Your #1 source for kayaking and canoeing information.               FREE Newsletter!
my Profile

Kayak & Bicycle Trips
Food Wine Kayak
Paddlers' Place Discussion Forum New Topic Printer Friendly Version

  Shrike, a lightweight sea kayak for home
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Feb-28-14 4:13 PM (EST)

I’ve long had a dream to produce an elegant lightweight sea kayak that combined a traditional hard-chined hull with modern developments of bulkheads, hatches, and a lifting skeg: a simple design that was suited for home construction; a design that could be easily adapted to the needs and physique of individual paddlers. The first two kayaks are now complete. Their
dimensions are:

Length 5.304m (17 feet 4.8 inches)
Beam 0.546m (21.5 inches)
Weight 14.5kg (32 pounds)

Access to the free plans and build manuals is at
A forum discussion is at


 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Emergency Cases

Paddling Gloves

Kayak Deck Gear Bags

Paddle Floats

Table of Contents

Messages in this Topic


  I am proud to say
  Posted by: jackl on Feb-28-14 7:34 PM (EST)
that I have paddled with Nick and his lovely wife Sandra for quite a few years now and admire his skills as a boat designer and builder.

Jack L
  Posted by: Kudzu on Mar-02-14 6:54 AM (EST)
Drop-dead gorgeous to look at. I've been paddling a WS Tempest 165 and a Dagger Alchemy. How would handling compare to those?
  I should have added above:
  Posted by: jackl on Mar-02-14 8:13 AM (EST)
and expert paddler
Can do anything and probably more than most hard core sea kayakers
Not like me that likes to stay upright

Jack L
  I'm Still Way More Bike Than Kayak
  Posted by: Kudzu on Mar-02-14 11:17 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-02-14 11:26 AM EST --

If I live to see retirement I'd like to paddle more and maybe build a kayak like this Shrike. If it behaves as nicely as it is beautiful...

edit: I just looked at the graph on the forum discussion. Looks like it's near perfect for me. I'd build at 100% or just a little under.

  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-05-14 12:57 PM (EST)
I own a Tahe Greenland T and my buddy had a WS T165.

The Greendland T is a really similar boat, slightly higher volume but the same hull design as the Shrike. The tempest definitively handles better than the T in rough and moving waters. The Greenland is faster and carves more aggressively due to its hard chines, but it is easily swamped, and requires a skilled paddler in rough water.
  not so much
  Posted by: ccrowhurst on Sep-08-14 6:31 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-08-14 6:32 PM EST --

I own a Tahe Greenland and have built two Shrikes (the Too and the R). I can assure you the Shrike and the Tahe are different both in shape and performance.

The Tahe has substantially less rocker, the Tahe's hull is also less V bottomed, that is, it is flatter. The Tahe foredeck is higher and the topsides are more vertical and deeper.

When paddling them the first thing you will notice is the Shrike is more responsive, it responds quicker to turns and edging. When paddled aggressively the Tahe bow will ride up and lift on the bow wave, the shrike continues to slice forward efficiently.

They are both derivatives of Greenland qajaq and hence do appear until closely inspected to be similar, however not so similar.

  Posted by: jonsprag1 on Mar-02-14 7:14 PM (EST)
That is one beautiful boat---I've long admired Greenland style kayaks and 3 years ago bought a brand new W/S Artic Hawk (dealer had a hold over for 10 years) I'm assuming the boat can be built without the skeg? Would you reccommend it or does it really need one? My biggest fear when I bought the Artic Hawk (which has no skeg) was that it might be difficult to paddle in certain conditions without one--so far I haven't missed it.
  Is the skeg necessary?
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Mar-02-14 11:28 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Mar-02-14 11:29 PM EST --

Jon, thank you. Whether or not a skeg is necessary very much depends on the area you paddle, what are the wind and sea conditions in which you paddle, and your own physical state.
For example, I have a chronically damaged right shoulder. I can't afford to edge and sweep for long periods to counteract weather-cocking.
The worst conditions for weather-cocking are flat sea and strong winds from the quarter. If you always aim to paddle in light winds, and you are fit and strong, then you may never need to deploy a skeg in a well balanced kayak.
If you are in doubt, you can build a Shrike without a skeg, but with a stern hatch and the stiffening structure for a skeg. You could then retro-fit a skeg if you decide one is desirable, although this is more awkward than fitting one during the initial construction.
I haven't yet needed to use the Shrike's skeg, but I value it's presence for peace of mind.
When building a Shrike, as it is such a light craft, and in order to maintain its delicate balance, the position of the paddler must not be altered from the designed position, and the freeboard should be minimized in accordance with the planned load. The FAQ section of now includes details of my plan to build LV versions for this reason.
I have not yet paddled a sea kayak that, ultimately, and in certain conditions, did not benefit from the deployment of a skeg.
I hope this helps. With best wishes,
from Nick.

