Submitted: 06-30-2009 by Ed G.
I have just finished building a Pygmy Coho. After having spent a bit of time in plastic boats(rental), my wife and I "discovered" that we enjoyed kayaking more than canoeing, so the only questions were "When" and "How much". Since woodwork is one of my minor hobbies and since we are both approaching retirement it was a no-brainer to go with a self-build.
The initial one or two steps of the assembly of the boat led to some serious concern: relative humidity where we live is quite different (lower) than that on the West Coast and so the wood panels had developed quite a twist to them. Some careful stitching (and restitching) pretty much cured all of that however: the design and cutting of the panel blanks is such that if they are assembled accurately they will form the desired shape.
I also found that the finished boat was quite a bit heavier than that advertised: I attribute this to some minor goofs during fiberglassing and to the addition of the hatch/bulkhead kit. I don't believe that the 39 lb "advertised" weight is with hatches and bulkheads, deck rigging, etc.
I've had the boat out twice since finishing it two weeks ago: the first test showed me that the supplied seat wasn't going to be adequate for my needs. I immediately ordered, received, and installed a rough-formed Redfish seat blank and used the extra foam for hip pads and kneed pads. The second test was remarkable: the boat is now extremely comfortable, responds to the slightest edging and is a rocket on the water.
I am 6'4", 215 and have a long inseam: the 33" cockpit length was something I absolutely needed: I can just barely "skin" my legs into the boat while sitting down on the seat (and I installed the backband and seat 1" more rearwards than the design calls for). I also installed the footbraces about 2.5" further forwards than "design"...but as it turns out did not need quite this much additional extra. I'll probably put the footbraces in only about 1" beyond the plans next time. I knew this (leg length) would be a problem from my rental experience and the cockpit size is one of the purchasing "deciders". The Keepers footbraces have quite a considerable adjustment length and unless you are extremely short or long-legged you might as well just stick with the design.
My second run was in 25 kph winds and I found that the boat tracked dead straight whether upwind, downwind, on the beam or any point in between with minimal edging to hold it "on point". The better fitting cockpit is undoubtedly one of the important reasons for this.
Would I build another? You bet! In fact I have to because my wife wants one now. The second one will include the lessons I learned from the first and there will be some more customization (decoration) and I'll go with the Silvertip epoxy for better (and thinner..hence lighter) wetting out, but it will be a Coho. I had originally considered the Coho HV but I am thinking now that unless you have really big feet or are +250#, the Coho is more than adequate and has the advantage that it is (or would be) less sensitive to wind than the HV mode.