This is simply a lovely boat. It handles well, it tracks well, it's quick and it's easy on the eyes. The funny thing was, I wasn't planning to shell out the bucks on the Saranac when I attended a Paddling Expo at Seneca College's King campus. I was looking for a plastic boat in the $1000 range, that I could beat up with impunity. I wanted something that handled decently but could be run up on rocks at the cottage in northern Ontario. I wanted something that would take abuse from my inebriated friends, and my inebriated son..., and his friends, who are inevitably inebriated. I test paddled a number of plastic boats. Dagger, Necky, Boreal..., I liked them all to varying degrees and was having an extremely tough time making a decision. One of them would be mine. I was sure of it. But which one? My wife and son were pressuring me to either buy something or get the hell back to the 6 (a.k.a. Toronto) But then, I was persuaded by an attractive young lady rep, in a fetching, and rather wet, Swift t-shirt, to try the David Yost designed Swift Saranac. OMG. It was a revelation. It was everything I wanted. It fit my incredibly fit 200 lb body. (Well, maybe not incredibly fit. Let's just say somewhat fit..., for the record.) Both primary and secondary stability were excellent, which allayed my fears of dumping the boat. Writer's Note: I've only flipped this boat once, and that was the result of trying to get into it from a very high dock. That was a result of unusually low water levels late in the summer. It tracked very well, with or without the retractable skeg, and it was fast. The seat was comfortable too. The only thing that held me back was the price tag. It was about 2 grand more than I had planned to spend. Unfortunately, I raved about the boat in front of my then young son an my wife, who both promptly shamed me into making a decision. There is some Scottish in my background and therefore this was an extremely difficult time. Nevertheless, I went for it, and I have not regretted it. I have to be little more careful with the boat. The gelcoat finish is a bit more fragile than plastic, and my wife actually ran it over shallow rocks once, scraping the hell out of it. Nice. The only negative thing I can think of about this boat relates to the skeg. The knob that puts the skeg in place is more than a bit stiff, both in putting it down and retracting it. A little lubrication might fix that. I suspected that the skeg area leaked a bit and sprayed a rubber coating around it. It's quite possible that the puddle I find in the stern is from the water that drops off the paddle into the cockpit. Bottom line: this is a great boat. I absolutely love it.
My skill level was beginner to intermediate and this felt a little like to much boat at first but I have quickly increased my skill level to fit the boat. My goal was to camp, be able to take day trips with my camera and to be easily maneuverable. I went rudderless with no skeg (more room in storage). It easily tracks, and very easy to place where needed for picture taking. I lean on my paddle sometimes to move the boat.
Highly recommend this kayak.
I've had mine for several years now and the finish still looks brand new with an annual treatment of 303 Protectorant. The adjustable, padded seat is comfortable and the cockpit fits my 200 pound frame very well. My 110 pound wife finds it equally comfortable and has no trouble maneuvering around the lake, even though the footrests are set up for me.
It features two hatches, so there's lots of storage. However some water does tend to find it's way into these hatches. I believe it's water dripping off the paddle into the cockpit (I don't have a spray skirt).
My only complaint is the skeg. The control knob can get quite stiff if it hasn't been used of a while (as in an entire winter) A little bit of WD40 on the cable loosens it up just fine. Frankly, the boat tracks so well, I don't often use the skeg.
Bottom line: excellent boat.
The service I've received from Swift is great too.
On the down side the boat is not as fast as I had hoped, figure you can get 2-3mph out of the boat as confirmed by my GPS. I did have some trouble with one of the hatch cowlings coming loose from the deck (definitely a manufacturing defect) but the dealer gave me the epoxy and I made the repair myself.
The boat holds a ton of gear if you're into camping. I have paddled this kayak on everything from small ponds to Long Island Sound with a 3' swell. The boat handles very well and predictable even when taking waves from the beam.
The boat has incredible initial stability and the secondary is very impressive as well. You can edge the boat and it turns on a dime without any feeling of going over. A good boat for beginers and veterans. We purchased these from Bay Creek Paddling Center in Rochester NY. They were very knowledgeable and professional. I would purchase another boat from them and we look forward to upgrading our Swifts to composites in a few years. Keep up the excellent work Bill.