I have decided building my kayak and rounded my choice on two kayak kits almost similar in size :
Merganser 17W and Artic tern 17.
These boats will both fit my 6’ 220 lbs…(well so I was told)
BUT which one to build : I have read the reviews and everything I could find on the web and I need HELP !
don’t worry, just because you have a choice doesn’t mean it’s critical. I suspect the Merganser is stiffer tracking/smidge faster. The Tern is roomier and less twitchy in waves but that probably wouldn’t be discernible without thigh bracing in the Tern.
The Tern will have a bigger coaming (I think) and the Merganser will have integral thigh bracing. The Tern will involve a bit less effort making the deck but both will seem like a challenge just because it’s new.
Go by how it looks?
I am on the home stretch building the Merganser 16. Its alot better looking than the CLC boats. I built the CLC 17LT. Eric Schade cuts a very good product and has always welcomed my questions. The deck of the Merganser is a pain in the butt. Period. But the Merganser has bulk heads and the hull goes together very easy. Especialy with the puzzle joint. I certainly wouldn’t tab the kayak with wood flour and epoxy again. If they only made a Merganser hull and Artic Tern deck; you would have the besk of both worlds. My rear deck came no where near the form for the rear hatch re-enforcements. I bought a form angle tool and I have some left over plywood to redo. Not a crime but a delay. The forward deck went together very well with a perfect match for the front hatch. The recessed deck fitting that Eric puts in is very nice. Also the foot braces in the Merganser is very different from what you may have seen. I did sit in the kayak with the foot brace and it went very well. I’m 5’6" 160lb with a 30" inseam. I doubt you could store anything forward of the fot brace. I agree with Lee; the Artic Tern will have more total volume. But the Merganser is a very very sharp looking kayak.
It seems that the stitch holes are already drilled on Shearwater’s kits. Does it help ?
And what is the difficulty assembling the deck to the hull ? I did not really understood your deck problem Smurch…
it cuts an hour out of assembly but it’s not critical compared to the end product. But in combination with the puzzle joints it makes the hull assembly a fast operation. Unfortunately that is offset by the nature of the deck where the panels cometogether. There’s only two bulkheads to assist forming the deck/hull on the Merganser compared to five on the Tern. Without a forming bulkhead right at the juncture of four deck panel pieces where the ends of the two center deck panels want to bend down 1/4", it’s the kind of assembly that makes you wish you had a third hand. That’s my experience and I’m guessing I might have brought it upon myself by trimming more than necessary at the cockpit and not following the directions completely,“I’ve done this before,I can wing it”
To repeat what I said before,if this is a first time construction you’ll feel challenged and very satisfied as you work along but it would make more sense to build the boat you want and not the construction, after it’s built that experience is over,unless the construction relates to what you’re paddling.
My problem is with the aft deck not “peaking” like the forward deck. So its flat. As I said the forward hatch is fine. Under each hatch will be mounted a precut re-enforcment piece for the pressure that wil be applied to the hatch/deck/.
The hatches are closed with the twist of a knob that applies pressure to a long “stick”. The precut pieces do not match to my aft hatch. My aft hatch is more flat than peaked. Actually its as flat as a board. I also had to add some dookysmooze to fill in where the four pieces of the deck come together both forward and aft. Its not bad but its noticed by me. I totally agree with Lee that more forms are needed for the deck. It may raise the price. But it will work better. The specs say a 21" beam but mine is 22". Maybe if I win the Pygmy Kayak kit I can compare. Your choices are good ones and really will not matter. When I built the CLC I wished I built the Pygmy. After building the Merganser I may want to build the CLC Artic Hawk.
Arctic tern vs. Merganser
I am currently in the process of building my first Arctic tern 17. So far I have enjoyed the process immensely and would definitely buy this kit again if I had the opportunity. I must confess though that although I looked at all the CLC boats and a few other brands as well I never really took a good look at the Merganser, so as far as comparing the two I can’t really help you. But I can give you some info on the tern that I hope will help you make your decision. The main problem with the tern kit (and so far the only one I have found to be a hindrance) is that the instruction booklet is not nearly as detailed as it should be. this would not be a problem if you were a professional boat builder but since this is your first boat it might be irritating at times. The good thing is that the staff at pygmy are always ready to help you with any question you have. I would definitely recommend this kit to anyone who is looking for a good kit but if you like the way the Merganser looks then go ahead with that. I am of the opinion that you should never settle for less than what you want, so even if the Merganser is a bit more pricy or a little harder to build if that is what you want then go for it. I hope this helps:).