  Shike Project progress report
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Apr-17-14 12:35 PM (EST)
Greetings from Cornwall in England. In the first six weeks of the project, 168 copies of the plans have gone to 32 different countries. The LV version should be completed next week here in Cornwall (by one of my granddaughters and her partner), and a company in Canada, Handcrafted Canoes, has prepared the plywood panels using a CNC cutter, and is offering to build Shrikes, as is a company in the USA, Clear Stream Custom Watercraft:
Photos and latest news are
We will provide the software to drive a CNC cutter, free of charge.
With best wishes, from Nick.
  And also Nick plays....
  Posted by: jackl on Apr-17-14 5:16 PM (EST)
a mean tin whistle, bag pipes, fiddle and a few other instruments.

jack L
  Posted by: scupperfrank on Jul-10-14 2:16 PM (EST)
"Bag Pipes" is a more accurate description of those things than bagpipes ever could hope to be. The skirl (skirling?) of the pipes may be militarily stirring on battlefields gone by, but there are many more musical -and certainly sweeter -sounds to my admittedly ignorant-of-such-sounds ears.

We've met him, and Nick's a great guy. And he DOES play that collection of sound-producing items pretty 'meanly'.

But he's still a better paddler and boat designer and builder, IMHO.

But if, off in the far distance, on a nice sunset's eve, you hear something strange on lakeshore or riverside or seashore, it just might be Nick practicing after a great day in his beautiful boat settling in to camp, so he can expres his own joy when he can


--Frank in Miami
  Hello Frank
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Jul-11-14 3:00 PM (EST)
Frank, it's good to hear from you again, and to know you enjoy the lines of the Shrike family. IIRC we last met in Largo Sound, along with Jack and Nanci.(Two of our heroes, of course.)
BTW, my pipes are gaita from Galicia, North-West Spain, and are used in Galician villages to celebrate feast days and other special events. They have a different sound to the martial pipes from Scotland. Galicia is probably best known for encompassing the city of Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the Way of St James, the pilgrimage across Europe. I'm full of useless information like that....
Best wishes, and may we meet again on the water, from Nick.
  Wonderful boat!
  Posted by: willowleaf on Apr-21-14 11:47 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-21-14 11:51 AM EST --

What a beautiful kayak, Nick!

Was it based on any particular model? It looks very much like the 1935 West Greenland Sisimuit (Harvey Golden survey) that Brian Schulz likes to build in skin on frame: (

I've got a slightly modified one of those (the 1935 SOF, same dimensions as your Shrike) and am amazed to see the stitch and glue is the same ultra light weight. I'll be very interested to see your LV model when you finish, as I adore this boat I have but it is a little high volume for my size (I have to ballast it with water bags.) Would love to build one with the same performance characteristics but better sized (for someone 5' 5", 140 lbs.) so I will watch for those plans to be available.

By the way, the builder of mine built a subtle skeg protrusion along the stern keel, so I can attest to the benefit of a skeg in tracking, though it would be nice to have something more pronounced and retractable as you've added for some conditions. For straight line river and seacoast paddling, kayaks like this are so fast mine has felt self-propelled at times.

I would also add, for anyone thinking about this design, that a kayak like this allows for more leg and foot room under the deck than many Greenland style boats.

  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Apr-22-14 2:09 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-22-14 2:13 PM EST --

Willowleaf, many thanks for your kind remarks. You will see on our website, under the "Origins" tab, that the Shrike is very close to the 1929 Disko Bay kayak in Harvey Golden's wonderful book. That kayak is now in the Ottowa Museum of Civilization, catalogue reference IV-A-428. One of the main differences between The Shrike and the Disko Bay kayak is that Shrike's cockpit is a full ten inches further forward. Shrike was not designed to carry a dead seal on her stern deck! My main criterion was to create something of beauty. No computer was used in its creation. So many computer-generated designs I see are constrained by the software to produce ugly lines.
You will see the latest news on the LV construction on our Facebook page. Today was spent doing more work on the cockpit rim. Thanks again, and best wishes, from Nick.

