Throughout the numerous discussions on kayaks - pros, cons, lay-ups, hull designs, etc… Rarely does anyone ever mention Seaward Kayaks. Is this due to the cult following that some of the other mfrs carry here, or is it a lack of design performance (Nigel Foster excluded), or is it something else?
Although, frankly, their boats have never done anything for me. And then there’s their ad: Who’s Colin? Why should I want to be like him? A total mystery to me. One I have no motivation to follow through on. So it’s just annoying. But that’s just me. Then there’s the name itself. (Is it just me, or does Seaward have unfortunate overtones of “sewer”?)
Seaward has an excellent reputation for the build quality of their boats.
I’ve seen more Seaward built Foster boats here in the Northeast than I’ve seen actual Seaward boats.
Build is great but
The only boats they have that fit current higher performance standards and have the tighter fit that is being preferred by many are the Foster boats. Just one of their own boats, the Quantum, has close to a 22 inch beam and a front deck height under 13 inches. Their boat for smaller paddlers, the Luna, has a 13 inch deck height, closer to a 23 inch beam - and unfortunately for Seaward is pictured with a young woman in it who looks like you could fit two of her into that cockpit.
A lot, lot of their other boats have 14 inch plus front deck heights, wider beams and lack a flat rear deck. I will readily admit that they are a great company, and have super well-made boats. It would be a great day if a number of other manufacturers could do nearly as well. But the Foster boats are the only ones that I would consider buying.
A comment from my spouse, re a possible opportunity for them. If they could tune the Endeavor down to a lower profile boat....
I can’t speak for other areas, but here in British Columbia, Seaward is very popular.
Their boats are well known for their quality and everyone that I’ve spoken to that has a Seaward kayak likes it very much.
An East Coast / West Coast Thing
Seaward has a well-earned reputation for attention to detail and excellent quality control. Their boats have strong aesthetic appeal as well…they just make beautiful products.
Part of the reason you may not hear so much about them here in the east is simply geographic. They’re up in Vancouver and don’t have as many dealers in the east.
There is also a difference in preferences on the west coast…you’ll notice that Seaward (as well as Necky, Easy Rider, NW, etc) do tend towards using rudders, long water lines, and larger volume boats. Seaward and Necky both have launched Brit style boats in recent years as a way of appealing to a wider range of paddlers.
There is an especially strong market for British-built or Brit styled boats on the east coast (again, geography means more dealers), which would explain why the Seaward Nigel Foster boats may get more attention over here that their other designs.
In the end, different boats for different folks…you’ve got to paddle what you are comfortable in.
Here in Southern California
We are starting to see a number of the Foster boats. Until recently we didn’t have any dealers close by. When I bought my Shadow, I drove over 200 miles each way to demo it and then pick it up when my boat came in.
In the club I belong to, CKF, we have over 200 members but only about 12 - 18 of us are what I consider serious paddlers who are looking for performance oriented boats that can handle any type of conditions. The balance are looking for comfort, ease of entry, and a lot of primary stability.
IMHO, Seaward, like most other boat manufacturers, gears the majority of their line to those paddlers. As Celia mentioned, the performance oriented paddlers will gravitate towards the Foster line by Seaward or the performance line of a few other manufacturers.
One of my friends has an older Legend by Walden Boats. Several of us have compared it to one of the newer Seaward Legends and although the boats are very similar, there is no comparison when it comes to fit and finish. The Seaward boat is much better than the Walden boat.
My Shadow arrived in perfect condition when I bought it. The only changes I would make are to the deck rigging. I have added straps for a paddlefloat outrigger and I still need to add some more deck line so that they run continuously from the cockpit to the bow. Nigel and I have different opinions as to how a boat’s deck rigging should be. Fortunately, that is easily corrected and Seaward has even changed the Legend’s mold so that the newer ones have a recessed fitting for Seaward’s paddlefloat strap system.