Swift's Bering Sea vs the Saranac 14

Opinions are sought by those who would know if the Bering Sea has the same initial and secondary stability as the Saranac 14. The specs indicate the cockpit size and width are identical. I’ve paddled the Saranac. It’s a great boat. Understand the Bering Sea, however is much faster. Wondering how that handles compared to it’s shorter sibling.

Takes more edge to turn…

– Last Updated: Feb-13-12 6:41 PM EST –

because it is longer. I don't mean to sound foolishly stupid here. It's just that the Saranac is a pretty user-friendly boat in terms of stability. So it is hard to tell from your post how comfortable you'd be with having to drop a stronger edge to get the Bering Sea (or any longer boat that isn't quite rockered) turned.

That Said

– Last Updated: Feb-13-12 6:24 PM EST –

Saranac 14 does not need a rudder or skeg; it tracks nicely and turns as desired. Most prefer one or the other on Bering Sea, although a vertical forward stroke that does not carry past mid thigh solves all issues.

It's that most use a horizontal stroke and carry the blade[s] well past their torso[s].


– Last Updated: Feb-14-12 10:44 AM EST –

The Bering Sea is similar to my QCC 400X just a little longer. The boat definitely takes more effort to turn than a Saranac 14. As far as initial stability it's more sensitive than a Saranac 14 with secondary stability being good although I find the QCC to be more difficult to do a lean turn than the the Saranac 14.

Previous discussions of the Bering
Sea have suggested that it is easier to edge turn and a 400X.

Leaned turns

– Last Updated: Feb-14-12 2:21 PM EST –

According to John Winters' design statement which used to be available on the QCC website, the Q400 was designed to be helm-neutral past 15 degrees - after that, leaning doesn't help. In my experience, the rudder is a useful addition for this reason. I'm not sure why they would remove his statement, it helped me decide to buy the boat.

As I understand it,
The Q400 is same as the Caspian Sea at 15'3",
The Q500 is the same as the Labrador Sea at 16'10"
The Bering Sea is in between at 15'10".
I believe they are all very similar hull shapes except for overall length and length-to-width ratio.

According to John Winters’ design statement which used to be available on the QCC website, the Q400 was designed to be helm-neutral past 15 degrees - after that, leaning doesn’t help. In my experience, the rudder is a useful addition for this reason. I’m not sure why they would remove his statement, it helped me decide to buy the boat.

I never read that but it’s make sense and the boat in my opinion needs a rudder.

Found some of it
I remembered that the statement is also here (part of it, anyway):


I mis-remembered, and it’s helm-neutral past 10 degrees, not 15. The Caspian looks good in wood strip, doesn’t it? Also, somewhere I saw a picture of one built in ultralight geodesic SOF style, a la Platt Monfort - it was really nice looking and weighed very little.

Bering Sea easy to turn
IMHO my Bering Sea is easier to turn than many other 16’ kayaks in its peer group and it does not need a rudder or skeg for tracking. The only time I use the rudder is in following seas. BTW, if I read your question correctly…cockpit size has nothing to do with stability or tracking or speed.

Any comment on compared to ?
The Saranac 14? These are both quite popular boats around here, just that the shorter one tends to appeal more to newer paddlers who are still mulling over how to cartop anything that long. :slight_smile:

As to the cockpit size, I suspect that the OPer just wants to avoid a boat with a smaller cockpit that might require a shoe horn. As much as I like small cockpits, it takes some limbering up to manage it. It gets easier each spring to understand why someone would not want the hassle.

Shallow arch?
My understanding is that Swifts have a shallow arch hull? I owned one once (the Kiwassa, which isn’t really pertinent to this discussion, being much shorter) and didn’t enjoy that hull shape at all, compared to a shallow V. It tended to get shoved about in the waves easily, having virtually no keel.

The other extreme is the deep V. I think the shallow V is the best combination of stability and maneuverability.

Overall if you want thermoformed plastic I think Eddlyines are superior to Swift in most (all?) ways. The plastic in Swifts is good.

No Trylon
It seems that Swift has dropped the Trylon option in both the Saranac and the Bering Sea, so that point is moot.

According to DY, all Swift kayak hulls are eliptical, not shallow arch, as touched on in this old thread…


I love the handling of my Saranac’s eliptical hull, only occasionally having to use the skeg. YMMV.

Why do you prefer the Eddylines?
I had a Nighthawk 16 and a Merlin LT for a while and they were both too hard tracking and too unresponsive to edge turning for me. I rarely paddle open water, so maneuverability is more valuable to me than hard tracking.

I didn’t much care for the deep V of the Nighthawk 16 and the Merlin LT.

I agree about the Merlin
I’m referring to the new Eddlyines, not the old ones. I had a Merlin XT with sharp V hull and really disliked it. It was nice in calm water, but I couldn’t handle it in waves. The Journey and the Fathom have a much more refined design, in my opinion.

Why I prefer Eddyline over Swift:

– More stable, at least at my (intermediate) skill level

– Very good combination of tracking and turning

– Better seat. The Eddyline seat isn’t that great, but the Swift seat is really poor (talking only about the high back)

– Esthetically nicer, especially the deck architecture

– Swifts seem to have excessive depth at the front of the cockpit, making them sort of cavernous and shapeless

– Eddylines are cheaper. The cheapest Saranac is $2700. The only thing that justifies that price is it’s light weight of 38 lbs, which Eddyline can’t match in thermoform. I don’t think the Swift hull design justifies that high price.

– I don’t see much rocker in the Swifts. The Eddylines do a very nice lean turn.

– Better resale value. I had a hard time selling my Swift and took a big hit on it.

The biggest drawback of Eddyline versus Swift is the weight. But when you look at the lower weights of Hurricane, you realize that quality thermoformed plastic isn’t going to be real light.

The Bering Sea (15’10") is $3200 at 44 lbs. The Eddyline Fathom (16’5") is 50 lbs, which I think is heavy, but it’s longer than the Bering Sea and it costs $2700. The Eddyline Fathom is just undeniably a better kayak all around than the Swift Saranac, for the same price.

I know the Swift designers are well respected, so this is just my personal opinion, of course.

I recommend that the OP try an Eddyline Fathom for comparison. Or a Journey if he happens to be a larger person.

As for the comment above about shallow arch versus elliptical, “shallow arch” is the term that the owner of Swift used to describe the hull shape of the 12’ Kiwassa to me.

Anyone know why Swift dropped trylon?

I liked the Fathom LV when I tried it
last summer. Nicely maneuverable and fun. Much different than the Nighthawk 16 and the Merlin LT, which are harder tracking.