C.L.C. easiest build

I know they are two different boats but which is the easiest to build a shearwater or a pax?



what do you want?
do you want something to build or something to paddle? Something that’s easy by Xhrs or Y sequences? I built the first Pax20 in 2000 and three Mergansers (same hull as Shearwater). The Shearwater/Mergansers are kayaks, the Pax is an untested experiment that was put into production.

What do you mean by an untested exp…?

I would really like the shearwater to replace my plastic boat.

And the Pax as my H2O Corvette.

But I have never build a boat bigger than a rain gutter rigatta for my kids cub scouts.And I dont want to do the harder one first.


When you do a stitch and glue boat, most of the steps are going to be the same regardless of the model. You glue up your panels, wire the hull together, fillet the seams, glass the hull, then add the deck. Different companies have different approaches, but there are only so many different ways to build the same type of boat.

I think CLC says the Pax is their easiest boat to build, but it looks like the Merganser would be pretty simple too.

Pygmy seems pretty straight forward
I’ve been looking at making a kayak either strip or S&G. I like some of the pygmy designs a bit better (just by looking at the shape)

There is a book out about making S&G Kayaks. The show a CLC Mill Creek, Pygmy Coho, and I can’t recall the third one. (all three on the cover) I thought it was pretty informative, and gave some good insight into the variations, and what to expect.

If someone recalls the name - post it please, I didn’t find it, but I know my local library has a copy, and I know sooner or latter I’ll find it in the discharged/booksale room as I’m the only fool to ever take it out.

Here is the book
you are talking about, Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction


In S&G boats, I’ve built a CLC Chesapeake 17 and a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14. The Chessie was easier, but a less refined design. The deck on the Tern is what takes some time, with more pieces of wood involved. But that gives you a recessed rear of the coaming and a more rounded deck - worth the time in IMO. The Shearwaters look very similar to the Tern in construction. I really want to demo one - it looks like it might be the replacement for my Aquanaut someday. It would be at least 15 lbs. lighter!

Don’t go for ease of building, go for performance! Rolling a Chessie is a pain in the back - it’s too deep at the rear of the coaming.


You might want to check out:


This is Eric Schade’s website, who designed the Merganser (CLC’s Shearwater). Eric is well known and talented designer/builder. You can also order any of the Mergansers from him.

The Merganser (Shearwater) should provide pretty much everything you are looking for. You might also want to take a look at Eric’s Badairka…which will be faster.

The sng pieces that Eric sends out are beautifully cut/prepared…I put one togehter myself.

If you are not aware…check out ww.kayakforum.com a kayak builder’s heaven…



That’s the one
Good book in my opinion - - but I haven’t built one yet. Hopefully soon though I may go stripper instead.

I mean

– Last Updated: Aug-29-06 2:37 AM EST –

Plumb bows on a four panel hull don't make sense because waterline volume can't develop well above the waterline at the bow like a molded hull, cutting off the ends of a long skinny four panel hull gives you a wave piercing skeg like bow in the Pax 20 and a bow burying hull in the Pax 18. Look at a surfski or racing kayaks plumb bow and look at the Pax,,making a plumb bow with four panels or a "racing kayak" with four panels is like adding nitrous to a moped,,it'll be a damn fast moped but full of compromises.

They can be paddled fast on flat water(so can a used surfski or the old Patuxent 19) but they have no wave handling characteristics compared to the average "fast" kayak or faster surfski. Skegs on kayaks that don't weathercock only makes hard to turn kayaks harder to turn. That should provide a clue something is amiss. Skegs on flat water racing kayaks don't exist, racing rudders do. Racing kayaks have racing rudders,,not adjustable skegs.

for example:" Substantial flare is worked into the stem and stern above the waterline to gain buoyancy for work in waves",,

comment: There is NO flare in the bow of the Pax20. Look at it. What flare there is in the stern will lift the stern and bury the bow. That's only a concern in waves above 8" (inches) because the flat bow piece will be PUSHING water. Get a 1 1/2"x6" triangle and drag it perpendicularly through the water at 6mph and decide if that makes sense as it shoots up a rooster tail in the bow.

for example:"Narrow boats can be a handful when surfing at speed, even for experts, so we have made a retractable skeg standard in the kits."

comment: narrow boats are a handful "when surfing at speed" because they are NARROW and waves change the waterline length and stability, as well as the simple fact that a sharp low volume bow will be buried and initiate a broach,,a skeg is IRRELEVANT to this aspect as the area and leverage of a skeg is very small compared to the HULL shape of the bow. A skeg is for trimming for weathercocking, not improving wave handling which is a function of the ENTIRE hull shape and significantly the first few feet. A few square inches of skeg doesn't make a kayak less of a handful in waves.

