I purchased a Keeywadin 17 this summer with Kevlar Fusion, with Emerald over Champagne with Carbon Kevlar Trim, Cherry outers and Decks. It is a great canoe and with the carbon gunwales and cherry trim it is an absolutely beautiful looking boat that paddles easily. I could go through all of the nice things about this canoe, like the fact that is weighs 39 pounds and is awesome for portages. The colored Kevlar is beautiful. I love the canoe, however I have two minor issues with the canoe that are probably easy to fix that are a problem for me, both of these issues are due to the fact that I am a larger person.
1) They say in their ads that they lowered the seat positions. One of the reasons I like canoes over kayaks is the seating position. I am sure that lowering them makes it more stable but it is uncomfortable and actually impossible for me to kneel while paddling in the stern for any length of time. I suppose I could figure out how to raise the seats myself, they are bolted on, but I have not attempted to do that yet. Swift needs to provide a kit to alter the height of the seats. It could be as simple as some longer bolts and a couple of pieces of cherry, don't know. I am sure they know what would work the best. My wife, a small person, would like a front seat that is angled, front lower than the back, again the same type of kit might work.
2) The contoured yoke is a one size fits all. So the question for me is, "Contoured to whom"? It is beautiful to look at but people have different shoulders. The first time I used the yoke my arms were numb after walking 500 feet. I called Swift up and asked if they made different size yokes that I might purchase. They told me, "No", they were all the same. Again, an easy thing to fix.. I'd be happy to pay for a larger shoulder size yoke, again the yoke is bolted on so it would be easy to change. These are contoured yokes and not everyone is the same size. To make it comfortable I just have to add a bunch of padding, but I like the look of the cherry and would love a solution from Swift.
If you are a regular type person these things might not bother you. In a $3,600 canoe it wold be nice to have some small options to address these and the cost to Swift would be minor.
To be honest I never gave the Keewaydin 16 any respect when it came out, just flat out didn't care for the boat, never even tried it. So on a return fall trip we stopped in at AO and tried a bevy of boats and confirmed my initial thoughts that we needed to get a Demoine. That was until Brian suggested we try the Keewaydin 17, he said keep an open mind, it will blow you away, the 17 had just come out.
Paddling conditions on the lake that day were ideal for testing a boat, very windy, and choppy and calm water in the bays. Initial stability was really good, much closer to a rec boat (Algonquin) than the Kip. Secondary stability really good.
Now the really surprising part. The first stroke we took leaving the dock the boat felt like my Osprey. The paddling stroke ergonomics were identical I knew after a short distance of paddling that I could paddle this boat all day long with no shoulder fatigue, strain and discomfort at the end of the day. The rolled in sides brought my arm in line with my shoulder. Less effort to paddle definitely translates to a better trip.
The boat did everything we asked it to do with little effort. It accelerates quickly in calm and rough water. The boat is deceptively fast, on par with a 2003 and later Kipawa. Now paddling into a 20-25 mph head wind with a 1-2 foot chop. This boat cut the wind and waves with ease and we didn't lose any momentum between paddle strokes. I was unbelievably surprised. When I got back to the dock my big smile said it all. We got to get one of these boats. The boss was very happy also. For her it is a much more docile boat when compared to our Kipawa and we are gaining performance.
If I had to pick just one boat to paddle this one would be it. I would have no problem selling this boat to a beginner. The boat's initial stability is very forgiving to be able to say this, where as a Kipawa I would never recommend to a beginning paddler. There are also different seat height options for this boat which allows you to play with the C of G (center of gravity), it's a comfort thing. The boat we test paddled had the lower seats in it. You can also mix the heights. Something else we were able to do and it came about by paddling the boat. We were able to grip the sides in a kneeling position like you do in a kayak and it helped with controlling the boat.
David Yost and Swift really nailed it with this boat. My partner and I suggest everyone go try one and keep an open mind.
It was great, but we're looking for boats that can carry bigger loads (and our Newfie dog) so this one isn't for us. A wicked tool, just not the one for us.