I'm a German living in southern France, departement Hautes-Alpes just above the beautiful Lac de Serre Ponçon since 2011. In july 2017 we bought an inflatable boat "Gumotex Palava" and made several trips on this lake. But as we never felt comfortable with it, we sold this boat in 2018 and - looking for an alternative - we found ONAK and we where pretty soon convinced of this concept.

With my reports of - hm - "adventures" I'd like to convince others same as these reports helped us to understand the concept and to be conviced, too.

In order to help the most of you to understand my reports, I have choosen to write in english instead of german or french - I ask you to excuse my mistakes :-)

Plage du Bois Vieux

I did this with my ONAK canoe

As starting point for our 3rd trip we choose a beach of the Lac Serre Poncon with easy access to the lake, rather few traffic of motorboats and with an interesting landscape along the coast.

After assembly of the canoe (some 25 minutes) we started off to paddle along this beautiful rocky coast. But after some minutes I recognized that the rubber piece which serves as foot for the V-shaped alluminium pipes under the main seat started moving slowly to the front of the boat - obviously I didn't place it precisely enough.... I anticipated that after some minutes the bars would collapse and that the seat of my wife would slip down abruptly, causing sudden and panicky movements in the canoe - something to avoid definitely. So I motivated her to paddle a bit more powerful (like me :-)) in order to reach very soon a place where we could land. There I pushed the rubber-piece in place (also made wee-wee given the occasion of the silent place...) and then we continued our trip. I learned for future trips, that I must verify that everything is really perfect in place before launching the canoe.

Now, with a boat in perfect condition, we enjoyed very much the rough, rocky and eroded mountains aside the lake - a very special landscape, not really lovely but beautiful, indeed.

After 1,5 hours we headed back choosing a rather direct line back to the starting place where we enjoyed once again the simple process of disassembly and packaging (I remember the never-ending process of cleaning and drying my previous inflatable canoe and afterwards packing the folded boat in the tight-fitting bag - it was annoying).

Cimitère Ubaye - Pont

I did this with my ONAK canoe

This was our 2nd trip, so the first experience to build the boat at the shore immediately before starting the trip. We timed 35 minutes (including explanations to the audience ...), not bad for the first time, but may still be improved. The trip was nice as expected - we knew the place already - it is lovely.

During the trip we where sometimes disturbed by motor boats nearby, which didn't care about us and kept on speeding. I always managed to stear the nose against the waves and so we hadn't really a problem. But with few experience as we have currently I wouldn't like to have these waves coming from sidelong...

The second new experience on the way back was to paddle against the upcoming wind. In fact this was not too hard because the wind came roughly in front.

After we landed we folded the boat (with some audience again) within 20 minutes - may be improved, too.

Baie Chanteloube (maiden trip)

I did this with my ONAK canoe

First assembly:

After having received the boat it took me half a day to understand and assemble it the first time. After some mails with Nele at ONAK I received a new manual (still in beta, not yet published at that time) which showed much more explaining pictures than the delivered manual - I would have loved to have seen it before I started. In addition Nele gave me a link to a video, which showed very clear how to fold the nose and that some kind of brute force is required the first time - I'll share it here for you all:
Somewhere I found the information, that the eventual gaps in the aluminium structure must not be tolerated during the assembly. Instead it is possible to push the two bars together with force which lets the inner piece of the bar move as far as needed, thus closing the gap. Before I knew that and when I heared a metallic sound even though that there was still a gap, I didn't expect that by pushing hard I could close this gap. So - this information might help you to do it right :-)

Finally the boat was built and I stored it in the garage in order to allow the folds to be accustomed to this situation :-) Few place was left in the garage  beside the car making very clear, that buying a foldable boat was the right decision.

The maiden trip:

Next day I loaded the ready-built boat on the roof rack of my car (why folding and re-building it, when it's already built?) and we drove down to the lake. 

First launch of the boat in water - it swims! Not really a surprise, but nice to see anyway ;-) Next stage: step in and sit down. The seat slipped down a bit but then was stable and felt rather comfortable. Next time I'll tighten the belts of the seat even more.

It was evident, that we needed to be accustomed to the movements of the boat. The first minutes it seemed to us rather wobbly, but then our muscles of the back understood, that they have the function to keep the balance. 

And here we go - silently paddling over the mirror-like, cristal clear water of the calm lake. The boat needs little effort to advance and I learned fast how to stear with the short paddle. My wife in the front seat was happy to be allowed to adjust the length of the paddle, which is necessary due to the fact that the boat is wider in the middle.

We kept on paddling for two hours without a break, then a short "technical" stop - the coffee was ready to be released ;-) And then we continued for even another hour, something at which we where surprised, because with all the boats we tried before (rented kayaks and our previous boat Gumotex Palava) we where always tired after 1,5 to 2 hours. The next day I stated sore muscles of the back and my elbow reported some pain due to the regular movements of paddling and steering. This will be less a problem after some more trips and thus more training of muscles and elbows. During the 2nd part of our trip we experienced a lake more agitated with waves from remote motorboats and upcoming winds. After our experience in calm water we found that it was important to try this, too, and that the boat did well in this situation.

After our trip the disassembly went rather fast, given it was the first time. Especially cleaning the boat went super fast, compared to the tedious cleaning of the inflatable boat, where we needed to remove water from every hidden corner. After all the folded boat went neatly on the back seat of my car - perfect! Later on I'll have another try to put it in the luggage compartement, which was already full this day.

Conclusion: ONAK is a wonderful and beautiful boat, easy and not tiring to use. We're looking forward to our next trips!

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