Kayak kits - choosing

My wife and I are in the process of transitioning mostly from our O.T. Old Town 138T as I plan to build a wood kit for each of us. After falling in love with the Pygmy Osprey Std., we have come to realize that we cannot be looking for a big sea kayak, although we want sea-going capability and good stability for fishing and photography. We are both small-statured, for one thing, and have little space for car-topping, construction and storage. Also, we do a lot of milder river paddling. The Osprey seems just too big for us, given our circumstances.

I recently saw the info on Paddling.net about CLC’s new Wood Duck 12 and I am looking for information from anybody who has actually experienced this boat: building experience, paddling experience, or who knows of somebody’s experience with this boat. I have spent many months considering about everything, so for our purposes, it’s down to either the P. Osprey or the CLC Wood Duck. Thank you for your feedback.

Check out the Arctic Tern 14
A great handling kayak with a 23" beam compared to the Wood Duck’s 30" beam. It can also be fitted with bulkheads and hatches. It is much closer to the Osprey than the Duck. It would be a savings of 14" if you were to cartop two of them.

define small statured
and intended use. You have some conflicted goals, limited space for car-topping and construction. Ok, that pretty much elimates building any size kayak as the room needed for building a 12’ and 15’ aren’t that much different. A wide rec. kayak takes more room on a roof than a skinnier kayak. A rec. kayak and ocean capability are kind of contradictory, besides skills define capability more than the boat.

I’ve paddled the 10’ Wood Duck,it’s a good rec. kayak. I’m 5’ 9" 190lbs. On the CLC Duck page the dad and little boy probably weight 225 together and they aren’t overloaded at all.

A small statured woman could be more than stable enough in a small kayak like the Pygmy AT14 or so stable in a Wood Duck as to be able to stand up. It really helps to be specific how small is small as the Pygmy AT14 could be as stable for a short 100lb woman as the Duck is for a tall heavy man.

The WD12 could make sense if you were a small statured 200lb person wanting to stand up and fly fish or bring a dog. If you are under 150lbs and she was under 110lbs the Pygmy AT14 and OSprey 13 could be both stable and ocean capable,again it depends on the specifics of “small-statured” as your experience of stability will vary as much as the size of the kayak.

The reason for considering the smaller Pygmys is that they are very light, which small statured people would appreciate carrying and VERY quick to accelerate on the water. A 110lb 5’4" woman in an Osprey13 will be like a turbo-charged MiniCooper and in a rec. boat like a VW van. Depends on what she wants.

For a small light person the effort paddling a light, small sea kayak compared to a wider rec. kayak is night and day, especially if there’s any wind.

Specifics, big difference between a 100# 5’ woman and a 150lb 5’7" man regarding stability in a short 22" wide kayak or a paddling efficiency (short arms) in a 30" wide kayak.

Pygmy Tern 14?

– Last Updated: Oct-23-07 8:02 AM EST –

The Wood Duck looks like a fun little puttering boat, and its on my list of boats I'd like to build (when I win the contest, of course.) But it really isn't a step up from your Old Towns. Its a short, wide, rec boat. And I wouldn't consider it sea-going.

I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern, moving up from a 12.5 foot plastic boat. I had a lot of the same thoughts you did--that the longer boats were just TOO long, that I'd have a hard time storing them, and cartopping etc. But I finally took the plunge and built the 17 footer. I have to say that the length has not really been an issue. It's got a place on my garage wall on my Talic Kayak condo. It is lighter than my shorter, plastic boats, and easier to load and unload, once I found its balance point (took no time at all). And sure it hangs over the top of the car a bit, but it really hasn't been an issue. I wouldn't hesitate to cartop a 17 foot boat on even an economy car. So don't be intimidated by the length.

Now if you and your wife are small persons, you might find all of the Pygmy and many of the basic CLC boats have bath tub like cockpits for you, and you do better building a narrower beam boat. But if you are comfortable in the beamy rec boats you currently paddle, you'll very quickly get comfortable in these 23-24 inch beam boats. They may feel slightly tippy for the first hour in the boat, but will soon feel as stable as your rec boat.

But if you are really determined to go short, consider the Tern 14.

I’ve seen too many small women in 50-70lb plastic boats struggle to keep up with a group of paddlers simply because they were in a boat that weighed more than half as much as they do with more wetted area than needed for their size. Then when they got in a 30# 13’ Osprey 13 they flew. The 22" wide Osprey 13 is quite stable for a short light person but more importantly has a low deck for a short torso person. Putting a 5’ person in a 30" wide kayak can be as awkward as being in a too deep of a kayak. Actually a very light person could probably put a canoe seat in a 30" wide rec. kayak.

