4mph for 7 miles in composite Sea Lion.

I finally got my fiberglass Aquaterra Sea Lion cockpit set up so it’s more comfortable for longer time in the seat and took it out today for the first relatively long outing this year and took a Magellan Sport Trac Marine GPS (thanks CD1) along for the ride for the first time for the dual purpose of 1) seeing what my average speed is in the Sea Lion and 2) to get an idea how many miles it was around one of the local lakes that I like to paddle.

I know that 4mph isn’t very fast to many of you, but it should be fast enough to help me keep up with CD1, bruce and Chuck_IL with out me having to work too hard or them having to slow down too much to wait for me and it seemed pretty easy to maintain. We had winds gusting to 20mph today and sometimes it was with me and sometimes it was against me and and sometimes I was mostly sheltered from it.

I did two circuits of the lake. The first was using an ONNO Mid Tour of signature construction set to 210cm and the rudder down most of the time. The ONNO required a little more effort than I prefer and my right shoulder and elbow started bugging me before the half way mark of the first lap. The rudder did seem to introduce noticeable drag and require more effort to keep the boat at about 4mph. The rudder drag was likely a factor in the ONNO feeling like it required more effort and feeling harder on my joints than the Epic Relaxed Tour with burgundy shaft that I used on the second circuit of the lake.

For the second circuit of the lake I used the Epic Relaxed Tour set to 215cm and kept the rudder up the entire time. The Epic felt better on my elbow and shoulder from the beginning and they felt better for the entire second circuit than they did during the first circuit with the ONNO.

I prefer the handling of the Sea Lion without the rudder up rather than down. Even though the rudder does turn the boat quite nicely and keeps it on track nicely in the wind, it’s just much more fun and maneuverable with leans when the rudder is up.


  1. Turned the mounting screws for a couple of the deck rigging loops inside out so that the screw heads are inside now, rather than the excess screw length. The excess screw length was catching on the toes of my mukluks when I was sliding the rudder controls and it was really annoying. It works fine now and the excess screw length on the outside does NOT interfere with my stroke when it slides right along the edge of the hull.
  2. Removed the stock seat back pad and replaced it with the RapidPulse seat pad / back band that came stock in my 1997 Swift Caspian Sea. The stock pad hit me in the wrong part of my back. The RapidPulse pad works much better for me in than the original back pad.
  3. Used cable ties to secure the loose ends of the deck rigging in front of the cockpit toward the middle of the kayak instead of them pointing out over the edge of the hull where they interfered with my stroke. That was quite annoying.

    I wasn’t comfortable paddling the Sea Lion until I made these changes. Now it’s ready for me to take it out on longer day trips with the locals.

    Any lighter weight boats that would fit me (5’6" and 155 lbs) similar to the Sea Lion and handle similarly? I like the fit and handling of the Sea Lion, but don’t like carrying and loading the 55 lb boat on to my car. I do like the relatively narrow 22" beam (compared to my 24" beam Caspian Sea) and the cockpit fit and handling.

    I haven’t had the Caspian sea out on this lake yet with the GPS, but in some comparisons last weekend on a much smaller lake, the Caspian Sea didn’t seem as easy to maintain at 4mph as the Sea Lion. Some of that may have been due to the fact that I was follwing the convoluted shoreline of the lake rather than paddling down the middle and the Caspian Sea requires a lot more effort to make those tight turns than the Sea Lion and I slow down more in tight turns with it than with the Sea Lion. Those time trials were only 1 mile long and were within 45 minutes of each other (I went home to swap boats).

    Happy paddling.

that’s pretty quick in my book
but I’m not a fast paddler, if you didn’t mind a reduction in stability you’d travel the same speed with less effort paddling a QCC600. I don’t know what kind of rudder you have on your Sea Lion but if it’s the original flat plate you’ll probably do better with a Sealine on the QCC600.

or Smart Track?

Are you sure you have the Mid Tour ?
6.125" Across the powerface ?

This paddle has slightly less surface area than the Epic but is a more efficient shape for all round paddling. This is why it might feel firmer to you.

However I believe it is your paddling style that lends itself to working with the Epic profile.

I invite you to send your ONNO back to me and I will reprofile it to the Feather Model you were asking about a while back.

This will soften up the catch and I think you will like this.

Is 600X as maneuverable as Sea Lion?
I have a Swift Caspian Sea / QCC 400X and it is much straighter tracking and much less maneuverable than the Sea Lion. I was under the impression that all of the QCC models were of a similar straight tracking / less maneuverable nature than the Sea Lion. I could imagine that either the 600X or 10X would feel more maneuverable and easy to lean to me than the Caspian Sea / 400X just because of their 3" narrower beam, lower deck and more intimate fit.

I could give up a little stability, but I wouldn’t want to give up much maneuverability or responsiveness to leans that make the Sea Lion fun if I were looking at a lighter boat to replace the Sea Lion, rather than a boat to compliment it. Going the same speed with less effort would certainly be welcome.

My Sea Lion does have the flat rudder. I haven’t used either the Smart Trak or Seal Line rudders, so I don’t know how they’d perform differently in regards to drag.

My brand new but not paddled yet because I haven’t repaired it yet after it fell off the rack kevlar 400X has a Smart Trak rudder, so I will be able to I will be able to experiment with it regarding drag with rudder and without it. I don’t have anything with a Seal Line rudder for comparison.

Thanks for your suggestions.

I’m pretty sure that it’s a Mid Tour.
It’s blade is much smaller than my paddle that’s supposed to be a full carbon 218cm Full Tour.

If I were to send you a paddle for reshaping, it would probably be the full carbon Full Tour because I like the feel and swing weight of it better than the carbo signature Mid Tour. 218cm is also a little long, but IIRC, you’re not able to shorten the older paddles with the push button release. The Full Tour is too much blade for my current level of conditioning and relatively low efficiency of my boats, so it doesn’t get much use. I’ve had problems with my right shoulder for several years, so I have to be careful with how I use it.

Your paddles definately have a more solid catch than the Epic Relaxed Tour. Also, IIRC, I believe that the original owner had you build Mid Tour a little beefy, which probably makes it a little stiffer than your standard carbon signature Mid Tour.

I’ll keep the blade reshaping option in mind. Thanks for that offer.

4 mph for 7 miles is plenty fast
You must be working yourself into great shape with all the paddling you’ve done so far this year.

I’m still fatter and weaker than I’ve
ever been. It’d be worse if I didn’t get out paddling now and then.

Superb review, as usual, yanoer.

– Last Updated: Mar-31-08 12:06 AM EST –

I appreciate your analytical side--makes for interesting reading. Yes, bruce, is correct, 4mph for seven miles (what perimeter is seven miles. Lemme guess, Homer Lake?) is very sweet. I think bruce and I, the few times we've checked our speed, was steady at 4.5 mph, but that is on the perfectly flatwater, windless IL and MI canal--which you are familiar with. I think, and bruce has discussed this with me in the past, that we may one day this year try to paddle the entire canal. 15 each way, or so, back and forth (30 total). But I have loads of fat-deposited Twinkies and Nachos to shed first with zips around Lake of the Woods.

I did get a Yakima DryDock for my Chevy, and hopefully--hope of all hopes--I can get my kayak purchased up there successfullly and without excessive "wiggle".

I wish I could have yakked with you, yanoer, but I am not at home now. Hint to where I am: 2008 US Open.

C ya.