Questions after the show (S&G Night Heron & a Sail Rig?)


I went down to Newport Beach yesterday to try out some of the boats, and not only were the boats amazing, but the people were awesome and knoweldgable to boot. :) I was helped by a young lady whose name I'm ashamed to admit I forgot, who not only spent some time going over the boats with me, and helping me learn about the differences (and how to adapt to a sit-in-kayak) but also helped some friends who had come along just to look, and are now prepairing to get a wood duck for a project early next year. :)

 I tried out the Shearwater 16, the Chesepeake 16LT, and the stitch and glue Night Heron.

 I've only paddled sit on tops prior to this, and the grace, speed, and handling of all of the boats was such an amazing improvement over anything I've dealt with, I've only become more excited about building my boat this winter.

A large part of the reason I went was due to my lack of experience. I had looked at all the gauges on the designs, and wanted to see, e.g. what the speed difference between a chesepeake and a shearwater was.  When I got on the water and tried it out, it didn't seem like the difference was so much that I'd feel "bogged down" in the Chesepeake for the type of paddling I've been doing. Between this, the greater stability and the greater amount of usable storage space in the Chesepeake, my mind was just about made up, but since I was down there anyway, I decided to try another kayak just for fun.

When I slid into the Night Heron it was a totally different story. I loved the narrow beam. It seemed to fit just right, and be as much of a difference from the other kayaks as they were from the plastic sit on tops I'd been in before. Although my observations don't seem to match the information on the website (or perhaps the "speed" gauge is moot when comparing an 18' boat to a 16' boat) it felt like it was far more easily driven, faster, and, while I have no idea how this is mathmatically possible given the design of the boat, it seemed even more... if stable is not the right word, then perhaps something like "comfortable on the water" would be closer. It just felt like I could do no wrong. Further, the storage capacity (once again, I know I'm comparing it to a 16' boat) seemed almost the same as the Chesepeake, but in a deaper configuration which seems to my (mosly backpacking experience) mind to be simpler to pack larger items like sleeping bags and the like into.

Once again, I'm very new to kayaking, and so my observations could be completely wrong.

The problem is that my ideal kayaking location are a set of islands 12-20 miles from the coast, and I was hoping to build out a sailrig to allow me to sail to the islands, beach the sail rig, and then paddle around for the weekend before sailing home. I was told the night heron would not take the sail rig, and even were it made to accept the rig, I'm afraid the low volume bow would easily burry itself, and I can't imagine that would be a good thing.

Does this sound accurate?

Would I be best advised to just get the Chesapeake 16 if I intend to hook up a sailing rig, or is there a way to have my cake and eat it to? Is there another option?

Thanks. :)

-- James

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RE: Questions after the show (S&G Night Heron & a Sail Rig?)

I truly wish I could answer your question about the sail rig. I dont have the answer to that.

I have been wanting to build a night haron for aoubt 5 months now planed my vacation to be in Appolis next Wendsday (they take their yaks to the water for wet trials the 3rd. wend of each month) unfortunatly both their night herons are on the west coast so you could try it.

I too am fairly new to kayaking, my better half and I boutght 2 plastic jobs earlier this spring to try out, we both are excited to build two this winter, However with the boat out west I cant try it out, seeing as how your new to this and tried the night heron.... You were fairly descriptive, but is their anything you could add about stibility, confort, leg room. Could you easily get in and out of the boat or was it a tight fit. I have read the boat is easy to roll and it has me concerned it may be too tippy for just a easy paddle around the lake.

A sports car kayaka sounds like just my thing, in my latter years now there are times when simply a quite paddle enjoying the wildlife is whats on the docket.

Does the Night Heron sound like the that kind of boat also.

Any embilishment from you would be appricated.

Thanks jim.

ps if yoiu put your mind to it, anything is possible.....

reduce the size of the sail, how bout a rig to attach a trolling motor?????

they make a cup like sail that folds down and mounts just in front of the cockpit. Look thru the boat gear or call CLC about it.

 Good Luck


RE: Questions after the show (S&G Night Heron & a Sail Rig?)


As someone who went from novice to builder I will say, build a boat that you will grow into.  I personally opted for something a little more "performance" than the Chessies provide.  That said, the Chessies are a great line of boats that will suit a large range of environments relatively well and are good looking to boot.

When you're building a boat, you can modify the design quite easily.  the night heron can be fairly easily modified to add the sail rig, but your concern about the low volume bow is valid. 

I suspec that if you're sailing with any speed, you're more likely to raise the bow out of the water than bury it, but I'm not a sailor so I can't say for sure.

I'd also believe that the added length of the Night Heron will provide a little more volume in the front to compensate for the "low volume" style of the greenlander versus the shorter length of the Chessie 16LT.  I could be wrong but I'd suggest a comparison of the actual volume of the craft (or specifically the front half) to compare before stressing too heavily about it.


RE: Questions after the show (S&G Night Heron & a Sail Rig?)


