Current Designs Squall and Squamish

Hi! I’m looking for some feedback on these two boats, or something similar. I’ve been demoing sit inside kayaks for the past month or so, transitioning over from sit-on-top boats. I’ve recently paddled a Current Designs Storm and Sirocco and like them both, but the cockpits seem a little too big for me. I’m 5’7" and 170 lbs. What do you think of the Squall and Squamish for someone my size? I paddle lakes, harbors, and some surf launches and coastal areas.

I’ve also paddled a brand new 2010 Solstice GT and loved it, but was wondering if the GTS might be a better fit?

My first sea kayak was a Squall

– Last Updated: Oct-27-09 12:28 PM EST –

I'm 5'4" and 135 lbs, frankly I could have been taller and heavier and still been fine in it. It has a pretty high deck.

Things I liked about it, when I didn't know squat about how to kayak. It tracked great, had very protective stability so I never capsized and had huge carrying capacity for camping. Pretty fast for a plastic kayak. Drove like a Mack truck fully loaded, so you did not want to stop and have to accelerate if you could help it. And I never used the rudder - dropped it here and there and always pulled it back up again, didn't like how it kicked around at the stern in waves with the rudder down.

Reasons I sold it when I did get serious about learning some skills - too stiff tracking in waves etc, the rudder was a constant pain to manage that served no useful purpose for me (the final thing was when a guy walking by cut his leg pretty good on the wires), the deck was too high for the contact I wanted. The boat just wasn't too friendly to a lot of the skills I was learning - there were newer designs that did it much better.

That said, the confidence and happy times the Squall gave me was why I hung around long enough to want to learn some skills.

The usual progression is for newbies to go for a boat that tends to be a tracker, because they haven't yet gotten good paddling skills to handle wind. And they like a very protective stability curve because they haven't learned bracing or rolling well enough yet to be comfortable about taking a boat well over on edge to turn. This is stuff that the Solstice line of boats does very very well, the Storm and the Squall as well as the actual named Solstice boats.

Somewhere down the road though, it isn't uncommon to want to play in some easy breaking stuff or other environments where maneuverability gets very important. (and rudders with their wire pulleys are downright dangerous). At that point, a newer design like the Squamish or similarly maneuverable boats get more attractive, even if they are slower.

So - a question for you - are you likely to be a go straight fast tripping paddler, or does the idea of playing in waves and among rocks appeal to you? There's no problem in starting with a boat like the Squall and changing your mind, but if you know now that you want to do the other stuff you should probably be looking more at something like the Squamish.

That said, the cockpit may be a bit big on you. Something like the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165, also available at plastic prices new and used, may be a good fit and do you for a starter boat. It is an all around boat that does everything pretty darned well. The older ones with the proprietary WS hatch covers have some issues with leaking, but usually nothing that the purchase and use of dry bags won't fix.

Too confuse the situation even more.
Before i bought i demoed various boats including CD Storm and Sirocco but ended up buying Valley Aquanaut HV. I preferred the tighter fit of the Valley and lower profile. True, it probably carries less and yaddayadda.

Play vs tracking
Thank you, that helps quite a bit! Being new to SINKs, I didn’t really know what I wanted when I started demoing boats. I don’t think I want something that just goes straight ahead. I like play and maneuver, but also want to be able to paddle across a wide bay or lake. Do either the Squall or Squamish weathercock like the Storm? We paddled last weekend at Lake Isabella and had to paddle back against a 25 knot headwind. My wife had no trouble in her Kestrel 140 SOT but I was in the Storm and couldn’t have made it back without the rudder!

Valley boats
Carrying less doesn’t bother me as we’re mostly day paddlers. I’m hoping to find the boat that makes me smile and not want to stop paddling :slight_smile:

How about the Avocet vs the Aquanaut? I haven’t had the chance to demo either yet, but plan to.

At 25 knots…

– Last Updated: Oct-27-09 2:25 PM EST –

All boats will tend to weathercock some, at least at the length you are talking. You'd much rather have them do that than to leecock.t

The Solstice series all have pretty high decks, so there is simply more boat to catch the wind than some of the newer designs suggested here.

Between the two, the Squall probably would weathercock less than the Storm, but then if you have to turn against wind or near the bottom of a wave in the Squall you'll have to bring the boat over a lot harder to help the rudder or keep it from skidding a bit sideways. I don't know about the Squamish.

