BIXPY JET DRIVE WHEN FITTED TO THE FEELFREE LURE 11.5 KAYAK
After a full fishing season of use in both estuary and fresh water lakes and in a full range of weather conditions, I feel able to offer some comments and observations regarding a Bixpy Jet Drive when fitted to the Feelfree Lure 11.5 Kayak.
I opted to mount the device on the rudder reasoning that it would assist manoeuvrability, but had reservations about attaching it to the factory fitted narrow blade rudder that came with the craft. My solution was to fit it to a Viking Angler rudder with its ‘up lift’ mechanism (as per my expectation this provided a more substantial fixing whilst preserving much of the rudders’ function). The install called for a 10mm rebore of the existing rudder gudgeon pin hole to free up the swivel (just dropped the slightly wider drill bit down the existing hole). In addition I housed out the new blade to the Bixpy profile in order to recess the unit and gain better clearance over submerged objects. The drive presently sits about 200 mm or 8 inch below the water line and the whole system is steered using the original footrest toe controls. Under power I estimate that I can turn the craft inside a 10 metre, 30 foot circle. My kayak tracks perfectly and there is no perceivable front t o back imbalance.
Perhaps I should describe the rudder system in a little greater detail as I consider it a success.
I have two bungee cords running from either side of the rear gear track raised metal eyelets to the rudder’s armature to automatically centre the blade when the steering is relaxed.
I ran a new larger diameter paracord through a cleat and a sequence of rear track eyelets to a point where I added a free running micro pulley before crossing the stern to a fixing. The pulley has a detachable connection to the ‘up-haul and always rides in the centre of the triangulation such that it enables me to raise and lower the whole rudder/drive out of the water whilst keeping it square to the back. I now use the original rudder cord (redirected through the rear moulded handle and diving down to the lower leading edge of the blade) to supply downward pressure for a proper deployment and to enable it to be locked down in reverse (I haven’t needed it yet as the rudder deploys under the weight of the motor and the up-haul works perfectly well).
As to the Bixpy Drive system? I love it. This is a quality product that has yet to disappoint.
I intended to use the device to augment paddling, and provide a measure of safety, but confess that so far I have used it almost exclusively. I even land the kayak by powering up and then lifting the drive clear and shutting it down as I beach the craft.
I have yet to run out of power in my many three to four hour excursions and in spite of putting the unit through its paces. The battery has never been fully exhausted and recharges over a lunch break though I haven’t timed it.
I have learned that the greater part of the ‘through the water speed’ is obtained in the first 5 button range with almost 1 kmph per click. Button clicks 4 to 6 achieve a satisfying trolling speed of between 4.2 and 4.8 kmph (2.6 to 3.0 mph, or walking pace) with a very economical power drain. Between clicks 6 and 9 there is a diminishing return for the power applied. With the Feelfree, it tops out about 6 kmph (3.8 mph) depending on the wind and current. In still water conditions it approaches 7 kmph (4.4 mph) and with a tail wind achieves it. The Feelfree has a considerable displacement so the drive, even in mid range, tends to exceed my regular paddling speeds over an extended distance. All speeds are subject to the accuracy of a GPS estimate.
Wearing the radio controller on the wrist can lead to frustration when trying to reach for tackle and deal with other gear and it is all too easily tripped in the process. My solution was to place it on a lanyard and wear it either around my neck, or strapped it to my PDF.
Improvements to my system
A difficulty that is perhaps specific to my arrangement and craft, involves the length of the standard Bixpy power cable. It is just a little too short at 1.4 metres to enable the battery to be brought forward under the seat sufficient to view the LED power level indicators, or deal with a connection. Even 1.5, ideally 1.8 metre would make a difference.
One minor criticism of the Bixpy Drive system.
The angular design of the battery case does not facilitate cable connection; particularly when fingers are cold.
I can’t speak too highly of Bixpy, its product and its service (any business that will go beyond its online system to supply back-up parts to remote Tasmania deserves praise.