Swift Cruiser 14.8 Description
Swift Canoe & Kayak
Swift Cruiser 14.8 Reviews
I’ve been paddling sea…
I’ve been paddling sea kayaks for 35 years or so. A few years ago, I heard about “Pack boats” (kind of an open-decked kayak that can be propelled with a 2-bladed paddle) for the first time, and then last year had the opportunity to demo one at Collinsville Canoe & Kayak. I weigh 200 lb and am 5’6”. The person who I demo’d the boat with thought my best option would be Swift Canoe’s Cruiser 14.8. I felt very good about the test paddle and soon thereafter contacted the shop to put in my order, specifying color and layup options. Several months later, the boat was ready for pick up at the retailer shop in Connecticut or, for an extra charge, delivery to Atlanta. I opted to drive back up to Connecticut and have a few adventures with my new boat on the to Atlanta. I have since had it out in big and small lakes, a couple of lazy current rivers, and a coastal salt marsh.
I really like this boat. First and foremost, it is crazy light. I opted for the carbon integra weave and the total weight is in the low 20’s! I’m 61 and solo load my boat onto the top of a pickup. I really appreciate a light boat, each year more than the last - not just for getting the boat on and off my truck, but carrying it to and from the launch point when that is necessary. The easiest hand carry for me is to place my hands on the bolt holes where you would normally attach the optional yoke (I kind of wish I had purchased that and now it’s sold out), and resting the folded down seat on my head (I slipped a piece of foam into the back of the seat to make this a bit more comfortable).
My kayak is still my number 1 boat, but it is undeniably easier to go for a paddle in the pack boat. It’s easier to handle when off the water owing to the weight, as alluded to above, and you can just plop your gear and amenities behind the seat or in front of your feet, as opposed to loading through hatches that are mostly inaccessible while on the water. And no fussing with a sprayskirt every time you get in or out…it just feels easy. I do miss being able to cool off with a balance brace or roll and, depending on the environment, it’s always in the back of my mind that an accidental flip would be problematic so I’m a bit more conscious of where I’m paddling.
It’s sort of a ritual that about halfway through my paddles, I’ll stop and enjoy a long coffee break, usually on the water. Getting as comfortable as possible during these breaks can be a bit of a challenge in my sea kayak (I manage), but I find that in my Cruiser, with no bulkheads, I can just lay down in the hull with my head resting on the seat. It’s pretty easy to drift off (go to sleep that is) in this position. And not to be morbid but at 61, I’ve also thought about the possibility of some sort of medical incident while on the water. I think this would be much easier to deal with in the pack boat as I would be able to lay down in the hull to lower my center of gravity and wait for assistance.
I didn’t know if I would want to keep using my Greenland paddle or, instead, switch to a spoon-type paddle. I’ve now tried both and find no reason to switch. My GP and all the strokes I use it for in my kayak work just as well in my Cruiser. The pinched gunwales in the middle of the boat are a very nice feature btw, allowing for a near vertical stroke with either paddle type. Performance wise, the boat gets high marks. It’s agile. The flat hull, shallow draft, and relatively short length (compared to my sea kayak) allow me to get in and out of tight spaces pretty easily (e.g., while gunk-holing). I thought that weather-cocking might be an issue but I have been pleasantly surprised. I’ve mostly been out in light-moderate winds (probably not more than 15 knots) but even with rear quartering winds, I haven’t found myself needing to use many corrective strokes. The boat does of course have a higher profile than the average sea kayak and, as such, I would expect that with a stiff beam wind, one would get shoved off course, but for the conditions I expect to find myself in, I have no concerns. The speed is decent. With my high-end touring kayak, I maintain a comfortable sustainable speed of about 3.8 mph. In my Cruiser 14.8, I average about 3.4 mph. I consider this to be a mostly inconsequential difference. The boat is plenty stable. I can pretty much recover (using a paddle) after getting the gunwale within an inch or so of the water. The boat will, without any action on my part, return to upright when heeled over up to about 28 degrees (I presume this would be affected by how much weight you’ve got in the boat).
I think it would be pretty easy to camp out of this boat for several days. If you were purchasing a Swift boat primarily for camping, you might choose one of the longer models or perhaps a different model altogether but for mostly day use with occasional camping, I think the 14.8 is fine. One more thing, the customer service at Swift Canoe is excellent. I abused my boat right off the bat (trying some different approaches to solo re-entries) and cracked the adhesive on a glued-on carbon thwart (you might ask for bolt on thwarts if you plan on similar activities). I contacted the company, the owner - Bill Swift - called me back, and the issue was resolved to my complete satisfaction. They really went above and beyond IMO. All-in-all, If you’re considering a pack boat, I’d definitely suggest giving the Swift Canoe Cruiser a try.
Ok, It has been about two…
Ok, It has been about two years since I made the first review, and thought that I'd update. The boat has done everything that I have asked of it. I had it out in some heavy waves and wind, and at no time was I concerned about my ability to stay upright, and on my way. Durability has been excellent. I don't even think that I've scratched it yet. I am a bit big for the boat, and my wife recently paddled it, and claimed it to be hers anyway. I have a Cruiser 16.8 on order for myself.