Length: 17' 6" - Width: 23.00" - Starting at: $1039.00See More Details about this Kayak
The Coho is an absolutely beautiful boat; materials and design are first rate. I absolutely love the aesthetics of wood; there's just something so thoroughly organic about it. For it's size, the Coho is light, yet seems highly durable.
I'm 5'9", 160 lbs, so keep this in mind when considering my review. While I'm sure the Coho is one of the absolute best yaks on the planet for paddler 6'+, it's less than ideal for us average/small-ish paddlers. As another review noted, the length (17'6") and tracking characteristics makes it somewhat difficult for me to turn this boat in anything other than calm conditions. It's exceedingly difficult for me to turn this boat in any kind of wind or current.
The 'spaceous' cockpit is also too big for those of us shorter than about 6'. I would never consider trying to roll the Coho, and even larger paddlers would do well to install thigh-braces (available from Pygmy) for a more secure fit.
I want to make it clear that this is an exceptional touring kayak for larger paddlers, but it's characteristics make it somewhat limited for just about anyone else. While I'd guess larger paddlers could use it for day trips, it's less than ideal even for them.
The Coho might be the best available option for larger paddlers seeking a first-rate expedition boat. But average-size paddlers seeking a versatile boat should consider other options.
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.
Cohos still turn heads wherever you take them, and it is very satisfying to build one. Like many first time builders, mine was heavier than the 40lbs advertised. (Beginner builders use too much epoxy.)
Build one. You'll be glad you did.
It holds gear and water for longer trips, yet is lightweight enough for one strong or two older women to lift up rocky beaches and onto vehicles. I've done a fair amount of fishing out of it and it's quite stable. It's not a play boat that encourages nimble little turns and rolls, but is an all-around dependable boat when you are out there. If you don't want to build one, buy one used.
The initial one or two steps of the assembly of the boat led to some serious concern: relative humidity where we live is quite different (lower) than that on the West Coast and so the wood panels had developed quite a twist to them. Some careful stitching (and restitching) pretty much cured all of that however: the design and cutting of the panel blanks is such that if they are assembled accurately they will form the desired shape.
I also found that the finished boat was quite a bit heavier than that advertised: I attribute this to some minor goofs during fiberglassing and to the addition of the hatch/bulkhead kit. I don't believe that the 39 lb "advertised" weight is with hatches and bulkheads, deck rigging, etc.
I've had the boat out twice since finishing it two weeks ago: the first test showed me that the supplied seat wasn't going to be adequate for my needs. I immediately ordered, received, and installed a rough-formed Redfish seat blank and used the extra foam for hip pads and kneed pads. The second test was remarkable: the boat is now extremely comfortable, responds to the slightest edging and is a rocket on the water.
I am 6'4", 215 and have a long inseam: the 33" cockpit length was something I absolutely needed: I can just barely "skin" my legs into the boat while sitting down on the seat (and I installed the backband and seat 1" more rearwards than the design calls for). I also installed the footbraces about 2.5" further forwards than "design"...but as it turns out did not need quite this much additional extra. I'll probably put the footbraces in only about 1" beyond the plans next time. I knew this (leg length) would be a problem from my rental experience and the cockpit size is one of the purchasing "deciders". The Keepers footbraces have quite a considerable adjustment length and unless you are extremely short or long-legged you might as well just stick with the design.
My second run was in 25 kph winds and I found that the boat tracked dead straight whether upwind, downwind, on the beam or any point in between with minimal edging to hold it "on point". The better fitting cockpit is undoubtedly one of the important reasons for this.
Would I build another? You bet! In fact I have to because my wife wants one now. The second one will include the lessons I learned from the first and there will be some more customization (decoration) and I'll go with the Silvertip epoxy for better (and thinner..hence lighter) wetting out, but it will be a Coho. I had originally considered the Coho HV but I am thinking now that unless you have really big feet or are +250#, the Coho is more than adequate and has the advantage that it is (or would be) less sensitive to wind than the HV mode.
Now the "bad" news. The boat is advertised as being "quick turning and responsive." I would disagree rather strongly. I am only 5'9" and 160 pounds so my size may have something to do with this but I find the boat very difficult to turn under any conditions, making anything other than straight cruising in flat conditions very strenuous. It's a lot of work to correct course when pushed around by following seas and it's no fun to maneuver in even a moderately flowing river. The vertical stern and relatively sharp keel on the boat make it track like a train. Turning the boat requires leaning the boat to the limit and making repeated sweep strokes. It takes a lot of work to get the boat up on edge and when you do, I find the secondary stability to be a little tender.
