CLC Shearwater hybrid kits - experience?

-- Last Updated: Oct-23-08 5:25 PM EST --

I'm considering building another wood boat, a Shearwater hybrid in 14.6 or 16 ft. length. I'm surprised by how few critical reviews there are of these kayaks. I see the first review on was submitted today.

CLC has a sale running through the end of October, and I'd like to get some feedback before then, from any who have paddled these kayaks. I'm not really worried about the build.

I have built (and reviewed) a Pygmy Osprey. Of course I had good things to say about my baby. But, several years later, I've never gotten completely comfortable. It's kind of wide at 24 inches, and limiting to my paddle stroke. Cockpit is a bit large. Toe room is limited, unless I keep my feet V'd. The best thing about the Osprey is straight tracking, with some ability to lean and turn, when necessary, as well as the potential speed, when I can keep my stroke in tune.

By contrast, I've spent most of my time in a Perception Sonoma 13.5. It's very maneuverable and fun, but doesn't track for beans. Its cockpit is a bit small. My feet are more comfortable in the narrower (and taller?) space. It's 22.5 inches wide. The speed has been surprisingly good. Both the Osprey and Sonoma have been light enough for comfortable handling on land.

I'm 5'9", 140lbs., with size 9 or so shoes. Since I have enjoyed the Perception 13.5, I'm thinking of building the Shearwater 14 (14' 6"). But, I'd go to the 16 if there was reason. I am aware that many people (like me) buy or build boats that are really larger or higher volume than they need.

Both Shearwaters are 23 inches wide. The cockpits are sized between the Osprey and Sonoma. The round deck of the hybrid may give a bit more vertical toe room left and right of center, than the faceted shape of the Osprey. I would expect the 14.6 to track between my current two boats, and the 16 to be close to the Osprey. And speeds, too, would fall similarly. I would expect either to do a nice leaned turn.

I absolutely don't want a rudder, so appreciate boats that do not exhibit terrible weathercocking, etc. in adverse conditions.

I would appreciate if anyone can give me a reality check, and hopefully speak to these boats from experience. Or, recommend another hybrid kit that I might like. This would be my third, and probably last build, and I would certainly want to do it up right, with a boat that I would grow old and in love with.

I like the Sonoma13
it’s a fast boat for it’s length. I’d go for the 16’ Shearwater. It’s not anywhere as voluminous as the Osprey. I’ve built Eric Schades Mergansers and paddled his Shearwaters. You really aren’t going to get something much more efficient than the Sonoma or Osprey unless its significantly narrower. The side panels of the Shearwater are fairly flared so you’ll have a narrow waterline. To have something that’s close to the efficiency and top speed of your two boats the Shearwater 16 would be a better bet,and so would a One Ocean Kayak Cirrus LT.

Compared to the Sonoma13 and Osprey Standard you’ll have something that has a much more distinct lean-to-turn characteristic but inbetween the two in ease of turning. Weathercocking may be a more distinct in the Shearwater than the Sonoma, and definately more than the straight tracking Osprey but a controllable amount compared to the Chesapeaks which become somewhat “dumb” beyond a particular degree of leaning.

For leaning control you may find yourself zig-zagging if you don’t outfit thigh braces well but if you can make the Sonoma go straight you’ll transition just fine.

The Osprey is great for a 225lb paddler, the Shearwater16 more for a 160lb paddler. The only reason to not get the Shearwater14 is if you don’t want a kayak that’s slower than the Sonoma13 and Osprey.

good info
Thank you, LeeG. That’s exactly the kind of experienced opinion I was hoping for. I may get back to you with more questions.

Interesting that you have had about the same experience with the Sonoma 13.5 that I have. I still chuckle a bit when I think of Perception’s brag for the boat of, “true straight-line tracking.”

Artic Tern

I felt like a redheaded stepchild with my issues with the cavernous interior and limited foot space.

Glad to read that someone else has this issue.

Were I to do another boat I’d definitely want something with a more level (vs the acute angle of pygmy)deck and far less freeboard.

I’ve paddled a CLC and found it a nice boat (I think it takes more skill and patience to put togeather than pygmys .

I think the hybred would definitely combine the best of both worlds with a wood boat.

