Submitted: 02-28-2007 by Don
I have been kayaking the southern California coast (San Diego/LA) for almost ten years and the Innova Seaker is the best boat I've paddled bar none. I've owned mostly plastics but have paddled skin on frame, fiberglass, rotomolded plastic, and carbonlite plastic boats from Feathercraft, Necky, Perception, and Eddyline; and inflatable tube and tarpolin/fabric type inflatables from Sevylor, AireFrame, and Sterns. Nothing touches the Seaker for sheer ability and durability in a kayak you really intend to use.
I bought the Seaker because I wanted to travel with my kayaks and I did not have the $5,000.00 or $6,000.00 it was going to cost me for a world class folder. I bought my boats from a store that would accept a return in case I didn't like the boats. I was nervous making the purchase without having actually tried the boats first. What I did do first was my research. Time and time again Innova boats were written up doing all the crazy stuff I wanted to do in a boat but couldn't always do with a plastic or glass boat or the folder I could never quite seem to be able conscience spending 5 to 6K to purchase. I enjoy coastal paddling and training for expedition sea kayaking. I have twice paddled to the Los Coronado Islands in kayaks, once from Mexico and once from San Diego Bay.
Knowing what I know now from experiencing Innova boats first hand, I wish I had been using my Seaker from Innova all along. I have played a lot in my sea kayaks, sit on tops, and inflatables and I have also been in serious trouble in kayaks where if I had not been rescued at sea once I would not be here now to write this review. The most important thing next to your training (classes, lessons, time on the water, skills practice) is your gear. Use good gear and have good training, good things happen. Use gear that isn't truly expedition ready and it can cost you big.
I routinely take my Seaker out when the Pacific is letting her hair down and the winds and waves are up. I have watched this boat punch through on-coming surf and dance on 3' to 5' haystacks on the Pacific while fighting currents of 2 mph or more with heavy chop and swell. This is my favorite heavy weather boat. My two favorite memories in the Seaker to date are when both ends of my boat were out of the water riding the rim of a 8' or better swell and when the surf line suddenly shifted and I got to watch a wave form up less than five feet off the WRONG side of my kayak. The boat felt so stable I felt like I could have played cards on the deck of the boat or sat back and had my lunch while watching the waves. The wave that formed and broke next to the Seaker took only a gentle brace and the swell took nothing more than a deep breath to enjoy the ride. I have loaded this boat with gear and supplies and found it to be a very sweet ride in the rough stuff. It is good in flat water too but it really shines for stabilty and sheer ability to enjoy the ride when the wind and the waves are up.
One thing I enjoy doing a lot of is paddling kayak support for long distance swimmers who are training for competitive events and channel crossings like the Catalina channel. On one recent training swim the wind was up and the chop was approaching 2 feet in addition to surf that was beginning to alternately build and dump on the beach. I was in too much of a hurry and forgot to snap on my spray skirt. I came through the surf DRY!!! Okay, it wasn't that big (less than 4 feet) but OPEN COCKPIT AND DRY??? If I had not been in the boat I would not have believed it. When I began paddling for my swimmer, I had to go beam to (side ways) to a two foot chop with about a 3 to 5 second interval and still an open cockpit. NO WATER IN THE BOAT PERIOD. The seaker was so stable that after a bit of paddling, I was able to paddle within a few feet of the swimmer even in the chop and still not be worried about running into the swimmer as they swam.
I have yet to get wet in the Seaker when I wasn't playing around with or practicing recovery with the Seaker. When I did get wet was when after a few rounds in the surf I got careless. Even then, the Seaker took good care of me. One of the worst things that can happen in a boat is to come in shallow in the surf and then get knocked over facing the beach. Well, it finally happened to me and thank you God that I was in the Seaker. When I wasn't paying attention (bad move on my part), I got surfed backwards in the shallows and chose the wrong brace. I flipped in shallow water facing the beach but because the Seaker is inflatable and flexible, the 60 lbs of boat plus me plus gear NEVER slammed me into the sand. I was able to come up flat to the submerged deck of the Seaker, wet exit, and stand up without a scratch.
Oh, the best part of paddling the Seaker generally is its combination of comfort, speed, and stability. During that training swim, the air temp was in the low fifties, the water temp was 56 F, and the wind was approaching 15 to 20 mph with a storm front moving in. I was WARM and DRY. Also, come summer time, the boat is nice and cool even when the air is 80 to 90, the spray skirt is on, and there is little to no wind. The contact between the inflatable floor and side tubes and the sea is your layer of insulation in the winter and your built in air conditioner in the summer time.
I could rave about how I never have owned a better built or more able boat. I could tell you how you could rig the Seaker with just about every piece of sea kayaking gear imaginable and yet retain speed and load capacity. I could even go on about the rocks, the rebarb, and the boats I've bounced the Seaker off of and have never been able to find a scratch on it yet. I wanted to share what fun these boats are most of all. Even though you can setup the boat in under 15 minutes which is almost 2 hours less than setting up a Klepper. I know. The first time a friend with a Klepper saw me setup the Seaker, he couldn't stop bragging on the boat or nagging on how long it took to set up the Klepper he and his wife loved so much. Yeah and the boats are quick. While they won't beat a glass boat for speed, few things beat being able to kayak in almost anything and to be able to land on almost anything you could stand on.
In short, if you want an expedition boat to last a life time buy an Innova Seaker and spend your time learning the boat. It is worth every penny and every minute. Like with any kayak, dress for immersion and don't go off shore until you've practiced your rescue and recovery skills. Every boat is different. The Seaker will take excellent care of you and bring you home with a lot of fond memories.
Signed Innova Fanatic
and Proud Owner of the
Innova Seaker, Sunny, Safari, and Traveler