I found a review...
As you might have seen I no longer take part in anything associated with Seabird Designs. The reasons given is that our opinions about quality, customers, and service differ too much. Today I happened to see a review of Seabird Qanik which very accurately pointed out the fundamental quality problems that have become too common over the last years.
If you are interested in one of my designs for this company, take a couple of minutes with this review before deciding:
The review focuses on several flaws in the fabrication:
- uneven thickness of the laminate – partly so thin that the bottom flipped into a concave depression that had to be pushed back from the inside when the kayak was pulled ashore,
- a seat was so badly constructed that it flexed under pressure and carved deep scratches on the inside of the hull – and was furthermore attached wrongly so that it made rolling hard and standard spraydecks not usable,
- the stitching in the back band became undone after a short time and had to be restitched,
- the thigh braces, though looking promising, is hard plastic and "seem to have been molded around the legs of an anorexic paddler who sits with her legs straight out in front",
- the cockpit is longer and narrower than on the plans and the reviewer found no commercially available spraydecks that fit,
- the skeg is so badly engineered that once it has been fully retracted there is no way of dropping it again with the handle by the cockpit,
- the hatches leak badly, due to sloppy workmanship,
The reviewer ends with this:
"All in all: Clearly they kept the price down by cutting three or four corners in the factory. Because Bjorn Thomasson’s design is a gem, if you buy this kayak and then sort out the flimsy hull, the moving seat, the leaking hatches and the sticky skeg, and manage to find a spraydeck that fits, you will have a kayak that is a joy to paddle and feels safe out at sea."
Why have things gone so out of control? Of course, cutting corners to keep the price down is one reason – since a low price is the only way to sell substandard kayaks once the trust is wasted. But beyond that, and after a couple of years with ambitions and production quality, I have seen mostly ignorance (no real interest in kayaks and kayaking, just in the business) – and arrogance (towards the customers, dealers, designers (not just me).
Furthermore, the production of my designs in the last couple of years is piracy since they have forfeited their productions rights by violating the terms in our agreement.
In this sad mess, two things in particular, bother me: that I have designed and initially recommended kayaks that nowadays are cheap in every meaning of the word, and that some of the kayaks I designed for Seabird have been among my best work.