I found the boat to weathercock substantially in 15 mph winds. With a light paddler and no equipment on board it presents a lot of surface area to the wind. This may be different when loaded or with a larger paddler.
As for speed--it's hard to say. On a long day paddle in moderate winds and 1 to 2 foot waves I found myself working very hard to keep up with other paddlers. On flat water it might be different. The effort involved in changing or correcting course was real drain and the delicacy of trying to edge the boat in waves made it something I just didn't want to do, particularly in cold water.
This is a big boat. The 23" beam, long waterline and high volume are a little overwhelming for a smaller paddler. The cockpit is very large and requires substantial padding to get a good fit.
I substituted a better seat and back band than the one included in the kit as it seemed inadequate.
I would say that this is a fine boat if you know what you're buying. I think it is a good choice either for someone wanting a very stable cruising boat or for a larger paddler who wants to carry a lot of gear. A maneuverable day tripper it's not and I can't imagine trying to maneuver it in surf or on a faster river unless you just want to go in a straight line.
I finished the boat to the point of making it seaworthy Christmas Eve day, 2003, almost two months to the day and about 110 hours later. I put it in the water for the first time the afternoon of Christmas day and found the boat to be everything I had hoped. It is extremely fast and light. By my estimation, I have been able to reach a speed of around 10 knots going all out, and am able to sustain a cruising speed of about 4-5 knots with no problem. Moreover, the glide on this boat is impressive.
Because my first kayak was a 12.5 foot plastic sit-on-top, the Coho took some getting used to. I immediately noticed that it lacked the initial stability that I had been used to in my previous kayak, but that is to be expected from a higher performance boat. I found the secondary stability to be more than adequate to avoid an accidental roll. I've taken it out in various water and weather condition and am becoming more comfortable with the feel and responsiveness of the boat. For a kayak that has a moderate rocker to the hull, it tracks very well without a rudder. Because it is relatively light, I've noticed that it is more susceptible to being affected by the wind. However, this is only a problem when you stop paddling.
The only downside that I would comment on is the "tippiness" (low initial stability) of the boat, particularly when trying to enter and exit the cockpit. The only other thing worth mentioning is the seating. Although the padded plastic backband and the inflatable Therm-a-rest cushion that come with the kit makes a seat that is comfortable enough, it does not provide the paddler with that "locked-in" feel that they are an integral part of the boat. I intend to make and install a custom fiberglass seat to resolve that problem.
All in all, this is a sweet boat with some very high performance characteristics. Building this boat ranks up there as one of my proud life achievements, and because it is highly customizable, it will appeal to the paddler who enjoys, and is capable of making their own modifications, to improve such things as cockpit creature comforts. I would highly recommend this kayak to the intermediate and/or advanced paddler.
The Coho is manuverable, fast and yet tracks well. The effortless ease with which she moves through the water is superior to any fiberglass or plastic boat I have paddled. The boat is light and easy to cartop and launch most anywhere. She has proven comfortable and feels safe under any conditions I have taken her out in - calm water a rolling sea or a light chop. A rudder is not needed.
The Coho is a beauty to behold and almost always turns heads. I am totally satisfied.
I have had the Coho in 3 foot seas on Galveston Bay and felt very secure and comfortable. It is a delight to paddle it on still water with it's stability and glide. If I have any complaint it would be that maintenance may be higher than a glass boat. I pulled it ashore over gravel with little affect but scraped the bottom on oyster shell and had to repair some scratches. A little sanding and some spar varnish made it good as new.
In my opinion it is one of the prettiest boats on the water. I have recieved many compliments both on it's looks and handling. For what it's worth it looks as good on a rack as it does on the water. If you have a space and can spend about 80-100 hours working I don't see how you can do better than a Coho. The pygmy boat people were friendly and helpful any time I asked for help. The kit was well made and easier to assemble than you would think.
I built this boat for long distance touring and casual short trips. Being so light (40 lbs), it is a dream to car-top and solo carry to where ever you have to put in. The cockpit is large and easy to get in and out of. I found the seat that comes with the kit to be useless; a closed cell foam seat from either Seaward Kayaks or the 'creature comfort' by Nimbus are much better choices.
The boat has excellent stability throughout. The multichined hull allows easy leaned turns and is very quick to respond in rough conditions. Although I put a rudder on it, the boat tracks well enough that I rarely need it.
The capacity of the fore and aft compartments allows me to pack enough gear and food for 2-3 week trips. Even with a full load, the Coho handles well and is very fast.
I have owned glass boats from Necky and Seaward; the Coho outperforms them both. It is so light and easy to handle, the miles fly by with considerably less effort than the glass boats.
If you've got the space and time, this is a great kit that will provide you with an excellent all round boat that you can be proud of.
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