Hard Chine or Multi Chine

Hard Chine or Multi Chine, and why…

I am trying to make up my mind on a Pygmy wood boat kit and I am torn between the Coho which is multi chined and the Arctic Tern which is hard chine.

I am a novice in my first season paddling and currently paddle a Perception America 13.5. My weight is 240 and height is 6’2". My interests are day trips on the Columbia River, lakes around Mt St Helens and the Willapa Bay.

Coho http://www.pygmyboats.com/mall/coho.asp

Tern http://www.pygmyboats.com/mall/Tern.asp

Thanks for the information.

volume considerations
you will get some interesting and possibly confusing responses on this one mate. many different ideas of how different chines feel and perform.

the rounder the profile the more internal volume for your gear and feet.

the hard chine may feel slightly tippier on center but feel a more distinctive secondary stability on it’s side. it may also feel tippier once you go past this edge; and very quickly. the hard chine will track and turn perhaps a tad more briskly when first initiated.


if you are used to a ruddered kayak the Coho with a rudder would be a very good choice. It weathercocks slightly but the point at which a lean compensates requires good thigh brace outfitting and a lean. The Tern won’t require as much skill but it’ll require more attention to go straight.

Both are good designs, the Tern will teach you correct paddling, the Coho will require a bit more skill to control in high wind but it’ll be faster/more stable although the Tern is not a tippy boat as kayaks go.

Basically it’ll get down to Tern for turning ease, Coho for stability/speed.

Your size/weight is perfect for either one.

I have been
in a Coho for 5 years. I knew that she would weathercock in the following winds. I never had any bad troubles with this until a week in Voyageurs Nat’l Park. Immediately upon returning a Seal Line Rudder was installed. Testing is this weekend. The Coho is a very stable boat after the initial learning curve. This was my first ever boat and is still my favorite.

There is plenty of room in the cockpit although I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with larger than size 13. I am 6’5" 175# and have plenty of room. I would talk to the Pygmy people, if you haven’t already. The handling characteristics of both have been well explained already. If you are planning any extended trips ask about the capacity, I don’t remember what it is for the Coho. I estimate that my total weight for the Voyageurs trip was over 300#. I couldn’t tell the difference from when the boat was empty.


Hard chines will carve more but has the “hinge” feeling, where if you’re not right in the sweet sport on edge, you’ll feel like you either go over and land flat back on your hull.

Multi chine, in my thinking, is good method to get a more “rounded” chine with panel construction. It’ll act like boats that have rounded chines that one often finds in production boats. It can afford a smoother transition from primary to secondary stability (with consideration also given to flare of the gunwales and the deadrise of the hull bottom).

If more room is needed you simply expand the beam and/or depth of the deck.

I tested the Cape Horn once which is manufactured with “multi chines” but can’t say that they couldn’t achieve the same feel with a rounded chine and perhaps a tad adjustment in flare. Seems to me to be part marketing as anything else to say one has a “multi chine” design for a production boat.


definately marketing
for the plywood designs there’s a natural naming of hard-chine for four panels and the unnecessary term multichine for more panels.

Necky got plain silly with marketing the Lookshas maneuverability as a function of ‘multichines’.

depends on your needs…
As stated above, a hard chine will carve into the water so if you want those ultra-crisp turns, hard chine may be the way you to go. The draw back is that current also grabs the chines when you don’t want to.

Example: if you get pinned against a rock on a river with good currents, the water will pull on the chines and try to roll you. Where as a rounded bottom or multi chine, the water has less angle to grab onto.

The trade off of rounded or multi-chine is that it may not turn as diliberate…notice I did not say “as quick”…on the path you want. A rounded bottom will turn quickly but it will want to keep sliding. Rudders and refined skills with the paddle help that.

Hard chines boas will build quicker because there are less seams to deal with.

call Pygmy
and ask for the names of owners/builders of those models in your area. Most of the builders I’ve contacted have been happy to talk about their boats or offer a demo.