If four panel hulls were ideal fast, high efficiency shapes for racing then you'd see them winning races,,they aren't, they don't. No doubt there's occasionally someone winning a race in a Caribou or skin boat but not in the class where people are racers,,look at Epic kayaks,,those are hulls derived from racing experience.

re. construction. The Pax20 deck can be made with one piece ply, the Pax18 cannot be made with one piece ply so the mahogany king plank is used. The Pax 20 uses a king plank so it'll look like the Pax18. Pax20 weighs about two pounds extra because it has a structurally unnecessary deck kingplank.

Like I said, it's an experiment. If you wanted a fast four panel "sea kayak" then the Merganser 18 would suffice. If you want very fast then you'll have to learn how to paddle very hard with very good technique, then start looking at a West Side EFT or similar race derived design. For the extra % seeking fast you might as well get something that's based on racing experience.

untested boat and what’s wrong with it
Thanks for the infor in your response about the clc pax 20.

In explaining the whys about the pax you covered a lot of ground and questions I have with the artic tern specificlly whether or not to add a rudder and sealline trim tab setup.

Someone in the group I paddle with suggested building another boat, I’m more inclined to rework my skills to the boat I built.

Gonna bookmark your advice on the pax…covered a lot of ground.


Rich Mc.

what is it that you want to do?
The tern is a good big boat but it’s not meant to be a point and paddle boat like a ruddered OspreyHp.

"easiest to build"
the marketing blurb described it that way when it came out. It actually wasn’t the easiest to build, especially with the kingplank and screwed in deck panels, not that any of these are actually hard to build, but a person builds a limited racing design because that’s what they want, not because it’s easy to build. If a person wanted an easy to build racing kayak for easy conditions an old Patuxent 19 with a racing rudder would work.


Long, narrow hulls can be very tricky to keep moving in rough surfing conditions so to aid directional stability we’ve made retractable skegs a standard feature in the Pax 18 and Pax 20. Another unusual and high-class standard feature in the Pax 18 and Pax 20 kits are round airtight hatches by Valley Canoe Products for the aft decks. These hatches, said to be adapted from lifeboat storage compartments, are attractive and absolutely watertight.

Like all Chesapeake Light Craft kayak kits, the Pax 18 and Pax 20 have fair hulls, smoothly radiused decks, and one-piece coaming rims. In spite of their sophisticated paddling qualities, these are also among the easiest kits to build in the CLC stable. Hulls are of 3mm and 4mm plywood, epoxied and 'glassed for strength and durability. Complete kits for the Pax 18 and Pax 20 cost $799 plus shipping.

I dont know what to say,but it sure got me thinking.

Thanks for the info and the cool shearwater web site.

Right now I dont know what i’m going to build but I’ll let you know when it’s done or if I crash and burn in the middle of a build.


It is a pretty good book
But Ted Moore’s Kayaks You can Build lead me astray a few times when I followed some of his innovations rather than sticking with the Pygmy directions for the Tern. If it is your first boat, I’d stick to the Pygmy Tern directions whenever they conflict with Moores’. Also, the most important resource you will find is the many web phot-diaries of builds AND the generous contributors to the kayakforum.com builders archive. There was ALWAYS someone on that board who provided me with patient, clear, and helpful advice every time I needed it.

Shearwater Evaluation in SK Mag
don’t look now, but the new Sea Kayaker just came and they have a review of the Shearwater 17. It sounds like a winner in performance as well as looks - must find a way to demo…


You’ll love it!
Know worry about crashing and burning…just enjoy! If you decide to build, start reading the daily postings on www.kayakforum.com and use the site search options, and also check out a number of profiles. There is a treasure of information there and great folks who will respond to your questions. BTW…Eric Schade is a wonderful guy and if you decide to purchase a Merganser directly from him, he offers great telephone support. I paddled his Merganser 17 (Shearwater 17)…and loved the way it handled.

Keep us posted…it is a blast!