"The Shearwater is an eye-catching, light and fast cruiser that does many things well. It is a strong contender for the budget-minded paddler looking to answer the 'if I could only have one kayak' question." - from Sea Kayaker's October 2006 review of the Shearwater 17. Read entire review
Stitch-and-glue sea kayak design has grown up a lot in the last fifteen years, driven by enthusiastic paddlers who prefer ultralight, beautiful boats that handle like extensions of themselves. For a new line of high-performance sea kayaks, Chesapeake Light Craft commissioned veteran paddler and kayak designer Eric Schade. Eric created three sleek, state-of-the-art wood-composite kayak designs.
Elegant lines result in real performance. The sweeping sheerline complements the nicely balanced ends; there isn't an awkward hump or bump anywhere. The sheer panels are "tumbled home" to reduce windage and improve paddle clearance. Like all Chesapeake Light Craft kayak kits, the decks are smoothly cambered, not cut up into a faceted, homebuilt appearance.
West Greenland-style hulls provide telepathic handling to the skilled paddler, while initial and secondary stability are ample for the newly initiated. On the water, the Shearwater demonstrates excellent poise and responsiveness in a broad range of conditions, edging turns easily when leaned but straight when pushed hard in surf. A cutaway bow and skeg-like stern ensures tracking even in extremely rough water. The relatively low profile means you'll spend less time on corrective strokes and more time covering ground.
The Shearwater design abounds in interesting and innovative features. To emphasize the clean lines, the decks are computer cut from sapele plywood, a beautiful mahogany with a reddish-brown swirling grain, to contrast with the honey-colored okoume sides and bottoms. Flush hatches are standard. Veteran stitch-and-glue builders will find notable tweaks in the Shearwater kits, including CNC-cut "finger joints" instead of the more typical scarf joints. The finger joints eliminate the alignment step required of scarf joints, so parts are quicker to assemble and impossible to misalign. Another luxury in the Shearwater kits is that 99% of the holes for the wire stitches have been drilled for you by our CNC machine. This means faster assembly and no measuring for bulkhead locations, as those holes are drilled, too.