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Please note, as our exhibitions change regularly, the boats, objects and pictures featured in this section may not now be on display in the museum. Please contact us on 01326 313388 for further information.

Baidarka Sea Kayak

Baidarka Sea Kayak
Derek Hutchinson in his kayak

Date: 2 June 1976

Route: Felixstowe Ferry to Ostend, Belgium: 100 miles. Time taken was exactly 31 hours.

On 4-5 June 1976, Derek Hutchinson (leader), Tom Caskey and Dave Hellawell paddled their kayaks from Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk to Ostend in Belgium, over 100 miles of open sea in 31 hours. This was to be the first recorded unsupported West-East crossing of the North Sea by kayak.

In August 1975, Hutchinson, a school teacher by profession, led his first attempt to make an unsupported crossing of the North Sea. After 34 hours of constant paddling and no sleep, hallucinations and nausea forced them to abandon the crossing. They were rescued by a passing ship, but only as they used up their last distress flare.

In June 1976, relying on charts showing tidal streams, a compass and dead reckoning the team completed the route and stuck remarkably to the planned route, ending exactly where they planned. The team decided that Hutchinson should be the first to land, as he was the inspiration behind the attempt and the designer of the three kayaks used by the team.

The Museum kayak was the prototype model, and used by Hutchinson on the attempt. This kayak was to prove the inspiration for all modern day sea kayaks. Revolutionary features include water-tight compartments, with access via watertight deck hatches, plus grab lines and elastic shock cords stretched across the deck to hold a chart and compass. A radar reflector on the stern, water-tight canisters to hold distress flares, additional tow-lines and a self bailer are also fitted. The paddle design, the Seamaster, is still produced today.

The size of this kayak, 16ft long and 21ins wide, was dictated by the length of Hutchinson’s garage. Derek is regarded as the father of modern day sea kayaking, was responsible for the emergence of the sport in the USA, and wrote what is considered by some to be the ultimate textbook on kayaking.  He was still active in designing kayaks till shortly before his death in 2012.

Please note, as our exhibitions change regularly, the boats, objects and pictures featured in this section may not now be on display in the museum. Please contact us on 01326 313388 for further information.

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