Hemlock Peregrine vs Swift Shearwater

-- Last Updated: Oct-11-06 9:49 PM EST --

Does anyone with experience with these two care to compare? they both have carying capacity and built for what i would use them on slow rivers and lakes. but, the lakes out here [west] are windy so i'm thinking the peregrine may be better suited with it's lower bow to mid. the shearwater is longer but has a bit more rocker than the peregrine. which would track better? how about stability etc. thanks!
--after setting up camp i like to casually paddle/explore and fish out of the canoe as well.

Have not had the pleasure of paddling a Shearwater, but I do own a Peregrine. You are probably correct in your assessment of the two boats. The lower shear and straighter keel line of the Peregrine probably make it the better choice in wind. I paddled mine on the Greeen R. in Utah this spring. We had two really windy days and the boat handled it well. My buddy had a Wenonah Advantage and although it is a faster boat, he was struggling much more in the wind. The Peregrine has excellent stability, loaded or empty. I’m told that the Shearwater turns like a much shorter boat due to its rocker. I’ve also heard that the initial stability of a Shearwater is rock solid. Hopefully someone else can provide you with more details about the Swift.


– Last Updated: Oct-12-06 7:55 AM EST –

I know Whitewaterweenie has owned both and hopefully he'll check in here, Boo.

I've got a Shearwater and have paddled it in some intense winds and waves loaded and unloaded and have no problems. The sliding seat helps. I've heard some others comment that they think the Shearwater is hard to handle in the wind unloaded. It may be a relative thing, and perhaps compared to a Peregrine it would seem to be suseptable in the wind. The Shearwater is very initially stable. I fish from mine often and have yet to tip it unintentionally. It just seems to get more steady with a load, all the way up through a full tripping weight load.

I haven't paddled a Peregrine, but would love to. My understanding is that it isn't quite a steady on center as a Shearwater, but is plenty stable for a seasoned paddler and is very sweet efficiency and tracking wise, probably surpassing the Shearwater in those attributes.

Good luck with your shopping. And enjoy whatever you wind up with.

I’ve owned a Shearwater for three years now and am fairly familiar with it. My Shearwater is the gel-coated Expedition Kevlar lay-up with wood (cherry) trims and the sliding seat. I purchased it to use as a big river/open water canoe tripper. It has very solid primary and secondary stability – rock steady. It works well when loaded – in fact I think it’s in its element when loaded with a two week supply of gear/food and my weight. I agree with Osprey’s assessment of this boat with one exception – I find it a bear to control in strong quartering winds when running empty. I have a few other solo canoes, this is my least favorite for handing in winds when empty.

I’ve not paddled a Hemlock Peregrine, but am somewhat familiar with them. Just last weekend as a matter of fact I was out paddling a local lake in my Shearwater when I spotted a Peregrine across the lake. It’s relatively rare for me to see another solo canoe on the water around here so I went over to chat with the paddler. Pulling up beside the other guy we exchanged the usual compliments about each other’s boats (wow, nice boat… etc, etc). Both ARE nice looking boats – no doubt. Anyway… The Peregrine was obviously less full/sleeker in the quarters than the Shearwater and also appeared to be lower at the stems. The fullness would account for greater stability in the Shearwater. It seemed to me that the Peregrine would be faster and catch less wind (sleeker, less rocker, lower ends). I would think the Shearwater would have the edge for maneuverability. Both have differential rocker… a design element I’ve come to dislike – but that’s just a personal preference.

Other factors to consider: Hemlock is known for consistent high quality of hull construction and craftsmanship of trims – Dave Curtis’ “small shop” canoe building is a gold standard for quality. From what I’ve personally seen and experienced quality control is inconsistent at the Swift factory. QC varies all over the scale with that outfit - from very good to absolutely wretched. My two cents – FWIW

Like Osprey I’d like Whitewaterweenie to chime in right about now. I believe he’s owned both canoes.

  • Randall

Good points Arkay!
“I agree with Osprey’s assessment of this boat with one exception – I find it a bear to control in strong quartering winds when running empty. I have a few other solo canoes, this is my least favorite for handing in winds when empty.”

That is a very informative point. Arkay is comparing among solos, where as I am not really.

I think it is important for me to try and be detailed on the issue of the Shearwater and wind. I’ve heard other besides Arkay (opinions I respect like his) say they think the Shearwater can be tough in the wind when lightly loaded. So I think there is truth there. My own experience is that I haven’t had any real problems. One friend in the Houston area has had consistant trouble with holding a line when waves are quartering from the stern. I’ve done some testing with those conditions and seemed to be OK when I adjusted the trim well with the seat and gear. I’ve always got at least my day pack with me which goes at least 20 lbs. Also, I’m 6’2" and 215, which I think helps with control, but then my friend is larger than me. One other point is that my main frame of reference for comparing the Shearwater to other canoes for lake paddling is tandem canoes! My other canoe right now is a royalex northwind. I paddled it in whitecaps the other day (with my day pack tied to the front carrying handle) and did fine. And of course the Shearwater seems like a dream to paddle in the wind in comparison. My windy flat water paddling of other solos was limited to Sunsplash at Piragis a couple of years ago. It seemed like it took skill and effort to handle any of them – Magic, Merlin II, Prism, Voyager, etc. in the high wind. But my guess is that all of those, with the exeption of the Voyager, would be easier handling in the wind than the Shearwater.

Guess I’m going to have to get a couple of more boats so I can better answer these questions!:slight_smile:

Re: Perigrine vs Shearwater
Thanks for the replies. The Shearwater sounds more comfortable being as big and wide as it is but the Peregrine seems more efficient. If i lived anywhere else i thik the Shearwater would have the edge but living in the west it seems the Peregrine has it. Just one more question… would you consider the Pergrine and Bell Magic more similar to paddle than the Shearwater?

