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Rockpool Taran 18

Updated: Jan 27


4 Stars


My Kayak of choice is the Taran 18 from Rockpool. When going in a multi week kayaking expedition, there will be a lot of things that need to be carried which even though they may be used infrequently will need to be accessible when needed.


Conditions will also at times be challenging; there will be headwinds, swells, breakers, confused seas, temperature extremes, and vast distances that must be covered to reach the intended destination at a reasonable times. For this reason, the expedition kayak should have a lot of gear space, but not be slow like a barge. It should be a stable fast kayak that tracks well in rough seas, but also maneuverable. It should be light weight, but also sturdy and resistant to take a beating from the waves, hard landings and the occasional rough treatment.


These can be tough requirements to adequately full concurrently within a single boat, but I believe that the Taran does a very reasonable job.

First Impressions

At 18 feet long, the Taran is close to the longest sea kayak you will find for a one-person boat. The most prominent feature of this kayak is the fat elevated bow design, which reminds me of a sperm whale; at first I thought it was rather ugly, but the shape’s uniqueness and its benefits have grown on me. It is like meeting your girlfriend while working in an oil rig, she isn't pretty, but after a month with her everyday you start to like her for her personality.


At 20.5 inches wide, it is quite narrow for an 18-foot-long kayak, however, I have not found it to be tippy, and it is possible to edge quite far to either side without the need for a corrective brace.


The hull is a blend; the bow is V-shaped, but in the middle section under the cockpit and seat it is flat and chimed. That makes it different from most expedition sea kayaks that have rounded torpedo shaped hulls.


The stern section is also V-shaped but it tapers from the bottom up, like the tail of a velociraptor. This results in a boat that when laid on flat ground will have the stern hull rest slightly higher above the floor than the bow and appears to have more stern rocker than it does. It resembles an elongated tear drop (just like a sperm whale).

Cargo Capacity

Speed and Tracking

Maneuverability and Surfing

The video below from John Willacy is a good example of what someone with good maneuverability skills can do on a Taran surfing a Tidal Race.

The video below from Surf Kayak Coaching is a very good example of what someone with good kayak surfing skills can do with a Taran.

Rolling

Anyone with a decently solid roll will find that rolling the Taran is easy.


The boat is narrow, so the turning moment is reduced, and the back deck is low enough that laying back is not difficult.


However, I have found that when the boat is fully loaded with gear, the initiation of the roll becomes is more forceful as the extremely low center of gravity requires effort to roll past the midpoint due to cantilevering.


The recovery phase of the roll, however, will be even easier as the lower center of gravity will be more forgiving to not keeping one’s head down or other poor technique issues. I found that having the paddle flat against the side of the boat will help to reduce drag on the roll. You may find yourself only doing a half roll where you go down and back up on the same side.

Comfort

This is an area where I found the Taran to be somewhat lacking.


This, however, is not an issue specific to the Taran, but of British boats in general. The British are minimalist masochists when it comes to their personal comfort. More than once I have read blogs of British kayakers on some incredible adventure, and yet they often complain about how they suffered from bottom blisters, bad backs, and hand calluses (gloves exist for a reason).


Well, it hardly should surprise anyone that sitting for 24 hours on a hard-plastic frying pan with a flimsy backband may cause considerable misery.


I ordered my Taran with a performance seat which made me feel I like I was being pocked in the butt with a fishing rod, and I often needed to pamper by swollen moon face with soothing creams.


The issue was primarily a result of a sharp edge the seat has just below the lower back which chews into the skin and even cut a hole in my wet suit. I had to cover the seat edge it in duct tape mitigate the issue more than once or I would have surely butchered my tail bone. The default Taran seat, which is fiberglass rather than carbon fiber, does not have this issue (it was the seat I did my demo ride before deciding to buy the boat).


On the comfort scale, if a Wilderness System Tempest kayak seat is a 10 (which pains me to ask why every kayak isn't like it) and an unglycerined suppository up the third eye is a 1, the regular Taran seat would be about a 6 and the performance seat would be a 3.

Update on this item:

Recently I have upgraded my Taran seat with a foam based seat from Redfish Kayak which is much more comfortable.


This was the first foam seat that Redfish Kayak has made for a Taran 18, so I gave them the specific measurements which required some cumbersome steps, including removing the existing seat to have an accurate measure of the cockpit cross section (they now have the measurements so anyone else who orders one for a Taran 18 should be covered).


The final product was above my expectations. It is a perfect fit, and I can now paddle for 12 hours or more in comfort. I have not noticed any issues or difficulties rolling with this new seat. The only disadvantage of this is that the space behind where the backband used to be now has a foam piece so it is no longer available for storage, but the Taran 18 has more than enough storage to compensate for that.


If you have the electric bilge pump installed behind the seat however, then this type of foam seat will not work unfortunately. The pictures of the old and new seats are shown here.

The Youtube Videos below from Joseph Greenly do a very good job showing how to make the template for a the Redfish Kayak seat and how it is fitted into a kayak.

If you have a Taran 18, you can also give Redfish my seat measurements and they should be able to make a seat for you:

Pedestal Height

7.75 Inches

Redfish kayak Seat Measurements for Rockpool Taran 18

Pedestal Thickness

1.50 Inches

Redfish kayak Seat Measurements for Rockpool Taran 18

Back of Hip Pad

​4.00 Inches

Redfish kayak Seat Measurements for Rockpool Taran 18

Front of Hip Pad

​5.00 Inches

Redfish kayak Seat Measurements for Rockpool Taran 18

Other Features


When I ordered my Taran I requested a few additional bells and whistles which are worth noting here.

3 PIECE CONSTRUCTIOIN

Hinge

COLOR SCHEME AND STICKERS

Rockpool has a great selection of color schemes, with almost any color under the sun and custom design from the customer is available. They did a very good job with the stickers of Maori art I traced for my kayak, and they have neither faded nor peeled.

CRASH GUARDS

SAIL REINFORCEMENTS

HULL REINFORCEMENTS

HULL CARE

TANDEM RUDDER

CARBON FIBER COMB


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