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Submitted: 03-01-2012 by jimdroot
I built 2 Cohos 12 years ago as a summer project with my 14 year old son and his best friend. Proof that these can be simple to build if one reads directions well and thinks the project through. Comments below indicate that first time boats tend to be heavier which we found to be the case- unless you've worked with fiberglass much before you tend to use too much resin and add unnecessary weight to the hull.
Although I've never built any competitors, of all the brands I've looked at, the Pygmy boats are definitely the simplest builds and in all the years of paddling, they have more than stood up to anything we'd dish out for them. The composite construction of thin plywood (beautiful by the way) and fiberglass makes for an incredibly, light, stiff boat that paddles extremely well.
In the later years, my daughters each built Cohos and the process went much faster and the boats are significantly lighter and more beautiful. They mastered the art of squeegeeing excess resin while glassing. Finally I built one for myself and did some fun customization and built an Arctic Tern 14 for my wife. I'm 6'4", 195# so the Coho is great for me. My wife is 5'4" so the Tern 14 is a perfect size for her. I would think that any smaller paddlers would be happier in one vs. a Coho. Pygmy claims that the Tern 14 is actually faster than the Coho at cruising speed but it's hard to tell with paddlers of different strengths in each boat. Another advantage for her Tern 14 is that the boat weighs about 25#, so easier for her to pick up alone and carry across the rocks or whatever. That said, I think hull weight is somewhat overrated. If you carry much gear (and these boats can hold a ton) your suddenly lightweight boat can get quite heavy. So it's all relative. I think one of the bigger advantages of the hull design is the sharp entry and exit edges at the bow and stern. There really does not seem to be any drag with these boats at all. A couple of strokes and the boat is flying. Stop paddling and they glide very well and far.
We paddle primarily on the coast of Maine - island hopping on seas that can range from bathtub flat to 6' waves. Winds can be just as variable. Our experience is that the boats perform extremely well in any conditions. None of our boats have rudders and have never seemed to need them. Are they tougher to turn on a narrow river? Absolutely. But that is not what they were designed for. These are touring SEA kayaks, not river boats. If I paddle a river, it will be in a canoe, not a sea kayak. If you paddle mainly large open water, a Coho is a perfect choice.
And last, they are beautiful. As others state, the boats continually draw comments and admiration. The building experience is a great fun and easier than most would expect. And when done, you have a work of art, a boat that turns heads, paddles beautifully and will last a lifetime. All for about a $1000. Seems like a bargain to me.