Boat Review: The Gulfstream by Current Designs

The Gulfstream is a performance kayak incorporating classic British design features making the boat a pleasure to paddle. The boat comes equipped with a retractable skeg and a small day hatch behind the cockpit on the starboard side. The hull is a shallow ‘V’ configuration resulting in good tracking and excellent turning when tilted.

Features and Fit

The Gulfstream is a relatively light boat and is well balanced from bow to stern making loading and carrying reasonable. Current Design’s Gulfstream has a Swede-style upswept bow with a low, flat stern deck giving the boat an overall sleek look. The cockpit rim is set slightly under the level of the bow deck and combined with the recessed deck fittings, contributes to the aesthetically clean lines and functionally smooth deck surface for ease of re-entry during self-rescues. The perimeter lines rest snuggly on the surface but stretch enough to grab easily. The bungy rigging is positioned within easy reach. The rigging also includes an adjustable bowline. All paddlers commented on the Current Designs quality workmanship and amenities right down to the mermaid and dolphin graphic on the bow of the Gulfstream.

The Gulfstream has enough carrying capacity for expended trips. The day hatch add practicality by providing convenient storage for smaller items such as lunch, a first aid kit and sunscreen. It can, however, be awkward to reach in rough seas.  The larger stern hatch is somewhat reduced in size to accommodate the day hatch bulkhead making stuffing of larger dry bags difficult. The hatch covers are rubber, combining a gasket with a bungy fastening system. The cover is tethered but the bungy is not, so accidental loss is possible. A range of medium (170 lbs) to large (235 lbs) paddlers were comfortable in the Gulfstream. The larger sized testers were especially pleased with the roomy cockpit but the narrow seat created pressure points at the front edges of the seat for those with bigger legs. The fixed foot braces and padded knee cups ensured positive contact for the paddler. The backband provides comfortable lumbar support when properly adjusted and unclips to facilitate access to the area behind the seat. Smaller paddlers would do well trying the Gulfstream’s cousin the Slipstream.

Boat Performance

The ‘V’ hull made the initial stability feel a little tippy for smaller or less experienced paddlers. This improved with the addition of gear and forward momentum. The Gulfstream however, really wants to be put on the edge. The secondary stability was excellent. Without feeling unstable the Gulfstream can be comfortably tilted to the cockpit coaming both while stationary and under power.

The skeg deploys with a sliding toggle recessed into the right side, next to the cockpit. The system is smooth and offers various depths of skeg deployment. When deployed the skeg was extremely effective at locking the track of the boat in varying wind and swell conditions. It was also easily retracted for quick beach landings.

The style of the hull design and lack of a rudder makes turning the boat without tilt very difficult. It is necessary to use strong initiation strokes and moderate to aggressive outside tilt to turn the boat quickly. These characteristics make the boat feel very sporty and responsive with more advanced paddling techniques. Minor adjustments in direction are easily achieved with subtle tilt variations. The Gulfstream responds very well to this technique in preventing broaches while surfing or with a tailwind. The boat tracks into the wind well both with and without the skeg. Quartering winds cause weather cocking with the skeg retracted but with the skeg fully deployed, strong 40-50 km/h winds are no match for the hull of this boat.

The Gulfstream is a boat for paddlers who are midsize and up. The carrying capacity is sufficient for longer trips, gear just needs to be reorganized into the three smaller hatches. This boat really comes into its own when paddled aggressively under heavy conditions. The boat reacts quickly and precisely to an experienced paddler’s actions but is forgiving enough to be enjoyed by serious recreational paddlers. The Gulfstream is a boat many will grow into and few will out grow.

Specs

Length: 16ft
Width: 23.25 in
Weight glass: 52 lbs
Weight Kevlar: 46 lbs
Cockpit: 16.5×33.25 in
Rear hatch: 11×16.5 in
Forward hatch: 9.5 in diameter
Total volume: 92 US gallons, 360 litres
SRP fibreglass: $3395
SRP Kevlar: $3945
SRP rotomold: $1895

This article first appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.

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