wood kayak kits (low volume sea kayak)


I’m looking for recommendations for a good stitch and glue low volume sea kayak kit. I’m thinking of a boat comparable to a CD slipstream,Valley Anas Acuta or Betsie Bay Aral. So far I’ve found a nice one made by a shop from plans from Guillemot, and the CLC arctic Hawk. Neither CLC nor pygmy seem to offer a nice narrow LV sea kayak.

I’d like to get a kit if possible, it will be my first time building a boat. Any suggestions for a good low volume kayak kit?



Not so sure about “low volume”, but…
…I did build an Arctic Hawk kit, and it’s a wonderful boat! Though I suppose it is lower volume than many boats of its general dimensions (18’ x 22"), I’m not sure I’d call it an especially “low volume” boat.

That said, the kit itself is great, and being a first time builder myself, I really appreciated the very detailed building manual (about 450 pages with lots of helpful pictures). The finished boat is strong, very beautiful, and it’s great fun to paddle!

Here’s the boat just after I finished it:


The only major alteration I made was to mount the Yakima footbraces internally (no holes through the hull).


I have my eye on this kit


Bobby Curtis’ Sea Spirit

– Last Updated: Feb-01-06 11:40 PM EST –


edited to add: whoops, that's not a kit but still it's a darn nice boat!

That is a real beauty Melissa!

2nd the CLC.Their kits are excellent
and that is a great looking boat.

Many great suggestions and…
I would encourage you to contact the designers directly. I just completed Nick Schade’s Night Heron-hybrid…and Nick was extraordinarily helpful. His brother Eric (Shearwater Kayaks)has been equally helpful as has Vaclav at One Oceans Kayaks when I have contacted him.

The Shearwaters at CLC are designed by Eric Schade ( http://www.shearwater-boats.com/ ) who sells them as Mergansers. Eric has also designed a beautiful sng Bluefin (I paddled the demo) that is now available in a low volume Greenland design…just may be what you are looking for.

I would also recommend you post this question on www.kayakforum.com which is a phenomenal kayak building forum. I have been reading it for years.

Building my boat has been the most satisfying experience I have ever had…alredy building my next one.

Keep us posted and enjoy…


Outer Island
If your up for a stripper try the Outer Island by Jay Babina, I’ve paddled the glass version from impex and its a hot boat, if a little tight for my heavy set frame.


I think it’s 18" wide. He used to sell plans for it on ebay for $40, but I’m not finding it now. I’ll keep looking.


There aren’t any kits…

– Last Updated: Feb-02-06 10:53 AM EST –

...for really low volume boats. The Arctic Hawk is the lowest volume kit I'm aware of and it's still a pretty large boat. If you want really low volume, you'll have to build from plans for boats like the Sea Spirit.

Another option is to go to www.freeship.org and download the Freeship software and the design file for the Igdlorsuit kayak that Bryan Hansel created. That's the boat that inpired the Anas Acuta and it's pretty low volume. Freeship will generate the panels for plans, then you can have plans made at a print shop. You could also contact Michael at Newfound Woodworks about making the panels for you. I spoke to him a couple of years ago and he indicated that he could create panels from standard CAD file formats.

yr right
I’m guessing the Merganser 17 or 18 is lower volume than the Arctic Hawk. It’s easy to get misled looking at the volume above the sheer and think that relates to hull/displacement.

Blue Fin
Do you have any feedback on the Blue Fins weathercocking characteristics? The low volume version looks great.


Contact Eric Schade
When I was about to buy my Merganser 16 kit, he offered to alter the design/pieces proportionately for a very low fee. He said he also was willing to make nonproportionate changes, with the additional fee based on his hourly rate for design work.

It would be worth an e-mail to him to find out more about this option. Other designers and kit makers may do the same.

re: Bluefin weathercocking issue…
Hi LeeG…

I don’t have any current information. When I paddled Eric’s Bluefin prototype I liked everything about it with the exception of the weathercocking I experienced. Eric suggested a skeg and also talked about placing the cockpit closer to the stern to resolve this issue.

That is some of what Bill Whitcomb and Brooks Martyn have done to solve the weathercocking problem in the CLC Northbay desing. In addition they significantly cut down on the freeboard…and now have really nice low volume sng ‘cheater boats’…incredible for rolling. Am sure most of you know all of this already.

I am actually planning to touch base with Eric to ask about the low volume Bluefin as I want to build a boat to use for day paddles and to pursue rolling skills. May look into it when I complete my SOF. I also have plans for the Ammassilik which is most likely my next project once the temp. allows for use of epoxy.


partial plywood kit
$425 is kind of pricey for a pile of cut plywood but if you’ve already got some glass/epoxy or want to get some from RAKA you can come up with a bare hull with bulkheads/hatches for around $650 with the same building directions as a full kit. The Merganser 17W and 18 are good big boats. The Merganswer/Shearwater17 is a slippery hull but may seem too tippy for the average 6’,200lb beginning paddler.


Yeah Jim that black one is sweet.

– Last Updated: Feb-02-06 4:58 PM EST –

Also Bjorn Thomasson design has an excellent set of kayaks: http://www.thomassondesign.com/edoc/eblackpearl.php

He can also adjust the plans to fit you!

Good point, Lee

– Last Updated: Feb-07-06 4:08 PM EST –

The Arctic Hawk is a long boat, so it probably has more volume overall than the Merganser or the Shearwater 17. There are 14'-16' boats with less volume, but they're 14'-16' boats.

I forgot about one kit that's interesting, the S&G Night Heron from Newfound Woodworks. The fordeck is way too high IMO, but the hull is a nice design. Making a custom foredeck shouldn't be too difficult:

1- You could lower the center deck panels and trim the side deck panels to fit.

2- You could replace the center panel with a single flat panel then trim the side panels to fit.

3- You could order just the hull panels, then build your own S&G or strip deck.

Shearwater Bluefin update…
I corresponded with Eric Schade today. Eric told me that the current Bluefin design has been revised with improved tracking. He also said that the Greenland style Bluefin has a super low deck aft, a Greenland style cockpit, and a pretty low foredeck as well.

We may now have the first Greenland style sng designed by a top sng designer and available in kit form!