Seabird Scott MV Sea Kayak
Length: 518cm (17') Beam: 55.9cm (22") Weight: 27kg Volume: 330 litres Paddler Weight Range: 70kg-90kg
Fibreglass/Diolen composite construction
Avg continuous comfortable cruise 4.2/4.5mph - sprint 6.7mph
The Seabird Scott is a composite sea kayak available in three sizes to fit most paddler sizes/weights
Seabird Scott LV (Low Volume)
Length: 16’4″ Beam: 21″ Paddler Weight: 50-75kg
Seabird Scott MV (Medium Volume)
Length: 17′ Beam: 22″ Paddler Weight: 70-90kg
Seabird Scott HV (High Volume)
Length: 17’10” Beam: 23″ Paddler Weight: 80-115kg
At around £1,500 brand new in the UK (Pre Covid inflation!) the Seabird Scott is very reasonably priced for a GRP/Diolen composite boat. The Seabird Scott was designed especially for typical British sea conditions by Rob Feloy, the Devon based naval architect internationally renowned for his record breaking (inc. transocean) kayak and yacht designs and the innovative Inuk ultra fast kayaks - A man who knows a thing or two about kayak design then! It is designed to handle rough water and be manoeuvrable and nimble with good stability, comfort and seaworthiness. The hull has a deep rocker curvature, shallow V form with flat bottomed mid section for surfing and relatively hard chines, allowing the kayak to edge and carve well in turns. I have paddled all three sizes of Seabird Scott kayak and they have all paddled well and in my opinion fulfil the above design brief. Seabird also produce a plastic rotomoulded version of the Scott which is similar, although having seen one, not exactly the same so I can't comment on the paddling characteristics of that one.
The Seabird Scott LV is theoretically too small for me as, at 82-86kg, I am above it's recommended weight limit but I was surprised at how stable it was for a relatively narrow kayak and you could really feel the secondary stability kick in. Within a minute of getting in I felt really at home in it and totally secure. It cut through the water like butter and was very responsive on edge but so far only tried that size on flat water. At my weight the LV wouldn't leave much freeboard for adding lots of cargo.
The Seabird Scott HV is really too big for me as I am right at the bottom of it's recommended weight limit, and it felt big when sitting in the cockpit, but I was surprised at how well I got on with it and it out performed my Capella 166 RM, on the sea this time, in every respect except for cockpit fittings and comfort (more on this later). Rock solid stability, picked up waves more easily to surf, turned faster despite being a bigger boat and surprisingly, even though it was theoretically too high a volume for me and was unloaded so floating high, I had no problems with weathercocking in conditions when my Capella (unloaded) was quite noticeably weathercocking.
The Seabird Scott MV is theoretically the ideal size for me and this is the one I own. At about 85kg paddling weight (and with just a C-Tug Trolley in the rear hatch, spare split paddles on the back deck and a bottle of water in the cockpit and maybe a pack of sandwiches in the front hatch for a day paddle) the Scott MV sits with the tail of the stern just kissing the water and the same at the curve of the bow. Edging lifts the bow and the stern just clear of the water and you can hear a ripping sound from the stern as it scuds across the water enabling easy fast turns (I have read reviews of the P&H Cetus which have mentioned the same behaviour and the hull shapes seem to share similar characteristics although looking at photographs it appears the Scott may have slightly more stern rocker). At my weight I would say my Seabird Scott, despite being 12" longer, is actually more manoeuvrable than my NDK Romany (Classic model) although having said that I am at the top of the weight range for the Romany which works against it. Whereas the Romany with a slightly "V" shaped bottom can be edged almost telepathically rocking from chine to chine with the slightest hint of knee pressure the flat bottom of the Scott with massive initial stability requires a slightly more deliberate, but still pretty easy, effort. Likewise once the edge is released from the Romany it goes straight again while the Scott will like to keep turning until you counter it. Ultimately though this allows the Scott to turn faster but without it being unruly. It just feels different and requires a slightly different technique.
I have now had my own Seabird Scott MV for over 6 years and have used it on the North Sea coast, cruising the Norfolk Broads, in a force 6 gusting 7 on Coniston water in the Lake District in surprisingly short steep waves and on the West Coast of Scotland and for cruising Scottish Sea Lochs. Excellent, I absolutely love it! Even unloaded it doesn't seem prone to weather cocking like my old Capella (which unloaded was sometimes a struggle even with the skeg fully deployed) and has a very powerful and effective skeg which I have rarely felt the need to fully deploy. You do have to be careful not to pull the skeg over centre when retracting it otherwise you will find it difficult to deploy without a helping hand on the skeg itself. I have put some tape over the cockpit skeg slider control at the safe point of retraction to prevent it going any further but one day will get around to adjusting the skeg cable length itself to prevent this happening at all. The Scott is not overly skeg dependent but it is one of the most powerful skegs I have used and I rarely need it fully deployed. You can use it very effectively to tune the handling in cross winds and whereas my Capella 166RM used to sometimes weather cock strongly even with the skeg fully deployed I have found you can fine tune the balance of the Scott on the skeg even to the point of making it lee cock if you want to (although generally this is not desirable but it is nice to know you have power in reserve should you need it in more extreme conditions). It is a very manoeuvrable kayak when you want it to be as it has a decent amount of rocker but it also tracks just fine and I have no complaints about cruising speed. Build quality seems to be holding up OK and after 6 years it all still looks in very good condition (but I am very careful to look after my boats!).
