The Current Designs Gulfstream is a performance kayak incorporating classic British design features that make the boat a pleasure to paddle. The Gulfstream 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.

Current Designs Gulfstream Specs
Length: 16’
Width: 23.25”
Cockpit: 16.5” × 33.25”
Rear Hatch: 11” × 16.5”
Forward Hatch: 9.5” in diameter
Total Volume: 92 U.S. gal
52 lbs (fiberglass)
46 lbs (Kevlar)
$3,395 (fiberglass)
$3,945 (Kevlar)
$1,895 (rotomoulded)

The Gulfstream is a pleasure to paddle

Current Designs’ Gulfstream is a relatively light boat and is well balanced from bow to stern, making loading and carrying reasonably easy. The 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 bungee rigging is positioned within easy reach. The rigging also includes an adjustable bowline.

Our testers commented on the Current Designs quality workmanship and amenities right down to the mermaid and dolphin graphic on the bow of the Gulfstream.

Getting into the Gulfstream

With the Gulfstream, Current Designs has provided enough carrying capacity for expended trips. The day hatch adds 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 bungee fastening system. The cover is tethered but the bungee is not, so accidental loss is possible.

A range of medium (170 lbs) to large (235 lbs) paddlers were comfortable in the Gulfstream. 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.

Tilt the boat to turn quickly

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.

Two paddlers in Gulfstream kayaks from Current Designs
Feature Photo: Current Designs

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 and the lack of a rudder make it very difficult to turn the Current Designs Gulfstream without tilt. 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 weathercocking 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.

Go further with the Current Designs Gulfstream

The Current Designs Gulfstream is a kayak for paddlers who are midsize and up. The boat’s carrying capacity is sufficient for longer trips, but gear needs to be reorganized into the three smaller hatches. The Gulfstream really comes into its own when paddled aggressively under heavy conditions. It 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 outgrow.

This article was first published in the Summer 2001 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


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