 I'm 150lbs and have a size 10 shoe. I didn't have issues with leg or footroom in any of the three boats. As far as getting into and out of them, I did ok, but felt bad for my friend who didn't seem to do so well. I told the young lady I was new to sit in kayaks, and so she sat on the bow and steadied the boat for me the first time I got in, and explained how to reposition the foot pedals for me the first time. After that I had no problems.  My friend seemed to fall over every time he tried to get out of a kayak, and at least once every time trying to get in. The secret seems to be twofold:

 1.) getting in I found the hot tip was to grab the coming, step into the kayak, and keep the preasure "down" (no lateral force) then just sit down and lean opposite the leg you still have on the ground, so that when you pick it up it balances out. If you've ever boarded a small sailing dingy, it's the same thing, just on a much tighter scale.

2.) getting out the key seems to be being able to bring your knee up to near your chest. If you can do that while sitting, you can get out of the tightest kayak I tried. From there, just lift it up and out of the kayak, and when the boat starts to tip, you come down lightly on your foot and can reverse the process of getting in.

For my friend the problem seemed to be keeping the force going "down" instead of "sideways" when trying to get in.

One of the people at the demo did an eskimo roll in the night heron, so I know it "can" roll, but the sheerwater "felt" more tippy to me than the heron did. Once again, given the dimensions, this should not be the case, so I'm not sure why that is. Despite not having done a wet exit, I'd read about the proceedure and felt comfortable risking it, so I tried a number of edging turns in all three boats and sure enough, I never fell in.  The "initial stability" seems to be what causes the feeling of being stable, but in my experience it seemed that what was most important to me about making the boat feel comfortable was my ability to brace my feet and knees well. When I could "lock in" to the kayak with my lower body like that, it felt like I and the boat were one unit, so being tippy didn't really matter, I just moved around like I wanted to, if you'll excuse the horrible image, it felt like being a merman. There is a video in the shearwater 16 page where someone wiggles the boat as if it was hanging from them, and then taking off like a bullet. I think that demonstrates well the feeling I got once I learned to brace properly in the more "tippy" kayaks. In short, I don't think they're a problem, if you can relax and let yourself adjust to the kayak. This is something I think you'll have to paddle around in one for a bit to judge though, as my friend kevin didn't seem able to do this at all. So you're milage may vary.

Frankp (and Rusty),

Thanks for the feedback. All of the boats at the show were really amazing. I was afraid that they wouldn't look like the boats in the website, and I was right, the site just doesn't do them justice. They're so much more beautiful.

I know the chese would probably be plenty fast and I was all set on it till I tried the night heron, and yeah, I would really like to have that little extra edge. Also, because of the design, I was better able to "lock in" to it, and for that reason, I felt a lot more secure/stable in it.

Regarding the sails. Firstly, Thank you both for your ideas.

The downwind sails are definitely a possibility, but that's only one side of the trip. Onshore winds are the norm, and they're generally 5-7 knots in the morning and 15-30 knots in the evening, almost like clockwork. (makes for an awesome run in after dark in a small boat ;) )

If you imagine the mast of a sailboat as a lever, and the point where the mast meets the deck as a pivot, the forward force on the mast is also going to provide some rotational force as the water is not a frictionless surface, and will cause the bow of any craft to dive in proportion to the amount of drag on the craft and the amount of force on the sail. The farther back and the lower the mast is, the less diving force it creates (in general terms, this can all be compensated for by boat design, but I'm looking at boats which are primarily for paddling, and I am not an expert, just a sailer)

The advantage of many of the deck mounted sails is that they put the center of force so low that they suck the leverage out of the mast, and hence provide less diving (lower sails also provide less heel, which can be vital on such a small craft. I've thought about talking with a sail maker to see about making a set of full batten smaller sails so I could go ketch rigged (2 masts) and get the force both more spread out and lower, to provide less diving and heeling motion. There is another company that makes a V shaped sail that can be turned to the wind somewhat, but since the wind is coming directly from the nearest island, being able to point is key.

Having the trimaran rig would allow me to drop a pretty serious lee board in the water, and track hard. I'm also looking at the water tribe rudder which is both significantly larger than the 2 man rudders clc sells, and has tunable angle to allow for balancing it against whatever sail rig I'd be using so I wouldn't have to worry too much about excessive force on the foot pedals and cables once it was set up. As an aside, while I initially thought I'd want a rudder for regular paddling, all of the boats I tried tracked so well and corrected so simply, that I think I would just leave the rudder up and do without the drag unless I was sailing.

Further, whatever rig I get, I'll be modifying so that I can reef the sails if for some unfortunate reason I get stuck out after dark and feel I need to make the crossing home. I've done that in sailboats no larger (in length anyway) than the kayaks I'm looking at here, and 6-8' waves combined with 30 knot winds in the dark across a shipping channel means you want to be really comfortable with your boat. ;)

Another thing I'd considered is kite sailing, due to the reliability and speed of the local winds, but I generally avoid flying a spinnaker, let alone a parasail, and it does look like quite a bit of work.

Thanks again to both of you. :)

-- James

RE: Questions after the show (S&G Night Heron & a Sail Rig?)

The NH S&G is indeed a dream to paddle. I built one this spring and got it on the water all summer, not quite completed. It has become my favorite play boat, turns 'round a dime, accelerates easily and is very comfortably stable. I built mine as light as I could. haven't weighed it yet but it is easy to carry with one hand. I am betting it comes in just under 30-lbs when I get it finished. It is missing a few inseam tapes and a hatch. Lots of fun. I know nothing about the other kayaks you mentioned.


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