Choosing a suitable kayak.

Kayak Selection Criteria

Hull Weight is not the weight of a stripped hull, but the weight you can actually expect to have to lift onto your car. This weight includes average deck rigging, footbraces, seat, and other typical fittings. Completed boats can be lighter or heavier depending upon the options, construction techniques, wood density and other variables.

Kayak Selection

Cockpit Size refers to the opening in the cockpit coaming that is provided in the kit as standard equipment. Custom cockpits are available for most boats; call for details.

Recommended Paddler Weight should be considered a rough guide. The weight ranges shown will be comfortable, although as you reach the high and low limits other variables like height and shoe size become important.

Maximum Shoe Size is expressed in men’s sizes and assumes that the paddler is shod in a pair of neoprene boots of average bulk. Larger sizes are sometimes possible as the cost of comfort. Custom cockpits are also possible; call for details.

Maximum Payload is the maximum safe load of the boat. Why is this number not the same as the maximum paddler weight? Because the paddler who weighs as much as the maximum payload has a centre of gravity that is too high for stability. Properly stowed gear, however, does not harm stability.

Now you are ready to examine our KAYAK SELECTION TABLE

Hard-chine or Multi-chine?

HARD-CHINE boats are renowned for great handling. A good hard-chine hull tracks well yet is very manoeuvrable. The underwater profile of a hard-chine kayak changes dramatically as the boat is leaned, so it’s easy to “carve” turns or make subtle course corrections by leaning the boat. This superior handling allows hard-chine boats to cover miles faster than other hull shapes in certain conditions; less bracing and fewer corrective strokes are required. Hard-chine boats are, by far, the easiest type to build; most of our customers with no previous woodworking experience choose our hard-chine craft. Hard-chine kayaks often hold more gear and feel roomier than multi-chine or round-bottom kayaks.

Some paddlers like the feel of MULTI-CHINE kayaks. They are willing to trade some nice handling characteristics for slightly better efficiency. A loaded multi-chine hull has about 3 percent less wetted surface area than a hard-chine hull with the same dimensions; this decreases resistance by about 1 to 2 percent. While multi-chine kayaks don’t surf as well as hard-chined hulls, they can be easier to control when surfing onto a beach sideways. Initial stability is often a bit lower than hard-chine hulls, and turns require more lean. Multi-chine boats are more difficult and time consuming to build — after all, they have so many more parts. Since they have many seams, considerable fibreglass work is required, but building one is still within the capabilities of most folks.

Should I get a Kit or Plans?

One questions we’re often asked is: How much would I save if I bought plans and built my boat from scratch?

In most cases, buying a kit costs about 20% more than ordering plans and all the materials to build the boat. So you could save $100 to $150 building one of our sea kayaks from scratch. You might save a bit more if you could find all the supplies locally and eliminate the shipping costs, but unless you live in a large city in the Northeast or Northwest chances are you’ll end up ordering at least some of the materials. Most likely you’d still end up ordering the Okume plywood or paying much more for it at a local distributor.

There are many advantages to building from a kit. The parts are all pre-cut so you’ll save a lot of time building time. You won’t need to learn to scarf. The deck beams are pre-laminated. One thing you might not have considered is that a lot of “confidence” comes with a kit. You know the pieces are properly cut, so you shouldn’t have any of those nagging doubts: “That part looks funny — I hope I cut it right.” But time is still the reason that most builders choose kits and that most professional boat builders, when building our boats for clients, start with a kit.

It might sound as if everyone should build from a kit. And if your goal is to get your boat launched as quickly as possible, or if you have limited free time, or if this is your first major woodworking project, then you really should start from a kit. On the other hand, if you want to learn as much as possible about the process of boat building, then starting from plans is the way to do it. It’s no secret that many builders enjoy building these boats just as much as paddling them