Thanks, again

Shearwater: full bodied and flat bottom
Yes, I agree. The Shearwater will be pushed sideways by rear quarter winds when light. It’s bottom is a fairly flat arch and so it skids a bit over the surface without a load (and even with a moderate load). And it is very full throughout … not at all a skinny diamond shape. It’s a TRIPPER pure and simple … that can also serve in more casual ways because it’s so comfortable.

To keep it from getting pushed around too much in windy conditions, I drop a couple of thin plastic leeboards in a few inches (may 6 ‘’ deep at 45 degrees aft) to act as double skegs. Then … it is locked on course much better and I only lose a 2-3% in speed.

Speaking of speed … I think she’s 10-15% slower than the faster trippers like a Prism or an Encounter. But, she’s much more than 15% more manueverable … more like 50%. I think her “efficiency” in choppy water is maybe 20% less … due to both fullness and rocker. Very safe though.

With a cover, this boat can is well suited as a big river or open water tripper. Weighs 45 lbs in expedition kevlar with wood trim. It would take very big water (< 2 ft waves)to challenge it significantly. Tough boat too … it can take some punishment and bring you home imho. This is not a “finesse boat” … but rather … a real high-volume “worker” that brings safety/security into the tripping equation. And a beautiful one at that.

Superb boat … but only a medium-speed solo as big boats go (it has substantial rocker … 2" bow, 1" stern).

Magic vs Peregrine
One of the things I really like about my Peregrine is that it turns fairly well with a lean. The secondary stability is first rate and gives no cause for alarm when heeled over. It is also set up for kneeling, my personal preference. The Magic on the other hand is basically a “sitting” boat, although changing the seat height in either boat is pretty easy. I think the Magic is a bit faster, but the Peregrine turns better. The build quality for the Hemlock is better too. It’s not that Bell makes a bad boat, but the Peregrine’s construction is impeccable. Finally, I like the Premium+ layup of the Peregrine better than the KevLight or carbon layups Bell offers, mainly because the Peregrine is gelcoated and easier to repair. Mine weighs in at 33 lbs.

Sounds like you live in the West. Unfortunately I live in Indiana but if you happen to be anywhere close by shoot me an email and you are welcome to test paddle my Peregrine…provided the rivers and lakes aren’t frozen!

what part of indiana are you from? anywhere near the ky-ohio border?

Swift will probably ship you a boat. I recently considered purchasing my fourth boat from them and they do ship to certain areas on a canoe carrier.

I live near Chicago. For reference, it’s about 250 miles from my house to Louisville, KY or Cincinnati, OH. I used to live in Indianapolis though, and am often in the area on weekends so if that works let me know. I don’t know anyone else with a Peregrine who might be closer. Actually, I don’t know anyone else with a Peregrine period! It was a bit of a leap of faith to buy a boat un-tried, but I did a lot of research first and have not regretted the decision.


I sent you a PM. Thanks!

I own a Peregrine, I used to own a Shearwater, and would get another Shearwater in a minute.

The Shearwater is a bigger boat, more volume, with more rocker. You can actually freestyle either one of them and bring the rail all the way to the water in calm water, but the Shearwater is actually fun freestyle while the Peregrine must be forced a bit. The Shearwater acts like a 13 or 14 footer…it can easily spin within it’s own length. The Peregrine can spin within it’s own length - on a very calm lake - if you spin slowly and carefully.

For cruising, the Peregrine is definitely faster but the Shearwater feels every bit as effortless (or even a touch more effortless)…just a tick slower pace. Peregrine is one of all time best cruising boats…gives quite a bit of speed for minimal effort.

The Peregrine is quite a bit lighter yet still strong even in “heavy” lay-up.

Both are stable enough for fishing…Shearwater has a slight edge but Peregrine already very stable for a solo.

Both handle me plus dog (275 or so) easily; if your load is bigger I’d lean towards the Shearwater.

If you get a Shearwater my take is you need Expedition Kevlar lay-up for strength (my lightweight kevlar boat was too floppy), and you need to avoid the skid plates that Swift likes to stick on 99% of their boats these days - because they make noise - and my Shearwater was silent.

Sliding seat is a nice option in the Shearwater if you need it. Cherry wood is also a nice option.

Both are GREAT dog boats! Jessie the Wonder Dog can testify.

The Peregrine is the boat for windy lakes…you can make progress in conditions that will almost sink the boat.

Swift makes a very nice boat; I like 'em, but you can’t beat the quality of a Hemlock boat.

Ballasting a Shearwater for wind
I row mine at between 3.5 and 5 mph when cruising empty … probably averaging around 4 mph. I’ve mitigated it’s susceptibility to rear quarter winds with “clotheslined bags” of water sliding fore and aft of my rowing seat bean bag. They slide on towels tied with cord looped around the carry thwarts. Each bag weighs about 20 lbs (2.5 gals). Pulling them for a combined 40 lbs weight shift makes fore efficient dampening … the boat starts smoothing out and carrying it’s momentom further with each stroke. If I’m out for the long haul (pt A to pt B) and I know it’s going to windy, I’ll also angle down leeboards (as dual skegs) rearward to help deal with swells. I think this setup might work with a spirit sail pretty well too.

Magic, Peregrine, and Shearwater
Yes, the Magic and Peregrine are closer in the way they paddle than either one is to the Shearwater. The Magic tracks a little bit stronger than the Peregrine. Both are comfortable in wind and waves.

All three boats have good initial and secondary stability. The Shearwater is noticeably more maneuverable than either of the other two. I haven’t paddled it in wind and waves, so I’ll leave that assessment up to others. If you wind up going with the Shearwater, be sure you get the sliding seat. Being able to adjust the trim by moving the seat can be pretty convenient.