SEAWARD COMPASS SR-140
L: 14'; W: 24"; 49 lbs.
Our local B.C. test crew had high hopes for the latest entry from Vancouver Island-based manufacturer Seaward. And for the most part, the paddlers were not disappointed. "It feels like an expedition-lite boat," said one seasoned tester used to multi-week hauls. The Compass certainly looks like a de-tuned version of Seaward's tried and true expedition boats. Its hard chine--basically edges on the hull--easily engaged with a light lean, allowing for rudder-less steering. The pronounced keel also made short work of a long crossing, keeping the boat straight with minimal correction, though the bow-to-stern keel-line also meant that it turned slowly. Where Seaward strayed from the norm was with the rudder, ditching the usual swing-down rudder deployment for a trap-style one: Pull the cord and it "drops" into a binding. It's an innovative idea and effective when it works, but some of our testers were left in limbo with it stopped halfway, only partially engaged. The quality of the seat also left some lumbars disappointed, especially for paddlers over six feet tall. Where the kayak's extra cost did show up, however, was on the deck with high quality lines, beautiful thermoform build from recyclable ABS plastic, and the generous, well-thought hatches. The Compass was the only boat that testers said they would consider taking on a multi-day trip.
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