P.S on edit, the plans for the LV are already available. Just download the free plans, and ask your local print shop to produce the plans at 90% scale. You can choose a variety of % values. The FAQ section has a graph to relate % plot to load carried. My granddaughter is the same weight and height as you, and she is building the 90% LV. So, you have the plans whenever you wish.

  An update:
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on May-19-14 6:30 AM (EST)
We've launched the Shrike LV, and had a load of fun chucking it about both on and off the water. It weighs 28 pounds. The Rotator Shrike, a pure competition extreme rolling kayak version on the standard Shrike hull is under construction. Updates and photos are at
  The ultimate rolling Shrike
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Jul-03-14 4:24 AM (EST)
The ultimate specialist rolling Shrike-r is afloat. It weighs 23 pounds, and has satisfied all our aims of ease of rolling, particularly of the advanced Greenland rolls. It has the standard Shrike hull, with lowered freeboard and a wider cockpit than the other three Shrike variants.Free plans, photos and details are under the "kayaks" tab on and on our Facebook page.
Three hundred and twenty one downloads of the plans have occurred in the first three months of the project, with construction under way from Estonia to Dubai to Florida to Canada.
  good work
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-14 10:41 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-08-14 10:47 AM EST --

Beautiful boats, and the downloads sound promising. I have to say I like the notion of building my own kayak, but the CLC line has never really appealed to me until now.

Best of luck!

  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Jul-11-14 2:42 PM (EST)
Slushpaddler, thank you, we're glad you appreciate the lines of our kayaks. If you decide to build you will not be alone. 385 downloads so far, from all over the world.
  Posted by: grayhawk on Jul-07-14 7:35 PM (EST)
I love hard chine boats and wish I still had the room to build one.

Great job, GH
  Thanks, GH
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Jul-08-14 9:50 AM (EST)
Greyhawk, many thanks for your encouraging message, which is the sort of feedback that inspires us to continue to develop our Shrike project.
  An update on the Shrike project
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Sep-03-14 5:48 PM (EST)
In the six months since the Shrike project was launched, 574 copies of the plans have been distributed to forty countries. To celebrate this we have added a “Builders’ Gallery” to our website at Each Shrike builder who so desires can have a web page devoted to their kayak, with a photo and some details of their design choices and modifications. The latest additions to the Gallery are two excellent craft, one from Bart Deseyn of Belgium, and one from Morris Ho of California, USA.
We are delighted that all the current builders have taken advantage of the wide variations in size, construction methods, bespoke cockpits and materials that the Shrike is designed to enable. All the existing Shrikes have been tailored to the unique size, weight and preferences of the owners, just as we had hoped. Examples of this are the skeg modifications from Paul in the U.K, and a different design of foredeck which will soon be completed in Sweden. Meanwhile, a batch of Shrikes is nearing completion in Estonia. By feeding back these variations into the Build Gallery and the Builders’ Tips sections of the website, we aim to promote the collaborative aspect of the project.
  Where are you guys based out of?
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-05-14 12:51 PM (EST)
I ask because the banner image for the website looks like it was taken at SSTIKS, and I also think I may have seen one of these (non-day hatch, ultra-low volume) at SSTIKS this June as well.
  very nice touch
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Sep-05-14 1:04 PM (EST)
This is a great feature.
  A non-expert's gripes
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-05-14 1:05 PM (EST)
Please tell me why I am wrong here (really want to know).

I paddle a similar boat to the shrike, but there are some marked differences in the design that I notice right off the bat. Why is the boat so fish-formed, and why is cockpit place so far forward? It was always my understanding that the traditional kayaks had longer fore decks and beam closer to the cockpit. Not to mention more rake in the bow and stern.
  The keyhole cockpit...
  Posted by: BNystrom on Sep-07-14 8:55 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-07-14 9:43 AM EST --

...makes it look the way you describe it, but if you look at the Shrike Too with the ocean cockpit, you'll see that the boat is nearly symmetric and that the seating position is actually well aft of center. These two boats are identical, except for the cockpit size.

