Sea Trial Impressions of a new Lootas, Keel Fin Version

SalishSeaNior

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Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
72
Location
Okanagan Valley, Canada
I have been meaning to write my impressions of my new Lootas, carbon/kevlar layup, 42 lbs, for a few months now. Some of you may recall, that in fall 2020, I bought a used glass Lootas, that had been stored in a loft on Quadra Island. I refurbished her in April 2021 as stated in this old thread below:

Redux on an old thread.View attachment 9871

I bought this Nimbus Lootas in late summer 2019. She had been in a loft untouched for over a decade. She was very dirty and quite disrespectable when I got her.

Last summer, I washed her, bought some parts and did some rigging repairs, fixed the rudder mount and generally cleaned her up for paddling. This past two weeks, I took the rigging off, sanded deck and hull; filled some pits and gouges in the hull with new gelcoat and did several rounds of cut-polishing with a variable speed buffing machine; and finally finished the job with marine wax and new deck lines.

She is an old seahorse and still has the minor scars to prove it. But she is sound, seaworthy and now gloriously shiny and one of the best rough water boats I have ever paddled. In fact, she is better than new because of her scars and her earned ocean karma. She is well and truly my boat now and I very much look forward to paddling her this season.

Cheers, Rick
The Nimbus Lootas is a fairly rare and eclectic boat, as I have learned since finally acquiring one. I sent the information above to Steve Schleicker of Rainforest Designs on Quadra Island, the boat's designer/builder, and shortly after, got a reply from him telling me that he had built a carbon kevlar version of the Lootas last spring. The fact that I had refurbished the old boat had inspired him to build a new, slightly altered version. He told me that the Lootas is a design of which he is quite fond, even though it was never overly popular. It is in fact based upon the Nimbus Solander hull, which is the most popular Nimbus design.

Steve told me that he had added 1 inch to the deck clearance of this new boat: 13 inches, vs 12 inches in the one I had. He was also experimenting with a small keel fin to firm up the rear end handling of the boat. This was serendipitous, as the Lootas has been criticized as being too skittish at the back under harsh sea conditions, and indeed I did notice this on a trip to Klaskino Inlet and the area north of the Brooks Peninsula in August. In confused seas, she had a slight tendency to wander, or skid a bit, even with the rudder down.

I paddled my glass layup refurbished Lootas all this past season, including on 5 or 6 extended trips as well as numerous day paddles. I am a big fan of this boat. But there were three very minor foibles that I noticed with it. 1) It was a tiny bit tight for me at 6 feet and 205 lbs. Not overly tight, or annoying in any way, just took a bit of slithering to get into it. Totally comfortable for hours once ensconced though. Brit boat paddlers wouldn't even notice this issue. 2) The depth of the hatches were a bit tight for long expedition trips. I had to be cognizant of the size of the bags I was packing, more smaller ones, fewer big expedition ones. 3) A bit of a wet ride in big seas, due in part to my weight, which is slightly more than Nimbus recommends for the boat. There is not a lot of freeboard with a paddler my size and a full expedition load in the boat. Having said that, it paddled superbly in big seas and strong winds.

I bought the carbon/kevlar updated version of the Lootas in September, after my summer of paddling the refurbished glass version. The new Lootas has had quite a few sea trials, or perhaps lake trials is a bit more apt. It is not nearly as tight as the yellow glass one. yet still snug enough for me to feel in contact with. Easier to get into and out of than the yellow glass boat and noticeably easier to get gear bags into and out of the hatches. The new fin also works just as predicted to improve tracking in quartering wind and waves without adversely affecting rudder up paddling performance. I paddle it quite often with the rudder up, more so than the standard version. The rear end is no longer loose. More correctly, it could be described as mannerly now, yet the boat turns just as easily with a lean as the older boat without the fin. Only downside is the need to keep the fin in mind in while operating in the shallows. The boat is also spectacularly light. I can hurl it about!

