Got to paddle a "Mystery"

A friend of mine build a Nick Schade Mystery, and I got to try it for about 10 minutes yesterday. Very flat water, so I can’t comment at all on handling in waves.

It’s quite a beautiful boat, especially when build by someone as good at woodworking as my friend. 20’ x 18", I believe. Incredibly plumb bow, rounded front section, very low-cut flat rear section. On the ground, the hull profile is rather similar to my Thunderbolt, although slightly wider throughout most of the waterline length.

My best points of comparison would be a QCC 700 and my Tbolt. Stability-wise, it is slightly tippier than the 700, but considerably more stable than the Tbolt. I prefer the livelier feel of the Tbolt, but many people would greatly prefer the really rock solid stability of the Mystery. The cockpit is fairly large- i was able to pump my legs in it without too much trouble, and even though it didn’t have tiller style rudder pedals, they were still close enough to together that I didn’t have that painful frogleg feeling I had in the 700. If it were my boat, I would put in a Simon River tiller set up in a heartbeat- then it would be perfect.

Speedwise, on flatwater, it’s faster than the 700 and slower than the Tbolt. How much slower? Well, I could drop my friend without breaking a serious sweat when I paddled the Tbolt and he paddled the Mystery, but I had to work to open up any significant distance when it was the other way around. The Tbolt simply has better glide, owing to the smaller width at waterline (supposed to be 14" in the Tbolt, I’d estimate the Mystery at about 17-18").

Anyway, it’s a really nice boat, and I would guess that it has to be the fastest wood boat out there at the moment. If I had skills and time, I would definitely think about making one. With regards to that, my friend said that it was very hard to build- much harder than his previous Redfish (which is also a sweet boat).


Nick sure designs/builds some sweet boats. Saw him last weekend at a pool session with his new Petrel boat. Wow. Tried to con him out of it but he has probably dealt with my type many times!

Petrel was shorter than the Night Heron with more rocker and a lower front deck.

You can’t go wrong with one of Nick’s boats. (IMHO)


Little Hole in My Balloon
Every time I see Nick in his Mystery, I marvel at what a gorgeous boat it is. Fast also, as evidenced by his upper echelon finishes in many races (Blackburn, etc.). Nick is also a highly skilled paddler, and an all around great guy to speak with. His finished model (as shown on the website) is a stunning black cherry hue, reminiscent of an exotic rainforest wood, bubinga, or paduc. Thr rudder alone is almost too pretty to drop into the water. I excitedly read your post, adding fuel to the fire smoldering that I’d like to build one. I have the space, and as a woodblock carver/printmaker, at least possess the cursory skills to begin to address such a project, or so I’ve deluded myself into hoping…until I read that your friend thought it was a very difficult boat to build…back to reality. Now I’m not so sure. I wonder if Nick would allow someone to undertake this model at one of his boat building classes under his tutelage. Form and function, and the satisfaction that you crafted it yourself. Hmmm.

Mystery specs
The Mystery is 20 feet long and is 18 inches wide at the 4 inch waterline.( 200 lb. subject) Almost the entire 20 feet is waterline.

All the specs are available on the Guillemot Kayaks website. I would like to read a review from an experianced racer that has more than 10 mins. on flat water to draw all of those conclusions.

Though I am no racer I am sure the Mystery was designed for open ocean racing and all that that entails.

Picture’s worth a…

And in Action…
Blackburn Challenge

well, chief…
i tried to do what i could with the limited time in that boat that i had. i think i qualify as an experienced racer. certainly you are welcome to come up to atlanta and race me… :slight_smile:

i did manage to eyeball the waterline width, correctly- that ought to count for something in your eyes, no?

you’re not going to find too many reviews of a high-end wooden boat out there, by someone who isn’t emotionally invested in all the time that they just put into building it.



Aflope, thanks for taking the time to
write that up … very interesting and much appreciated. Good info IMO.

Did you get a chance to see how the bow reacted to waves / wakes ? How did the stern react to power ? Did it pop out much on said wakes/ waves ? Paddle feeling sans rudder?

Just wondering.

point taken
Good point on the availability of reviews. You certainly did nail the waterline width. As I said “I am no racer” you would kill me in a race I`m sure. I do enjoy tinkering with kayak design and building. My only intention is the facts. Sorry if it seemed otherwise.


no worries

Is this the boat? pics


Building one of Nick’s boats…
I am finishing the final touches of my Night Heron(designed by Nick Schade). It was a pleasure to work with Nick from the start. He invited me to his local pond to test out his two Night Heron designs. He enjoyed sharing the boats as much as I did paddling them.

For those who are concerned about support…you should know that Nick has always been readily available to respond to questions via email/telephone(accept of course if he is out paddling, competing,or winning first prizes at woodcraft shows for his workmanship and design).

Nick’s designs are beautiful and are extraordinary boat designs. I would highly recommend your considering building this boat, knowing that the designer will support you along the way if you have any questions/concerns. And if you have any concerns from the onset…give him a call and chat.



btw: I have no formal affiliation with Nick or his company…am just a real happy customer.

other impressions
hi pat

i’m afraid i really can’t address those issues all that well. i didn’t notice any stern squat at a sprint, which suggests the top end is faster than i can paddle it. i suspect i had it well over 8mph for a stretch though- it is a very fast boat (but not as fast as my ski or the tbolt). the rudder was designed to stay in all the time, like a k1 overstern, so no sense about it without a rudder. on a 20’ boat, i don’t know about you, but i want a rudder all the time anyway.

didn’t get to try it in wakes, waves, etc. my friend had not paddled the tbolt before, and he was too wobbly to take it out across the wide part of the lake. we just stayed around an island so that we could rescue him if necessary. the mystery is an excellent design, very similar to many skis, and i can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t fly in swells. very low back deck, though, i wonder if choppy stuff would tend to wash over it a lot, but that happens with skis too, i guess.

if you are ever out here, i bet we can bribe him into letting you use the boat.


Head to Head
Just musing…in terms of wooden boats, curious how the Mystery would stack up against Steve’s (Canunut’s) strip built. The Mystery I believe, is about 2 ft. longer, but from what I remember, Steve’s boat is plenty quick in its class and above. Andrew, since you guys are an even match engine-wise, hmmm… Quite the plumb bow on the Mystery, very similar to the Loki and some of the Ruahine boats. Bob, congratulations in advance on that Night Heron-sleek lines on that one.

he is probably a bit faster. maybe not.

i think this is probably a bit faster than the “q900”, but it would be very driver dependent.


Different class - similar thinking
The Winter’s design is optimized for the USCA Sea Kayak class - The Shade design for the touring class. Similar intent regarding efficiency - so naturally they bear many similarities (maximized LWL, overall form, etc.) - within the different constraints on overall dimensions.