Name: AlamedaNick

Most Recent Reviews

Similarly to another reviewer, I bought the Scupper 14 after searching the internet for the "fastest sit-on-top kayak" and ruling out those ultra-long fiberglass boats I sometimes see. I read a bunch of reviews, checked out all the information on the Swell Watercraft website, and pulled the trigger. I went with the basic package since I wear water shoes (so didn't feel like I needed the padding under the feet) and didn't need the extra hatch access from the adventure package. I also paddle a couple of other kayaks without rudders and, after noting that I could add a rudder pretty easily on my own, thought I'd test the kayak to see how it handled without a rudder. Jim over at Swell was really helpful and I got the boat delivered to me in Northern California very fast.

I have a couple of sit-inside kayaks, both of which I love paddling. They are both good sea kayaks - one skin on frame and incredibly light (Cape Falcon F1 - 14 feet long I think - a total joy to paddle!) and one older model plastic 16.5 foot sit-inside (P&H Capella 166) with a skeg. However, I wanted a boat I could keep on the dock at a local boat club where I could, spur of the moment, take it out for an hour or two before my workday starts. I wanted to be able, in those circumstances, to skip putting on a wetsuit (I paddle in the SF Bay Area, so the water is cold and sit-inside kayaks are higher risk for tipping unexpectedly in chop - and having to bail out and climb back in takes time if you are not able to execute a roll like me!) and spray deck, inflating flotation bags for my skin on frame boat, bringing along my pump and paddle float, etc. With the stability of the SOT boat, I felt comfortable just rolling on down to the club, putting on some appropriate fast-drying clothing and spray jacket if necessary (along with PFD, paddle and small dry bag for VHF radio, keys, phone, wallet, etc.), and heading out. Staying near the shore on relatively calm days, I feel safe enough with this arrangement - at least in the cozy confines of the bay near Alameda/Oakland.

The boat is hard to tip by accident for a paddler with some experience (even with significant chop coming at you from the side - nice low center of gravity), goes surprisingly fast with moderate paddling effort (averaged about 3.7 mph on my last paddle including a couple of brief breaks, which, in my experience, is a good clip for a SOT in particular), has great day hatch access, tons of storage for a longer journey, and is easy to turn without a rudder just by carving. I did have to compensate for currents and wind, generally having to sit to one side of the seat to keep the boat from wanting to turn in that direction, so will probably end up getting the rudder at some point.

The boat is very comfortable to paddle. Lots of room, a good seat, nice adjustable foot pegs, sturdy construction, easy access to your day hatch, good place to store a water bottle, etc.. Paddling is a breeze with the cutaways in the front (no bumping knuckles or holding the paddle up high to clear the sides). The scupper plugs take a little elbow grease at first, but using my heel I was able to push them down to drain the footwell areas. It's not light compared to my other boats, but it's pretty light for a full-featured plastic SOT of this length - about 64 lbs I think.

In any extended paddle, you will probably, as with all SOTs, get a little wet. Your legs will get a little damp just from water dripping off your paddle. If there's any significant chop, it will come in to the boat through the unplugged scupper holes up front and flow into the footwells (by design). If you like to carve your turns, water can come in over the sides in windy or choppy conditions. The boat is fine after taking on water - floats nice and high and remains maneuverable - even if the unsealed concave areas are filled with water. And the scupper plugs do work to drain the water slowly if you are paddling forward at a decent clip. This is inherently part of a SOT kayak; in this department, the Scupper 14 performs better than the others SOTs I've tried. On colder, windy days, I will probably wear wetsuit pants in addition to my warmer water shoes.

All in all, I heartily recommend this boat for anyone who wants a faster SOT kayak that is versatile enough for longer journeys, fast and nimble enough to be fun for experienced paddlers, and a convenient size for storage.