Sunday, May 28, 2017

Seabird Scott MV HDPE midterm review.

I wrote about my initial impressions of the Seabird Scott MV HDPE kayak last August. Since then I've used only this kayak, on evening paddles, overnighters and a few weekend trips. Now that my new number one kayak has arrived, making this my number two kayak,  it's time to expand upon those initial impressions.

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. It is just big enough (the plastic version is a little longer than the composite one) for me. Despite my size, 192 cm and 100 kg, I like smaller kayaks, which in practice means mid sized, since I can't get into anything smaller. It's not really a lack of flexibility, but rather too long legs. The cockpit is 2 cm longer than that of the composite Scott MV, which is enough for me to fit in 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. I previously used to have a paddle float under my knees, which was really comfortable, but this kayak is a little low for that. The knee braces are a tad aggressive and big and would need some modifications. Not having a paddle float under my knees turned out to be a good thing, since it enabled better leg work with straightening the leg more during the power phase. Though I've always been plenty of spare power, I think this has still given me more.

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 are ok, but not great. 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 hatches are soft, which means that they might come loose in rescues if e.g. a knee pushes them in. This had happened several times during rescue trainings and I now take care not to get weight on the hatch.

The front day hatch is probably not even designed to be totally waterproof, though. It leaks water during rescue trainings.

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 keeps it from moving sideways. This could probably be further improved by applying some urethan like foam between the mat and the seat.

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 do think the rig line is too thin, though, since it has popped out from the fittings twice.

The first impressions video below is still valid.

The Scott MV HDPE has continued to feel like a very maneouverable kayak that is easy to roll. The stability, both primary and secondary, is good and I've even learned to stand up in it. The course stability is poor without the skeg down and demands concentration and technique to keep it on track. With the skeg down it tracks well, though. It works well in strong wind and waves. Below is a little video from a surf session.

Update: I tried a hand roll in it and had no problems nailing it the first time. No problems at all.

The speed is ok. Normal cruising speed feels easy, and it is only above 8 km/h that the resistance starts to grow rapidly. During short sprints I've had it up to 10.5 km/h, which does need quite a lot of power.

For touring there could be more room. It definitely has a less cargo space than the Arrow Play HV, and there's definitely not space for the pizza oven during a week long unsupported trip. A clear drawback of a low and mid sized manouverable kayak.

All in all, this is a fun and agile British style kayak for a very good price. It is stable enough for guiding and the HDPE material is stiff enough and should be almost bomb proof. Compared to other PE British style kayaks I've tried, like the Nordkap and Capella, this is a much more lively and fun boat. In Finland it is sold by at least

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