Joined: 01 Aug 2008
Posts: 725 | TRs
Location: Kitsap Peninsula
I was finally able to stop by Black J Paddling Sports in Port Orchard to try out the Swell Scupper. Jim, being the great guy that he is, loaded the kayak on his truck and drove me a short distance to where I wouldn't have to walk through too much of the exposed local tidelands (the tide was way out today).
The kayak is a little heavy (68Lbs), but still anywhere from 10-20 pounds lighter than most (if not all) of the other rotomolded SOT kayaks out there. At 14' long, it is pretty light.
Getting on the kayak was pretty easy. It is narrow enough to easily straddle while sitting down to launch. It didn't seem tippy at all. The acceleration from launch was pretty good as well.
Out on the water, the kayak tracked pretty well given the fact that this one didn't have a rudder and I was paddling with quite a bit of side wind. I did try to surf some waves, but without a rudder, it was hard to keep the nose of the boat from wanting to turn the kayak whenever it plowed into the wave in front. Still, a rudder would make a big difference there IMO. There are a screw insets on the back of the boat to make rudder installation easier if one wanted to install one later.
The boat seemed very stable. At no point did I feel like I was about to take a swim. I sat for a bit with the wind and waves hitting me from the side while I looked at the Olympic Mountains over the shipyard (as seen in the photo). I even closed my eyes to see how much of the stability was just me reacting to what my eyes say. Never once came close to tipping, thought the boat was rocking quite a bit.
The scuppers drained pretty well once moving. They use a Venturi effect and when the water is about drained out, you can hear a suction sound that lets you know they are working. The scuppers at the front did a good job of diverting and draining any splash that came up over the bow.
All in all, I'm definitely planning on buying one once I save the money. I like the idea of a SOT that can be readily reentered without the level of gymnastics required to get back into a SIS kayak. Will still carry a pump and paddle float, but only because if I ever get to kayak as much as I want some day, I will eventually come across another kayaker who went swimming unprepared.
Like a ray of sunshine in a drought stricken land.
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