Pygmy Boats and. Chesapeake Light Craft

my brother is probably going to be building his first boat (he’s really good with his hands and loves woodwork) and he asked me to posture on the forums and ask who has the best kits out there?

Pygmy is closer, we could drive to it literally and pick up the boat. I’ve suggested to my brother that we actually drive down there for a test paddle and see what he thinks of their model’s.

anyhow, he’s heard that Chesapeake require more tools and such. things like that are a concern. what are your experiences? we noticed also that Chesapeake prices are nicer and their kits include all the gear (seats, footstops etc) and with Pygmy, they are more optional. or at least, looking on their site and reading their catalog, that’s my impression, forgive me if it’s wrong.

thanks all! :slight_smile:

what size is your brother
and intended use, experience paddling, etc?

Go for the boat, not the company.

hey Lee,
he’s somewhere between 165-180 and just over 6ft tall, long legs, but small feet. he’s not super experienced, been out on a kayak somewhere around 5 or 6 times (all rentals) and we’ve sent him on a course to teach paddling techniques and how to self/friend resuce.

he just paddled a river for the first time yesterday (Wednesday, Sept 20th), the North Thompson from the McLure Ferry down to where the N. Thompson meets the S. Thompson (if you know the Kamloops, BC area) and did class 1 and 2 rapids first time. he was in a 10’ boat or so, don’t remember which, but it was a Boreal. he had a hoot.

he’s not interested in river or rapid running, he wants to focus on overnight trips, so he’s looking at a bigger boat that can carry some load.


I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern
and am very happy with it. It was an easy build, and I have no real woodworking experience. If you live close enough to visit Pygmy, by all means, do so. You don’t have to buy from them.

The prices seemed pretty equivalent to me. There are things in the CLC kits that are extra in the Pygmys. But the Chesapeake is beamier at 24 inches. The Shearwater line is lower volume, and the finger joints eliminate the risk of screwing up a scarf joint–but the Sheearwater kits are pricier than the Pygmy kits.

Test Paddle first
Best to try out the boats before you build, though I did not before building a Chessie 17 and it is a great boat. That said, check out the Pygmy Artic Tern and Coho. I built a Tern 14 for my wife - it’s a little more complicated than the Chesapeake, but is a more refined design, and the Tern 17 is a bit lower weight than the CH17. Anyway, I highly recommend building - you get a boat that is lighter, stronger and prettier than you can buy.


We’ve built two Pygmy Arctic Tern 14’s and we really like them. Your brother might enjoy building a strip kayak next and if so, have him visit Warn him though, it’s addictive!

Decision - decisions - -
I’ve been looking at both, and from a S&G stand point, I like the looks and designs of the Pygmy over CLC. Just my viewpoint on this. I’m also looking at the S&G Guillimont (sp) freebie design which looks good too.

I’m a cheap scape so a $1000.00 seems to much for me. I’ve got tons of tools and no time at this point, so I’ve been reading a bunch when I can. I’m actually looking at the Strip built method over the S&G. I’m also playing with some software foe designing a strip built. I’m thinking since I have the tools, I’m most likely going that route

S&G - - I like the Pygmy Coho if I had the options at this point. I like their layback recess behind the cockpit.

I never get to test / demo anything, so whatever I decide, I’m stuck with.

1. Tern for a kayak that will teach him good handling skills.

2. Coho with rudder for max efficiency/stability touring kayak.

3. CLCShearwater 17 for minimal windage, less volume, snugger fit, tippier. Stiffer tracking than Coho or Tern.

4. Shearwater Merganser 17W for stability and displacement between CLCShearwater17 and Tern. And if you get partial plywood kit from Shearwater with glass/epoxy from RAKA you’ll have a complete hull w. hatches/bulkheads for around $650.

Have you checked out Vaclav’s sng?

Vaclav designs beatiful boats that do not need a skeg/rudder. The sng Cirrus is a beauty and his kit provides external forms to insure a well aligned hull/deck. btw…he has one of the most extraordinary websites regarding building. When you build one of his boats, in addition to the freebie information he provides, he gives you a password to enter into his enhanced treasure of information re: building.

Check it out. I agree with whomever encouraged you/your brother to focus upon the boat design that matches his body and paddling needs FIRST…then if at all possible to demo the boat. It would be really helpful for him to get a sense of how ‘far’ he wants to go in terms of paddling…then determine the boat choice.

Vaclav’s Cirrus will provide enough room for camping, and will also provide a boat to grow in.

Good luck…



panel only kit for $405(375+shipping)

it’ll go together in no time.

$250 worth of epoxy and glass cloth

6qt kit #350hardener(2qts)/#127resin94qts), plus two more quarts#127 and one pint #350 with one pint #610 fast hardener. This will give you 2.25gal of epoxy, enough to waste,overbuild and otherwise make a mess without running out. If you were VERY neat you could build it with 1.75gal epoxy but it’s nice to have thick enough fill coats for all around waterproofness.

plus and 14yds of 6oz x 50" cloth and one roll of 1 1/2" 6oz tape.

$4 bag of fumed silica (non coloring thickener)

$4 bag of wood flour,maple is dark and smooth,pine is lighter but requires some silica to make it smoother (gap filling thickener)

friend built one
he likes it more than the Tern or Chesapeake. agreed about vaclavs website. a generousity of spirit.


I agree with the One Ocean Design suggestion.

Mine, the Cape Anne Storm, fits me and tracks well [or as well as I can do, I am a beginner].

[5’10" 215 lbs, but going down thanks to daily paddles]

Construction was straight foward and the web site answered all the questions I had.

Building went smoothly even tho I have two left hands.

The boat gets compliments each time I go out.

Well, I don’t need a skeg or rudder
anyway. But prospective customers might consider that a boat can be designed to be so insistently directional that it can be a nuisance. I like the responsivity to lean and the ease of direction change in my Necky Looksha Sport. I took the rudder off.

One nice thing
about the options with the Pygmy kits, are that it allows you to option the boat out the way YOU want it. As a for instance, I carved a nice foam seat for my Arctic Tern, but I liked the kit provided back brace with the optional padded covering.

Some like lots of deck rigging, some like the minimalist approach. Opinions on hatches or not vary.

I would rather pay only for what I need.

When I went to Pygmy Boats I had planned to demo, but wound up too sick. I did sit in all the boats I was interested in to check for fit. I bought the kit right on the spot and drove home with it, saving shipping costs and avoiding any shipping dammage.