Laughing Loon North Star Kit Boat

-- Last Updated: Jan-15-04 10:52 PM EST --

Have been looking at several different kit boats and Laughing Loon's North Star has really caught my eye. I can't believe I'm saying it....but that is one sexy kayak!

Has anyone built one or any other kayak from Laughing Loon? I checked the Product Reviews section and their was only one response for their Georgian Bay model. I am 6'2, 195# and am looking for sea kayak that I could take out for extended trips on the Great Lakes as well as day trips.

I'd appreciate it if fellow PNetters could take a look at the kayak/design and pass on your impressions. I'd also like to know how difficult and time consuming it is to build a strip kayak vs. stitch and glue with plywood. I'm fairly handy but don't know if a strip boat would make a good first boat.

I appreciate your .02.


P.S. How weird is it to refer to a kayak as "sexy"? Anyone concur or am I deprived, depraved, and having cold weather delusions.

Great choice…beautiful boat

Rob Macks is a very talented designer and builder of strip boats. I would HIGHLY recommend you check out I have been lurking there for years and have learned an extraordinary amount from many talented and seasoned builders and designers. He has offered some of the most thorough tips on the kayak forum website (see below).

For years I wondered whether to go with strip v.s. s&g. I have purchased plans for two strippers…(for the future)…but will be starting with new S&G Cirrus. On that site, Vaclav has put together a remarkable source of web resources to help you along the way…with some really brilliant uses of carbon fiber to build coamings, hatches, and deck hardware. I have decided to go with the S&G Cirrus (Vaclav has a new technique for building S&G’s) because the reports of the boats handling are great and it will take FAR less time to build…I want to paddle it this summer! He also has a Hybrid Cirrus where you build a S&G hull and a strip top…gives both experiences…just longer to build.

Either way…I am sure you will have a great time. I am currently half way through my first boat, a SOF…a real blast to build.

Let us know what you decide…definitely check out and


Laughing Loon boats bella
I had a visceral reaction when I first laid eyes on Rob Macks boats, absolutely beautiful. He’s not only a designer/builder but a true artisan when it comes to lines and details.

At the Meet at the Beach, held annually in Groton, Conn., this year it’s June 19, you can see/demo a selection of strippers (Rob’s and others), stitch n’glue, and skin on frame boats. It’s free and open to the public, bring your own PFD and a paddle. Another gathering of boat builders is a weekend-long event in NH, sponsored by Newfound Woodworks, held in September. In addition to having a slew of boats to test paddle there are boat building/paddle making workshops/presentations/clinics etc. put on by the experts. Rob Macks demos his heat gun method, Nick Schade demos varnishing, Mike Vermouth and crew of Newfound Woodworks, demo fiberglassing and list goes on. If you’re new to boat building, like myself, it was very helpful and a lot of fun.

It’s been a couple years since I got the stripper-bug and after paddling Mack’s, Shooting Star, at the Meet, I knew that was the one. Being a total novice, people (experienced amateur and professional boat builders) told me I might find the experience more enjoyable if I started with something simplier, like a canoe, but said that even a novice can build any of the designs out there (though they might not look as beautiful). My primary draw to the stripper was the beauty, of course that’s all in the eyes of the beholder, but before you invest the app. 300-400 hrs. of labor you should look comparatively at the stripper vs. stitch n’ glue. Time and the lack of a 27’ workshop have been standing in the way of beginning the SS. Since a small canoe would better suit my needs for now, I’m leaning towards Rob Mack’s Wee Robbie for my first project, with any luck to begin when I can tolerate the temps in my unheated work shop.

One of the best forums I’ve found discussing all manner of boat building is: and is also very informative.

Which boat to build, is in my opinion determined by how that boat feels and there’s only one way to know that. Enjoy, Heidi

That was probably my first reaction to seeing my first hand crafted wood kayak four years ago…then gorgeous took over as the word of choice. I did a pygmy and while I can’t comment on the strippers (boats(the words tht come to mind with my build are: Sanding…sanding…sanding…and good ventilation. Fortunately, the guy in the next loft building his CLC had 30 years of fibreglass bodyshop experience…we even finish sanded the inside of my build. I agree on the kayakforum site. Lot of good sound advice and tips…not to mention support. Done right, these boats can be easily sold for 6X the cost of the build so if the design isn’t exactly the right paddle or fit after you’ve finished…you’re only out the labor of love.

go for it
I’ve seen a Shooting Star,these boats are for gliding/efficiency and comfort in rough water. There isn’t a s&g I’m familiar with that can to what strip boats can do. Pygmys Coho and Shearwater Blue Fin are it so far. I haven’t been in a Blue Fin and the Coho is good but it’s a big boat.

“hard-chine” or four panel s&g are common but won’t do what the strip boats can do but you can build them quickly in comparison to the strip boats.

If you’re new to the construction techniques you’ll be working on it for a year.


Have you paddled a Cirrus or CirrusLT?

but a friend out west built a Cirrus and more importantly he’s paddled everything he’s built in ocean conditions. He says it’s the best hard-chine boat he’s made. This is after building a slew of CLC kayaks, an Arctic Tern, and a Redfish King.

