11-18-2011Submitted by: Tap
Reviews for Shearwater Canoe by Swift
Based On: 7 Reviews
- Rating: 10 of 10 The Shearwater is a very large solo (16') and nearly 31" wide. Mine is the exp. kevlar without skid plates. As far as solo canoes go... it's a Volvo station wagon, not a sport coupe. But, it's a very secure and classy ride.
As others have noted, it's not fast. I row it with spoon blades (7 ft oars) and a medium effort yields only 4 mph. I doubt I could row it 4.5 mph for more than an hour or two. Light cruising effort in flat conditions gives about 3.5 mph. So a Prism or Magic are about 10-20% faster depending upon wave conditions. I'm guessing that it's the rocker that limits it's speed so much.
It's a great tripper and casual tourer kind of boat. Best suited to large guys (gunwales span 29.5") and large loads ... although does well empty too. Fine large boat ... just not a speedster.
06-18-2010Submitted by: DeadHead
- Rating: 9 of 10 In February 2010 I ordered a Swift Shearwater in kevlar with carbon rails, a sliding seat, and a bar foot brace (instead of the kayak style foot braces). I chose Killarney green gel coat. It arrived in April in perfect shape, and the shipping weight was 34 lbs. The canoe is so light you can pick it up with one hand and carry it like a suitcase.
Construction and attention to detail deserves a 10 rating. It's stunningly beautiful and not a flaw anywhere. It has cherry thwarts, bow & stern caps, and seat frame.
My first outing was in Biscayne Bay, very lightly loaded, and with a moderate easterly breeze. I used a carbon fiber Epic 2-bladed paddle and a bent shaft Voyageur canoe paddle. Both moved the boat effortlessly, and it tracked perfectly straight into a quartering wind. It's plenty stable enough to stand in and has very good initial and secondary stability too. I'd say it had better stability than the Wenonah Prism that I test paddled when I was shopping for a solo canoe.
My second outing three weeks later was a fully loaded 10-day, 129-mile solo excursion in Everglades National Park, paddling along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, on tidal rivers, and in open backcountry bays. The canoe had some initial difficulty tracking, and kept wanting to turn into the wind. I attribute this to it being loaded incorrectly and, once I readjusted the load, placing more weight toward the stern, this alleviated the problem considerably. As days went on it tracked even better because I was lightening the load by eliminating the weight of water and food each day.
Fully loaded the Shearwater was still capable of reaching 5.8 mph on my GPS, and it maintained 3.3 mph without much effort at all, mostly using a 2-bladed paddle.
I'm giving my Shearwater a 9 rating, rather than a 10, solely because the washers on all of the stainless hardware began to rust after being exposed to saltwater. This was a minor fix but I had to act quickly before the rust discolored the carbon rails. Perhaps not too many Shearwaters are used in saltwater, or it may not be something any Canadian canoe manufacturer thinks about. Keep this in mind if you paddle one in saltwater.
Overall, this canoe is superb and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a fast, stable, solo canoe for day tripping or excursions up to ten days. You could probably get two weeks worth of gear in a Shearwater if you paddled in freshwater. I brought 12 gallons of water on my 10-day trip, which is 100 lbs of water. Paddling in freshwater would allow you to sterilize the water for drinking, and use it for cooking, thereby saving considerable weight.
03-10-2008Submitted by: Brammy
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have a Shearwater in the Expedition Kevlar layup. It is 49 pounds with the removable yoke. The woodwork and quality of the layup is as good as I have ever seen on any boat by any manufacturer, it is nearly flawless. The boat is very robustly built, yet not terribly heavy. It is made for larger paddlers and will handle a good amount of gear. I routinely travel with a total weight of 280 to 310 pounds. The boat likes a load. It has great glide, and once you have built momentum from a stop, it is nearly effortless to keep her at cruise.
The Shearwater is a boat that inspires confidence as it is so comfortable and stable. I use her to fish walleye on large lakes with a heavy chop, and fish blue gills in snakey shallow creeks. She exhibits uncommon maneuverability for and nimbleness for such a long craft. I can turn her within a boat length. The Shearwater is agile, yet tracks well. It has good speed for a boat that is built to carry extended tripping loads. The sliding seat gives a lot of trim possibilities, and the asymmetrical hull is quick and efficient.