That said: I’d see if I could find someone with a CLC you could paddle beforehand.

What works for one person may not work for the next.

if there are any owners/builders in your area. Builders are usually happy to show off their boats to other interested paddlers.

Also try

LeeG, mcyak, angstrom
LeeG, on the Shearwaters, are the thigh pad extensions in the right place, and big enough? It’s hard to tell from photos, but they’re certainly different from what I put in my Osprey; maybe closer to what the Sonoma has in size, but further forward? Sure, it could be modded, but…

Guys, I went to a paddling outing this weekend – first time I’d been around other paddlers with the Osprey. I have new-found respect for that boat! It really is fast, with me, or with another decent paddler on board. It was the first time I’d seen her move, which she did, and looked fine doing it.

mcyak, I did a footbar mod and tried it for the first time this weekend, and it made the foot position(s) much better: I drilled a hole near the center of each Keeper foot pad. I cut a 1x2 to fit across, hole in each end, with the top edge tapered a bit. Used top & bottom zip ties at each side to hold the 1x2 against the pads. Things are all fitted a bit loose, so the 1x2 can be moved a couple of positions forward or aft of the originally fit position. So, I can still V my feet when I lock under the thigh braces, but can comfortable put my feet near the center, and have knees between the thigh braces for long stretches of paddling. I liked it so much, I may find a way of doing it more elegantly on my other boats.

angstrom, not a bad suggestion, although kayaking is only just becoming un-dead around my part of west-central Georgia (Columbus area). And, I will have to place an order in the next few days, for the sale price.

I built a Merganser 16
…which CLC’s hybrid is based on. At 5’9" and 140 lbs you should fit fine in the 16. I don’t know how well size 9 men’s shoes would fit under the CLC deck, but it appears they would fit inside the Shearwater version.

The Merganser 16 tracks quite strongly, so no issues there if that’s what you prefer.

The thigh braces on the Shearwater version are nothing more than earlike protrusions from the cockpit coaming, and they are far too forward for 5’2" me. They would fit a long-legged person, I think. I should have taken care of this BEFORE glassing in the coaming (should be an easy mod)…lesson learned.

The boat is fairly fast for its dimensions, 16’ long with 21" beam. But it’s not my choice for use in strong winds or confused water (I prefer my Tempest 165 or Explorer LV for that).

Thanks, and a footboard suggestion
thanks for the info in this post, it helps explain why my newbie friend who just bought a used Sonoma has such a hard time keeping it going straight.

Also, I’m interested in the Osprey - sounds like I might need the high-vol version as I like plenty of footroom and prefer a largish cockpit. If you like the footboard, here’s what I put in my skin boat with limited footspace - it’s just a stock 3-1/2" oak molding from home depot, attached through holes in the keepers footbraces - I used 1/4" stainless bolts with nylock nuts instead of zip ties. They’re a pain to tighten (with your head in the boat) but work great once they’re in place - extremely solid and it’s nice to slide my feet around. Only downside is the pegs don’t adjust if you tighten the bolts - they could be left a little loose I suppose, but I like them to feel solid.

re. thigh braces
on the CLC Shearwaters are a bit better situated than the Merganser braces, either way you have to put in minicell to make them work right.

It’s not anywhere as big of an addition as the Pygmy braces. I made thigh braces for the Coho out of a couple pieces of ply glued to the underside of the deck, looks pretty good. First attempt was just a flat curved section of 6mm ply glued 1 1/2" under the deck and protruding into the cockpit. The Coho deck is so high that it required too thick of minicell block for decent grip. So I cut the curved section down at an angle and attached a piece of 4mm ply that angled down about 30degrees so it ended up looking like a regular keyhole with the braces angling down for a good hook.

Look for a Demo
I went to a CLC demo maybe a year and a half ago. I thought I would really like the Shearwater. Nope. My favorite was the Pax 18. I’m your height but heavier at 165 pounds. See if they’re having a demo near you soon.

Kit has been ordered

– Last Updated: Oct-29-08 7:35 PM EST –

Thanks for all the responses. I did check for any regional CLC demos; I should have been on the ball for that in 2007. I feel pretty good about the Shearwater 16 design, and my preferences.

I guess they're going to cut some new kits, since mine won't ship until Nov. 18.