Small plastic kayaks used to fall into the category of “first boats” and were considered a stepping-stone to the ownership of a “real” sea kayak. These boats were designed to be stable and comfortable with beginners in mind, but they would also fit the needs of more advanced paddlers if only they offered the performance features of the larger expedition kayaks. Manufacturers are finally catching on to this dynamic, and one good solution is the new Current Designs Squamish, a small plastic kayak that is a real paddlers’ boat.
Current Designs Squamish Specs
Cockpit: 29” × 16”
Volume: 67 U.S. gal
9” diameter, 14.5 U.S. gal
16.5” × 11”, 14.5 U.S. gal
Weight: 55 lbs
MSRP: $1,549 CAD
Current Designs’ Squamish is more than a great first boat
Current Designs has blended the concepts of North America and Britain into the development of the Squamish. The soft-chine, V-hull design typical of CD’s classic Solstice line usually comes with an external rudder system. Instead, CD equipped the Squamish with a retractable skeg more common on hard-chine British designs. The resulting combination is the superior initial stability of a soft-chine hull plus the secure feel you get from rigid foot pedals of a rudderless boat. Now paddlers who wouldn’t necessarily tilt and engage a hard chine can still have the simplicity of a skeg and the low-profile stern deck of British boats.
Affordable outfitting and performance
The Current Designs Squamish is trimmed with full deck riggings, recessed deck fittings and a bowline. You might want to modify the carrying handles or else get used to the sound of them banging around. On most CD boats the handles sit back from the ends of the boat and rest on the deck, but the toggles on the Squamish are attached to the ends of the boat so they can swing down and whack the hull with every wave.
The plastic lid over the front hatch deflects waves, protects the 8” round rubber hatch-cover from UV rays, and gives clean lines to the low-profile bow deck. The Kajak Sport rubber hatch-covers are roped on and a bungee locks them in place. The rear hatch has a larger opening that accommodates awkward items. To fully use the shallow 55-litre stern compartment you have to stuff evenly around the internal skeg box.
Our only other peeve was that when we were playing in the surf the stern hatch on our Squamish seeped some water, nothing major but enough to pool slightly at the bulkhead. We admit these are petty gripes when you consider that the Current Designs Squamish is such a reasonably priced boat or, as the CD marketing folks put it, “abundantly affordable relative to quality.”
Perfectly sized for petite paddlers
The Squamish is ultimately set apart by its geometry. The shallow cockpit, narrow seat, low thigh braces and low-profile bow deck are great for small to medium-sized paddlers. Petite paddlers used to sinking into deeper boats can enjoy feeling like they’re not peering through the steering wheel of a ‘78 Fleetwood Cadillac. The smaller-boats-for-smaller-paddlers theory only breaks down when you start packing for an expedition. The Current Designs Squamish is an ideal day or overnight tripper and could join on longer trips but expect to share some of your load.
Cruise in comfort with the Current Designs Squamish
The Current Designs Squamish is a great first boat, but don’t peg it in the beginner-boat category. If you’re a small person it might be the first boat that fits you. And for day trips it might be the first boat you choose while your “real” sea kayak sits in the garage waiting for a longer trip.
This article was first published in the Winter 2003 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.