The only problem I have is in extreme wind off the stern quarter, it is difficult to trim the boat out. That said, with ballast aft and the seat back as far as possible it is easier to control.
The Swift company has been good to deal with and my boat is a dream come true. I have found Bill to be very personal and a gentleman to talk to on the phone when I have had questions.
I would recommend the Kayak foot braces for your boat, they are awesome and leave tons of room for gear.
If you trip with a ton of gear, and or are a larger paddler who kneels and sits both, and if you fish often and like a safe stable efficient boat ... if longer solo trips are your thing, this is the boat for you! I love my Shearwater!
05-31-2007Submitted by: canoedancing
- Rating: 10 of 10 Spending this much money on a new canoe is a stressful undertaking so I did my research and talked to owners and placed my order for the Shearwater in Expedition Kevlar, Champagne white, with colored matched skid plates, Cherry interior, ash rails, sliding seat, adjustable foot pegs and take-out portage yoke. The boat arrived unexpectedly on Easter Sunday, being hand deliverd by Bill Swift Jr. himself. Unwrapping the boat was a delight. Much better than I could have expected. The woodwork was perfect; all matching pieces, nicely rounded off edges and ends, excellent all around woodwork and finish. The hull itself is very well put together. The only minor drawback to the whole thing is the designer's (John Winter's) insignia which is a dove, but in black, so from a distance it looks like a little jagged hole in the hull until you look more closely. Easily fixable, I've asked the designer to send me a new insignia with a dove sillohette which will be more suitable for the white hull. Another comment is the take-out portage yoke is exquisitely sculpted, but is overly thick for this weight canoe. I can understand the builder's concern that a wimpy yoke might break and cause and injury, but this yoke is just too thick. I'll spend some time this winter shaping it down so it will be thinner and lighter and more in keeping with the other wood work in the canoe.
Paddling the Shearwater for the first time was outstanding and it just keeps getting better every time I paddle it. Plenty of glide, easy to get up to speed and hold at cruising speed with minimal correction. Tracks very well and turns as needed. Not a sharp turn, but plenty responsive for most river work. I ordered the expedition kevlar and skid plates so I can use the boat on the rocks and ledges in my local rivers and I'm not disappointed. After banging through numerous rock gardens over the past few weeks I'm well satisfied that the expedition kevlar and skid plate installation was a good choice for me. The canoe weighs 48# with all the trimmings, but a comparable Royalex boat would be 20# heavier and not as much fun to paddle. The composite hull is stiff and reassuring.
My overall satisfaction with the Shearwater and with Bill Swift Jr. is a 10. If I could get the same strength hull only 10# lighter I'd have been thrilled, but as it is I'm very satisfied, and would recommend this canoe and the Swift company to anyone seeking a fine canoe or kayak. I also own the Swift Osprey in kev light and it is also finely crafted. It weighs 40# which is certainly in line with the lay up and the finish including the sliding seat. Before I made my decision to buy the Osprey and to order the Shearwater I searched the Internet and found dozens of compliments from satisfied customers but could only find one person ever complaining about the Shearwater or the Swift Company, and I thought that was pretty good considering the large number of canoes and kayaks they build and sell each year.
12-18-2003Submitted by: arkay
- Rating: 9 of 10 I ordered my Swift Shearwater with the Expedition Kevlar hull and the following options: cherry rails and trim, sliding seat, factory installed adjustable foot-brace. I had mine built without the standard skid plates. With no dealers in my area of the USA I special ordered mine directly from Swift in Gravenhurst, Ontario. I purchased the John Winterís designed Shearwater for use on large rivers/lakes as a solo tripper on canoe camping trips.
Iíve paddled this canoe in mild whitewater (Class II) and it excels in standing waves, riding high and dry. It handles any lake chop I care to be out in with ease. In river current this big solo canoe actually maneuvers much like a smaller boat, with its raked stems it has a waterline quite a bit shorter than its overall length would suggest. The bow also has a fair amount of flair and is full-quartered which I feel helps with wave deflection and stability in quick water. With itís differential rocker the stern sticks a bit making it a bit hard to spin and causing some stern gurgle in tight turns Ė but that feature also aids tracking on flatwater Ė a trade-off.
