Even though the Aleutian is much heavier than my wing paddle I find that I can maintain similar speeds during training and racing yet my body feels so much better the day after a hard paddle. The Aleut offers better control and a wider range to stroke which really helps in rough conditions.
Tom is all about customizing your paddle functionally as well as aesthetically. My first paddle arrived on time as expected and working with Tom through the purchasing process was easy and enjoyable. I quickly adopted it as my go to paddle, which unfortunately resulted in some dings using it while training and ascending a low level local creek. (My Bad ...not the fault of the paddle or the maker). So a quick message to Tom and he agreed to make me another custom Aleutian paddle with the blades reinforced with fiberglass (and a cool custom color scheme and leaf design). 3 Weeks later I received my 2nd paddle and it performs as well as the first paddle and looks even better!!! I have used it on several trips now and it has held up well to rocks and ice contact.
If you are looking for an inexpensive custom Aleutian paddle I highly recommend Tom and T and J paddles.
The only 2 negatives I can say, is: yes it's a heavy boat, compared to many newer boats of similar size and performance. The other is the foam bulkheads are not very watertight and should not be trusted. This however can be fixed with some sealant. All and all a great boat when it was made and still a nice performer today.
If you are looking for a stable and flexible family boat, this one deserves a good look. We can't wait to try it in ocean surf!
This is a big improvement over my plastic boat, it is lighter, stronger and stiffer (good for handling, bad for hitting things). It is more stable than I would have guessed and turns very easily with simple leans, so much so that I won't be adding the rudder I purchased for it. I added a happy bottom seat and a performance backband. The boat fits like a glove. It is very easy to get into and out of. Like many boats it is intended for a specific range of paddler, I am 5'10", 175 with size 12 shoes. Anyone over 6'2" may have to move the bulkhead forward to increase leg room.
The Shearwater tracks very well, and suffers from very little weathercocking and is easier to turn (compared to my plastic Sealion). It's a fast and predictable handling boat, a great all around sea kayak in the traditional greenland style. I have used mine on lakes and rivers, the bow slices thru most wave trains on the river as opposed to riding up and bouncing as my Sea Lion does. The hull shape gives it less buoyancy in the at the ends but I have yet to find a negative to this. I wish I had built one sooner.