I’m an odd sea kayaker. I’ve spent months kayaking daily in the Sea of Cortez. I’ve done a major kayak expedition and a bunch of smaller tours. The only thing is my kayak experience has come in a few months long trips down to Baja. When I have sea kayaked I’ve done it like mad for weeks at a time, but then I’ve gone a year or two without touching a paddle. I can blame a bunch of that on living in Calgary for 15yrs. There are lakes and rivers to paddle on, but it’s hard to get stoked about paddling on a lake you can see across when your last paddle was an 8 week tour down the Sea of Cortez!
Now that I am living in Victoria BC – an international sea kayaking hot spot up there with Baja Mexico – it makes sense to get my paddle on at home. I own a 14′ plastic SOT [sit-on-top] kayak which I love. It’s ideal for fishing and short day trips. It’s not the most efficient paddling boat and it struggles if you load it up for a multi-day camping trip.
One of the things my time touring on inefficient plastic kayaks down in Baja has taught me is that I could really use an efficient boat. I’m not the strongest paddler on the planet and in order to cover a decent daily distance on tour pushing a barge through the water is not ideal.
One of the things I learned in the last year from cycling is how much more fun it is to travel together with my weaker partner on a tandem Bike Friday. Having experienced similar problems of unequal power and skill kayaking I can see how beneficial it would be to have a tandem kayak for Sharon and I rather than investing in two single boats. Not only does it keep the team together on the water for the sake of enjoyment it also makes paddling much safer. That’s an important consideration since sea kayaking has an element of risk, due to tides and bad weather, that isn’t present in biking.
I have always admired the sleek shiny fibreglass and kevlar sea kayaks I’ve seen on top of cars headed to the ocean and on the water down in Baja. Not only are they beautiful, but they glide smoothly and efficiently through the water while carrying a week’s worth of gear. I’ve held off buying a high end kayak simply because I felt my intense, but infrequent paddling schedule didn’t justify the cost. Now that I am living in a sea kayaking paradise I’m of a different mind so I started to do some research talking to everyone I saw with a boat, visiting paddling shops and checking out what people are saying online. One of the name’s that stood out was Seaward Kayaks. Owners’ and reviewers alike where impressed by the quality of their construction, their performance on the water and the excellent customer service. I was stoked to find out this was a Canadian company and then even more stoked to find out that their factory was just up the road in Chemainus BC.
My experience with Bike Friday has really shown me the benefits of buying from a small company that values quality and performance. I love being able to visit the place where my gear is made and talk to the folks whose hands have crafted the product I’m using to propel my adventures. I also really really like knowing that if I have a problem down the road there are real people I can call/email/visit who care and will help me out. Something you do not get with a low cost high volume made in China item.
Of course buying a Seaward Kayak isn’t cheap and a boat like this will last the rest of our paddling lives so I want to get it right. Each boat is customized for the owner[s] and I want to understand all the options so I get the right boat for us. So far that seems like a Seaward Passat G3 in fibreglass – hence the kayak porn in this post…=-)
Since I’ve always owned plastic boats I need to educate myself about the different material options available and the different features. I’ll be posting about what I find out on this blog – sort of a Buying Sea Kayaks for Dummies series…hopefully with a Seaward Passat G3 review and Baja tour report next winter…=-) Doug at Seaward Kayaks has been kind enough to agree to showing me around their factory and answering my questions. My mission is to learn a ton without being a PITA!