Name: paddler535209

Most Recent Reviews

Review: Venture Jura HV (and MV)

Conclusion: The Jura is a durable, well-designed touring sea kayak available at an attractive price point for discriminating buyers who plan to make no more than two carefully researched purchases in their lifetimes. It offers a suite of features that will sharpen the judgment of entry-level buyers and make them more effective judges of their ultimate “go-to” boat purchases.

Overall safety and design: This boat is clearly designed by people who have seen all the wrinkles that can turn simple boats into death traps in heavy water. The steering cables are sheathed and hidden to reduce entrapment risk. In addition, the deck lines are designed to be easily grasped and the deck fittings are streamlined to prevent snagging in the event of a swim. The scudder retractor is flush-mounted for the same reason. The cockpit coaming is recessed to allow for efficient water-shedding and to prevent bashing your knuckles in heavy seas or high wind. Moreover, the coaming is wide enough to provide spare hull material in the event that a hole needs to be patched in the bush. The Jura features two cargo hatches and a pair of day hatches. The day hatches are readily accessible without unseating the spray skirt. This keeps the foredeck clear for a deck compass and a map case and lowers the wind resistance of the craft by keeping equipment stowed. In addition, a flat spot molded into the deck forward of the foredeck hatch is specifically designed for the base of an elegant, removable sail system that, when not in use, lays flat on the deck – out of the way until needed. Moreover, the construction of the foredeck is robust enough to provide a solid base for the mast. The deck does not flex under normal sailing stress. Under the right circumstances, the proprietary P & H sailing system (which is an add-on) can easily double paddling speed. Finally, the fore and aft carrying toggles are extremely robust and are stabilized by elastic cords to keep them from knocking about as you paddle.

The Big Picture: Broadly speaking, the kayak market should probably be divided into two categories: 1) first-time buyers and 2) everyone else. First-time buyers and serious expedition buyers share two key considerations: simplicity and durability.

The Pyranha family: Consists of the Pyranha, Venture, and P&H product lines. Because Pyranha’s prime mover is a former Olympic kayaker, the firm’s product line ultimately targets boaters who have substantial butt-in-seat experience. This experience is purposefully designed to result from carefully crafted entry-level boating experiences. The organization’s thought process seems to be: if we over-deliver at the entry level, we will establish lifetime relationships with our clients.

Two Jura models: The two Jura models differ only with respect to capacity. The HV is the larger of the two. Generally speaking, the HV is suitable for adults of either gender. The MV suits more petite paddlers (regardless of age or gender).

Experience levels: Early experience with a sea kayak is arguably more about the water than the boat. Very few inexperienced paddlers will be able to distinguish the performance differences between top-end boats and entry-level boats. One cannot expect an inexperienced paddler to understand (or even sense) the nuances that distinguish professional equipment from entry-level equipment.

Profile: The Jura has an upturned bow (which cuts through waves) and a low-profile stern (which protects paddlers to some extent from being rolled unexpectedly by rogue waves approaching from behind). This is important because confused seas are arguably more difficult to deal with than seas with visible wave crests, currents, and reflected waves.

Width: These boats max out at 23 inches – which is wide enough to enhance stability but narrow enough to reduce drag. Many boats in this price range are designed to appeal to inexperienced paddlers and are too wide to be efficient touring craft. Wide boats tend to wallow in rough water and are generally harder to roll. Moreover, wider boats present challenges for in-water recovery because they ship more water.

Durability: Juras are bombproof. Whether used as entry-level vehicles or as expedition craft, they can take a serious licking. See “Chops” below for what informed this conclusion.

Material and weight: Juras are rotomolded PVC boats. While this manufacturing process makes them heavier (roughly 58 pounds) than composite boats, the resulting product is easily repaired in the field. This weight is at the high end of the optimal range for single-handed loading and unloading from car racks, but it does not make a material difference on the water for most paddlers under most conditions. This is a touring boat – not a racing craft.

Competing materials: High-tech materials (like Kevlar) are materially lighter than rotomolded plastic. However, boats made of such high-end materials carry high-end prices (roughly 3 to 5 times as much as PVC boats), so scuffs and scrapes can be painful.

Capacity: I can travel in this craft for roughly three weeks without resupply.

Bulkheads: Jura bulkheads come factory-sealed. However, forward-thinking paddlers will stress-test them before use and will carry a leak-repair kit. Hull stress caused by compression straps and summer heat can separate bulkhead seams in short order.

Hatch design: These hatches are strikingly durable. They seat well at both high and low temperatures and last for years if treated with respect. I use stainless-steel cable ties to keep them in place, but that is overkill for most boaters.

A steering system is essential: Steering systems make sea kayaking easier, safer, and more enjoyable. The argument that they are unnecessary is difficult to justify.

Tracking/Scudder: Juras are stiff enough to track well. They cut readily through wind and oncoming waves; incorporate extremely strong, low-stretch stainless-steel cables and well-designed footpegs; and are suitable for demanding paddling environments. They incorporate “scudder” technology in their steering system. Scudders are basically steerable skegs that can be retracted into a slot in the hull to protect them from shore landings in current, surf, and/or high wind.

Scudder simplicity: This system is easily understood, maintained, adjusted, and repaired in the bush.

Scudder cons: Seaweed, abandoned fishing line, and miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam can stop the scudder from retracting (and occasionally from pivoting). Pebbles and sand can jam the scudder in its housing, preventing deployment. This is not an issue for paddlers traveling in groups (which is overwhelmingly common). Another paddler simply clears the jam without any material delay. Deployment malfunctions and jams also impact over-the-stern rudders. A scudder jammed in its housing presents no material difficulties to forward progress and can be overcome with simple paddling adjustments. Very high winds (and seas) from roughly 45 degrees off the bowline can overpower the surface area of the scudder, but most paddlers will be intimidated by such water and will opt for shore out of an abundance of caution. Safe boaters plan ahead for such contingencies and develop coping strategies in advance of need.

Repair kit/spare parts: My comprehensive repair kit for this boat and its steering system weighs a bit more than 1 pound, is smaller than a Nalgene water bottle, and fits readily into pointed, end-of-boat spaces that are otherwise of limited use.

Seats: Comfortable enough for extended time on the water (12 hours or so).

Sailing: The Jura is the only craft of its type I have encountered that is specifically designed to accommodate a sail. This sail is easily deployed from the cockpit using lines and pulleys anchored to the deck and controlled by small cleats mounted near the cockpit coaming. This system is an aftermarket product.

Great value: With reasonable care, these can be lifetime boats.

Chops: I have some 10,000 miles of solo expedition kayaking under my spray skirt and have been paddling for 45 years. My experience includes three expeditions of over 2,000 miles, and covers water of all types from the U.S./Mexico border to the Bering and Beaufort seas (well north of the Arctic Circle). Roughly half of this mileage was accomplished in a Venture Jura HV, and the other half was accomplished in a Pyranha Fusion Connect creek boat.