Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Review Of The Seabird Expedition HV 2012

A review so far. I will award stars with 5 stars as maximum, which indicate the best of the best in my opinion.

Conclusion (stock version): ✯✯✯
It’s a HV model and it’s big. It’s definitely made for expeditions, where you need to bring supplies to more than just a picnic. It’s stable in all the conditions, I have tried it in, and that includes waves up to about 1.5 m., 4.9', from all directions.
It’s also cheap. It costs about 8500,- dkr. (1430 USD, 915 GBP). And the price tag seems to be the Achilles Heel of the kayak. It’s designed in Norway, but to cut prices, it is made in China, and the materials are kept to an absolute minimum.
But a very affordable and all round kayak which I’m happy to own.



Storage: ✯✯✯✯✯
It has three bulkheads, two big and one ‘small’, and a small neoprene compartment. That’s two main hatches and two day hatches.
The bulkhead below the ‘normal’ day hatch is surprisingly spacious, and because the other day hatch is more suited for mobile phones, glasses etc., it can be used as a regular third storage room. I use it for food, water and what I will wear when landing on a beach, like jogging clothes.
The rear main bulkhead seems to be the smallest of the two main. But it is big enough to contain my tent (two persons), my sleeping bag, a self inflating sleeping pad, a cooker, Trangia, and a small kayak trolley without the wheels. I also got a small fishing rod and some fishing gear down there.
In the front, I keep a collapsible shovel, the wheels of the trolley, extra clothes, extra water and all bits and pieces like a first aid kit, strips, sticky tape, string/rope etc..
To be honest, it is incredible how much gear you can store.
The materials of the hatches are made of soft rubber except the front day hatch. The front day hatch is also the only one of the hatches that are secured with a safety line.


Cockpit: ✯✯
(The HV model is designed for persons from 75 kg. and up. I am 180 cm. (5’11’’) and weighs 80 kg. (176 lbs). I will review the cockpit from my viewpoint but please keep in mind that I am a small user for this kayak.)
The cockpit is big in volume like the bulkheads. Mainly because of the width and height of it. Wasted space but a result of the design of the kayak.
The main footrests are alright, and the footrests of the rudder are easy to use. The rudder do not move evenly but I guess it has to be that way.
The width was a problem in a more serious way. I had the feeling of being in a bathtub, and I was constantly sliding from side to side on the seat, wasting power at each stroke I took. Luckily it was easy to put some extra padding on the side of the seat to neutralize that problem.
The knee rests are ok, but doesn't support the knees sideways. I guess I need to use some extra padding there as well.
The seat is ok, but nothing special. The backrest is too high and touches the sprayhood, and the new regulating backrest system has no real meaning. I will be buying a gel cushion or something, to make the seating more comfortable.
The cockpit ‘hole’ in the deck is too big. It’s very easy to get into the kayak, but the day hatch in front of it is unnecessary far away.
This cockpit needs to be modified. The default cockpit is below average. But the good thing about a cockpit is, that you can modify it to serve your own needs. 



Rudder: ✯✯✯
The mount to the rudder consist of hard plastic. I'm afraid that if/when the rudder collapses, it will be the mount that breaks, which will make repairs difficult. Surprisingly it hasn't happened yet. And I have, unwillingly, tested it on rocks, docks and the ground.
The lock, which is meant to keep it in the water, is one of the reasons I have tested it on a fair share of rocks already. Sometimes I unlock it because I'm in shallow waters, but I want to keep using it to steer. But because of the placement of the lock, it has at least 90% chance of ‘self locking’. Such an annoying detail. I'm going to turn the lock 180° and I'm sure it will work fine.

Bits & Pieces: ✯✯
The deck has handles, lines etc. and they are all alright except: The screws which holds them in place only penetrates about 5 mm, 0.19”, into the deck. How are they going to withstand just moderate stress? Especially the screws that hold the handles for carrying the kayak? Not the right place to cut costs. It’s downright dangerous. Luckily I think it’s possible to replace them with longer screws without too much hassle.

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