Arctic Tern vs. Merganser vs. Cirrus?

Looking to build a S&G. Any thoughts or opinions on these three alternatives: Pygmy Arctic Tern (17’ x 23"), Shearwater Merganser (17’ x 22"), or One Ocean Cirrus (17.5’ x 22").

Thanks for your thoughts and advice.

Built a Tern
The quality of the kit was top notch, and the build was easy. The boat is sturdy and light. It is a large, high volume boat. I don’t know your size and skills, but the other two boats are (obviously) less beamy. I will probably paddle this boat happily for many years, but if I get the itch to build another one, I’ll probably go with something 22".

size and weight
Thanks. My size and weight are 5’11" and 170. I paddle almost exclusively in the Pacific off of the S CA coast.


– Last Updated: Jan-07-07 3:30 PM EST –

I have never built a boat, but appreciate your question. After seeing the Artic Tern in This is the Sea I (if you have it, watch it again for the woman that paddles this wooden craft--about a 7-8 minute segment), I think it looks a tad beamy.

Now that I am a new card carrying member of Qajaq USA, and I will be blogging with Freya and M. Padilla and Greg Stamer and Dubside and all them dudes, I was actually thinking--two years ago I would have scoffed at what I am about to write--I have been thinking about building a skin on frame Greenland kayak. Low volume, Greenland ends, rolling machine.


Night Heron?
For a less-beamy stitch & glue:

Kit is available from Newfound Woodworks:

“This is the Sea”…
Was a Tern 14, The full size Tern won’t do that, I have both. The Arctic Tern makes a wonderful, light, expedition boat and an OK day boat.

If I had to do another S&G it would probably be the Cirrus. I paddled with a One Ocean Expedition yesterday and it was the smoothest riding kayak out there.

Go with the Cirrus
I have build a couple of CLC’s and the Cirrus. It is all I paddle now. The Cirrus is a light weight, fast, low volume boat. Go to One Ocean’s website and look around. Full of builders tips for any S&G. Also if you are building one of their boats, you get into special builders pages. The paddlers tech specs on the Cirrus - 150lbs to 250lbs and up to 6’2" Send them an email, they are very helpful. I really like the boat

You’d fit easily into those narrower
boats, and probably feel like you had more control. The Tern 17 would be an excellent expedition boat for you, as you could pack alot of stuff in it, but for day paddles with limited gear, it will probably feel bigger than you need. I’m 6’0 and currently 200 (working to get back down to 178) and the Tern is plenty big for me.

A GREAT idea to build!
You have chosen a number of great designs. Given your size/weight you have many choices.

Have you posted on You should get MANY responses from folks who have built those boats. You will also likely be able to find the boats to demo them out on the west coast.

I agree with Angstrom…would definitely look at the Night Heron by Nick Schade. I would also suggest the King by Joe Greenley ( Eric Schade’s Mergansers are great designs. Take a look at his Baidarka as well!

The most important thing you can do is to demo…demo…demo before starting this project. I built (and sold) my hybrid Night Heron and am building a Redfish King. Also built an sof. Building your own kayak is an incredible experience.