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Submitted: 05-17-2004 by jcaldeira

The Night Heron is a fast, attractive kayak by Guillemot Kayaks with a hint of Greenland styling. Plans are available for both wood strip and stitch and glue construction. I built the wood strip version and have been paddling it for five months. It took me 5 months of weekends and evening to build and weighs 40 pounds.

At 18 feet long and only 20 inches wide, it is oriented to the more experienced paddler but feels very stable due to the relatively flat bottomed hull design.

The flatness of the hull bottom is brought farther towards the bow and stern than in most kayaks. This hull shape probably contributes to higher efficiency at higher paddling speeds. The flatness of the bottom also means the boat has a very shallow draft and I find it a little more prone than most kayaks to side slippage in cross wind. I encountered no significant weathercocking, even in winds greater than 20 miles per hour.

The Night Heron is very maneuverable for an 18' kayak and a 'fun' kayak to paddle. It is responsive to paddle strokes and leans on the hard chines. The maneuverability allows the paddler greater control, but paddlers who prefer strong tracking kayaks may not find the Night Heron's performance appealing. To improve its course-keeping, I enlarged the stern stem of my Night Heron to form a very small keel and am pleased with the performance.

The Night Heron seems to be a well designed boat, but my preference is for a slightly more rounded and finer bow entry. This should produce a smaller bow wave and a less hard 'slap' coming down when heading into waves.

The strip plans include both 'high deck' and 'low deck' design options. The low deck being closer to a Greenland styled deck, and the high deck option having more storage capacity.

As far as strip-built kayaks go, this boat was relatively easy to build. The plans are very complete and easy to follow, and includes full-size cut-out mold station templates. I receive many compliments on this kayak design.

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