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Submitted: 09-09-2013 by pjvitkus
After building from plans and paddling another manufacturer's kayak that has a stern that acts as a sail, I wanted a boat that tracked well. When a couple of my buddies in my kayak club (Warehouse Church Kayak Shop) wanted to learn how to build a boat in 5 days (yeah, right) but they didn't need another boat, I checked out what they would be building - the Shearwater 17. CLC's review of it indicated that it tracked well and was fast, and that made it the boat for me (I'm still 'fixing' the first boat). So after a week stitching it together and glassing it, my buddies handed it off to me to "finish."
----Finishing the Shearwater 17-----
TIME AND VARNISH. Finishing is really the biggest part of building a stitch and glue boat like the Shearwater 17. This took a lot of time across a couple of months. Getting the varnish just right was a challenge, but after 7 attempts I learned that a little dab of mineral spirits across the deck and hull will do ya - and the boat does look good.
HATCH KITS. CLC provides one of their standard hatch kits with their boats. Which, per other reviewers and my experience, leaks. Going with an s-cam buckle kit from another manufacturer really provides a good seal - and dry holds.
DECK LINES. CLC like at least a couple of other kit manufacturers neglects to include deck lines for rescue - a safety feature which I did add both fore and aft. It doesn't diminish the boat's appearance, and even if it did, it's an essential safety feature all kayaks should have.
FOOT PEGS. The CLC kit provides plastic rails & foot pegs that are sorely inadequate when it comes to serious paddling when you're pushing hard with your feet – the pedals come off! Plus, the plastic Keepers require drilling holes through the sides to bolt them in. I replaced these with aluminum rails & foot pedals that attach within the cockpit - no holes required. This both improves the appearance and performance of the boat.
BACK SUPPORT. The CLC comes with a support band that is worth, well, very little. I replaced it with foam cut to extend no higher than the top of the coaming, and so far this has been pretty good.
KNEE BRACES. What remains for my boat is cutting out the foam knee braces. There is so much room in the cockpit I'll need to put fairly thick knee braces in since when attempting to roll (I'm just learning this) I end up floating around in the cockpit, not able to shift leg weight. This of course is not a problem, more space (to a point) is better.
------------Paddling the Shearwater 17---------
TRACKING, STABILITY, SPEED. Getting to performance. Wow. I could not believe the boat. No weathercocking - it tracks beautifully. No wobble - as stable as could be. And the long Loaded Waterline Length ensured a fast hull speed. Wow. I've enjoyed it in one 10-mile downstream river race already and look forward to more.
WAVES. I've just moved into intermediate paddling category - I do like waves a lot but need more time in the seat in waves to be fully comfortable and better at edging and bracing to contend with rough water. The Shearwater 17 gives me the "tool" to make going through the waves happen. What a delight.
FLAT WATER. On flat water the boat "disappears." It's so easy to paddle that you can easily get lost in the experience of being on-water.
FISHING. It's been fun using the Shearwater 17 for fishing. I built a rod holder that I easily can slip on and off under the front bungees, and use it for trolling. When it comes to casting, it's like casting from a lounge chair. It's a bit more difficult to fly cast, but whether fly casting or casting lures or live bait, the Shearwater 17 remains calm - no tendency to roll over with the shift in body weight. So far I've taken only pan fish in it, but have gone fishing for kings (which were only jumping around the days I went out).
---------A Final Note--------------------
LOOKING GOOD. Performance is what counts, and the Shearwater does not disappoint. However, the Shearwater 17 with the okume mahogany hull and sapele mahogany deck looks great. The cambered sapele deck is a delight to just look at. And the Shearwater 17 is better than a puppy for starting conversations!
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