Kit Boat

I am considering building a kit boat; the 2 that I am looking at are the Pygmy “Osprey-HP” and the Chesapeake Light Craft “West River 18”. Has anyone had any experience with either of these boats or either company or do you have suggestions for other producers that you have used and are pleased with. Thank you - Dave

I chose CLC
I built a CLC Ches.17lt last winter. Took about 2.5 months. Chose that boat mainly cause the info said it had room for my size 13 feet. It does, barely. The kit went together with no major problems. CLC has a “builders forum” on their website which I used a couple of times and always got quick and helpful responses from other builders. I do have some woodworking experience and lots of associated tools but think just about anyone could do it. Have fun!

Builder’s forum
a great resource for builders and prospective builders:

What are you looking for in a kayak?

Define what you want to do and give
Pygmy and/or CLC a call. I have friends who have built both and both are pleased with their boats. My impression from reading the respective catalogs is that you are talking about boats with different performance characteristics.

Kit Boat

– Last Updated: Dec-07-08 8:46 PM EST –

To answer some of the above questions, I am looking for a long, fast, good tracking boat with reasonable stability, after reading the descriptions of both boats on the web sites it appears that these 2 boats will fill my needs, unless I am missing something. I will be using the boat on lakes and rivers for day tripping and exercise. I presently paddle an OT Cayuga 160 which I have had for 3 years and I am very happy with but would like to build something better.

I thank all of you for your responses as I haven’t made a final decision but will before the end of the month and would like all the input I can get. As for experience, my wood working skills are probably average, I have done extensive restoration on some wooden sailboats with good results. The 2.5 month build time sounds good and I have a large basement with double entrance doors at ground level which will easily fill the space requirements.

Here too…
There’s lots of discussion about boat building on my site as well:

as well, there’s a section of build journals:

There’s at least one member on the westcoastpaddler forums who has built and paddles an Osprey HP.

Hope this helps,


More options

With your sailing restoration experience
These boats will be easy for you. I built a Pygmy Artic Tern 17 in about 2.5 months, with no previous experience in woodworking, fiberglass or epoxy.

long fast straight tracking
the Osprey Hp is certainly that. It’s essentially a narrow/long Osprey Standard. With such a straight long keeline a rudder isn’t a bad idea to aid turning. Straight tracking isn’t exactly an attribute I’d seek for moving on rivers unless it was a straight river.

The WR18 is an evolution on the WR180 which was pretty much a straight copy of the Osprey Hp. The WR18 is a pretty good evolution on the 180 with some variation in the hull shape to make it turn more easily. The WR18 was CLCs first experience in an 8 panel hull that required internal forms to develop the hull shape. My only criticism is that the pre-glued sheer clamp with one piece deck(CLCs original kayak construction technique) presents an inherent limit on possible hull shapes but the WR18 does a pretty good job with it.

Looking at your requirements for “reasonably stable” coming from the 24"x16’ Cayuga could move you into “not that stable” depending on your size and familiarity with narrower kayaks. You leave out your size and paddling experience but if you’re over 6’with some upper body mass and want “reasonably stable” you might consider other boats. What’s your height/weight and familiarity with other kayaks?

The effort at which the OspreyHp shape become useful is hard paddling.

Those companies usually have a
December sale.

Local builders
Most kit companies will give you contact information for owners/builders in your area. Most builders are happy to show off their work and talk about their boats.

Those are HUGE boats
How big are you and what are you planning on doing? Unless you’re really tall or heavy and plan to do extended expeditions, they’re probably much larger than you need.

Thank you
I want to thank everyone for their input you have been very helpful, I am still considering the same boats but I think I am even more convinced that one of them will be what I want. I now feel more confident about the actual building of the kit.

There was a question about my size and experience. I am short and stocky, (5’8"- 175 lbs)with upper body mass so I am sort of top heavy, pant size 34W-30L, Size 43/44 jacket. Not as much so as when I was much younger. Welsh heritage will give you this shape.

When I say river kayaking I am refering to the Susquehanna River in PA. Not too many sharp turns, for smaller waters I still have the cayuga.

I have had experience with several other kayaks, so I am familiar with the fact that the cayuga is solid compared to other performance boats. I would rate my self as upper intermediate.

One more

Another good option . . .
Hi Davwas,

I am close to you in size and build (5’6"), also of Welsh heritage, and built a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 - in fact two of them - one for my wife and one for myself.

I have paddled my boat for a good season, since the end of last spring, on various types of water, and I think it’s going to be a good all-round boat. It’s stable. It’s maneuverable because of its length, yet long-enough and fast enough for me to enjoy it on rivers and ocean settings, has enough volume for any of the expedition/camping I’m planning. Easy and light to hoist around and car-top without strain.

The build was almost as enjoyable an experience for me as paddling it. So, in the theme of the tendency for some people to get more boat than they actually need, you might consider this boat as an option.