Traveling Europe with a Puffin

The Puffin II proved to be particularly practical on our camping holiday in Burgundy, France, and the Spanish Pyrenees.
Dear Alv,

Earlier this year you delivered four Puffins to us. I just want to inform you that we are rather satisfied with them and really enjoyed paddling this year. The two Puffins my family has, that is a Puffin sport and a Puffin II, have shown some good performance during our holidays this year. I must admit that we did not use the Puffin sport that much yet but that will come.

During our holiday trip to the US, in West-Virginia, we used the Puffin II on a lake and my whole family fits right in to it. Although it is only made for two people, with a capacity for 185 kilo’s, we decided four people should not be a problem. With my wife weighting about 56 kilo, myself about 80, my oldest daugther of five years weighting about 20 or so, and our youngest daugther weighting about 12 kilo’s (she is two and a half years old) we figured the Puffin II could have that easily. This was indeed the case and the space was not a problem either: the adults take the regular seat, our oldest in the front, on an inflatable pillow) and our youngest in the back, again on an inflatable pillow, we were all comfortably seated with enough space. Even to the extent that our youngest fell comfortably asleep while we were paddling. Must be the quiet rythm on the water which helped there. Of course the Puffin II does not have a high freeboard, at least less than the Ally 811 canoe we have, but the inflatable part ensures still quite some distance from the water. So even without deck and with all the weight in it we could have some waves.

The Puffin II proved to be particularly practical on our camping holiday in Burgundy, France, and the Spanish Pyrenees. Since we were ‘tenting’ with two adults and two young children in a medium-sized stationwagon (must be small sized according to US standards for cars) the small packing size of the Puffin II was very convenient. In Burgundy we kayaked on a mountain lake, apparantly going faster with less effort than our friends who, with their two children, kayaked in a rented ‘rigid’ kayak. What I particularly like is the weight of the Puffin II: no problem to carry it for quite a stretch, certainly not with two people, carrying all the gear you need for an afternoon trip. These lake trips with relatively little wind turned out to be easy and pleasant. A better test regarding stability we had when we took our Puffin II on the Mediterranean, on the Spanish coast. There was quite a surf and some wind when I assembled the boat on the beach and took it out, my two daugthers in it. Again, all without any deck in waves between 30 to 50 centimeters. As soon as we had passed the surf there was not problem whatsoever to keep the boat stable. Only in the surf you had to be careful to keep the waves in front or behind you if you wanted to keep the water out. Later on I tried it on my own allowing the surfwaves to take the boat from the side. But even then it was difficult to tip the boat and when I consiously did it it was not problem at all to get the Puffin upright again. The inflattable parts really do their job. And we got quite a bit of attention on the beach because most people had never seen a kayak like this.

The last trip we took the Puffin II with us was great fun. Early November I took my wife as a surprise for a long weekend to Venice. Unfortunately I betrayed the destination when she saw I took our Puffin II as luggage with us for on the airplane. On a Sunday morning, in front of our hotel with a magnificient view over the Laguna but not the greatest temperature, we assembled our Puffin. Some pedestrians turned out to be rather interested in what we were doing, thinking first we were building up a tent. There was even a British couple becoming so enthusiastic that they wanted to know all the details and wrote down web site details etc. So after more than the usual build-up time for our boat we could launch it in the nearby canal. Since my wife was (and still is) rather pregnant she was freed from paddling but instead had to read the map, which proved to be rather necessary. For over three hours we paddled over the smallest channels, occasionally crossing the Grand Canal. That morning we must have won the contest for the boat taken the most pictures of. Many people reacted rather enthusiastic on our paddling activity, being often suprised that it was allowed. The gondoleers told us to stay on the left side of the canals (‘hand’ traffic on the left, ‘motor’ traffic on the right) and were rather friendly to us. The main problem we encountered was the fast traffic on the Grand Canal. The taxi boats do not speed too much in the smaller canals but in the Grand Canal the taxi’s and the vaporettis, that are the ‘bus’boats, do. So we did get a wave or two in there, the three piece deck did not help us much there. However, that did not affect our pleasure at all: we took our own gondola to Venice and had a great view on the city from the water passages. Definitely something to recommend, the more since it worked very well taking the Puffin II on the plane (I seperated the rods from the skin, so in two bags, protecting the rods as much as possible for outside pressure by wrapping it in our clothes).

Next year I still hope to use the Ally 811, which will fit all the five of us, if my wife would allow our still to be born in it, which I doubt at the moment. So I will have some fun again, together with my daughters, in our Puffin that is light, easy to assemble, easy to pack, easy to paddle with great stability and speed.

Best regards,
Gaston Moonen

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