Assateague X Shadow X Gulfstream


I need some advice here.

Basically, this is the story: I am buying a new composite boat, my first after years on plastic.

I am very familiar with the Nigel Foster Shadow, love it but can’t afford it. I found the Impex Assateague to be comparable on paper (will demo one in two weeks) for significantly less cash, and I was offered a third choice - a bargain on a really great looking, brand new Kevlar Gulfstream (for less than the glass Assateague), which I will demo on the same day with the Assateague.

Anybody out there who could compare the Shadow to the Assateague, with it’s highs and lows? And since the subject is boats for tall paddlers over 220lbs, what about the Gulfstream?

In my mind, I would prefer the longer boat, I also like the idea of having a compass recess, and I heard that VCP hatches on the Assateague are better than the Kajaksport ones on the Gulfstream.

Is Impex’s craftsmanshift comparable to Seaward’s? I know that the Current Designs boats are very well built.

It’s funny, I was about to buy a new Sirocco, then (after advice from this forum) I started to look for deals on used glass boats and I did found some very tempting choices. So here I am again with more questions.


Three very different boats
Assateague, Shadow, and Gulfstream are very different from each other.

I think if you like the feel and performance of the Shadow you will be unimpressed with the other two.

Foster boats tend to be very fast. I know the Legend is much faster than the Assateague or Gulfstream. I would imagine that this would also be true of the Shadow.

Impex boats are very well built and come with nice touches such as IR backbands. I was paddling alongside an Assateague the other night. It seems to have reasonable speed, though slower than my Aquanaut. I know a Legend is faster than my boat.

Current Designs has always made solid boats. However, I noticed this summer the new CD composite boats have plastic bulkheads - this is not a positive change. The Gulfstream is a good boat, but feels beamy and high decked to me.

Seaward’s build quality is among the best of any kayak manufacturer. Foster boats have a feel unlike most other sea kayaks. The Shadow has been around for a while, so you may be able to pick one up used. Another advantage to a used Shadow is it might have Valley hatches. Seaward switched to Kajak-Sport in recent years.

Another boat along these lines you may enjoy is the Necky Chatham 18. I’ve paddled one and felt it would perform better with a larger paddler. It is a very nice boat. It is new and somewhat rare, so you probably couldn’t pick up one used.

A VCP option would be the Argonaut. It is too high volume for many paddlers and comes up discounted and lighly used often. IMHO, there is nothing like a Valley boat.

Shadow on
(ME) nigel foster shadow - used four times - yellow over white - glass - $1950.00

Assateague = big paddler
After owning an Assateague, my opinion is that it is best suited for someone 250 lbs and above. It could be used by someone up to 300 lbs, in my opinion.

I am 215 lbs (5’ 10" tall) now and it is much too big. Has way more stability than needed for this size paddler.

My first boat was a kevlar Gulfstream, good boat for someone your size, very manouverable, comfortable, tracks well, skeg is helpful in the wind and rough seas. I can’t compare it to your other choices.


Seaward or otherwise?
If it’s seaward put it out there man. better boats absolutely!

I used to do some sales and marketing. Got to keep those advantages up front.

My seaward shadow has vcp
hatches I bet they all do. I’ve never seen one with kajaksport hatches.

Nigel retains a lot of control over how the boats bearing his name are made. I bet they use VCP.

Just to make it even more interesting…
I am 5’10"…215lbs…big thighs. Just finished demoing at least 15 boats in the past few months…maybe more.

I found the Assateague to be too large and too wide for what I was looking for. I discovered I really like a narrower beam…how about the Currituck?

What kind of boat are you looking for. What is on your wish list? Would you prefer harder chined…soft chine…etc? I will tell you the boats I felt real comfortable in:

I bought a used Sirius HF ( the Sirius L was a tad larger in the cockpit…but…if you are interested in a demo and live in NE…check out New England Small Craft as they have a Sirius L…a new one at an incredible discount…$1500 because it has a minor cosmetic blemish).

I really felt comfortable in and enjoyed paddling the Aquanaut(#2 choice), Explorer, Nordkapp, Greenlander Pro (hard chined), Tempest 170, and Currituck.