I did a mind expanding downwinder on Skaha Lake in meter plus, white capping seas. and 15 knots and better of wind in the first week of November. Surfed it for about 10 kms of exhilarating downwind fun. Tried both rudder up and rudder down, good either way. The new Lootas handled it all with grace and aplomb and little necessary input from me; the occasional light brace or blade drag almost as an afterthought. Virtually no weather cocking, straight down the wave with the wind howling and seas cresting. This is an outstanding downwinder boat. I was relaxed and having fun in stuff that would likely be near my limit in other boats I have paddled. Even with cold water under the hull and no desire to bathe.

IMG_3146.jpg


The new boat has a little more volume and freeboard than my older yellow, glass Lootas, and a significantly drier ride. Also "much improved rudder up tracking". A superb rough water play and touring boat!!! I think that the Lootas would be outstanding as a skeg boat as well.

At the end of the my last trip in the Southern Gulf Islands, my paddling partner and I were sitting on the beach for a couple of hours waiting for his wife to come pick us up. Darcy, at one point decided to get into the Lootas, which was sitting on the beach, and give it a bit of a spin. I, on a whim, decided to video his impulsive Lootas test drive. I am quite glad that I did. It was very eye opening to see a strong paddler put it through its paces rudder up, and see how easily it maneuverered. It is a very long boat, 18' 7". but it turns and responds like a play boat that is 18 inches shorter. It is one thing to paddle a boat, it is another to see it perform with a strong paddler. I hope you find the linked video interesting and informative.

Health, happiness, and an adventurous 2022 paddling season to you all.

Cheers, Rick
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,481
Is the differing Lootas you have different from the Lootas Excel mentioned on the Nimbus website?

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SalishSeaNior

Paddler
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
72
Location
Okanagan Valley, Canada
Sorry for the late response, Christmas and family priorities kept me busy until now. Belated Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to all you kayak folk by the way.

drachir: Here is a link to a Mariner Excel thread on the forum, courtesy of John Abercrombie and another of the Mariner XL from the old Mariner website. I have not been able to find an image of a Nimbus Lootas hull side up, but the one linked will give you a bit of an idea. This is a bit of a generalization, but the big differences between the Lootas hull and most of the Mariner line are:

The Lootas has a lot of rocker, much more rocker than any of the Mariners;

As you can see if you look closely at the linked images, the Lootas has a rounded or convex hull profile side to side with no keel line, or or concavity toward the stern of the boat as you can see in the Mariner images. The Lootas is fairly unique in respect to the fact that the hull remains convex in shape throughout. Most other nimbus boats, perhaps with the exception of the Cygnet and Solander have at least some concavity at the stern to aid in tracking. If I recall correctly, all of the Mariner boats have some concavity as the hull tapers at the stern.

Nimbus uses soft chines and flatter hulls that have great initial stability, yet are extremely easy to put on a lean, and with the rocker are easy to turn and even spin with a little effort. The Lootas is at the extreme end of this design philosophy and works extremely well in the rougher waters and near rocks and shore break. The kayak surfs well and is designed to tour, while remaining responsive and mannerly in rough seas. It has a reputation for being loose in the stern, which it deserves, but that is a trade off for its fine performance in rough seas.

A friend once asked Steve Schleicher this question: What have you got for a good rock garden playboat?

Steve's answer: "It depends on how intimate you get with the rocks. If the limiting factor is a sea kayak I would chose the Cygnet, Lootas/Solander and then the Illusion. The problem with sea kayaks is that they are too long for getting close to rocks and don't spin fast enough. The best choice for getting close to rocks is an old style white water kayak like my Turbo which is very manoeuvrable but still has OK forward speed. Maybe add a full face shield helmet and gloves in case you screw up."

In the answer above, Steve rates the Lootas and Solander equally for rough water responsiveness. As I said in the original post in the thread, the Lootas is a long boat, 18' 7". but it turns and responds like a play boat that is 18 inches shorter. The Cygnet is 14' 9" long and the Solander is 16' 2", all are 23" wide.

Mariner too designed a boat that was more focussed on surfing and light touring close to the shoreline. It is called the Coaster and is 13'6" long and 23" wide.

