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Submitted: 05-31-2007 by canoedancing
Spending this much money on a new canoe is a stressful undertaking so I did my research and talked to owners and placed my order for the Shearwater in Expedition Kevlar, Champagne white, with colored matched skid plates, Cherry interior, ash rails, sliding seat, adjustable foot pegs and take-out portage yoke. The boat arrived unexpectedly on Easter Sunday, being hand deliverd by Bill Swift Jr. himself. Unwrapping the boat was a delight. Much better than I could have expected. The woodwork was perfect; all matching pieces, nicely rounded off edges and ends, excellent all around woodwork and finish. The hull itself is very well put together. The only minor drawback to the whole thing is the designer's (John Winter's) insignia which is a dove, but in black, so from a distance it looks like a little jagged hole in the hull until you look more closely. Easily fixable, I've asked the designer to send me a new insignia with a dove sillohette which will be more suitable for the white hull. Another comment is the take-out portage yoke is exquisitely sculpted, but is overly thick for this weight canoe. I can understand the builder's concern that a wimpy yoke might break and cause and injury, but this yoke is just too thick. I'll spend some time this winter shaping it down so it will be thinner and lighter and more in keeping with the other wood work in the canoe.
Paddling the Shearwater for the first time was outstanding and it just keeps getting better every time I paddle it. Plenty of glide, easy to get up to speed and hold at cruising speed with minimal correction. Tracks very well and turns as needed. Not a sharp turn, but plenty responsive for most river work. I ordered the expedition kevlar and skid plates so I can use the boat on the rocks and ledges in my local rivers and I'm not disappointed. After banging through numerous rock gardens over the past few weeks I'm well satisfied that the expedition kevlar and skid plate installation was a good choice for me. The canoe weighs 48# with all the trimmings, but a comparable Royalex boat would be 20# heavier and not as much fun to paddle. The composite hull is stiff and reassuring.
My overall satisfaction with the Shearwater and with Bill Swift Jr. is a 10. If I could get the same strength hull only 10# lighter I'd have been thrilled, but as it is I'm very satisfied, and would recommend this canoe and the Swift company to anyone seeking a fine canoe or kayak. I also own the Swift Osprey in kev light and it is also finely crafted. It weighs 40# which is certainly in line with the lay up and the finish including the sliding seat. Before I made my decision to buy the Osprey and to order the Shearwater I searched the Internet and found dozens of compliments from satisfied customers but could only find one person ever complaining about the Shearwater or the Swift Company, and I thought that was pretty good considering the large number of canoes and kayaks they build and sell each year.
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