This boat has been a real 'game changer' in my kayaking experience. On just about every measurable criteria, this is the most pleasurable, best performing boat I have ever owned or paddled. It is:
a) lighter than my smaller thermo-formed boat
b) arguably faster than the 17' greenland boat I sold after acquiring the Osprey
c) more stable (primary) than boats inches wider and
d) the first boat I've paddled that truly did not require a skeg or rudder in quartering tailwinds. It not only cartops easily (and I'm smaller paddler), but makes kayak carts irrelevant - just toss it on your shoulder and go.
I was not the builder - I bought it essentially new from a someone who did a great job assembling and finishing it, but apparently was not in love with time on the water. I consider the buy to have been a remarkable piece of good fortune. It is truly "a thing of beauty and a joy forever".The kit instructions and materials are top notch. The boat panels fit together with flawless seems. Not having built anything like this before I was surprised to learn how forgiving the construction process is. There is a lot of sanding involved and I would recommend a random orbit sander for the job.
I was a little disappointed when I ran out of wire for tying the panels together, fabric for the hatch kit, and epoxy to finish off the boat. The wire I bought more of for $0.75, Pygmy sent more of the fabric out, the epoxy Pygmy blamed on the rollers I used for the epoxy and made me pay for. Over all I was still happy with my decision to use Pygmy boats. I considered other brands, CLC but I am glad I went with Pygmy. The boat is rock solid with the bulkhead pieces in it and the multi piece deck is a whole lot nicer to look at than the curved plywood decks of other boats.
The boat is great to paddle empty or loaded down. Any kit building process is a fair amount of hours to complete. This is not something that you can complete in a week or two; there are many nights of letting epoxy dry.
I am a male 5í 9Ē, 165 lbs, and size ten shoes and fit well in my Osprey Standard. The cockpit sides are cut nice and low and make you feel close to the water, I have never hit my fingers on the deck while paddling. Even with the cockpit like this it still rides well over waves and doesnít let water in. The secondary stability allows me to comfortably lean over and let water in the cockpit and bring the boat back to center. Primary stability feels a little unstable to a novice person with an unloaded boat. Most of my paddling is mostly on Minnesota lakes and rivers. I would love to see how it would do amongst a group of loaded down paddlers on some big water.
The boat definitely turns heads around fellow paddlers and earns lots of complements and questions. The boat easily holds gear for a weeklong trip. With just me in the boat 5 mph is maintainable by my GPS, loaded down with gear there is definitely more drag. On flat water the boats tracks very well. In 30 mph winds with waves breaking over the bow the boat is the most fun to paddle. Neither tracking nor weather cocking is a problem in the wind. A rudder on this boat would be more trouble than it is worth. I like to find the windiest days to take the boat out for a paddle. The finished boat with hatch covers and all rigging and varnished weighs about 42 lbs. Looking back there are places that I over applied epoxy and could have cut a pound or two.
While on a weekend river trip with friends who were in canoes I was surprised to learn how maneuverable the Osprey is in moving water. On flat water it is more difficult to turn than my 17-foot tripping canoe. While in the river I was able to lean the boat to keep on track with where I wanted.This is the second kayak Iíve built (first was skin on frame from 1962 Mechanics Illustrated plans) and the fifth one Iíve had. In use, the thing I like about it most is that it goes where itís pointed. I had really grown weary of trying to keep my Sonoma 13.5 in a straight line in wind and chop. The Osprey is about as easy to track under these conditions as my Dagger Baja with rudder, and weighs 20+ pounds less, for ease of transport. Yes, my Osprey came in light at 34 pounds. Thatís with seat, foot braces and deck rigging, but without any hatches, bulkheads or floatation bags. I really tried not to over-apply the epoxy, but wonder if I was too stingy. GPS shows the Osprey to paddle about 25% faster than the Sonoma. As just an average paddler, I find the Osprey cruises easily at 5 mph or so.
As other owners of wooden kayaks have attested, this boat really draws attention. Just driving though town, I get a constant flow of double-takes and people pointing at it. Waterfront comments and conversations abound.
Family events extended my build to almost a year. Iíve forgotten some of the things I had, during the build, intended to put into a review. I really admire the design and the build technique. I highly recommend study of Wayne Reinertís web journal (http://home.rochester.rr.com/wreinert/osprey.htm) to gain a more complete understanding of the project, and to clarify some parts of the generally OK instructions. I called Pygmy several times, and they were always helpful. I even had them send me 2 replacement panels after I had become unsatisfied with the butt joint between them.
One of my calls to Pygmy had been about the warping I noted in the panels when I received them. (The warping was presumably due to humidity during shipping. Some Saran-wrap had been used around groups of panels to make them more rigid.) They reassured me that the panels would pull into shape during the build, and, I knew that this should be true. BUT, there were some wicked twists and contortions (particularly at panel ends) that none of us fully comprehended. When I removed all of the many weights from around the butt joint mentioned above, there was a very pronounced and stiff S-curve, when viewed edgewise. It was at this point that I realized I should have requested an exchange of the entire kit, before I started building. I figured it was too late, and requested replacement of only these most problematic pieces.
While I greatly enjoyed many phases of the construction, I did incur ongoing frustrations due to the other warped pieces. For example, I could see that warps at the upper edge of the hull were going to make attachment of the deck difficult. So, before I glassed the hull, I built some structures within the hull, based around the temporary frames and some hot-glued blocks, to push and pull where needed. Another major problem had been unusual warps at the ends of the stern panels, which made wiring of the stern very difficult. I removed and re-did those wires several times, and still had to do some funky filling and shaping later on.
The lesson, here, is to be very critical of any warpage in the panels, when they are first delivered. And, Pygmy would be well-advised to make greater packing efforts to prevent such warpage. With that caveat, I would highly recommend building a Pygmy boat. Oh, I guess for a first-timer, Iíd recommend one of the hard-chined, 4-panel hulls, like the Arctic Tern, or Arctic Tern 14. This would reduce the assembly, and more importantly, would leave fewer edges around which you have to be so careful when cleaning up hardened epoxy runs, and when sanding.This kayak is light weight and easy handling under any conditions. It tracks well and turns nicely and is comfortably stable. It is a great boat compared to any I have paddled - not just a great kit boat. It is beautifully proportioned and pure pleasure on the water.
The Ospry STD comes with excellent instructions, quality materials and friendly support from the Pygmy staff.