1640713266552.png


In general again, the Mariner boats are designed as expedition boats that will haul a lot of gear for their length. They were designed with harder chines and less rocker. They were also designed to paddle rudderless and turn on a lean. I owned an original Mariner, I call it the Grand Mariner, the precursor to the Mariner II, for many years. It was a fast gear hauler, long and high volume, a great expedition boat, but had to be put on a hard lean to turn and took time to do so. It was the same length as the Lootas, 2 inches narrower, had hard chines and a Swede form design. It had a lot less initial stability. But is was very fast, or perhaps we should use the term efficient going from point a to b. It carried a lot of gear and I won a few sea kayak symposium fun races in it when I was young as well.

1640714100578.png

Original Mariner

So, finally, short answer, the stern of the Lootas is very different from the Mariner designs. Two different designers with two differing design philosophies. Both of whom produced, or in the Nimbus case still produce exceptional sea kayaks.

Mick, The plug for the Lootas Excel no longer exists. I believe it was lost when Rainforest Designs moved from their large commercial manufacturing facility at Albion, B. C. to Quadra Island and downsized to the current small scale manufacturing business. The Lootas has a deck height of 12 inches. The Lootas Excell had a deck height of 15 inches at the cockpit. The hull design is identical. Though very few Excels were ever made.

My new Lootas is simply a one off experiment that Steve was playing with. He added an inch to the deck height of the original Lootas, while using that for the layup. I got very lucky to get this boat, a bit of serendipity perhaps. He also added a small keel fin to improve
rudder up tracking as an experiment with a tiny bit of input from me. It worked very well and causes me to think that a Lootas with a skeg, rather than a rudder would be a very good option.

Hope I didn't go too overboard on answering the questions, but I am very interested in kayak design and the question regarding Mariner hulls involved my two favourite kayak designers.

Cheers, Rick
 

SalishSeaNior

Paddler
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
Messages
72
Location
Okanagan Valley, Canada
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a_c - because it is winter the boats are all wrapped and put away for storage for the winter. There won't be any winter paddling this year courtesy of the Polar Vortex. The lakes are freezing over and will be much more useful for skating shortly. I did however go out yesterday and peel back a piece of the tarp on the stern of the new Lootas and took a photo to show you what I mean by a keel fin.

The image above is of my glass Lootas on the beach at Harriot Bay last September. The smaller boat next to it is a Solander upon which the Lootas design is based. You can see quite well in this image that the hull of the Solander goes from convex to an almost concave finish at the stern. The Lootas, as stated earlier remains convex throughout the hull.


IMG_3185.jpg


The image above shows what I mean by a keel fin. It is approximately 40 cm in length and 35 mm at its widest, or perhaps deepest point where it finishes as shown below. It is made of carbon/kevlar the same material as the rudder. Steve played with the size and shape and trialed different versions before we settled on this one. He also gave me the option of making it removable, but I opted for permanent. I have to be very careful in shallow rocky landing areas, but that is about the only downside.

IMG_3186.jpg


Cheers, Rick
 
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a_c

Paddler
Joined
Dec 23, 2014
Messages
103
Location
Victoria, BC
Thanks for the photos.....it looks like a 1/4 deployed perma-skeg. Your boat is truly an interesting hybrid!
 

Yo H

New Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Messages
6
Location
BC
I am new to this site and enjoyed reading your post.
A Lootus with more trucking sounds great!
1 inch high would be good update for most of people for comfort.

I used Lootus for a solo trip for Juneau to Victoria along mostly outside 20 years ago. I like the characteristic of lootus that I can use as a west coast expedition boat as well as a play boat along the shore and rocks and on surf.

At the same time, I have a few things I do not like Lootus.
It dose not track at all with gears without rudder. I have Illusion made by Nimbus that I can paddle with over night gear in high wind / swells without dropping skeg relatively easily. It is also bit slow due to the short water line for its lenghth.

I wonder if Steve of Nimbus can make a new touring boat with rudder like a Grand Illusion of Sterling. My Lootus is over 20 years old. I like yo update my a trip kayak.

Anyhow I am glad to see that there are other people who enjoy Lootus out there.
 
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