The MENAI 18

For many sea kayaking is about getting somewhere; this is the boat to take you to that ‘somewhere’…

Resulting from the ongoing development at Rockpool Kayaks, the Menai 18 was designed to fill the niche for a serious expedition boat. While the Alaw and Alaw Bach designs have both been very successful, there was still a need for a larger expedition boat. The Menai 18 hull was formulated to tick off the miles quickly while carrying a serious load of expedition kit. Though this is a large boat, the flat centre section of the hull allows for good manoeuvrability on the spot or in the surf. The cockpit is large and roomy to make sure you are comfortable over those long trips, with a day hatch on the front deck to make it easy to gain access to all those little essentials!

The MENAI 18 is a high volume, rugged sea kayak for extended expedition use.

Between the Lines:
The MENAI has also found a following from the ‘larger’ members of the paddling community who want a stable ‘big boys’ playboat in the bouncy stuff or who are looking for a little more space and comfort on extended day trips.

MENAI 18 - In the Detail:
Hull: Length 18 feet 3 inches (5.56m) – Width: 21 inches (0.53m) - Volume: 382 litres

The design ethos behind the MENAI was to develop a kayak to carry large amounts of expedition kit over long distances at a good speed and in considerable comfort. No simple matter! The long waterline combines a large cargo volume with a good cruising speed. In order to counter this length and maintain good manoeuvrability, a flattened hull was placed in the centre section. This results in surprisingly good manoeuvrability for spot turns and when in the surf, it also gives very good levels of stability. The extended keel section to the rear maintains good directional stability when paddling on a heading but lifts free from the water when on a lean to aid turning. The MENAI has been designed to remain directionally neutral in most wind conditions with a slight tendency to turn up-wind as wind strength increases.

The wide hull and distinct chines give a very stable boat with comfortable and predictable edging characteristics – this is a good boat for taking photographs! The large volume in the bow gives a nice dry ride through chop and gentle handling over larger waves. The fine stern complements the bow, allowing the boat to ride up and over steeper waves. The volume distribution in the centre section allows the stern keel section to lift during edging, shortening the waterline and increasing the manoeuverability.


The MENAI deck has obvious differences from other boats in the Rockpool range. First of all is the fitting of an oval front hatch; this allows easy storage of bulky expedition kit in the bow as well as the stern. The front deck also has a small day hatch fitted just ahead of the cockpit. This gives easily accessed storage when afloat for all those useful bits and pieces you need on longer crossings. No need for an ugly deckbag! The front deck also has a moulded compass recess and mouldings for storage of split paddles. The number of deck elastics has been increased to provide greater storage for items too bulky to fit in the forward day hatch. All deckline fittings are recessed for a neater, smoother look and to make life a little easier during rescue drills.

The rear deck too has a large oval hatch, along with a conventional day hatch. There is a clear area just behind the cockpit to allow fitting of a deck mounted towing system.

The MENAI is also fitted with the Rockpool Kayaks designed adjustable plate footrest. This is angled for a strong natural ankle position which allows the paddler to finely adjust their leg alignment. Matched with the adjustable seat this places the paddler in a dynamic and comfortable position for paddling.

The seats are moulded GRP shells which are adjustable front-to-back at 10mm intervals. The adjustable seat and footrest are mounted on internal hull fixings without drill holes. This relieves the cockpit rim and deck of unnecessary stress and provides a variable seat position for increased feedback to the paddler. The foam hip pads, located within neoprene pockets, may be foam shimmed to fine tune hip fitment. The backrest integrates with the seat to prevent diving while entering. As in the rest of the Rockpool fleet, the MENAI has been designed with ease of rolling in mind.

The MENAI has the characteristics of a large boat with plenty of space, good speed, stability and a dry ride; but it also sees itself as a little smaller with impressive manoeuvrability and crisp handling.