  Now we're home....
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Sep-07-14 10:25 PM (EST)
Thank you, Brian, for answering this question so concisely. We've been away for the weekend at the Traditional Paddlers' Gathering at Lake Carlos, MN, and have only just got back to Christopher's home, near the Twin Cities, MN, where the banner photo was taken. I live in Cornwall, England, to answer one of the above queries. That's where I built the prototype Shrike last autumn.
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-08-14 11:22 AM (EST)
I can see that in the shrike-too. But the shrike profile and too-down views must have some weird perspective going on.
  Camera lenses
  Posted by: pikabike on Sep-08-14 2:48 PM (EST)
It is easy to make a kayak's proportions look different from their actual ones by where the camera was positioned and what length lens was used. This happens inadvertently all the time, and probably purposely sometimes.

There are a few photos of a stitch-and-glue kayak I used to own that made the bow look much longer than it was, and the rear half much shorter.
  You could download the plans...
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Sep-08-14 5:31 PM (EST)
jcorr, if you download the free plans to your hard drive or thumb drive then you will see the true dimensions. The design is discussed in the "origins" post above, and at our website under the Origins tab. It is a traditional West Greenland hull as referenced to the Canadian Museum of civilization and Harvey Golden's superb book.
IMHO the Zegul/Tahe Greenland and the Shrike are very different in hull form and in performance. I have paddled both extensively. Last weekend for example I rolled each one in a variety of different ways, including hand-rolling them, and paddled and manoeuvred each one extensively.
  How do you find that they differ?
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-08-14 7:13 PM (EST)
I have admittedly only paddled the Greenland T. But looking at the dimensions on the website, it is nearly the same in terms of length, beam, and keel/deck height. They are both single, hard chine boats with gentle rocker and raked bow and stern.

From looking at these stats and photos on the website, they look incredibly similar to me. The only thing that I noticed that I thought looked off was the cockpit placement (which as been explained at this point to be a mistake).

What were your thoughts when paddling both? And what do you think is strikingly different about the shrike?
  reposting from above
  Posted by: ccrowhurst on Sep-08-14 7:28 PM (EST)
sorry for the repost but I had replied to your earlier post about the Tahe:

I own a Tahe Greenland and have built two Shrikes (the Too and the R). I can assure you the Shrike and the Tahe are different both in shape and performance.

The Tahe has substantially less rocker, the Tahe's hull is also less V bottomed, that is, it is flatter. The Tahe foredeck is higher and the topsides are more vertical and deeper.

When paddling them the first thing you will notice is the Shrike is more responsive, it responds quicker to turns and edging. When paddled aggressively the Tahe bow will ride up and lift on the bow wave, the shrike continues to slice forward efficiently.

They are both derivatives of Greenland qajaq and hence do appear until closely inspected to be similar, however not so similar.
  Good observations about the T
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-08-14 7:52 PM (EST)
As I've stated in my review of the T here on padnet, the T often falls victim to itself, in terms of handling. The chine asks the paddler to give an aggressive edge, but is met by resistance. I've found that it is definitely lacking in agility in comparison to other kayaks that I have paddled.

Do you ever do demo events, or show up to them? It would be great if you did a presentation here in Washington, there is a huge Greenland paddling culture here (dare I say the biggest in the states? Maybe)
  Posted by: ccrowhurst on Sep-08-14 8:33 PM (EST)
So far we have taken the Shrikes to the Michigan Qajaq Training Camp and the Minnesota Traditional Paddlers Gathering. We know of one that has been built out west in California but have yet to see one built in WA, I suspect it wont be long before one shows up, they are breeding like rabbits, far faster than we ever dreamed.
  Posted by: jcorr on Sep-09-14 4:42 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Sep-09-14 4:45 PM EST --

You should consider the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kajak Symposium in WA. It's the first weekend in June. Too bad you aren't selling the kits/plans, you'd make a killing.

Edit: have you considered approaching companies like Pygmy and Chesapeake Light Craft with your designs? You could most likely sell them the rights to produce and sell kits, while you would still own the design (and still be able to continue to give out the plans for free from your website). This is sort of what Nick Schade does (I believe).

  It's not the money...........
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Sep-11-14 3:33 AM (EST)
jcorr, we have not the slightest interest in making any money from our Shrike project.
  Our license to the world:
  Posted by: nickcrowhurst on Sep-11-14 3:38 AM (EST)
From our website at

"In essence we want our efforts to be used widely and freely. We would like you to attribute the origins of your work back to this website so people can find the source documents if they are interested. We encourage you to alter, enhance, experiment and improve upon every aspect of our work. If you want to make money making kits and selling them, or constructing kayaks derived from this work you are free to do so."



Follow us on:
Free Newsletter | About Us | Site Map | Advertising Info | Contact Us


©2014 Inc.