fitting a kayak

I would like to build a night heron, however, I am about 6 feet tall and weigh about 215-220.  I was wondering if I could fit into the regular one or go with the high deck night heron. 

I know that the performance is supposed to be the same but it seems as though the high deck would be a little more tipsy.

 Curious as to anyones thoughts.

Thanks, Seth

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RE: fitting a kayak

I would think the center of gravity of your weight would be the same.  Therefore it should not be more tipsy.  I am saying this as somene who does not have a Night Heron.

Getting in and out?  I have an inseam of 36".  I will not build another stock cockpit.  You should check if your legs are too long to make an easy exit.



RE: fitting a kayak

Seth --

I imagine that you've looked at the specifications for two designs, yes?  The key is foot size; the lower deck is rated as being okay up to size 10s, with the high deck version accommodating up to size 13s.  In either case, you're at the upper end of the recommended weight range for the design.

I doubt that deck height will much affect stability; that's going to be more a function of hull design and weight distribution.  (For example, all other things being equal, a beamier hull will be more stable.)  The higher deck will affect windage, but not by that much, I suspect.

I strongly suggest that before you commit yourself, you try paddling both designs if possible.  It would be a good idea to try some other CLC designs, too, to see if another boat would suit you better. 

I suggest contacting CLC to see if they'll be sponsoring an event near you at which you could try their boats.  If that doesn't work, give them a call; they know their boats and are helpful people.  Believe me, they don't want to sell you the wrong boat!

It would be a shame to invest so much time and money in building a boat only to discover that it's not the right one for you.

  -- Jim

RE: fitting a kayak

thanks for all the input,

I would love to be able to try one out but I am not sure I will be able to make it to Annapolis any time soon (I live in Alabama), however, it sounds as if the high deck would be better given I have an 11.5 shoe size.  The Guillemots maybe a better option or maybe I should just start planning a kayaking trip to Annapolis.


RE: fitting a kayak

You should definitely try any design before committing to buy. You need to check both the shoe size and deck height. I built a Shearwater 17 last year based on CLC's statement that it fits size 12.5 shoe. After it was done I found that my size 11 shoes were an unbearably jammed fit. The kit was very well designed, went together easily and the finished boat performed beautifully. I hated to part with it, but sold it for my out of pocket cost, writing off my 100 hours of labor.  

RE: fitting a kayak


I wonder if it could have been the knee height that caused your feet not fit. 

well, it sounds as if I really need to try the kayaks out before I build one.  I have time to plan a trip since my wife is not going to let me start another project until I finish her kitchen cabinets.

Thanks for all the input,


RE: fitting a kayak


 One more possibility.  register for the builders forum and then search in the builders profiles for people in your neck of the woods that may have a boat you could try out. 

Unfortunately, I'm in NY which isn't much help. As far as shoe sizes, what you wear when paddling makes a big difference.  If I paddle in my teva sandles its a lot tighter fit than in a slim pair of paddle shoes or even more room in paddle "socks".  Some people like to paddle with foot more turned out, others more verticle. There has to be somebody near you with the boats you are interested in.


RE: fitting a kayak

Well I am a smaller person so I can't directly relate:) But a couple of things; Kim, I remember reading your complaint about cockpit opening sizes in another thread awhile back. I was wondering if you were familiar with the technique of entering and exiting by sitting on the back deck behind the cockpit (first you put one blade of the paddle on the back deck with the other blade outriggered, resting on the ground or bottom for a brace, then you sit on the back deck (and paddle blade)). Once you sit on the deck, you place your legs inside and slide forward. Exiting is done in the reverse order, place the paddle for a brace, lift up, slide back and sit on the back deck, then swing your legs out. Probably you are already familiar with this, but if not, I wonder if it would solve the problem for you of feeling the cockpit opening is too small?

About shoe size, another option might be to use a foam block velcroed to the front bulkhead as a foot brace, keeping your feet more in the center of the boat rather than splayed to the side as is necessary with foot braces. This allows your feet to rest  where the deck is higher. It also has other advantages in allowing you to get better waist rotation during forward stroke.


Ogata (eric)

RE: fitting a kayak

Hey Eric, Grab one of your cats (or friend) and try this exercise.  I teach it to first timers when giving lessons.

Have them sit on the ground with their knees together legs straight, and then bent, and gently push on their shoulder to see how hard it is to push them over (it wont make much difference in either position.  Then have them place their feet a foot apart and knees bent and splayed and try it again, you will find it much harder to push them.  Hence thigh braces on combings.

With your kness bent, splayed and wedged you will have more control, stability, and balance.

As far as the original question... I am 6' 250# and have to use a high deck yak so I can bend my knees enough to keep circulation flowing to my feet.  It has nothing to do with the size of them.  And when John was down here for a show I managed to paddle both yaks in question and found little to no difference in the handling but much in comfort.


RE: fitting a kayak

Hey Kevin, well you caught me trying to play one of my little tricks on large-size people again! :) I agree, this might not be the best configuration for a larger person. Everything has it advantages and disadvantages. On flatwater, when I want to go fast, I'll move the foot braces forward a little to get better rotation, but this is definitely less stable. Though there is a sweet spot where you can run your legs out a little, but still point your toes on the brace to engage the knee/thigh braces when necessary. In lumpy water I'll shorten the braces, splay and stay more closely connected to the boat at the knees.

I'm only 5'6" around 150 so I have less stability problems than a larger person. I haven't tried the foam block trick though I've been meaning to. As an addition to the standard foot braces it seems to like it would be nice just to be able move your legs around a little more on long trips. Of course many racing boats have similar style foot braces that run all the way across the cockpit. As far as the cats go, they don't get out enough, and I had thought that if they had little cat-sized PFDs, I could set them up as outriggers. The younger one needs to gain a little more fat content so that they will balance out more evenly though.



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