Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Seabird Scott MV HDPE First Impressions

So, there I was again, looking for a kayak. This was not my intention. I would have been more than satisfied with the Zegul Arrow Play HV, had it been of a good enough construction. Now I returned it to the shop and will get a replacement kayak of another brand sometime next year.

I started to think about options, since I wanted a kayak for guiding and exams later this fall, and suddenly remembered the plastic Scott I tried in April in the pool of the Maritime Safety Center of Mariehamn, Ă…land. I recalled liking it, but wasn't sure how well I fit. A quick message to Benjamin Donner of Aavameri revealed that he had just gotten a shipment of kayaks from Seabird, including a Scott MV HDPE. I went to see how it fit me and ended up buying it.

The Seabird Scott MV HDPE is a sandwich polyethylene (PE) version of the composite Scott series, which is a nice line of playful British style sea kayaks for a good price. I had previously tested the Scott HV, in which I fit fine, though the kayak otherwise felt a bit big. Despite my size, 192 cm and almost 100 kg, I like smaller kayaks, which in practice means mid size, since I can't get into anything smaller. It's not a lack of flexibility, but rather too long legs. The composite Scott MV, on the other hand, was a tad too small for me. The PE version is only available in  size MV, but it is not a straight copy of the composite version. It slightly longer, but also lower. The shallow V midsection also seems to be a bit flatter in the PE version.

The cockpit is 2 cm longer, which is enough for me to fit adequately, even though it is lower. Lengthwise there is more room inside in the PE version and the seat also is more comfortable. The entire kayak is lower, also in the cockpit, but I don't like a high "knees up" position anyway, instead preferring to paddle with me legs only slightly bent over a paddle float. The knee braces are a tad aggressive and big for me, though, and I might very well do some modifications here.

There is the usual place for a Silva (nowadays Garmin) 70P compass, which is one of the first things to mount on a new kayak.

The hatches are Seabird's own production and seem good enough. With the exception of the front day hatch, the hatches have been perfectly tight during rolls, waves and rescues. There's a large oval hatch in the back (without it I couldn't bring my pizza oven) and a smaller round hatch in the front.


The front day hatch is probably not even designed to be totally waterproof, though. A few drops of water entered.

The rear day hatch is unnecessarily small. There is plenty of space inside, but it all has to fit through a 15 cm opening. No deal breaker, but poor design in my opinion.

The hatches were not tethered from the start, but that doesn't take many minutes to fix.

The seat was mounted in the same way as on the Arrow Play, i.e in practice hanging from the extended cockpit coaming, a construction that definitely does not work for someone my weight. The seat moves too much. I solved it the same way as in the Arrow Play, by putting a rubber mat under the seat. The seat rests mostly on the rubber mat, the friction of which should keep if from moving sideways.

The rigging is good, better than on the composite Scott versions. With deck balls on a few places the deck lines will be further improved.

I immediately took the kayak out for some further testing after having fetched it. The video below sums my first impressions of it.


A few day's later I tried it in a little harder wind when I paddled with Jarkko. Not any real pictures, though, but the wind was at most around 12 m/s and up to 18 m/s in the gusts according to the log nearby. No big waves, though, but the kayak worked well in the wind.

All in all, the kayak is pretty much what I assumed and hoped it to be. It a fun and agile British style kayak for a very good price. It is stable enough for guiding and the material should be almost bomb proof. The HDPE material seems stiff enough, certainly much stiffer than the PE Nordkaps I've seen. The speed is enough for touring and the kayak seems to surf well, though I haven't really tested this thoroughly.


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