Tearfully replacing a 1996 Seaward Quest - Model suggestions?

HI folks, my first post sounds newbish (another “what boat…post”) but I’ve actually been sea kayaking since 1997. It’s also a long post, so I thank you in advance if you bear with me.

I still love my Seaward Quest and I’m actually going to still keep it, but I would like another boat for next spring. I’ve had the Quest for so long I feel like I’m betraying it, but I don’t do expeditions much anymore so I’m looking for more of a daily driver.

My list of priorities is long and I realize that no one boat does it all well without trade offs but this should give you a good idea of the type of boat I’m looking for.

  • I live on a protected bay but often head out on the Atlantic.
  • Primary stability is nice but I value secondary stability more for playing/traveling in the ocean waves.
  • Expanding on the above, I like a boat that sits nicely on it’s edge. If you have ever paddled a quest, then you know my braces have become pretty decent. I think it’s beam is like 22".

Note: If I’m playing around in much bigger wind/waves, I steal my wife’s 16’ Necky Chatham. The seat is not comfy, and it has a serious lack of hatch space but Wow is it a great little boat in rough weather.

  • It should track nice with low weather cocking and be decently fast.
  • That being said, I don’t want another 19 footer. Probably around the 17’ mark. I’m 6’, 190 lbs. and a healthy 51.
  • No rudder needed. I prefer a skeg if anything but if it comes with a rudder it’s not a deal breaker. I’ll just remove it if I think it is catching too much wind.
  • Enough hatch space for an overnight. As mentioned, I’m keeping my color faded, Quest for longer trips.
  • I was stuck on fiberglass but recently, I’ve come across the new type of plastic boats that seem as thin and light as fiber. At least, compared to the old, thick, roto-molded, Tupperware boats. Comments on this are welcome! I really don’t know anything about this new build method.
  • Build quality is Very important to me. (FYI, I can’t say enough about Seaward. They are a pleasure to deal with and the fact that I’m still paddling a 23 year old boat, speaks for itself.) In contrast, the Necky Chatham was a brilliant hull design (for it’s intended use) but the quality was horrid.
  • I occasionally like to surf kayaks a bit but again, can steal my wife’s for that. Surfing my 19’ quest in the early years was well… challenging. Ha!

So, in short, I’m looking for a good quality, do-everything nicely, sea kayak for an experienced paddler, that is at home on a flat bay or in big waves. Mostly a day tripper but with room for a weekend outing.

I will take my own advice about never buying a boat without trying it out first but I’d love some guidance on where to start. The number of choices has skyrocketed since I got into the game.

Thanks all !

I’m 6’, around 200 lbs, a healthy 49.
I’ve got a Seaward NF Legend that’s a fun kayak to paddle, but also expedition-ready in terms of volume.
I highly suggest you try a Current Designs Prana LV, or regular Prana if you need more room than the LV, but the LV fits me well and comfortably. It should meet everything you’ve listed above, and surprise you how well with performance on the water. If you can try several other good options alongside, all the better.
Good luck in your search. A new boat is fun stuff!

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Take a serious look at the NDK Explorer (or Explorer HV if really long legs). It is fun in the surf, however if you surf all the time and are willing to go a little slower on long paddles, the NDK Romany (or Romany Surf for long legs) are for you. PS - I’m 6’1" 192 lbs and a 65 yo playing like a late teenager too often.

I ditto CapeFear’s suggestion about the CD Prana. I have the LV. It’s a wonderful kayak.

I lucked out with a used kevlar model and appreciate its 48# weight.

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Suggestions made so far are good however, I’ll throw in playful option since you are keeping the Quest> Give a thought to the P&H Delphin / Aries kayaks. I’m giving my 16 year old Pygmy Arctic Tern 17 a rest as I bought a Delphin 150 this spring. I’m 5’ 8" x ~155lbs (moderately fit 69 years) & fit fine in the 150. You might want to look at the 155 though. From a backpacker’s view there is plenty of room for a weekend. I am very pleased with the stability profile although I haven’t been out in anything bigger than 1 - 2’ in Lake Michigan. Tracking is decent for a kayak designed to play. I can do fine without the skeg but I do have to pay attention to strokes & edging. If I want to keep up with a group or am just a bit lazy I’ll use some skeg. Coming from the Tern, I’ve found myself over powering turns & have had to dial back some. 180s from a low brace tern are not hard & it is also not too hard to get 30 - 45 deg turns from a bow rudder. The new Corelite x poly seems to be pretty good and the weight is more reasonable than the older Delphins. They list it at 55lbs & I weighed mine at just below that. Outfitting is pretty comfortable. I pulled the cover off of the seat as it was inhibiting rotation. It’s taken a while to get the backband set. I prefer a light support just at the base of the spine (top of the but).

On the CD Danish design kayaks, I recently had the opportunity to paddle a Karla LV - the small sister of the Prana on calm water. I found that it felt quite stable and seemed to track better with no skeg than the Delphin. Its owner says that the kayak loves to dance on the waves.

Thanks everyone for your advice and suggestions. A few of them have certainly caught my eye.

Luckily (or unluckily, I’m not sure yet,) I have the winter to research, obsess, fret and dream about a new boat. Still lots of good paddling here until things freeze up to keep me occupied, as well.

I’ll throw out a couple suggestions that are probably a bit ‘outside’ the boundaries of your search:

14’ composite Petrel Play (Turning Point Boatworks)
OK, a 14 foot ‘sea’ kayak, come on.
I’ve got a number of kayaks, switch between them quite a bit.
In the 5 months I’ve owned the PP, I’ve put 1300 miles on it (typically 10 mile daily, 30-47 mile weekend paddles)
It’s a great surfing boat, but a good general paddler as well.
I’m a ‘casual’ paddler, do not push myself, the PP has avg’d 4mph.

If you have no problem with the weight of the kayak, I’d 2nd the NDK choice (Explorer, or more likely Romany).

If weight of kayak is a problem, take a look at the Sterling Illusion (or Grand Illusion, not sure of fit)
(again, for comparison, in the past 5 months I have 400 miles on the Illusion, typically on the longer trips. 4.27mph avg)

Also, just for comparison, last 5 months, using my Epic 18X, 51miles, 4.40mph - proof that I’m no more than a ‘casual’ paddler (a ‘serious’ EPIC paddler would be avg’ing well north of 4.4mph)

Try a Valley Etain not sure which size would fit you. Get it in plastic so you can beat the crap out of it and not worry.