That is great to hear…will be starting mine in the not tooooo distant future…thanks!



By any chance is your friend Dave in CA? He wrote to me about his trips with the King and Cirrus…saw his boat on Vaclav’s site. He did a beautiful job with the Cirrus S&G, and then cut off the deck and built a strip deck…gutsy!

that’s the one
Dave in Jamul,ask him about his Northbay sometime.

It’s a nice boat
I have built a S&G double (Pygmy Osprey) and a stripper (Redfish Spring Run), and have had the chance to test paddle a number of different strippers. Have only paddled the North Star once. Because of it’s length it is a fast boat. It is also “high volume” and therefore well suited to expeditions. You will notice from the picture it rides high in the bow therefore it tends to catch the wind. I didn’t find it a problem but noticed that I was doing more correcting strokes than the boat beside me. I agree it is a very attractive boat. There is no question that building a stripper takes much more time than building a S&G. This stripper will take a little more effort than others because of the configuration of the stern. But if you are patient I don’t see that it would be a problem. Even though I have not seen them I have been told that Rob Macks provides excellent instructions and is available for support when required.

I thought you got lost…
I was at the same meet at the beach when you tried out the Shooting Star and bought the plans. I tried out the North Star at the same event (I just posted below). Wondered what ever happened to your build…

Will go to the Stripper Rendezvous!
Thanks for your responses. I’ll probably go to the Sept. Newfound Rendezvous in NH and check them out first hand. The kayak would make a good winter project and I’m booked up this season. I’ll post under the trip section in the future and perhaps someone would like to join me and share the driving. The Newfound Rendezvous looks like a great gathering! I’m always up for a road trip and want to make sure I select the right kit. I see the strip kayaks as “functional art,” emphasis on function. As we always say…try before you buy.

I appreciate the links and impressions. It will be fun getting my everlovin’s blessing for a stripper’s convention!



make sure to let Rob know…
that you will be going. Rob Macks does attend this event but don’t assume that he will be bringing each of his designs to every event that he attends. If you are serious about going I suggest that several weeks prior to the event you send him an email indicating your interest in trying out the boat to make sure that he brings the model you are interested in to that event.

Another chance to see/try strippers/s&g’
check out the following site…every spring for the past few years there has been a great gethering of builders. i haven’t been able to make it yet…but hope to be there this year…

numerous designers are usually there (nick schade, rob macks, jay babina) as well as many builders…


Most designers/kit manufacturers will give you a list of customers in your area. Most builders are happy to show off their boats.

Newfound Rendezvous
good time, talk shop all-weekend long. I enjoyed camping on the Island which is a five minute paddle from the event. If I make it this year that’s where I’ll be pitching my tent.

Kayakdude is right about contacting Rob re: specific models and for a fact Rob is great in providing detailed technical advise.

Also, be sure to attend a survival presentation conducted by Russ Keats, and bring a notepad. In fact I took notes all day long, I don’t know if they allow videotaping but that would have been a plus. Last I talked to Russ he was building one of Rob’s designs and I think it was a Northstar but I could be wrong. Russ is one of those guys that has built well over a dozen boats.

Unless they change the format, the workshops are back to back and for the most part unsheltered. Having water, food, sunglasses, hat, suncreen/poncho, camera, notepad, and a folding chair are not a bad idea for the marathon on Saturday. Not to give the wrong impression, it’s a laid-back event, but packed to the gills with demos which are happening at the same time as the test paddling. My suggestion is to try to get in as much test paddling as early as you can in the event. Test paddles come to a grinding halt when they do the paddle-by, a beauty pagent for boats, late Saturday afternoon; I think there is sometime afterwards before dark, but by that time people are heading out for dinner. The selection of boats to paddle thins out by Sunday, though that’s the most relaxed time of the event, which is really over by then.

Hope you can make it. (Hope I can too.)


hey Kayakingdude
did we speak at the Meet? sorry it’s a little vague, I had just fallen in love with a boat. That’s love for ya, “buy the plans and where to build it will come”. Unsuccessful at lobbying for garage space with relatives and friends (none of them seemed too convinced I could wrap it up in four months, go figure) and so I moved. Now I have an enclosed, unheated, attached porch which I plan on converting into a workspace. I’ll probably have to shift it outside when it comes to epoxy time.

But I have one huge problem, which boat to build. Since the Meet, I got a kevlar canoe about 45lbs. same range as the SS and a 13’ royalex ww boat. Most of my paddles are Adirondack pond hops so something along the lines of a Hornbeck or a Hemlock, Nessmuck (both around 10’,17lbs.)would be great, but the feel of the way the SS paddles keeps tugging at me. So, all in good time and just as long as it doesn’t take away from good paddlin’ time…hope to see ya on the water.

ya we did chat at the Meet.
I think I got into the Shooting Star after you got out.I did not bring a boat to the Meet but finished my Spring Run and had it at the Newfound Rendezvous in Sept 2002. Someone posted the web site for the “Meet at the beach” in the “string” which is further down in this chain if you look carefully at the picture I am the guy in the red hat with the green jacket.