Size and function

– Last Updated: Oct-23-07 11:07 AM EST –

A "big sea kayak" ain't necessarily so. As above, something longer and skinnier can be a lot easier for a small person to manage than something short and wide, especially if the deck is on the low side to reduce the effect of wind. I am 5'4" and can push a 21 inch beam 16 ft kayak a lot easier than I can a 26 inch wide 12 foot boat.

Size is about overall volume, cockpit fit and ratios like length to width - probably the least important measurement of the lot for paddling comfort is length if everything else is well suited for the paddler's size. If your garage can take something longer than 12 ft, you might find it easier to find boats that won't swallow you.

Also, wider isn't necessarily more stable. A smaller person can be very stable in a skinnier boat that would have a big guy swimming in the first ten feet. As the person gets smaller, the boat can be narrower and be just as stable as a wide boat for a big person.

There is also the thing that you have to paddle these boats. If you or your wife is contorting yourself just to get a blade into the water, or has to use an especially long paddle to reach the water because of how wide the boat is, you risk eventual shoulder or back problems.

Have you been in a Pygmy GE13/Osprey 13?

JEM has a nice boat
you should be able to do the whole project anywhere from $600 to $800 or so with them, all depending on the level of finish you desire. the Laker is a model you may want to check out before shelling out more cash for another model that’s very similar.

thanks for the reference :slight_smile:
Plywood kit is available on that model.

Uh - we just agreed…

– Last Updated: Oct-23-07 3:21 PM EST –

(Assuming Lee is talking about me)

Yes, or an extremely similar close kin in the Pygmy line that was 14 ft. That boat was fine, seemed a pretty nice little thing, and even if it wasn't the Osprey 13 I presume from what you posted the Osprey 13 would be fine for this purpose.

But the post says that they think the Osprey is too big, that they are looking at at least one 12' boat and suggests that wideness and stability may be more closely associated than may be necessary. If they are the size of the folks from whom I got my Inazone 220, they could probably be totally stable on a 2 by 4.

I suspect that you took my post too literally and think that I am advocating a 16 ft boat. I am not. My point was that a longer boat than they are thinking of may still be an easier boat for their paddling purposes as well as being plenty stable. The 16 ft boat was mentioned to make the point, and because I often think of my almost-16 ft Vela at moments like this.

In sum, you and I just agreed.

BTW, the light weight of the Pygmy boats is very very nice.

Ditto; Grayhawk, LeeG, Puddlefish, Celia
Hi Angell,

I think you’ve been given some great advice from these people, and would only like to add that instead of just theorizing about these length, beam, stability, etc. issues, if at all possible, try to rent, borrow, and demo as many different boats as you can before deciding upon which kit boats you might want to build.

Even if the boats you try aren’t exactly like the specific kit boats you’ll finally want to build, at least you’ll begin to get a feel for what everyone here is talking about, and you’ll be better equipped to make up your own mind, for all the right reasons. Advice from knowledgeable people is always great, but at the end of the day, nothing can replace on-the-water experience in a variety of boats.

Finally, I’m sure you’ll enjoy building whatever you finally choose. It’s a wonderful experience to build your own boats! :slight_smile:


Kayak kits - choosing
Thanks Lee,

I am 5’6", 175#(targeting 150#), my wife is 5’2" weight unknown, but targeting 125#, both healthy grandparents who are into doing much of the “light” versions of all types of kayaking (rivers, no or light white water; lakes; coastal, but not major endurance; day trips to some expedition, but not competition; includes photography and fishing, etc.)Stability important.

The Artic Tern 14 is too small in the cockpit coaming for us middle-agers. We are used to our O.T. 138T, but it is kind of tight (14 1/2" wide coaming where I sit), heavy, and limited in use with both of us in it.

Everything you say makes perfect sense. We could get another “J” rack to cartop the WD 12s, if I build them, but I am concerned about performance compared to the P. Osprey Std. The WD is great-looking and appears somewhat like a “chopped down” (middle-aged?) P. Osprey. I just don’t want to be disappointed, though, thus my questions on WD 12 performance and build experience. We are trying to make a decision before the CLC sale runs out. The WD is designed by Eric Schade, who is right up there with John Lockwood, so I expect both boats are well-designed - it’s just a matter of deciding a “best fit” for us.