The kayak has a sloping rear cockpit bulkhead for easy emptying and rescues. The front deck has a moulding to take the standard Silva 70p compass. Storage consists of a front compartment with round rubber hatch, a handy small screw on hard plastic hatch directly in front of the cockpit which leads into a neoprene sock inside the cockpit so that when not in use it takes up barely any cockpit room (but on my example that little hatch seems almost impossible to get completerly watertight), a small round day hatch behind the cockpit partitioned off with bulkheads and finally a large rear compartment, with oval hatch large enough to easily take a dismantled Railblaza C-Tug trolley. Apart from the little cockpit hatch all my other hatches always appear to stay dry. The black panels with the Scott name on them either side of the front of the cockpit, in an attractive Carbon Fibre effect, are actually nicely placed cut aways in the deck moulding which allow you to take paddle strokes close in to the hull without you hitting the paddle shaft or your fingers on the deck.
If I have any complaints about the Seabird Scott it is about the standard cockpit fittings and in particular the back band and the uncomfortable and bulky solid plastic thigh braces fitted with no foam padding. The footrests, with twist and lift handles allowing adjustment while seated are fine although I have removed mine and fitted a foam block footrest in front of the bulkhead which I prefer in most of my boats and find much more comfortable. I have refitted the cockpit in mine completely with a much more comfortable seat and backrest salvaged from another boat (although there was nothing particularly wrong with the original seat base). I am still experimenting with thigh braces. I originally glued foam padding to the standard hard plastic thigh braces which did make them more comfortable. Then I tried fitting a set of thigh braces from a Dagger Axis kayak which were much more comfortable but after a particularly strenuous pool rolling session recently (having owned the kayak for 4 years) I discovered a crack in the fibreglass thigh brace mounting point built into the cockpit rim. Whether this was because the original solid plastic thigh braces spread the load over the fitting more evenly or whether it was just a weakness in the mounting point I don't know but after repairing and re-inforcing the mounting point (probably stronger than the original now!) I will be experimenting again. If you own a Seabird Scott and have replaced the thigh braces with something other than the fitted ones which spread the load under the cockpit deck it might be worth checking the mounting points and re-inforcing them just in case before they crack. Update - I have now refitted the original thigh braces which again give support to the cockpit rim BUT I have cut a large portion off the brace which protruded into the cockpit. The original braces fitted to my kayak were a solid rubber/plastic type material, rather than being hollow, so they cut easily while still retaining their strength. I shaped the remaining pieces to give them a smoother look and added foam padding from the hull over the under side of the braces. This for me has fixed the problem with them. They are now comfortable,don't obstruct the cockpit opening as much for getting in and out of the kayak and still support/strengthen the cockpit rim while giving adequate support for edging and rolling. My customised seat and thigh braces have now made the cockpit perfectly comfortable and supportive - Just a pity Seabird couldn't supply them more like this in the first place.
However as I often customise the cockpit of any kayak I own (as do many others) and considering the very reasonable purchase cost of this kayak compared to other new composite boats, then I am prepared to overlook a few hours and a few pounds spent to improve the cockpit comfort to make an extremely good kayak a great kayak. Considering we spend an extended time in our sea kayaks I think it would be great if some of the sea kayak manufacturers could outfit their cockpits with something like the comfortable and adjustable Dagger Ergo Contour white water fittings or the Liquidlogic "Bad Ass" outfitting and adjustable footplates as it would save a lot of effort customising later. Composite sea kayak manufacturers cockpits don't appear to have advanced as much as the hull designs and seem way behind the white water boats.
After owning my Seabird Scott MV for over 6 years I have no regrets. It has turned out to be a brilliant kayak and I love paddling it. It has great primary and secondary stability and I have put several novice first time paddlers in it and they have paddled it with no issues at all while I now appreciate it's more advanced handling. Having compared it directly against my NDK Romany Classic I would say that although the Romany responds by turning to a mild edge more decisively than the Seabird (Romany turns like it is on rails while, with the skeg up and unloaded, the Seabird performs more of a tail end drift), at my weight, the Seabird Scott MV can actually be turned more quickly when you throw it on an extreme edge than the Romany as the extra volume means that when on an extreme edge the bow and stern of the Seabird rise well clear of the water so you have a much shorter waterline length to turn. It does emphasise how important it is to have the right size/volume kayak for your weight and your expected cargo load though as I imagine that a lighter paddler will find the Romany would turn more quickly and a heavier paddler with a load onboard would find the Seabird responds to a mild edge as well as the Romany.
Looking at the llines and specifications I would think it possible that the Seabird Scott handles in a fairly similar way to the P&H Cetus MV. If you compare the lines the Scott and the Cetus look very similar from the bow to the rear of the cockpit, and both have a flatter section under the cockpit seat, from which point on the Seabird Scott actually seems to have more stern rocker than the Cetus. However this is only supposition as I have never paddled a Cetus but would love to for a direct comparison (especially as the Cetus was on my original kayak shortlist but unfortunately outside my original budget!).
All in all I think the Seabird Scott may be a lesser known and unappreciated bargain gem of a kayak! If you don't have the luxury of a quiver of multiple sea kayaks for different purposes then the Seabird Scott has just the right combination of characteristics to be a great "do everything" sea and touring/expedition kayak with quite a playful nature and one that both beginners and experts can enjoy paddling at a very reasonable price.
Sea Palling Norfolk January 2017.
A white Seabird Scott LV and a yellow Seabird Scott MV
Using a traditional wooden Greenland Paddle (Thanks Mike!) in the Seabird Scott MV
(and NO, the kayaks DID NOT touch each other while doing this!)
Capsizing and recovering in the surf (Twice!)
Some more footage of Seabird Scott Kayaks on the Sea
The only time(s) I have ever, unintentionally, capsized my Seabird Scott and this was only because I was messing about in the shore break so my fault not the kayak.