Wooden Kayaks

Interested in hearing from some folks who’ve purchased wooden kayaks. Besides Betsie Bay, I don’t know of any other manufacturer’s. Would some of you who’ve purchased from other mfrs, please share a web link or two. Also, any feedback - good or bad would be appreciated. My girlfriend has asked - “who else besides B.Bay makes these?”, and I have no answer. Google searches seem to bring up kits.



Superior kayaks
He can also contact various designers, some of whom will either build you what you want or refer you to a builder,

Guillemot, Shearwater are a couple that come to mind. There are several other builders out there that do proven designs. Look in the buyers guide for boats or plug wooden kayaks into your search engine. Dont look for these boats to be cheap.

Pygmy and Chesapeake Light Craft are probably the 2 biggest ones. theres bunches more.

Check out our local site www.westcoastpaddler.com theres step by step photos of quite a few Pygmy builds ( Osprey double and Coho by Dan, Tern 14 by Mark and another Coho and others)

Shearwater Boats

Some thoughts…

– Last Updated: Apr-02-06 3:35 PM EST –

While I'm all for supporting the builders who will build beautiful custom wooden boats, and I don't think that the relatively high price they might charge is unreasonable at all, I'm also a great fan of building one's own from kits or plans. Having built an Arctic Hawk from a CLC kit (this boat is designed by Mark Rogers of Superior Kayaks), I've discovered the joys and rewards of building my own, and these go well beyond saving a few dollars (which isn't so bad either!).

The building process itself can be a great deal of fun, and even if you're building from a kit, you can cusomize various things as you go along, to really make the boat what you want it to be. I was further struck by the feeling I had when I finished the boat. Much more than even pride and relief for having accomplished the deed without messing it up, I felt a great thankfulness for having had the opportunity to bring a beautiful new boat into the world (with the help of a great designer and great kit company, of course). It brings me as much pleasure to see a friend paddle the boat as it does when I paddle it myself. The "fact" of the beautiful boat is greater than anything having to do with me, for it is another small link in the tradition of dreaming that boats have inspired in so many of us throughout history, and I feel privileged to play my small part in this dream.

If you have the space, time, and just a few basic tools, I would really recommend considering the idea of building your own boat(s)! :-)

I know I've posted this before, and I hope those who have already seen it won't mind my posting it again, so here are some pictures of the boat I built:




– Last Updated: Apr-02-06 9:21 PM EST –

I appreciate the thoughts of everyone here. Hand building one is a future thought. But Neither of us will have the time this year. Space is a concern too.

Question though, how prone are these to scrapes, scratches, and such?

A lot of the kit manufacturers
also sell finished boats.

Newfound Boatworks and Specialty Smallcraft both list completed boats for sale on their sites (don’t expect to get em for a song tho)and I’ve seen some gorgeous strip builds on Guillemets site.

Here are some beautiful boats and kits…

Specialty Smallcraft gone?
no web site anymore…unless I’m just not seeing it.

Check out this…
Ok, it’s not the best woodie you’ve seen, but check out the price…


Item number: 7231846624

Check the wait times for prebuilts
At one time the Superior Kayaks site said there was a four-YEAR wait to buy one of those made by Mark Rogers.

Not to mention the cost of about $5K, if I remember correctly.

If I spent that much on a wood boat that someone else made, I’d be afraid to paddle it. If you build your own, you also can maintain/repair it; therefore you are more likely to actually use it.

I realize the difficulties of building one yourself. Just get an estimate of wait times on prebuilts. You might want to buy an off-the-shelf glass kayak instead.

Wait times
Good point. I’m already sold on a glass boat. My girlfriend is interested in the wooden boat. We already have kayaks, so a wait is not out of the question - provided it’s not a really long wait. We would consider 2 years a really long wait!


She may still get lucky with a…
…used wooden boat. I regularly see wooden kit built boats for sale, and though it kind of makes me sad to see, knowing how much work they put into building, some of the prices I’ve seen have been extremely low (less than $1000 USD, which is just about the cost of a kit alone).

Just a couple weeks ago, I saw an ad here in the Pnet classified ads for a CLC North Bay; asking only $700! Now, the North Bay was/is notorious for it’s weathercocking, but that $700 Northbay included a retractable skeg as well!

I’ve also seen other used kit boats sold for $1000 or less. Keep looking at ads, and you just may find a very nice wooden boat for a great price (even if it’s over $1000).


For a fine used wood kayak check out:
The last time I spoke with Eric Schade, he had a number of his boats for sale…one used…a few demos. I paddled his Merganser 17 which was too small for me, it had been his wife’s boat. At that time he was selling it…give him a call:


There is also a beautiful Merganser 17 being sold on:


They also have a Northbay for sale, but as noted by Melissa it has weathercocking issues.



Chesapeak light craft ,new boats
The Shearwater line of kayaks from CLC look interesting. They have plywood w/ strip decks in kit form, or all plywood construction. Just when I though I was set on a Pygmy Arctic tern.

The wooden boats are pretty strong. Scrapes and abrasions are normal with any boat and a little touch up with varnish will take care of most of them. Depending on use, the boat will have to be sanded and varnished every year or two.