Are you aware of how to use a skeg effectively? Or how to set an edge so that the effect of the wind is countered? Not to say yes or no to a rudder as a tie breaker, but so that you can try out boats effectively. From your profile, you are paddling in an area where a decent amount of wind will be common. Rudders can break.

Avocet and Aquanaut
The usual diff between the 16 and full length boats - Avocet is more maneuverable and the Aquanaut is stiffer and faster. But at your size you are actually a better fit for the Aquanaut LV, less stiff than the full size but still pretty decent cruising speed.

For many the Avocet is a very fun and active boat, while still solid. For some newer paddlers it can feel maybe a little too active.

Wind and skeg
Yeah, I’d prefer not to have to rely on a rudder, and I prefer the look of skeg boats. I don’t have enough experience yet to effectively counter the wind by leaning, unfortunately, but that’s one of my goals. We were facing downwind when we turned about and it took me FOREVER to bring the boat to face upwind (jam rudder full left, paddle backwards, jam rudder full right, paddle forwards, repeat).

Learning to handle wind is vital for me as my inlaws live up at Lake Isabella and we visit and paddle there often (not to mention the california coast in the fall)

My first choice was the Sirocco, but it¡¦s big on me and I¡¦m not sure I have the skill-set yet to paddle it safely. That¡¦s why I¡¦m considering the Squamish.

I did deploy the skeg on the Sirocco in following seas during the demo and was amazed at how it suddenly started tracking perfectly.

thanks! I’ll see if I can find one to demo.

Clarity on weather cocking

– Last Updated: Oct-27-09 6:24 PM EST –

Weather cocking is the tendency of a boat to have its stern pushed downwind, which brings its bow upwind. I have a sense you may be confounding that with lee cocking, where the bow will get blown downwind.

As to your struggle to turn the boat - the easiest way to turn upwind is to release whatever tracking device, rudder or skeg, entirely and let the boat weather cock. By leaving the rudder down you were actually stiffening the stern and thus stopping the boat from turning naturally into the wind.

A friend of ours was having a terrible time turning her Explorer upwind this last summer, and we didn't realize why until we realized she had her skeg fully down. She was turned exactly where she wanted to go before she even had the rope secured between the cleats to bring it up (it was pretty windy).

Ouch, sounds like …

– Last Updated: Oct-27-09 3:03 PM EST –

... I did everything wrong to turn the boat. At least I never felt unstable or tippy. In fact, other than the hard paddling, it was fun hitting the oncoming waves.

Not to worry
Our friend has a lot more seat time in than you likely do, and the day this last summer was the first time they realized how to use weather cocking and trim to make things easier.

I paddle mostly a tempest 165
i weigh around 160 - I paddle our sirocco also but it is definately a larger feel (sometimes i like that) and i also paddle my daughters squamish. I enjoy the squamish as it is a little lighter than the other 2 but my only complaint is the thigh braces - they dont fit me and are not adjustable (i have on older model so that may have changed). It is the smallest fit - next the tempest 165, next the sirocco. Its all in the fit!

Avocet & others

– Last Updated: Oct-29-09 8:59 AM EST –

The Avocet is more manueverable/looser tracking than most sea kayaks. I've got on older plastic model. Probably not the best boat for loading up and chasing horizons, but it's a happy boat when there are waves to play on. Our personalities match.

The new Wilderness Systems Zephyer 155 has a similar personality. The Tempest 165 is biased a bit more towards straight-line performance, but still responds nicely to an edge.

Lots of good boats out there. You're probably better off looking at the "smaller paddler" models given your size and day-paddling use. A boat that's too big is MUCH harder to control when the wind picks up.

My Wife and I both have CD Squamish
And I also have CD Solsice GTS. My Squamish is the HV model. The Squamish are excellent boats, track straight and do not weather cock, at least up to 20 mph winds and 2 foot waves. You can also turn them with no problem. I am 180 lbs 5’11’ I needed the HV Squamish. The solsice GTS fits me find also, goes too straight and needs a wide sweep turn and a lean to turn.

I like this description
"World-famous sea kayaker and expeditioner Ed Gillet once said there are two kinds of sea kayakers, dolphins and seals. Dolphins love to play the open waters, traveling fast, surfing every swell, and crossing to distant islands. Seals need the constant stimulation of new sights along the coastline, rarely travel in a straight line, like to surf the shore break, and are continuously darting into small places and weaving through rocky outcroppings close to shore."

