I love the easy tracking with the skeg down. I paddled our larger, super shallow lake for 5 miles in 15-20 mph winds and 2 foot swells and experienced an almost completely dry ride and superb tracking, even when surfing the swells coming back. SO Impressed!! Such a huge difference from the frustrating zig-zagging of the shorter, round bottomed boats! And so much faster!!
The seating is fairly comfortable, even though my hips are actually a bit wider than the molded-in seat size. I can feel the edges of the mold, but it's just a minor annoyance for a 3-4 hr float. The rest of the cockpit is fairly snug for someone my size.
The adjusting straps for the foot braces are a good idea, supposedly allowing for on-the-fly, easy-to-reach adjustments, but as the straps have aged, they've gotten too stiff to work as designed, currently requiring lots of fiddling and fidgeting to get them set and even from side-to-side.
The rear bulkhead leaks right at the bottom seal, the hatch covers are difficult to remove and replace (although I love that they're on a safety string), and it's a LONG reach to either one of them when in the cockpit. The bumpers around the skeg also broke loose and needed to be remounted into the hull (easily done with Gorrilla Glue, though).
The weight of the boat is fairly prohibitive unless you're a big, strong guy! 15 feet and 59 lbs is is BIG boat to be trying to lug around or load on a car top rack. It's really a 2 person job to move this beast around on land, but once in the water.....ahhhhhh.
While my Swiftwater can be easily sluiced around in a brisk river to head back upstream, that's just not an option in this boat. It's minimal rocker and huge length makes trying to do a u-turn to paddle upstream more than my puny arms and sucky technique can handle.
Luckily, I'm keeping the Swiftwater as my river boat, but am thrilled to augment it with this beautifully capable lake boat. I can't wait to take it on Lake Michigan or on a longer tour.
The blades are stiff enough for good power without flutter or excessive flex and they've held up very well through an entire summer of launch push-offs in sand, mud, and rocks. The drip rings generally stay put and function well, the push-button latch/release operates smoothly, and the connection joint is smooth, snug, and wiggle-free. The light weight and nice finish of the fiberglass shaft is an added bonus. Even with my fairly small hands, the shaft diameter is quite nice.
The only fault I've found so far is that use without grip wrap, Yakgrips, or gloves will definitely result in blisters and the shaft tends to get really slippery when wet.
This paddle is a very nice upgrade from a cheap, basic 2-piece and is well worth extra the money. It should give years of happy paddling!
The cockpit, though fairly small for a rec boat, is very comfortable, the thigh pads are acceptable, and the seat back is quite nice. We added a foam stadium seat pad under the stock seat on ours to raise the seat height just a touch and add cushion and better drainage. The placement of the deck bungees are perfect, but the rear bulkhead and Tupperware hatch are NOT watertight on either of ours. In addition, there's no drainage port, so in the case of a flip, there will always be some water in the bottom of the boat as it gets caught in the deck and under the cockpit combing.
The Swiftwater 10.5 was originally a Dagger Blackwater and was designed with a retractable skeg. Judging by it's current handling characteristics, I'd guess that it was a fairly competent and fun hybrid boat in that configuration, but by retooling it without the skeg, Confluence has turned it into little more than a fun little beginner's toy boat.
After just one summer in the Swiftwater, I already want to upgrade to something either in a similar length with a skeg, or something in the 12-13' range for better tracking on open water.
I Highly, HIGHLY recommend this vest for any and all women, especially those larger or more well endowed. It was love at first wear for me after trying lots of other disappointing PFDs.