Shrike Project Update - Celebrating 10 years and 500+ builds

Greetings from Christopher and Nick at CNC Kayaks, where we’re about to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Shrike kayak project, our tribute to the remarkable skill of the Inuit kayak builders. In the autumn of 2003, we finally realized our long-held dream of producing free plans for a lightweight sea kayak for home construction by those of us with limited woodworking skills: a high-quality sea kayak that was adaptable in size to accommodate the varied weights and ambitions of paddlers. A kayak whose plans and Build Manual would be deliverable free of charge from the internet.

The prototype West Greenland style Shrike was designed and refined over the winter of 2003/4, and the project was launched on the Web on the last day of February 2014. The unfolding story of the last ten years is here:…

Over the past ten years the project has continued to flourish way beyond our expectations. Over thirteen thousand copies of the plans have been downloaded, and, as of today, five hundred and five builders have been kind enough to send us photos and details of their constructions of the Shrike and various developments. So this is a dual celebration of ten years and the first confirmed five hundred kayaks, built in fifty-four countries.

The plans can be scaled to suit the total weight carried, and major developments have been the creation of Vember, a round-bilge sea kayak, based on the Shrike hull, Vembex, the lightweight expedition version of Vember and the Vember Tandem (double). Also noteworthy are 3-piece hull constructions, the creation of a low-profile rolling Shrike, a sailing rig with both bow and stern skegs, and the input of many builders to improve the Build Manual and to show us the wide range of variations and techniques they have used. Native language volunteers have very generously translated our 62 page English language Build Manual into French, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, and Turkish. These are all included in the plans download package:

We are occasionally asked for the x and y coordinates (aka Offsets) of the plans, so that builders do not need to obtain paper plans from a home printer or a print shop. We have not previously had these available, and it takes many hours of tedious work to create the thousands of numbers necessary and to check them. However, to celebrate our anniversary, we have done the work and added the offsets for a 100% scale Shrike to the downloads package at: Creating the plans using the offsets is suitable only for builders who are comfortable with the concept of plotting x/y coordinates on a sheet of plywood or paper, and joining the dots with a best-fit smooth curve using a flexible batten, and who are well aware of the possible errors inherent in this method, a simplified version of the method used by skilled builders of wooden yachts in previous centuries. If you are tempted to try, and you do not find the method obvious, then we strongly advise you to print the paper plans from the download.

If you have started building one of our designs, but you have not told us, we would be most grateful if you could contact us with details and photos so that, if you so wish we can add you to our Shrike and Vember Galleries.

Only 1 out of every 26 copies of the downloaded plans has resulted in an email to us giving details and photos, so we guess there are plenty more out there! We would love to hear of your efforts and to see photographs of your excellent work.

With our best wishes, from Christopher and Nick Crowhurst.