Submitted: 07-15-2011 by bbonnen
I built my Arctic Tern in 2005 so it's 6 years now. Previously I had built an Osprey Triple (also reviewed on this site) with minimal woodworking experience and excellent phone support from Pygmy so with that experience under my belt it was even more fun the second time around. 6 years ago I would consider myself a beginner level paddler - now I would say pretty good intermediate skills.
This is a beautiful boat and will be a conversation piece wherever you go. It's very light and easy to cartop. It came in right at 39 pounds and after adding a skeg it is 43 pounds. It rolls easily and turns very sharply when on edge. Initial stability is more than adequate for a beginner and with experience you will not be wishing for another boat and I have paddled quite a few now. Unless you are into competitive racing it is plenty fast.
Last year I did an 8 day solo trip in the Everglades / 10 Thousand Island area of South Florida and had plenty of storage room. With good planning and packing I'm guessing you have enough storage for a 2-3 week unsupported trip. Speed was good and it was easy to paddle fully loaded - I'm 5'11" and weigh 210# - probably had around 150# of water and gear.
The stock seat is adequate but I replaced it with one I bought from Redfish Kayaks which I prefer. Paddle with it for a while first - it's no big deal to customize the seat. I got fancy and secured the hatches from underneath with a bungee system - it was very pretty with a nice clean look on the deck and fine for day trips, but if you really want watertight hatches use Pygmy's system with the straps on the deck. I ended up reverting to this. I added a skeg but if you're an experienced paddler you may prefer to go without. I would not add the rudder - developing basic paddling skills will turn you easier and faster. And if you're a first time builder with no fiberglassing experience get someone to help you when you glass the deck and hull if possible - if not don't let it get in your way. Add footbrace studs to avoid drilling holes in the side for footbraces. Add perimeter deck lines for safety and convenience. Add knee braces if you surf or roll. Pygmy sells these as accessories on their site.
The suggestions are nitpicking and customizing - this is a fantastic boat and an easy 10.