Submitted: 09-03-2008 by canoedancing
For a couple years I was quite happy paddling my Enlightened T-16 thermoformed plastic boat. It was stable, tracked well, a little hard to turn but acceptable, hauled a freight load of camping gear well, and made me smile every time I paddled it. It just cruised right along with easy strokes and was a good first touring kayak for me. The paddler I sold it to is saying pretty much the same thing about it.
What I wanted next was something a little more nimble, a little faster, perhaps less stable but more playful. So I went on the boards here and asked for advice, and got plenty of choices. I took time off for the on water demo days this spring and talked with dealers and builders. I narrowed my choices down to the Eddyline Fathom and the Swift Bering Sea. Either one would fill my needs quite well. At the end of the day I wound up buying the Swift Bering Sea.
There isn't just "one thing" that I find outstanding about this kayak. It just is what it is. A comfortable, reasonably fast, reasonably maneuverable kayak that is well made, pretty as can be, and makes me smile every time I look at it on the rack or on the truck or on the water. It's just a purely delightful boat that I'm enjoying immensely. I've done several day trips and two weekend camping trips and have no problem stuffing my 200 pounds and another 70 pounds of gear into the Bering. The work "cavernous" comes to mind, it just seems to always take "just one more thing" through those oversized hatch openings. I do think the 30 pounds of water and the two soft sided coolers with beer and ice were a bit over the top, but I had a good trip anyway.
The hardest thing I've paddled so far is a 2 mile crossing with 3 foot breaking waves on my left rear quarter and a steady wind pushing the boat around when I was on the crest of a wave. The boat wanted to slide down the wave face sideways into the trough. That was the first time I was absolutely thankful I got the rudder. Without it the boat required diligent steering with every other stroke. Once I put the rudder down everything settled down to a good ride. The hatches stay dry in normal use and the seat is very comfy now that I've cut about 3 inches off the top of the backrest.
The manufacturer has been easy to work with and willing to spend extra time helping me decide if this was the right boat, and not trying to push something off on me and he has followed up to see how I'm liking it. So, there's no "gosh, gee whiz this is the best boat out there" kind of review. Just a satisfied customer who wouldn't hesitate to buy another John Winters design and I certainly won't hesitate to buy another Swift. This is the third Swift I've owned over 6 years and all three have been beautiful boats and very pleasant to paddle.