Suggestions on which boat to build?

I'm planning on building my first boat this summer, and wondering which boat to build.  I'm considering something like the Chesapeake 17LT or Guillemot, but I'm open to other suggestions.  Mainly I'll be paddling around a small inland lake in Michigan, with a distant possibility of exploring the edges of Lake Michigan.  I'm a pretty solid woodworker, so complexity of construction isn't really a concern.

I have three year old twins, and I'd love to be able to have one of them in my lap while we paddle around the the lake at sunset.  Am I nuts?  I really don't want to commit to a double, but maybe that's what I need.  Or possibly I should think about something like the new dory.  Different experience, but I could put the whole family in there.

How do you kayak with small kids? 

thanks for any advice,



8 replies:

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RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?


Not nuts, just overly optimistic, at least with a CH17LT or Guillemot. You need a boat with a much larger cockpit, such as  the Wood Duck 12. Remember, not only does the kid need to fit in your lap, but there has to be enough room to swing a paddle without braining the little one.

The performance kayaks are all solo boats. The doubles & triples are getting big enough to where paddling and transporting them approaches the rowboat experience, albeit you get to face in the direction you're going. They're also not much fun to paddle solo. Sounds like maybe you need a couple of boats - one big one for family expeditions and a solo kayak for Dad's day off.


RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?

I would agree with a duck - it is more towards the recreational side but this boat still holds its own very well.

We have not taken them out on Michigan or Huron yet, but we have had them out a few times in high winds/choppy waves on our lake and had a blast.

The large cockpit and stability of this boat makes it perfect for ride alongas well as long paddles.  We took these down a 15 mile stretch of the Huron River (from Kent Lake at Kensington Metro Park, down to Ore Lake in Brighton) over memorial day weekend and never once felt cramped up or uncomfortable - all with enough speed and manueverability to navigate through some failry nasty log jams.

RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?


If you're not busy this next weekend (June 6th), checkout the Midwest Meet at the Beach in Holland, MI.   There's usually a good mix of different kayak designs (and building styles - strip, S&G, and SOF) on display.  Here's I link I posted for the gentleman (Don) who organizes the meet: I'll be heading up with a couple of my boats.  I think Don's planning to bring his famous pulled-pork sandwiches, if that's an additional draw for you.  :)


RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?

another fun boat for the family is the Millcreek16.5. we have a MC16 and a wooduck. we can get mom and the 2-tweens in the MC and the 6-year old and i in the woodduck. the woodduck is a good boat for the boys, very stable on the water and with the tumbled home design they dont bang up the sides when they paddle. (make sure you get float bags for the front and rear). i have had the WD-12 on the top of my car for the past month, its light and fun. when i find a place to paddle i throw the boat on my shoulder with paddle in the other and walk to the water.


RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?

Greg, don't make a decision without at least considering the Northeaster Dory. Children grow; boats don't.

 I have a Mill Creek, built when the 15 was available, that is a great solo boat, but IMHO not kid-friendly. Kids need to lean over the railing, splash in the water, fall in a few times, and try to help paddle.


I have the Northeaster Dory kit laid out on a 16 foot table in the garage, coming together slowly but most carefully. It has an advantage over the Mill Creek 15 in that I can disembark to shore over deep water without turning it over.

 I think I am growing to like the boat.

 Denny Hugg

Kendall Avenue Boatyard & Winery

Gulfport, MS USA


RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?

Thanks to all for the good advice... the picture of the boy in the wood duck is pretty much exactly what I have in mind, but I'm leaning towards the dory.  I'm not sure I want to compromise on the kayak, and I think my dad would enjoy teaching the boy to fish from the dory.

I appreciate your thoughts, and welcome any more advice.


RE: Suggestions on which boat to build?

One last thought on this topic: boat building can be very addicting

I built one duck... then built another... now day dreaming of building a petrel next (and once I get an idea to do something, you might as well consider it set in stone, lol)

So my final advice is to perhaps stop thinking about which one you want to build... and start focusing on which one you want to build first!

On another note: Ross, we might see you there! (there being holland, MI). We are heading to the west side of the state this weekend (Will be North of GR) and may very well decide to make the short extra trip out there to check out the boats (and the pulled pork sandwhiches too, of course)

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