Submitted: 11-06-2000 by cedarcanoe
My Shearwater is the Expedition Kevlar layup, with cherry trim all around, sliding seat, and kneeling pads. I paddled 9 different solo boats before I bought a Shearwater. I also read many reviews here and in print. Why the Shearwater? It does many things well: it has the glide and efficiency of a long cruiser, with the turning agility of a much shorter boat. The initial stability is much less tender than it's sibling design--the Osprey. Yet it doesn't trade away secondary stability to achieve it's calm initial demeanor. It can be leaned well over without losing poise. In most canoes I paddled it was immediately obvious what the compromises were: the Curtis Tripper tracks very straight and glides well, but is tough to turn; the Bell Wildfire turns on a dime, but is harder to keep on course and has much less glide. When paddling a Shearwater the compromises are not intrusive. There is no constant reminder of something it can't do well, which I did experience noticably in some other canoes. John Winter's masterful blend in the Shearwater makes it a pleasure to paddle under a variety of conditions.
The one obvious compromise is only apparent out of the water...being 16'+ the Shearwater tips the scales at 45+ lbs.. It is at the heavier end of solo boat options. But I'll gladly shoulder the extra few pounds to the water's edge, for the pleasure it serves up in abundance when paddled.
In my ranking criteria only the Bell Magic came in higher. Finding a meticulously maintained used Shearwater for 40% of new cost made the Shearwater a hands down winner! Many thanks to patient dealers, generous friends, and the reviews of other paddling.net readers. I'm loving it!