. So sawing and filing took place in the workshop in Nibbixwoud, so that the Ice Floe model was stripped of the skeg and the square
[maybe he means angled?] shape of the bow. The changed boat was test-sailed by me in Egmond aan Zee and my experiences were that it went too much off course. Then I came up with the idea of building a variable skeg into it. This had not been done before in kayaks at the time, but the system worked great and compensated for directional stability very well. The first skeg was operated by a foot system and later it was decided to make a slider on the deck.

That boat then went to England and was tested by Derek and approved for production. The new mold was then made at P&H, not much later the “Fjord” was launched on the market. [clip]

cool story, huh? So is the Fjord a Tieken Kayak or a Hutchinson P&H? Especially because of the rocker [a huge hydrodynamic difference] and the skeg [a revolutionary idea at the time]. Harrie later came over to Canada [and as also had a Wilderness Systems relationship] and became the Canadian Confluence CEO before retiring.

and . . . edited to add: Tieken's own advertising copy at the time [I've added a google translation] calls it an "Ice Floe Fjord" - so I guess everyone is right!


oh yeah, you can just barely barely see the pump depression detail behind the ckpt as well as note that the hatches haven't even been cut out and installed yet: so an early moulded example.
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Some pictures pulled from Facebook. It's a cool looking kayak. Wouldn't love packing it through those little round hatches though.
If this is the same boat as Cyclegranny pictured above, then it looks to be missing the hatch covers, which is not a surprise given it's suspected age. They had no doubt deteriorated to the point where they were useless. Fortunately, these can still be ordered on line, but it will add to the cost of the boat in order to make it sea worthy.

I just replaced my oval valley hatch covers last summer on my North Shore boat and it cost close to $300.00. Covers for this boat will cost less, but, likely in the neighborhood of $50.00 to $60.00 each plus shipping and taxes. So that should be kept in mind for anyone buying an old boat like this, even if otherwise seaworthy. Deck lines, rudder parts, hatch covers and other miscellaneous parts and materials for my wife''s old Solander cost me more than $400.00 last spring. I consider such replacement parts and materials a cost of maintenance.

I also note that there is a maker label clearly visible in two of the images in CPS's post above. So it is likely that the mystery is solvable upon inspection. Does anyone know where the add for this kayak is posted?

I very much enjoy refurbishing old boats like this, as does I think John, though he is much better at it than I. l have refurbished three old classic boats in the past couple of years and will be doing another for a friend in April.

Cheers, Rick
Rick, I found the advertisement for it on Facebook marketplace when looking up sea kayaks for sale mid Vancouver island.

Regarding hatches, it may be worth trying hatches by Sealect Design. I used them to replace hatches on my Valley and they've been great. Less expensive than ordering from Valley and a superior product in my opinion.