Point 65 Whisky Rocker
Rocking the Rocker
I once called the Dagger Stratos ‘the sea boat that thinks it’s a playboat’ for its stability and playfulness in bouncy water. If that’s the case then the Whisky Rocker is a playboat that thinks it’s a sea boat; this boat is designed to be playful, to turn and carve and edge in the splashy crashy waves but is equally capable of packing a heavy load and eating up the miles.
It doesn’t look like it at first because the Whisky Rocker is an odd shape to British eyes used to the familiar lines of the British sea kayak. The boat is fishform in design - wider forward of the cockpit and narrower behind - and the high volume nose accentuates the lower volume rear deck but it behaves beautifully and predictably the worse the seas become. The big nose resists diving and lifts easily over incoming swell and the narrow hull and sharp chines - which are far more stable than they look - allow for excellent hip control and really come into their own when rock hopping where the shorter aft deck is also an advantage. Rock hopping in the Whisky was probably the first time I’ve managed to not clunk the back end while twiddling between rocks.
Build quality is excellent, this is probably the stiffest plastic boat I’ve ever paddled and the weight is reasonable - I can carry it on one shoulder okay but the asymmetry between the nose and tail means the balance point is forward of the cockpit so I have to actually perch the boat on my shoulder rather than carry it with one arm inside. That said, it only really applies when I’m moving the boat short distances as I use a trolley as standard and it’s light enough for me to lift it over my head and onto my roof bars without too much grunt.
Deck fittings are well thought out with all the right stuff in all the right places and are one of the features which make this boat suitable for touring as well as playing; sturdy (and reflective) deck lines run fore and aft with bungee crossing to hold split paddles and pumps etc. The end toggles are basic round ones (and therefore dependable and comfortable in my opinion) and tethered with loose bungee which can easily be slipped off so the stern toggle can dangle out of the way while towing. The main bow and stern storage hatches are oval in shape which makes stowing long, awkwardly shaped kit (such as my trolley) much easier and the forward storage compartment is cavernous. The hatches are Point65 own brand which fit closely but are a softer rubber than the usual Kayak Sport ones so they’re easier to get on and off. After repeated capsizing practice though there was some water in the hatches so dry bags are recommended.
There are two more hatches, a day hatch behind the cockpit by the paddler’s left hip which I was actually able to access and even close from the cockpit and a ‘whisky’ hatch in front of the cockpit which is quite deep and reaches quite a way down into the boat. At first I was worried I’d catch my feet on it during a wet exit but this never proved to be a problem, I did select slimmer, flexible shoes though, not chunky paddling boots to be on the safe side.
I do have mixed feelings about fore deck hatches though. I appreciate they’re useful but they often have the effect of moving all the deck bungees further forwards away from the cockpit meaning splits and pumps (if carried on the foredeck) are further away and since, when I need my splits I usually need them fairly urgently I like to have them a bit closer to hand. There are various DIY or shop-bought solutions such as Paddle Britches available though so the problem is surmountable with a bit of tweaking and fettling.
Comfort is excellent. One of my mantras for sea kayak comfort is ‘basic is best’ and the seat in the Whisky is a nice solid lump of comfy plastic. The backrest is equally solid with a little hand pump to inflate it for firmness and so far seems to be one you can set and forget. I like the fact it just stays in place, needs no further adjustment and doesn’t flop into your way during a reentry. The cockpit is a snug keyhole design and can feel quite tight at first but I got used to that after about two minutes and now rather like it, it certainly enhances the responsiveness of the boat. I’ve stuck some foam pads under the deck for my knees as I’ve been paddling in shorts and there’s room for me to fit my paddling helmet in the cockpit between my knees when I’m not wearing it. I did find it awkward to wriggle back in during reentry and roll though but I am a bit rusty to be honest. I also found re-entry over the rear deck difficult because the hull is quite narrow here and most of the buoyancy is in the bow so a paddle float if paddling solo might be sensible.
Footpegs are twist lock which always seems to work fine as long as they get a thorough squirt with fresh water after use. The skeg has a funny little twiddly control beside the cockpit which is easy to reach but to be honest I can never get skegs to work in Dorset because they’re always jammed with pebbles and I don’t use them anyway and there are such well-defined chines on the Whisky Rocker that edging to steer is easy.
To test the Whisky I’ve paddled it a lot over the past couple of weeks, around Poole Harbour (several times!), around Portland, up the Fleet and along from Ringstead in a variety of conditions and I have to say I really like it; it’s become my favourite boat to paddle and I’m definitely buying one to replace my ancient Capella.
Very stiff and responsive hull
Great, sporting design - fast and manoeuvrable
Very comfortable seat and backrest
Easily accessible and roomy hatches
Snug cockpit design may feel a bit constrictive at first
Deck bungees quite a long way forward
Tricky to self rescue over the stern because all the volume is in the bow