I highly recommend the sliding seat, which helps establish trim and is also very handy for transferring weight forward when paddling into strong winds. Swiftís webbed seat frames are unique; they feature angled/curved rails and styles that are well designed, comfortable and attractive. The simple sliding seat mechanism is another exclusive to Swift; it is infinitely adjustable anywhere along its long range and locks securely in place with locks on either side. The seat locks are unfortunately placed on the rear rail which makes them hard to reach while in the boat, but itís a small matter to move the locks to a more logical position at the front of the seat. The adjustable foot-brace is simple and easy to adjust with one hand.
This boat handles well either kneeling or sitting depending on conditions and user preferences. This is not a particularly fast boat, yet I feel it is quick enough for my purposes most of the time. For a canoe with rather highly rockered bow and large volume it has a reasonably good glide and has quick acceleration from a dead stop. Itís easy to keep it up to an efficient cruising speed. The Shearwater has surprisingly good maneuverability while paddled flat yet it tracks straight with minimal corrective effort. The Shearwater has both high initial and secondary stability Ė itís simply rock solid. I have had beginning canoeists in this boat and they were quite comfortable - more experienced paddlers enjoy its playfulness. Along the sides at amidships this hull has a somewhat straight flare from the chines up to the shoulder of the angled tumblehome. These flared sides seem to give this design a little resistance to being paddled heeled over hard on the straight. On the other hand it is easy to edge for turns and it side-slips easily as well.
To sum up the performance of this boat: This is a stable high volume yet is very nimble for a larger solo canoe Ė itís a pleasure to paddle.
I cannot say doing business with Swift was as pleasurable. Based on the numerous problems I had during the ten months it took me to get this canoe I must say that Swiftís customer service was extremely poor (with an exception noted below) and the company seems highly disorganized. Swift quality control is very uneven Ė sometimes great - sometimes dismally bad. Swift did provide me with a loaner Shearwater to use while I waited for them to build an acceptable canoe after I was forced to reject one they built me that had numerous glaring defects. In the end I received a beautiful well crafted boat, but along the way Swift taxed my patience more than any other canoe company Iíve ever dealt with. I can not recommend buying a canoe directly from Swift based on the experiences I had. If you want a canoe from this company I would suggest that you buy through a dealer and let them deal with Swift. If you get a good one these are very fine canoes with great hull designs, but Swift quality is unpredictable Ė be sure to inspect thoroughly and expect to wait a long, long time.
A more positive note: I was not able to develop much of a sense of trust with anybody at Swift except with an outstanding young employee named Jay Mothersill. Jay made sure I had a loaner Shearwater while they attempted to build one to acceptable standards. He also sent detailed notes to the factory to make sure the second boat they built me was built right. If you must buy directly from Swift I highly recommend that you deal only with Jay. Had it not been for him I would have cancelled my order.
My rating for the boat itself is based solely on the design and the boatís performance, not on the companyís patience taxing business practices.
11-06-2000Submitted by: cedarcanoe
- Rating: 10 of 10 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!
10-17-2000Submitted by: Tom
- Rating: 10 of 10 Mine is lightweight Kevlar with a sliding seat and all cherry trim. This boat is gorgeous. As the Swift people said, the Osprey may be the faster boat - by just a small margin...the Shearwater is supposed to be "halfway between a solo and tandem). I find it an excellent solo. This boat will cruise all day at a very nice speed with minimal muscle...better than an Osprey for cruising (Osprey glide is good, Shearwater glide is excellent). It turns beautifully...I love to play on quiet water with this boat..you can freestyle it and bring the rail down to the water with total security and it turns better than a 16 foot boat should - and it's very graceful. Everyone that has paddled it loves it. With a 70 pound dog it remains perfectly comfortable for both of us...we both have plenty of room (the dog is comfortable enough to sleep in this boat while we're paddling). Let's see - beautiful, fast, quick, light weight, versatile, great for freestyle, super-comfortable.....it's a 10!
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