I have contacted
Pygmy and will be driving up there on Saturday. As an inexperienced kayaker, I want to armed with as much information as possible. So I seek the opinions of the experienced paddlers on this board. I feel that the members here that don’t own Pygmy boats will have excellent information that won’t be baised by the ownership of said boats. I am sure when I finish mine, it will be the greatest kayak ever :wink:

Owners of Pygmy boats will also have valuable information that I with to hear.

Please keep the imformation comming.

I demoed both
a couple of years ago and was impressed. Of the two I preferred the Tern – I liked how it responded to an edge. But they both seemed to be fine boats.

What about
hard chines in rip currents? The last time I was out on the Columbia River, I got into some rip currents that really moved my kayak around. I skirted around the worst areas, but was afraid to do much of a leaned turn. Seemed like a bad area to capsize.

Would a hard chine be worse in that situation than a soft chine?



if that made the difference
you shouldn’t be there at all. A perceptual difference doesn’t imply a restriction.

Pygmy has a pretty fair…
…discussion of hard vs. multi chines on there web site…

I too see no reason to have multi chines on a molded boat…

Every Coho I have seen could use a rudder…

I got used to the hard chines on my Pygmy Tern 14 and that’s why I bought the CD Caribou… It started out as a hard chine S&G wooden boat… GH


– Last Updated: Nov-04-04 3:10 PM EST –

You'll encounter currents on tour but rarely to the speed on a river. Ferrying, whether with a hard chine or soft chine (or displacement hull) means keeping the upstream edge up some the current can plane underneath. Little chance for catching an edge if you conscious of that.

The only difference that I can think of with hard chines vs soft chines is probably when you try to do sculling draw strokes to move the kayak sideways. With hard chine you really need to be conscious of keeping the hard chine up on the side where you're drawing to, or you'll trip. With a softer chine, the water will roll under ( more the chine rolling/slipping over the water).

If you're new to kayaking, forget about the chine profile and just demo different boats and see how each boat tracks, turns and feels to your comfort level in general. You'll adapt quickly through real use rather than than through "theoreotical" postulation.


hard chine vs soft chine
Much of the information you will read about the differences between hard chines and soft chine is very generalized. Carveing turns, primary and secondary stability are all effected more by the hull design than what type of chines or no chines the hull has. There are so many different hull designs out there that it is best for you test paddle a kayak and see if it has the characteristics you want.

When you go to Port Townsend
to the Pygmy store it might be worth your while to stop by the Redfish Kayak shop and take a look at the boats Joe Greenley has to offer. If you do, take a close look at his kayak seats. I’m getting one for my 17’ Arctic Tern which I finished this last Spring. I found that the Pygmy seat is too loose for me, and it’s difficult to properly install hip padding the way it’s configured. A tighter seat would have made edging somewhat easier when paddling in breezy conditions, such as occur in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I think. I would certainly have helped in my beginner attempts at rolling. Directions to Redfish are on it’s website. it’s not far out of the way to Pygmy.


They’re both really good designs,
and you won’t go wrong no matter which way you go–you’ll just get slightly different performance. Over time as you try and own different boats you’ll figure out what style works best for you. I don’t know that there’s any shortcut in that learning curve, since your skills and interests will also change over time.

Because I like traditional kayaks, I tend to prefer single-chine designs, but it’s really a matter of taste. Which is easier to build?


pygymy boats
I have both and like both of them. The multi chime is a much more stable boat ( I can hang my legs off one side and stay up) but the hard chine turns alot faster with body action. The hard chine is easier to build. I wear a size 12 shoe and have to angle my feet, but it sure handles the rough water well.

I wound up with
the Pygmy Arctic Tern Hi. I was sick Saturday when I drove up there, so I didn’t take any out on the water. Sitting in them on the showroom floor, I really liked the extra room of Tern Hi. It allowed me to have a little bend in my legs instead of being perfectly straight all the time. Also, lots more foot room for my size 12 feet.

Now I just need some time to build it.

Thanks to all who responded!

Good Choice
The one thing in the thread that was not discussed was which design is easier to build. A multi-chined hull is much more difficult to layup than a single chined hull. The most important part of the building process is laying out the hull.