Almost everybody is a little of both. I’m mostly a dolphin at heart, but dolphins like to play in the surf too. Fortunately I have kayaks that fit both styles, and there are blends of both all up and down the spectrum. In reading through this thread, I don’t get a real clear impression of where your preference lies, but it’s quite possible that you’re not even sure.

I’m 6’0" 175 lbs. Height and weight don’t necessarily size someone up very well in terms of kayak fit (width of hips and size of thighs play a pretty big role), but at 5’7" 170 lbs., I’ll assume you require a bit roomier cockpit than I. You may be more sensitive to a little extra cockpit depth in relation to the height of your torso, but you should have a definite center of gravity advantage. I don’t think you’re going to fall far on the small side of things in terms of cockpit size (I would take a Sirocco with standard outfitting out into the surf without hesitation), but I obviously can’t say that for sure.

I own a Solstice GTS. It’s probably the securest fitting kayak I own. Not the tightest, but just securely contoured around me (they now changed the design some for 2010, so it’s supposed to be a different fit now, which may be better for you). If your thighs are just a bit bigger than mine, the older version may not be a perfect fit - the thigh braces would probably curve into your thigh. You would just have to try it on. The Solstice and the Aquanaut are dolphin boats, but they are still different. The Solstice GTS is purely a dolphin boat. It tracks beautifully, and feels very secure in pretty rough open-water conditions. This is a boat I appreciate in 25 knot winds if I’m traveling some distance. Extremely little weathercocking. Weathercocking doesn’t even get noticed by me paddling without the rudder, but I’m one of those goofballs that doesn’t use my rudders and skegs. But the turning situation that you described would be very difficult for you in this boat. You either have to use the rudder to turn (have to be in motion, what you’re describing isn’t going to work well) or you have to develop strong edging and turning strokes. If sitting still, it leaves you parallel to the wind or perpendicular, and the turning effort you decribed would leave you feeling pinned perpendicular to the wind. While it’s great for reassuring stability and tracking (even a beginner can appreciate it), if you need to maneouver, it takes pretty strong maneouvering abilities and a little extra strength behind it to appreciate this boat, or you have to learn to effectively maneouver using the rudder. I think the GT is a little better about this due to extra width changing the shape on edge. That said, it is my girlfriend’s favorite boat among all our choices, and I still take it out plenty. It’s got fast, comfortable, reassuring, straight-tracking cruising qualities that are difficult to deny. It just doesn’t sound like you’re up for those type of maneouverability characteristics as a worthwhile compromise yet.

In any case, I just wanted to point out that you’re all across the board in terms of the kayaks and the dolphins/seals thing. The Avocet and Sirocco are seals, the Aquanaut and Solstice dolphins.

If you’re unsure of the Sirocco’s stability, you’re looking for something quite stable. If you prefer the look of a skeg, there’s no reason you can’t get any style you want with a skeg (same goes for rudder if you decide you prefer that). I would think a Seda Ikkuma or Impex Currituck might be good. If I remember correctly, they’re both quite stable (a bit more than Avocet or Capella), track a little better than an Avocet or Sirocco, but still well on the maneouverable side of the spectrum. I think the Ikkuma has a shallower cockpit depth. Just keep trying things out, and figure out if you feel more alive and right with the world paddling with the seals more often or the dolphins, and how much more often. Compromise accordingly, or just find yourself two styles.


– Last Updated: Oct-29-09 5:59 PM EST –

I hadn't heard that simile. Very nice, and apt.

I also like the description of the Solstice GTS behavior. I never know what to say about these boats, because I've been in several that were someone's first sea kayak because they found the hard tracking and bodacious stability very reassuring. It's hard to argue with that.

However, virtually all my time in one of these boats has been when I had swapped out with the owner who had grown less fond of the hard tracking and stiffness turning, so they were trying out one of our boats - Explorer, Romany, Vela etc.

It just seems that everyone I've met with one of these boats, at least those smaller than Wayne Horodowich, end up moving to a kayak with more of a blend of maneuverability.

I certainly get the appeal. As I said above, my Squall shared some of these characteristics and got me started quite nicely. But I paid RM prices for that start, not fiberglass. I would have had a harder time abandoing a boat for which I had paid more like 2500 to three grand.

I Like that
comparison also. While I appreciated the stability and tracking of the Solstice GT I tried, the boat I’ve enjoyed the most so far has been the Sirocco. Darn, I guess I have to demo more boats :slight_smile: