Not long ago I purchased a used Brooklyn Kayak Company PK13 Angler sit-on-top fishing kayak. BKC makes an affordable kayak that has decent accessories. The PK13 is 13' long and weighs in at 80lbs without any gear or accessories. It has a weight capacity of 550 lbs. This is a big, heavy kayak when it is loaded with a pedal drive, tackle boxes, fishing gear and the angler. The original equipment steering system is as adequate and responsive as the steering of the Titanic.
After the first trip out I started looking to upgrade the steering. The first upgrade was a Boonedox rudder. The Boonedox rudder is 15.5" long by 5" tall (shaft not included in this measurement), constructed from solid aluminum and powder coated for durability and good looks. Because it is solid aluminum it only weighs 1.5 lbs. For comparison purposes the original equipment rudder is 11.8" long by 8" tall (including the shaft) and made from molded plastic. It is easy to see there is a lot more surface area to displace water and turn the kayak.
While there was a marginal improvement to the steering it still didn't turn and track as well as I'd hoped for. After searching blogs, social media groups and Google I discovered BerleyPro. They are manufacturers of high quality after-market kayak upgrade parts. I purchased the Native T-Lock Steering Upgrade and the Native Aluminum Steering Handle & Bush. These are advertised as upgrade parts for Native Kayaks. Since Native and Brooklyn used many similar parts I took a chance that these parts would fit my PK13. I also emailed Martyn at BerleyPro and he confirmed they should fit.
The T-Lock system replaces the plastic steering disc on the stern that the rudder attaches to. This is a high quality machined aluminum, zero-play steering disc. The T-Lock System removes all of the slop found in the original equipment. This upgrade system also includes upgraded steering cables that run from the steering handle to the steering disc & rudder. They are Spectra Cord with a core treated and polyester jacket. These are high strength Spectra Cord with a 295kg/650lb breaking strength. Perfect for handling the added surface area of the large Boonedox rudder. Now I no longer worry about the steering cable breaking. Installing these cables does require replacing the tubes the cables run through in the hull as the new cables have a larger diameter. This isn't the easiest part of the project but it isn't terribly difficult. I used drip irrigation tubing from the local hardware store.
The final piece of the upgrade was the machined aluminum handle & bush. Once I pulled the original handle and bush off I discovered that it was broken. The original equipment is a lower quality plastic that was brittle. The factory steering cables were narrow, stretched and sloppy. The BerleyPro Aluminum Handle & Bush has no slop and a greater range of motion to make full use of the rudder. This kayak now turns in a very tight circle given the overall length of the kayak. The CNC machined aluminum handle gives the kayak a custom look. The housing and mounting area are a much higher quality product when compared to the original equipment. It is engineered to last for years and provide high performance steering.
Admittedly this isn't a cheap upgrade. However, it is worth every penny if you're wanting to improve the performance from your PK Series kayak. Purchasing a Brooklyn Kayak means your not spending as much upfront on the kayak. That leaves more budget for upgrades. For more information on the parts mentioned in this article please visit BerleyPro and BooneDox. For other kayak accessories and fishing equipment please browse through our website.