Swift Shearwater Owners!

I have a handling question for you. I actually had Presidents Day off yesterday so I took my boat, dog and fishing gear down to West Galveston Bay/San Luis Pass for a day on the water and fishing. Winds were 10 mph in the Am but by afternoon they were 15 mph or maybe a wee bit higher. I had the boat fairly loaded down, myself 240 lbs, 90 lb dog, small cooler and two rods etc. Probably 350 lbs. In a quartering sea it was a broach-a-matic. This was the first time out on the bay with some good wave and wind action along with a good number of boat wakes. She was a dry ride, but crikey it was tiring. It handled the waves well and was confident in it’s sea worthy ability. I had the boat trimmed stern heavy. I made it to my destination, but this was the first time I noticed this behavior. I got some nice rides from the waves, but not in my ultimate direction. Should I have been more neutral in trim or bow heavy. Otherwise a nice day out, even though I was skunked by the fishes. I’ll do a trip report later and post a few pics.

Partial answer.
I’ve had my Shearwater for two full seasons and mostly paddle it light (minimal load). Without a sliding seat I have experienced the same with a quatering or full stern wind. I found great help in some minimal ballast in the stern (20lb) as far back as possible.

The trips with a load, perhaps 300lbs on windy river trip the boat sat down and I had no difficulty.

The best I can offer is to have someone observe the boat with that same load to confirm the trim. As you stated the hull is very seaworthy but has enough rocker (differential) to manuever well.

FWIW, with a nice load this hull paddles much better than empty. The same features that make it dry and seaworthy work against it when light.

Realize this is no help but you’ve not experienced anything unusual. Check your trim with a friend.



It sounds like it was the waves …
… that were grabbing and turning the hull rather than the wind … because with your spray covers and having 350 lbs aboard, it seems like you must have been settled in fairly low and windage was minimal. But, the substantial rocker and flattish hull bottom DO allow a Shearwater to spin with wave imputs from the rear. My best countering action has been by deploying a leeboard 3/4 back from the bow … angling about 8-10 inches into the water at a rearward 45 degree angle. It acts as a large skeg and so dampens the spin/broaching. I’ve never had 350 lbs in mine yet and so I have generally attributed my control problems in a quartering breeze to windage rather than waves pushing my stern sideways. I’m kind of surprised that it was so truoublesome with that kind of load. When I don’t have a skeg along, I row with the leeward oar and rudder with the windward one simultaneously … but this ofcourse cuts my rate of progress a lot … so that’s why I’ve been using an improvised skeg when I foresee these conditions. In your situation, I think that trimming neautrally may be your best bet so as to present less stern depth to the waves appoaching from the rear. Sorry not to have a definitive paddle-only solution. Shawn

PS: Might it help to pop open a small umbrella and hook it onto the forward thwart?

Asymmetrical Rocker
I agree with the above paddlers. It’s probably the waves causing you the problems. I personally preferentially worry about the waves if they are independent of the wind.

The good thing with a boat having greater bow rocker is that you can make bow corrections easier. This I find great when going into the wind, as the bow might get blown off track, but minor corrections before the boat gets too far off track are easy to correct. Just remember your bow will always spin easier than your stern.

In following seas the stern will always catch some as the wave catches you from behind. This is because you will never be 100% perpendicular to the wave as it catches you. This situation is magnified in an asymmetrical rockered boat like the Sheerwater. So I find that resetting the direction of the boat on top of the wave is the best way to deal with big following seas. Paddling hard down the face of waves helps some too.

The final thing that helps is matching your strokes to the waves. This way you can get your power strokes in when you have a full blade down in the through, and getting any course corrections you need when you are on top of the wave and the boat will spin easier.


My 2 Cents
Hi Byan,

Well I’ve only had the “Taiga Queen” out in good size following waves a couple of times. I think you have to go stern heavy or neutral with following waves. Its just my observation but I haven’t paddled anything that handles great with following waves quartering. If you are tandem it can still be some serious work. In a 16 foot solo, that is just a lot of angle to be fighting. You might have to do some tacking sorts of route running to deal with it.

I noticed the times I did have some big following waves that as Wes said the load helped and when I had it trimmed a little bow heavy (was going into the wind rounding a point) then turned to go with the waves without changing trim, that the stern was very squirrely. This was in 1.5 to 2 ft whitecaps with about a 20 mph wind right after a cold front passed. I think the Shearwater is pretty trim sensitive. I don’t know why that is. I’m still learning about the boat.

Its funny, when I paddled your boat before you had it Jamie had the seat a little forward of center along the rail. It seemed a little bow heavy to me just putzing around the lake so I moved it back for my test paddling.

After having my boat for several months, I finally realized that for moving well into the wind and for generally efficient paddling on flat water with a light load, the seat ought to be – right where Jamie had the seat on your boat, a bit forward of center on the rails :-).

So like I say, I’m still learning.