sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.

I promise I've read through many posts regarding this question before I considered posting my own. I've read Schade's book cover-to-cover many times over since I bought it some years ago, and I can't wait anymore; I want to build my own boat. 

So here's my conundrum.  I can't try out any of these boats without taking a very expensive week-long vacation some thousand miles to where there are actually boats like this around.  I'm in Texas, and though there are places that rent, there are usually only one or two makes of boats, the only difference the length, and they're mostly rec boats.  I own a Necky Manitou (12'10") that I don't take out in winds above 15 miles per hour because I get so frustrated (and exhausted) just trying to get from point A to B that I don't enjoy it. 

I'm a beginner paddler, one basics class taken, 155 lbs and 5'4".  I tend to get blown wherever the wind takes me (at least in my current boat) on the large lakes near me.  I was considering the Guillemot Kayaks Greenland Night Heron because (1) I just thought it was beautiful, (2) I thought it might be a good sea kayak for a smaller paddler, (3) I think the low profile might help me out in the winds we get and (4) I would like to learn rolls eventually, somehow.

Questions:  (1) Am I naive to think my paddling skills can handle a boat like the Greenland NH and (2) will I be in over my head as a first-time builder? 

I am also considering the Hybrid NH, and CLC Hybrid Shearwater 16 or 17

As an aside, I also worry that I might not be able to get my size 12/14 butt in a 16X20 cockpit. :(

Any help would be appreciated, especially from ladies out there with a similar build.

Thanks so much. 

6 replies:

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RE: sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.

the chesapeakes are  very stable crafts and would be and easy build


RE: sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.

I can offer some general advice. I have paddled various sea, recreational and whitewater kayaks for many years, but of the boats you mention only the shearwater 17 for a short demonstration paddle. First of all, find a boat that your weight falls somewhere between half way and the maximum capacity of the boat. The closer the boat is to maximum capacity the more stable it will be and less affected by the wind. Personally, I find that most boats list their maximum capacity much lower than I think they should, but that probably comes from paddling whitewater boats for years where you want the boat to fit tight. If you are planning to learn to roll the boat, you need to fit in it tightly, especially at the thighs, knees, hips, back and feet. This is more a function of how you outfit (or pad) the cockpit than the size of the boat. Smaller cockpits are better than large cockpits for outfitting to roll. Little or no rocker in the keel will help the boat track straight in cross winds. The tradeoff is it will also have a larger turning radius. The other alternative is to fit a rudder. It helps compensate for the wind. Narrower and round bottom boats will feel tippier than flat bottom or shallow vee bottom boats when they are not moving, but once they get going both are stable. The narrower boats just take some getting used to. For your size and weight I would consider a 16' to 17' boat. A longer boat will have too much volume for day trips. I have built 2 cedar strip kayaks and found it to be more like model building than carpentry. About the only tools I used were a japanese dovetail saw, adhesive backed sandpaper, a small paint roller and foam brushes. It's not difficult if you take your time, but the epoxy can get messy. I hope this helps.

RE: sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.

Well, let us start with the begining of your post.  First off, you will not find any yak that is fun to paddle in 15mph winds.  That kind of condition is tough for anyone!  I am only out in that if I am caught in it while already on the water.

Second, It does indeed sound like you are ready to build your own.  I think you will find fun in seeing a dream come true.  But I warn you, it is habit forming.  I am starting my 4th. LOL

Third, You did not mention what kind of water you want to paddle in.  Or what your objective is.  I too own a Manitou 14 that I use for local rivers and oyster bed waters so that I dont cry when it gets scratched and I can take wildlife pics.  But I prefer open water which is what I build my yaks for.

Fourth, if the combing size is your only concern, that is one of the beauties of making your own yak.  You can virtually make your cockpit any size you want.  Being 6' 250# and a bony butt, I need to look for high decks or HV yaks so I can keep circulation in my legs.

You can see my builds on my blog here


RE: sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.


 I am not quite your size (5' 3" and 110-115lb.) and I am a woman. I am a greenland paddler, and I prefer the smaller cockpits (not as much water gets in). With Hybrid or strip built kayaks you can make the cockpit to size. Butt size is usually not the problem: it's leg length (I have a Skin on Frame kayak with a small combing/cockpit). I would recommend the Greenland, or Night heron (I test paddled the S&G Night Heron, and although too big for me, it was a joy too paddle). Consider the Petrel kayak, too. If you are interested in rolling, the flatter & lower aft deck is a plus for sure! Narrower beams seem scarey at first, but they are more stable in waves. Narrower beams will make for a faster kayak, too (as will length).

My philosophy is to stay away from rudders: a skeg can help you with weathercocking. Rudders just steer, and as a kayaker maneuvering the kayak is done with strokes, edging and possibly a skeg. 

You might contact Nick (e-mail) and get his advise.

Build a kayak that will accommodate your skills as you become an experienced paddler: you'll not regret it....

Let me know what you decide.



RE: sorry, but I have to ask: I need help choosing a kit.

Two suggestions:

Search the Builders Group on this site. There are a lot of the boats you are looking for in Texas.

Also, search the archives. There used to be someone in TX who built a fleet of boats and hosted a wooden boat festival. I can't remember his name off hand.

In general most people who have such boats listed, (listing is voluntary) like to talk with others interested in such boats and will probably offer to let you try theirs, especially if you ask nicely.

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