Help With Kayak Selection Big Guy

I am a beginning kayaker and need some help with the selection of a stich and glue kayak. I have narrowed my search to the CLC Chesapeake 17 and the Pygmy Goldeneye Hi and their Queen Charlotte XL. I am leaning to the Ches 17. I am 59 yo , 6’4" and 235 lbs.

I plan on starting with the river systems near my home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I will then venture out somewhat to the Gulf. I am inclined to get the Ches 17 but the Goldneye Hi also seems intriqueing.

My first question is one of these manufacturers better than the other? Secondly what are the pros and cons of these designs? Lastly are there any other designs that I am missing including any strip built hulls that are for the “big guy”? Thanks.

I like theirs because some of their designs have soft chine. Queen Charlotte has hard chine, though.

Definitely check out:
I would DEFINITELY check out the following:

Vaclav is an extraordinary designer who is a big guy himself. Most of his boats would be candidates for you. The following is a beautifully designed sng that you could use in any conditions:

Nick Schade also is an excellent designer:

I am 5’10", 225lbs and fit perfectly into his Night Heron, an 18’ x 20’ sea kayak. The boat also comes in a full sng design.

I am currently building a Redfish King, built by another excellent designer: Joe Greenley. It is about 18’ x 21 1/2", also an great choice.

I am less familiar with the build/paddling of CLC or Pygmy. If you want to build, if not aware…check out, an extraordinary kayak building forum.



another suppplier
Matt makes plans and kits:

I’ve built a boat of his and the plans are very good

Shoe Size?
I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern and was very pleased with the quality of the kit, and the ease of building. I’m not as big as you (6 foot 195) but it is pretty spacious. It could fit someone much larger than myself. It is recommended for shoe sizes up to 12. There is a High Volume version for bigger feet.

I’m nowhere near your size, but I’ve paddled the Pygmy Tern 17 and Coho and CLC Chesapeake 16 & 17. The Pygmys felt much better to me – more like boats than boxes.

If I were buying a CLC boat, I’d take a Shearwater over a Chesapeake.

If you contact Pygmy or any of the vendors, they can put you in touch with owners/bulders in your area. Most are happy to show off their boats.

The 17W Merganser might work for you.

Greetings from Mississippi

– Last Updated: Dec-26-06 7:05 AM EST –


I don't have boat recomendations but I just wanted to say "hello" as I am also on the MS Gulf Coast. I'm not much of an open water paddler but give me a buzz once you've got your boat and are ready to do some local rivers. I'm a regular paddler of the Wolf, the Escatawpa and Old Fort Bayou with plans to branch out and do more on Red Creek, Black Creek and the Pascagoula this year. A group from LA and I tenatively have an overnighter planned on the Escatawpa for early May. Good luck with your boat search!

BPS in Jackson County

CD Solstice GTHV
I regret selling mine. most comfortable boat ever for big guys. I have a Wilderness Capehorn 15 now that I like because of the durability (Canadian shield paddling). it’s nice, but not even close to the Solstice. the CD Storm is also a big guy boat but as anyone on this site will tell you. GO OUT AND PADDLE MANY!

Impex is Perfect
I’m 6-3 and 235. After trying a lot of boats, I’ve settled on the Impex Serenity. It’s high volume and very easy to get in and out of. Also, since I go out for two weeks at a time with no resupply, it has lots of room for all my gear.


Are you picking those three because they are available as plans and you’re building from plans?

If you’re going for a kit then go for the Coho.

You really aren’t that big but if you want stability and a large cockpit the Coho fits the bill. The Queen Charlotte weathercocks a bit is very maneuverable while the Coho is set up better for a rudder and is faster.

Once you open up the possibility of strip building the construction times double but you’ll find a much wider range of possible hulls.

If you’re a beginning kayaker make an honest assesment of your needs, ruddered or no. My $.02 is that the Coho will kick start you right into a forgiving, responsive and stable hull and if you want to branch off into something particular it’ll always be there. You’re actually the perfect weight for it.

The Goldeneye and Chesapeake are from a particular time period in kit design. The Coho is an evolution from the GE which is an evolution from the Queen Charlotte, the Chesapeake is an evolution from the Cape Charles which is an evolution from the Yare and Severn. At each evolution the Pygmy designs were always a step ahead of the original CLC designs. Kind of like the difference between an American car and a Japanese car from the 60’s to the 90’s. The water and paddling community in the Puget Sound defined the Pygmy designs. If something worked or didn’t work the feedback is immediate.

The original CLC designs are primarily based on a particular construction technique with sheltered summer time waters and solo paddling the testing environment. For example the Queen Charlotte is an actual sea kayak, the Yare/Severn are shapes derived from bending plywood.

The Cape Charles is an improvement but it’s so far behind the Golden Eye/Pygmy it’s like comparing a car with solid axles compared to a car with independant suspension.

The Chesapeake is an improvement but in half steps while the Arctic Tern, Merganser/Shearwater, One Ocean Kayak Cirrus, Cunningham s&g actually take plywood to the limits for a particular behaviour on the water and the Chesapeakes behaviour on the water is a consequence of the construction. I could go into details what that means but basically the pre-glued sheer clamp on the Chesapeake/Cape Charles designs confines the ends of the kayak to a narrow range of shapes and the ends are important in a kayak as much as the middle.