Boat Review: The Chilco by Seaward Kayaks

Seaward Kayaks has been building touring kayaks for twelve years and keeping with the times in 2002 they are introducing their first multi-chine design, the Chilco. Popularity of multi-chine designs is based on the fact this style of hull allows a compromise between the speed of a rounded bottom kayak and the increased stability, superior tracking and greater manoeuvrability of a single hard-chine design. Add a low profile deck and some clever outfitting and the new Chilco by Seaward is a great addition to their existing line of round bottomed expedition boats.

The Chilco is based on the Seaward Ascente and from a distance it is difficult to tell them apart. The Chilco is 18.5 feet long, 22.5 inches wide and available in depths of 12 inches or the higher volume 13 inches. The Chilco’s multi-chine design with a shallow V and long waterline makes this a boat that accelerates well and carries decent speed. The shallow V and low rocker also make for good tracking. The hard chines and a quick tilt are excellent for small changes in direction. The Chilco doesn’t carve an arc, it holds its edge and continues on course requiring further strokes to complete a full turn.

Because of the superb tracking, many of those who paddled the Chilco did not find it necessary to engage with the proven Seaward rudder system. Those who did found Seaward Kayak’s smartRUDDER foot pedals are braced solidly, with the rudder being controlled by tilting the pedals forward similar to the accelerator in a car instead of the more typical sliding action. We think this is a step above the traditional sliding system because it provides solid pedals for correction strokes and rolling while maintaining foot operated rudder control. The tilting pedals do, however, take some getting used to especially for paddlers with smaller feet who had to lift their heels to title the pedals forward.

The attention to detail on the outfitting on the Chilco is excellent. The composite hatch covers and neoprene gaskets are tethered by bungle cords to prevent loss. The fastening system of the cover is quick and simple – set it in place and criss-cross the cover with bungy cords.Seaward’s Self-Rescue System adds more rigidity than simply sliding your paddle under the stern bungy deck rigging when performing a paddle float self rescue; and new quick release straps make it easier to disengage the paddle once back in the boat. Instead of molding a seat from fibreglass and bolting it in place, Seaward contours a piece of foam and places it in a nylon shell. In a pinch, the seat can be removed from the boat and used as an emergency paddle float. Add to this setup the low wrap around backrest and the Chilco becomes one of the most nicely outfitted kayaks we’ve paddled.


Length: 18.5 ft
Width: 22.5 in
Weight: 56 lbs
Cockpit: 16×31 in
Bow: 72 litres
Stern: 122 litres
Total: 374 litres
SRP: $3460 fibreglass, $4050 kevlar

This article first appeared in the Spring 2002 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.


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