Submitted: 08-21-2012 by J Fuehring
I bought my Swift Osprey at the beginning of 2011 with recreational paddling in mind (specifically, paddling alongside my friends rec kayaks ranging from 12 to 14 feet). I should also mention that I wanted to paddle this boat from a seated position (I'm a little past kneeling for long stretches). Right away, I had the sensation that the seat height put the center of gravity higher than I would like. I didn't swamp the boat, but had a few close calls. Also noted that when the wind gabbed the boat it was almost impossible to recover steering. I tried paddling with my kayak paddle (it's a 230cm) and that change resulted in a very positive influence on my ability to hold a course. I as still a little unhappy with the seat height. I spoke with Swift (an excellent staff, by the way) and ended up buying the kayak seat. This change brought the center of gravity down and really increased my level of control. I paddled this configuration for the remainder of 2011. Paddling into the wind (I got lots of experience doing this on Adirondack lakes), I found that as long as you point the nose into the wind and don't let the bow wander, paddling is quite easy and the boat moves along at an excellent clip, keeping up with the above mentioned kayaks. This year, after gaining some experience with the boat, I decided to go back to the canoe seat (changing from one seat to the other is also a really easy process (2 screws on the rear thwart, slide one seat out and the new one on). I kept the longer spacers that came with the kayak seat, which resulted in the canoe seat sitting 2" lower than the stock position, and right now I'm pretty happy with that, but I think for a long trip I'll probably go with the kayak seat to take advantage of the lumbar support.
It is a pretty dry boat, in that when it meets a wave head on, the bow rises over it, and even when it slaps down on the back side of the wave, water doesn't seem to enter the boat. Also, like most canoes, this one handles better with a bit of weight added, so I've been designated as the gear hauler for day trips, and I don't mind a bit.
If you have seen this boat up close you know that it is really beautiful, and the craftsmanship in construction is flawless. All in all, I'm very pleased with the purchase, the boat, and with Swift.