Submitted: 03-03-2004 by Dave Murray
I recently built one of Nick's interesting S&G night Heron. This is kayak # 13 through my shop. I paddle generally twice weekly, a conditioning paddle midweek and a buddy paddle on weekends. I like to paddle fast when I can and manuver well when socializing. Stability is important to me.
When I was ready to build the Heron my Okoume supplier was out of 4mm and informed me that it would go up to over $70 per sheet (4 required) when it came in. No way. I searched around and found 4 good shets of Luan and decided to use this. Not my favorite medium, but this is kayak 3 that I have used it on. The construction is straight forward, Nick uses a true reference surface, cradles and forms. This yields a much better kayak than the common "Oragami" method of stitching the panels, prop them open with a stick and hope you can eyeball good enough for a true hull. Seldom works. Good design feature, Nick. The rear hatch cover is a neat project and looks good. The kayak came out just as designed, 19 7/8 inches wide, just under 18 feet long (I trimmed the points front and rear, Lee).Weighed 38# ready to paddle.
The kayak paddles easily, maintains good speed with minimal effort, less than most other kayaks. It tracks nicely, extremely minimal weathercocking and easy to correct. It responds so well to leaned turns that I jokingly say that you could run into docks if you don't pay attention. The low rear deck sacrafices cargo area but this is not an expedition kayak. Maybe weekends. The bow bouancy is excellent, the kayak just bounces over the waves and shows no tendency to bury in heavy conditions. Good dry (in a kayak?)ride. The stability, both initial and secondary is superior, better than most wider kayaks. The hull speed seems to be in the 5-6 mph range which is normal for kayaks this size. I ran a series of speed tests with my Speedmate, speeds through the water. Easy cruise for extended periods is just under 6 mph for me and I can sprint it up to 7mph plus , but there better be a finish line near!.
My conclusions are that this is a great day and fun kayak. It is a good build and a great paddle. I understand that it is also available in kit form from Newfound kayaks.