Shearwater Sport Durability

Hopefully this is in line with the forum.  I am currently working on a Shearwater sport and living in Southern Arizona we have a few river that can be shallow and rocky.  Often listed as a class 2.  I was wondering how the shearwater would do both handling ability and durability on this type of river or should I stick to lakes and larger rivers.  Also I have the interior glassed and the decked attached.  I am getting ready to glass the exterior now would you recommend doing anything extra to handle smaller rivers?  Thank you.


Alan Ryder

8 replies:

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RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

   Only used the SW Sport on a pond so I can't coment on running rivers. Durabilty can be enhanced by adding another layer of cloth on the bottom. Also, finishing the bottom with a coat of epoxy mixed 50/50 with graphite powder gives a tough and slippery finish.

RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

my personal view....not a great environment for stitch and glue.

can you make it more 'durable'.....yes.....but bumping into rocks is more than 'durability....and is really where a poly boat excels.

as en example, in addition to 'durability' does certain events effect looks and boat feel 

poly can be slapped and scratched and not look much worse for the wear.....a wood stitch and glue...its going to show/start to look ugly even if it is not a structural problem.

poly bends and deflects bumping into a rock is also cushioned.   a stiff stitch and glue feels mighty unfriendly in a bumpy surrounding. 2 cents.






RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

The problem isn't the stitch and glue, it's the thinness of the wood and the light fiberglass. I've run the Upper Potomac  (very rocky) in a stitch & glue boat made of 1/4 inch wood covered with 6 ounce glass and graphite/epoxy. I had to touch up the finish after each trip, but it survived.

Good luck,



RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

   I built a Shearwater Sport Hybrid expressly for a rental fleet on the Hudson River. I added an extra layer of glass under the deck in case it gets sit on and coated the bottom with 2 layers of graphite/epoxy mix. This is on top of one full later of 4oz glass, one partial layer and a keel strip. The launch site is gravel. So far so good. This is the second season.


RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

I had a look a Google images of class 2 rapids in Arizona. I'm thinking about building a Shearwater Sport Sectional next winter so your question interests me -- especially since I live in the Ozarks where there are number of shallow, rocky, gorgeous rivers.

I agree with hspira. Water like that is perfect for a cheap poly boat. (I own two and use them in such places.) In swift water you don't really need the characteristics that make the Shearwater Sport great -- its ease of paddling and speed on the water. What you need is to be able to turn on a dime and survive hard hits to sharp rocks. That's what you get with poly. 

Save the Shearwater for deeper rivers, lakes, or the ocean where its characteristics make it shine.

RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

just to elaborate and bridge some of the comments...

gravelly, sandy beach landings (danthalers comments)....some extra glass/some graphite can do the job.  i would also recommend dynel rub strips  which i have on all my boats that i routinely use from concrete boat launches and gravelly/sandy shores.   the point about this context, i would make, is its usually a controlled strike....(e.g, i was trying to hit the gravelly beach vs i hit the beach at high speed by mistake) so you can keep the strikes focused on where you have the protection and they are relatively gentle.

class 2 rapids (birch's and lazlo' coments) often involve uncontrolled hard hits to sharp rocks.  with these uncontrolled sharp hits on parts of the boat that you did not expect to be hitting things get more difficult in a stitch and glue boat....its heavy to re-inforce everything and you end up with a lot of refinishing work.   handling this type of environement  is not a challenge unique to stitch and glue.  most people would not take a nice gel-coat finished glass boat into these conditions becuase it will just get all scratched/banged up.   a stitch and glue has more in common with a high-end glass boat than a poly boat in terms of its construction and 'durability' characteristics.   that's why even professional white-water paddlers use poly and not glass.


RE: Shearwater Sport Durability

Thanks for all the replies.  I intially planned on using the shearwater on larger lakes and trips to San Diego.  Then got to looking at some of the smaller rivers and such and was curious about them.  This is what I figured but never hurts to ask.  I am curious about the graphite and how you would use it.  I will probably have more rocky landing and such than sandy in the areas I will be going.  Do you just do the bottom of the huls or a dtrip as opposed to the whole boat with it?  Do i use the mix when I initially glass the boat or just when I do the final one or two coats of epoxy?  What does it do as far as looks and what are the benifits.  Just fewer scratches?  Thanks again.   

RE: Shearwater Sport Durability



   I used a fairly thick mix with a little coloidal silica mixed in (Laszlo's recipe) for hardness. I apply this just to the bottom panels. No varnish is applied over it. It will show hard scratches but an additional coat is easy to add as needed.



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