Kayak kits - choosing
Thanks Puddlefish,

Check out my responses to Lee on the cockpit size issue. I talked to John at CLC, who said the WD10 and 12 were very different boats; that the 12, especially, that it positively surprised them on their performance tests; that he would definitely take it out on the ocean, so I was somewhat encouraged. However, I have been unable to find a WD12 review (except on a French site, and my French is too rusty to translate all of it). I am looking for impartial first-person feedback, before I rule-out this boat. (I will have to build whatever I get in my office and car-top on a little Focus wagon.)

Kayak kits - choosing
Thanks Celia,

I am really glad I asked this question – all of your feedback is really useful. We have no garage, thus may have to store (initially) our boats in my office. I am beginning to wonder if we are at risk of compromising performance in order to save space!

For one thing, my wife has always paddled with me, is still developing her love for paddling, still doing it mostly for the company (:)), and my concern about stability is largely about not seeing her capsize early on and say “I’m done with this.” She is a good swimmer, has more experience with water sports in her youth, which is probably why she is open to kayaking. From what you say, I am thinking the Osprey Std. would be VERY stable for her, and ideal for me – if I can work out the size thing. I wonder how the P. Osprey Std. would handle the rivers?

Kayak kits - choosing
Lee, I have not been in either of these small boats, but the Pygmy people have been saying the O 13 would be too small for us (I’m inclince to agree); have been a little divided about the A.T. 14 - which I feel is too tight/confined in the cockpit for us.

Kayak kits - choosing
Celia and Lee, both of your feedback seems really in sync to me, makes perfect sense to a guy with less paddling experience! I was positively surprised to receive so much feedback so soon after posting, so this is great! I wonder how my finally giving our “personal” specs will contribute to your opinions. Though I really like the looks of both boats (and something really appeals to me about the appearance of the WD 12), it seems to come down to deciding between the risks of sacrificing space and the risks of sacrificing performance.

Should call Pygmy…
Tell them what you want to do. They know all their boats better than any one of us.

Kayak kits - choosing
Thanks Melissa,

It’s great to be getting such good feedback from the experienced, helpful people I have read in other posts! I also have a little 9’ Emotion Charger SOT for surfing (very wide beam, BTW), which I experience as surprisingly fast for its size (an impression also offered by a very experienced paddler who borrowed it), though I am still getting used to the higher C.G. – hence my wondering if the WD 12 might perform similarly, but with more stability. However, I have never paddled the Charger long distance and of course tracking is not as efficient as the longer O.T. Loon and boats I have rented. One thing . . . I have never been in a wood boat – but I saw my first one go by on the road last week! It looked v-e-r-y long, compared to the “long” plastic boats I have paddled.

And, yes, I am really looking forward to building!


Space vs. performance

– Last Updated: Oct-23-07 6:11 PM EST –

Hi Angell,

As I see it, storage space--and building space--are not good enough reasons to compromise very much, if at all, on performance. After all, isn't *paddling* really the point of this adventure? If all you want to do is build and store something, then perhaps space is the most important criteria, but somehow, I doubt that's the case. :-)

If you're determined to build your own boats, you can probably come up with a creative way to find and/or create the space you need for building. The same is true for storage. If you really do end up compromising on performance to satisfy a space requirement, you may indeed find that you're "storing" your boats more than paddling them, and that would be a very sad thing indeed; especially if you went through the blood, sweat, and tears experience of building your own boats.

And then there's this...

If you have room to build, you should have plenty of room to store, while the opposite is not necessarily true (building will take up more space than simple storage). At some point, putting performance considerations into the mix, if you really can't find the space to build a boat that you'd be happy with in terms of performance, you may have to consider the idea of just purchasing a boat rather than building one this time around.

In the most extreme cases of limited space (city apartment dwelling, for example), many will go for the "folding" boat option (you can even build your own "folding" boats; see, for instance, the plans from Tom Yost). Do you have friends, neighbors, or family nearby who might be able to offer you some space for building and/or storage? Perhaps you can work out either a rental or paddling privileges arrangement with someone willing to let you use their space? Is there perhaps a paddling club nearby that offers storage space for its members?

In any event, I would never recommend compromising performance for storage and/or building space. You want to paddle your boats, not just look at them. :-)


Excellent boats and a smart no BS owner who understands what makes a kayak do what it does.