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Submitted: 04-28-2008 by Uberhoust

I have paddled my fiberglass Shadow now for about a year. I am 6 foot tall and 230 pounds, with shorter than normal legs so I am somewhat top heavy. I have paddle the boat for over 500 nautical miles and on one two week trip on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
    Cons:
  1. The boat weathercocks in light to strong winds, particularily if you let your speed drop below 3.5 knots. Although if the seas get rougher it is not as noticable.
  2. The skeg is too small. With full skeg down and a strong side wind it barely will turn downwind. You can use the skeg on my wife's explorer to steer to boat.
  3. The cockpit could be lowered slightly and made about 1.5" longer. These changes would make it easier to roll, balance brace, and just get in and out.
  4. The day hatch and day hatch bulkhead have leaked from day one. When Seaward was contacted on this I was told to put more silicone on, not the response I was looking for. For comparison my wife's explorer has airtight hatches.
  5. The bulkheads are made out of a thin clear fiberglass that looks very fragile. The boat I demoed had much stronger bulkheads. I don't know why they changed.
  6. I have a rust mark on the skeg lever that is due to something in the skeg assembly. Again the explorer is totally clean here.
    Pros:
  1. This boat turns very fast for a boat nearly 18' long. Put it on edge and away you go.
  2. The seat is surprisingly comfortable. I have paddled in it for 8 hours with no breaks and the only issue was my bladder.
  3. The fiberglass hull work is done very well. Unfortunately it is now a little scratched.
  4. For me it has little primary stability (A lighter person would have a lot more) but the secondary stability is very good. The stabilty and rolling ease was improved when I cut down the seat back by two and a half inches. Don't get the back rest get the back band. The backrest tends to make your upper body follow the slope of the waves.
  5. This boat surfs better than any sea kayak I have paddled. I have managed a 100 meter surf on a two foot high tug wake. In normal small surf conditions you can feel the hull start to plane and slide down wave. It can start surfing backwards as well if you are not careful and this is not as fun.
  6. The boat seems to handle eddys and tide rips well although I have yet to take it into anything better than 7 knots.
Overall I really like the boat, it is not as fast as an explorer but for touring it is more comfortable. The weathercocking, I believe, is the tradeoff for the better handling. I was pleased with Seawards service before I got the boat, they lent me a shadow for about a month on the off season while they built mine, but the couple of times I called after I got the boat their service was not so good. Other than the bulkhead leaking there is nothing really wrong with the boat. I would recommend this boat for a larger paddler looking for a playful boat they can tour with. I do not give it a perfect rating because of Seaward's response to the leaky bulkhead, I ended up reinforcing it myself, and because there are other minor issues.
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