My wife purchased the Kevlar Passat for my birthday in 2003, and it provided a safe and stable platform for small cruises. In 2010, I began challenging myself with longer paddles to compete in the 300 mile WaterTribe's Everglades Challenge. My paddling went from a few miles on the Gulf Coast or off of the Atlantic in the Keys to days that included 25 to 80 miles of paddling.
For me, this boat is great for solo paddling, but a challenge at times solo paddling in 30+ mph winds (not recommended in small craft including kayaks). Mentally, I have stayed on shore in big winds, but have learned that the boat can keep me safe in serious weather until I can find safe shelter. I always paddle with a PFD, PLB, SPOT Satellite tracker, hypothermia kit, fire starter kit, paddle float, and a C-Tug cart with plastic wheels.
I have paddled this 22 footer solo up and down the Mississippi River, up and down the Suwanee River, through the Okefenokee Swamp, along the complete Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades, in the Gulf, in the Atlantic, up and down creeks and rivers in FL and GA, in lakes across the US. I have paddled with outriggers to take my kids to see the second to last Space Shuttle launch from the water on mosquito lagoon.
I use a sail with my Passat. I have both a 1.5 square meter and a 1.0 square meter. I have added the Seaward gas pedal rudders to the front cockpit. Now I paddle from the front cockpit to solo paddle better where i control the front, and the rudder helps with the rear.
I am also a big guy at 6'2" and 250#. I fit comfortably in each cockpit of the Passat.
The hatch covers with the secondary neoprene skirts have kept my gear dry in over 10 years of paddling the Passat. Despite being swamped with water over the tops of my legs in the cockpit crossing Tampa Bay one year in terrible headwinds and waves, all gear was dry. I use a cockpit cover on the rear cockpit and it was also bone dry.
The fit and finish on this kayak are exceptional. Speed is great for a 26" wide boat. I train at 4.8 mph for 5 miles, or about an hour paddle. I expect to average 3 MPH through the 300 mile Evergaldes Challenge against tides, wind, weather, sleep depivation mistakes, and permitting delays/impacts for campsites.
This is a phenomenal kayak that stays on my roof rack from December through March while I am paddling almost daily training for the Everglades Challenge in March of every year. Four straight years of this exposure for almost 4 months has not diminished the great color and finish on my Passat.
I highly recommend the Seaward Passat!
See photos of my Passat paddling adventures at www.photobucket.com/scareman
Search for videos on YouTube under 'scaremanthe watertribe' and 'scaremanthe everglades challenge'.
Since then, we have had her (to my wife, all kayaks are females) out on lakes and rivers across the Southeast US, as well as Mobile Bay and Perdido Bay on the Gulf coast. The finish is still essentially flawless and the deck rigging, rudder, rudder cables, handles and hatches are still tight and in good shape – just like on a new boat. This is unusual on a 5 year old, previously owned boat and a testimony to both the care of the previous owner and the build quality of the Passat. Since it was used, we did not get a color choice but the yellow/orange fade looks really sharp and is highly visible on the water – an important safety factor! In fact, the good looks of the boat can be a bit of a pain, as every power boater and jet skier on the water feels compelled to come check us out when we would rather they leave us alone!
We live on the busiest lake in the TVA system and have had the boat out in confused swells/wakes up to 2-3 feet, as well as in some high winds. We have found the Passat to be extremely stable and to track well in wind from any direction without significant weathercocking. Thus, little or no rudder input is required to stay on course. The initial stability is high, but the boat has a decent turn of speed as well. There is also plenty of room for camping (and other) gear. The rudder system is robust and functions well, but a major highpoint of the boat is the hatch system – probably the driest, most secure AND easiest to open/close of any of the kayaks we own. Finally, the Passat is a GREAT photography platform – it is rock steady and there is enough room in the rear cockpit that I can store a Pelican dry box (containing my SLR and 400 mm telephoto lens) on the floor under my knees without interfering with my paddling, comfort or exit from the cockpit in an emergency. That way, when an interesting bird comes along, I can just pop the latch on the dry box and I am in business!
To couples who might be considering a tandem – do it – but only if you like working together. Don't let anyone convince you that tandem kayaks are "divorce boats". Buying a tandem was a perfect solution for us – both of us get the workout we want and it solves the eternal "paddlers with different fitness levels" issue. The challenge of working together adds to the fun - one of my goals is to learn to work together well enough that we can roll our Passat!
My wife likes to name our boats. Her Eddyline Fathom LV single is "Baby" and my Epic 18X is "that d**n thing that breaks all the time so that you have to borrow my Eddyline…" My new Folbot Cooper does not have a name yet but I'm thinking "Slinky" – for the cool way it flexes over swells. Our Passat tandem is named "Serenity" – because it allows us to enjoy an outdoor activity TOGETHER (and - yes - after the ship on a short lived but excellent Science Fiction TV series “Firefly” – did I say we are nerds?). I would recommend that anyone looking for a tandem buy a Seaward.
Finally, to all the folks at the Seaward company who pour their hard work into these boats, kudos for making such a fine product! Thank you so much for the many miles (kilometers?) of happy paddling and irreplaceable memories.
We ordered ours at the end of Jan/09 and received in 2nd week of March. Our boat has some new features. Most notable the slider rudder control - very nice. I like this much better than the traditional rope pull setup. The seats are also bolt-in foam cushion on plastic seats as opposed to previous foam flotation seat.
We've only had the boat out 3 times but one of the times was in 20knot wind. It has a pronounced tendency to turn up wind but I was able to keep us on course with a little pressure on the rudder. Most boats have this same tendency. Tracking and turning have been primarily by rudder input at this point. My partner is somewhat inexperienced. Two experienced paddlers could probably paddle and maneuver without rudder in calm waters.
IMO few boats could live up to a 10 rating. I've been paddling now for about 6 years. Here's some of my thoughts about the boat:
Hatch system seems really good. Haven't rolled the boat over yet but front hatch was bone dry after taking a number of waves over the bow. I'm currently adding additional deck lines along my cockpit in the rear. I'm currently modifying the seats to add a tad more contour to make them more comfy. I love the pivoting rudder pedal system. I prefer that over the sliding pedal system. However if the pedals were slightly larger that would make them a bit more comfortable and easier to operate. Also if you're a person with large feet you might have an issue with space since the hull tapers down on the sides quite a bit for the aft paddler.
Overall a great boat that I'm really happy with. I'd recommend it.
It is also fast. We can cut our time to known points by 20% over our singles. We also tend to take the shortest route in crossings rather than hug a coast if there is wind.
Carries a surpsringly large amount of gear. Dry storage is adequate for a five day trip. The hatch covers are great and have proven to be effective even in rough water. You must use the space in front of the pegs for anything longer than five or six days -- tarp bag, bear can, fire pots.
Handles well, even when coasting among the rocks near shore. We use the rudder in following seas or when we are lazy. The rudder is a bit spongy, but it is turning a 22foot long vessel, and I guess that is ok. We can lean and brace easily and I'm sure we could roll it, if we were silly enough to try. Why roll when you can brace has been my mantra for decades.
I've made a sail from a triangular tarp and have deployed it with good results.
The Seaward seats, which double as a paddle float, are comfortable if you fit them to your size. I've added some height and am comfortable for the 4-5 hour marches we tend to do.
At 85 lbs it is easy to walk up and down the beach, and with carry straps four people can move it out of the surf if needed.