Saturday, September 12, 2020

Seabird Scott HV impressions

 I bought a new kayak and went for an overnighter to test it.

I've covered the difficulties of finding a good British style kayak for someone who is a little taller in a number of post on this blog, the previous one is from 2017. The Skim Beaufort I bought then has turned out to be excellent in most aspects, but now I also wanted a kayak with more primary stability, for trips where there would be more photography from the kayak. While the Beaufort is excellent in high sea, the somewhat lively primary stability does limit photography when the waves grow. The list I've made, and written about, earlier is still valid, with the addition of the Tiderace Xceed, which is a newer kayak and which I've never tested. The Zegul kayaks Arrow Play HV and Arrow Bara are excellent kayaks, but based on previous experiences I'm not willing to pay a fairly large amount of money for something with possibly uncertain quality. The list has contained the Seabird Scott HV for some time, I first tested it in 2014, but considered it a little too big for me. Unloaded it felt like it floated unnecessarily high in the water. The Seabird company also did some really ugly stunts to retailers selling their stuff when they moved to direct sales. And the company does generate some dislike among more experienced kayakers due to the low price of their kayaks. The kayaks themselves, at least the British style models, are excellent kayaks in water and the quality has generally been ok, despite the low price.

I do have a Seabird kayak, the plastic Scott HDPE, since 2016 (bought from a retailer). That kayak has actually been quite good and very much kayak for the money. I'm too heavy for it (MV size) when it is loaded with gear for several nights out and it looses all the fun properties, but empty it is a good kayak and loaded excellent for my 15-year old boy. It hasn't had much problems. The back band has been switched out to something much better and the skeg needed a little service once, but nothing bad. I've guided in the Scott HV enough that I know the kayak and I've observed the Seabird kayaks in rental use for a number of years. The skegs are a constant problem, as with most other brands, in rental use, but for personal use they work.

Thus an order for a Seabird Scott HV was placed. The price was quite nice, and the kayak arrived in a little over two weeks, much faster than expected after a summer that has seen record sales of kayaks and emptied kayak shops in Finland. Opening the package that was delivered home, everything looked great, except a missing front hatch cover that probably will arrive next week. Two kayaks I've bought have had severe leaking issues that had to be fixed by the seller/manufacturer, so I needed to actually test it in water to see that it was ok. Thus I went on a little overnighter immediately after work on Friday.

This time of the year the evenings get shorter and there is no longer the abundance of daylight of the summer.

Despite the kayak being quite wide, it is narrow and low enough in front of the cockpit to allow a good paddle stroke, in contrast to the Capella 173 I had for a while. The seating position also allows the knees to be close enough together, again different from the Capella 173, which forced me into a wide frog position. I do have a feeling that the Scott HV glides a little worse that the Skim Beaufort in the 4 knots range, which should be no surprise with 5 cm more width and a flat bottomed hull.

Arriving a little after sunset after 1 h 40 min for 9 km in a headwind of 6-7 m/s.

Time to enjoy the rest of the evening and make something to eat.

The night was still quite warm, but the wind kept rising, as was forecasted, and there was also some rain. The rain stopped before it was time to get up and make breakfast, though.

Still some blooming flowers in the archipelago, but the only one sufficiently sharp was of the tansy. The wind was now probably near the forecasted 10 m/s.

The Scott HV in the hybrid carbon/kevlar weights 25 kg according to the manufacturer. This seems about right: It is a little heavier than the Beaufort (23 kg) and clearly lighter than the Scott HDPE (about 30 kg). The material is clearly thinner than in my carbon/kevlar Beaufort and I definitely do not expect it to be equally strong, not by far.

The rigging of the deck lines in the front is strange. I'll reroute it to skip the deckfitting between the end of the paddle shafts, for a more traditional routing. This way should also easily allow fitting the Northwater paddle britches.

A compass is already awaiting mounting into the apple holder.

I moved the seat one notch forward, to gain more space for leanback rolls. It seemed to be well balanced this way. A small crack can be seen in the picture. It seems to be in the gelcoat only, but I'll have to ask the manufacturer. The seat will need at least a small rubber mat between the seat bottom and the hull and I'll also drill draining holes in the bottom of the seat. It did feel like the seat move just slightly when aggressively edging the kayak. If the rubber mat with its increased friction does not help, I'll have to put some hard foam at the side of the kayak. I had the same problem with the Arrow Play.

I've generally removed seat padding like this.

You generally remove the knee braces on smaller Scott kayaks quickly. I though they would be ok on this bigger one, but they still feel clumsy and to some extent hinder leg movement. I'll see if it is possible to modify them somehow.

The aft deck line rigging is ok.

The Seabird screw-on hatch in front of the cockpit isn't waterproof and has never been. I usually have a bottle of water and sunglasses in there, but nothing that cannot take water.

The hatch directly behind the cockpit has a unnecessarily small hatch cover.

And then it was time to paddle back. The wind was now 10-11 m/s and I had tailwind except for the very first bit. Some amount of edging in the first picture.

I did go out a bit in headwind and try the basic 360° turns, which in harder winds are difficult if the kayaker is too small for the kayak. No problems here, even though the kayak had a fairly light load. It does feel like the skeg is unusually efficient on this kayak.

And then the tailwind section started.

From here on there was about 30 minutes of mostly surfing, catching one wave after another. The Scott HV catches surfs well with its flat bottom, but is a tad long for these smaller waves. The primary stability is excellent, though, and instead of bracing it was possible to use the camera. The tailwind was too much fun, though, and I took no more pictures.

The test paddle went well and the same 9 km now went in 1 h 5 min, a lot faster. The kayak works as it should, one thing has to be checked with the manufacturer, and the hatches were dry. Not a single drop of water anywhere, which is quite good in these circumstances. No wet rescue exercises, though, but I expect no mentionable leaks in those situations either.

I didn't bother with any of the manouverability and steering techniques, since I know this kayak. Functionality wise, it is a good British style kayak which enables all those easily. Only edge-to-edge transition is a little slower because of the width, at least for smaller paddlers (who should be in a smaller kayak). Rolls, rescues and everything else works well with this kayak.

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