Most Recent Reviews
We have paddled with other people with the Q Towers on different car models without a problem, so I think this is an issue specifically with the Honda Fit.
This is not a fast boat, and it isn't the best at turning when going downstream. In non-moving water it is easier to turn. It does track fairly straight, but if you try to paddle much over 4 mph (which takes quite a bit of effort), it really is pushing a ton of water. You will want a big blade paddle if you will need to make quick turns going downriver.
It is very stable, and the huge cockpit makes entry/exit easy. I primarily use this on NJ pine barrens rivers and the easy entry/exit is useful for climbing over obstacles. The boat has a very flat bottom, but it is sufficiently stiff that it pops back into the correct shape after going over semi-submerged trees.
The back hatch is great, I can easily open/close it while sitting in the boat. I have never had a problem with the bulk head leaking, and the back hatch is reasonably dry. The primary cup holder is a weird size, it won't fit a nalgene bottle, but it is large for smaller bottles. A 1 liter steel bottle is what fits the best. The seat is comfortable, the back rest is as well. The deck rigging is basic, but sufficient.
Overall a nice boat for lazy rivers and strong enough to take the abuse of uncleared rivers, just don't expect to win any races or be able to maneuver like the cross-over boats.
Handling is ok, and the boat is reasonable fast given it's width and length. It would benefit from more deck rigging, but if you just want a simple boat for lakes/easy rivers this boat is sufficient.
I built the boat with a normal fiberglass layup, 1 layer inside and out with only where the keel rubs on launch/landings getting a second strip of glass. Epoxy was a bit heavy in a few places, but in the end the boat weighs just 43 pounds even with bulk heads and full rigging. The stern deck is very low, which doesn't leave a large amount of storage space in the back. Anything you pack has to be fairly short. The bow hatch is better for bigger stuff. The cockpit is cramped, which is not surprising for a boat that is just 20" wide. I have size 10.5 shoes and I have to wear minimalist shoes (Teva Nilch) to get my feet to the pegs.
It's a light, stiff, narrow boat which makes for a fast boat. Coming from previously paddling plastic boats the speed difference is amazing. Just a couple of strokes and you are flying. I didn't build the boat with a skeg, but I don't have trouble keeping the boat on track. My wife (who is much lighter then myself) finds the boat weather cocks more for her, and she would want a skeg if she paddled the boat regularly.
The boat is reasonably stable, but as would be expected with a boat this narrow you have to be loose and let the boat bounce with the waves or you will be in trouble. Turning is greatly aided by getting the boat on edge, the more comfortable you get with the boat the better it handles. It's a really fun boat to paddle, go fast, and play with.
The boat tracks reasonably well, and the rudder can be used in windy conditions to further reduce the need for correcting strokes. The rudder also works well if you are trying to take pictures and want to keep the boat pointed at your target. Unfortunately the rudder is the type where the pedals move, this can be annoying when you are trying to move at speed and really use your legs in the stroke. In that case I tend to push with both legs to keep the rudder in place, the cable hasn't snapped from all the stress so it must be strong. The only trouble I had with the rudder is a broken retaining pin from hitting the rudder on some rocks. It was cheap and easy to fix with parts ordered online.
The biggest drawback of the Tsunami is the weight. It's a real chore to load this onto the car after a paddle, and a portage with the boat loaded is a workout even with two people. The carry handles do fit well in my hand, at least.
The boat is stable in rough water, thanks to it's width and shape. It's very forgiving for someone learning sea kayaking techniques, or if you are trying to take pictures in bouncy water. Don't expect fast turns/handling, though with some leaning you can get it to move quick enough.
Put simply: It's a comfortable, easy to paddle sea kayak. It won't be a boat that challenges you, it's a boat if you just want to get out on the water and get to your destination with a minimal amount of fuss.
This was the second kit from CLC Boats that I built, I had previously built the Stitch+Glue Night Heron. The experience from the earlier build was useful but not essential. My goal in building this boat was to have a stable boat that was built like a tank. The stableness was inherent in the design, a 25" beam is going to make the boat forgiving no matter how you build it. I used a heavy fiberglass layup (fully glassed inside and out, with up to three layers on the bottom of the hull). The boat is very stiff, but also heavy. Of course, if you want a lightweight boat you don't have to use as much fiberglass, I just wanted a boat that can take a beating and keep on going.
Construction of the boat was straight forward, the directions were accurate and the folks at CLC are always responsive to questions. If building the strip version I do recommend reading Nick Schade's books on strip built sea kayak building, the information in those books does augment the manual well. The only significant change I made to the boat from the reference design was to move the stern hatch to be closer to the cockpit. Doing this, along with using delrin hatch toggles for holding it closed, allows me to open/close the hatch while seated in the cockpit essentially using it as a day hatch.
The Shearwater Sport is a short and wide version of the Shearwater sea kayak line, kinda straddling the line between a rec boat and a sea kayak. The cockpit is large and roomy, almost to the point of being bathtub-like. Expect to use some closed-cell foam to pad things out to shrink it down to a reasonable fit.
The cockpit opening is quite large, somewhere between a Seals 1.7 (very tight) and 2.5 (kinda loose) skirt size. The front deck is high, giving plenty of foot room, but the curved deck doesn't get in the way of my paddling stroke. The basic seat is adequate but could use some more padding. Thanks to the large cockpit there is plenty of room to move your legs around and stretch while on the water if the seat does make you stiff.
The boat is very stable, faster then a plastic kayak, and handles reasonably well. It tracks well, but in strong winds it does tend to weathercock. I have paddled it a few miles in 20mph beam winds and you do get a work out constantly correcting. The boat is forgiving in chop/small waves, and I often use it for photography. Even in light wind I can put the paddle down and pick up my camera and take pictures, not worrying about the need to brace, a little hip movement keeps me stable. The stability comes at a price, of course: it's not a fast boat, but it is faster then a similar plastic boat. Don't expect it to win a race against an 18' sea kayak, but it cruises along at 3.5 - 4.0 mph no problem. The boat isn't a fast turner when flat, leaning the boat over helps but it takes some effort to lean due to the width.
The boat (at least as I built it) is very tough. I have hit rocks, stumps, and other kayaks with just lots of scratches to show for it. T-rescues, rafting up, and other techniques that abuse your boat aren't any worries if you don't mind scratches. The boat won't break, and the most I have needed to do is touch up the varnish.
Overall, the boat is a nice cross over between a rec boat and a sea kayak. If you want to paddle big water in reasonable comfort and stability this boat works well, and looks really good doing it. If you want a fast, challenging boat that will stretch your skills you will want to look elsewhere.