Where do you live? In Boston, Charles River Kayaks are selling all of their demos and have boats that you are considering at a good price.

The demo experience is a blast…enjoy! Let us know what you have discovered?


The new foster boats that I saw at GOMSKS had oval kayaksport hatches, not vcp. They looked to be the same size as the valley hatches, but they also have a large pull tab so they’re easy to open. The seat and backband are different too, the new backband looked too stiff and high for my tastes.


– Last Updated: Sep-24-04 10:59 PM EST –

This summer the Foster boats at GOMSKS had Kajak-Sport hatches. The rep said Seaward decided the Kajak-Sport were better so all Foster boats are now fitted with Kajak-Sport hatches.

2 Shadows on
The one I copied and pasted, if truly only paddled 4 times is very likely to be a Seaward. The other is listed as new in 2003 and would be a Seaward.

I think the originator of this thread lives in Florida so these two boats in New England may not be accessible.

Sweetwater would be an excellent place to check out for anyone in Florida

I have a GS and am considering a NF
Shadow. The GS is a great boat and I really like it a lot. However, I demoed a NF Shadow last year and really fell in love with it.

It is a little faster than the GS, turns as well on an edge, and tracks as well as the GS.

When the boat is not moving, it feels a lot tippier than the GS, but feels extremely stable as soon as you start moving. My guess is that is a result of the hard chines.

I’m not familiar with the Impex boat, but both the GS and the Shadow are terrific boats, IMHO.

Weight and dollars probably said it

– Last Updated: Sep-29-04 3:26 PM EST –

thanks for the updates!

I also am no fan of the huge and stiff shadow backband. Put a small nsi in mine; Like it.

hatches and speed,
not together mind you , just comments on both.

I’ve got a Nordkapp Jubilee with VCP hatches and a Lincoln Eggemoggin with Kajaksport hatches…I would trust either interchangeably as both are top notch.

on speed, La AquaNa (my paddling partner) has a Foster Silhouete and it is as fast as the Jubuliee and as fast as the Egg, and surprisingly it is just a hair slower than a Looksha II which is to my dismay.

do consider weight…the kevlar boat will if like most boats be easier to cartop (my age showing) and possibly get more use as you age

over 2" narrower
Though the hard chine does feel different, the Legend feeling more tender may more be that it is over 2 inches narrower than the Gulfstream.

It is quite a bit faster.

Yes, but the SHADOW
and the Gulfstream are very similar in beam. The major differences are the length and the chines.

Very different

– Last Updated: Sep-27-04 5:07 PM EST –

Though within fractions of an inch in width, the differences in length (Shadow is a foot longer)and hull profile are very significant.

I would guess that the Shadow also has lower decks and possibly a smaller cockpit.

Both are good boats, but very different from each other.

Sorry, about citing Legend, in earlier post, when the Shadow being referenced.

The Shadow has a larger cockpit than the Gulfstream.

When I could not fit well in the latter , the Shadows cockpit is a good deal larger.

The Nigel Foster boat wanders without the skeg and

yet at times it can take a beam wind and not turn into it at all .

It is preaty fast and also a bit tippy at times .The Nigel Dennis Explorer tracks much better in a good wind ,yet it seems to weigh more after a while .

The gellcoat on the Shadow is unusual. I wet scubed

some grime off the hull and it smealed like concrete

for a mounth .


How is the shadow cockpit larger

– Last Updated: Sep-29-04 12:55 AM EST –

Length width or height? All of the above. And whose shadow seaward's or lincoln's or a euro version?


Edit: I agree that the shadow is faster on flat water and may be faster in moderate conditions as well. I've yet to meet the boat as well balanced for me in wind as my Explorer is but I hear great things about Mariner, tempest, etc. If I paddled an outer island the rear deck would be awash constantly.

Cockpit dimensions
CD lists the cockpit of the Gulfstream as being 30.25" x 16.5"

Seaward lists the cockpit of the Shadow as 31" x 16.5"

CD lists the Gulfstream as 14" deep

I did not find the depth of the Shadow, but it is hard for me to imagine it is as deep as the Gulfstream.