Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Petrel Kit Description

Named after Saint Peter, petrels are small birds that feed at sea by fluttering just above the swell with their feet tip-toeing across the water. Like its bird namesake, the Petrel kayak is at home at sea where it can dance among the waves.

Designed as a responsive, lightweight kayak suitable for day trips in rough water, it is equally at home poking into sheltered estuaries or exploring the shores of isolated coves. This design will carry a large paddler through rough conditions yet it is small enough to be easily handled by petite kayakers. With a form inspired by the ancient Inuit inventors of kayaking, the Petrel will appeal to devoted Greenland-style paddlers without being intimidating to novice sea kayakers.

This design was developed to carry a 200-pound, 6+ foot paddler on day trips, but it is small enough in volume that it would also work well for lighter paddlers. It is meant as a day tripping boat for larger paddlers, and would not have the capacity for extended trips, but if you are a smaller paddler there is enough interior volume to carry a fair amount of gear.

Petrel Kit Specs and Features

  • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
  • Cockpit Type: Sit Inside
  • Seating Configuration: Solo
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Smaller Adult/Child, Average Adult
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Smaller Adult/Child, Average Adult
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Chesapeake Light Craft
Petrel Kit Reviews

Read reviews for the Petrel Kit by Chesapeake Light Craft as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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I built my Petrel in 2017…

Submitted by: howard on 12/28/2020

I built my Petrel in 2017 and now have three seasons (and several hundred miles) of paddling it under my belt. I am an experienced paddler and will be out 75 to 100 times a season.

The kit is offered from CLC but the boat is designed by Nick of Guillemot Kayaks. in my review, i will discuss the kit and build experience as well as the how the boat paddles.

First, the kit: CLC sells the strip built kits and it is basically a box with most of the material you need to build a strip built kayak. So you basically get a strongback, forms, and a box of strips, fiberglass and epoxy and some other minor bits. So just to be clear to anybody thinking about a strip built --- there is a lot of work and know how needed to go from the “kit” to a finished product. This is a woodworking project – not an assembly project the way a stitch and glue kit is. CLC recommends a book, “Building Strip-Planked Boats” (280 pages written by Nick Schade) to give you a comprehensive overview of the process….and I would say that the book is pretty much a mandatory pre-read if you are not an experienced strip boat builder. All that said, as a kit, it is a very efficient and economical way to get the raw material from which strip built boats are built. (note, for the experienced strip builder who likes to choose their own materials – there are options such as plans only, or just the forms) You will need a couple hundred dollars of additional stuff such as finishing material and consumables (sandpaper, etc) to build a boat like this and while you don’t need a lot of tools, if you are not a practiced woodworker, there are several items, like a block plane, that you will not likely find in the typical home tool kit. Also note the petrel kit does not come with a skeg as part of the kit….and I think this boat needs a skeg….so you want to sort out how you will be doing that as part of planning for your build. I used a skeg kit from nash boatworks that I really like and it added another $200 to my material costs.

The build process: As strip built boats go, there is nothing particularly unique in the construction of a Petrel. Because of some of the curves involved in the hull, it is described by a lot of builders as more of an intermediate project compared to some other designs. Some of the more challenging elements are the rear part of the hull which has a fairly distinct/hard bilge which requires careful forethought in strip alignment and the recessed cockpit that can get a bit tricky. Nothing insurmountable with these elements if you are thinking ahead….but a real pain if they were not properly anticipated. Overall I spent the better part of six months during the evenings on building the hull. I also built my boat with 3/16 inch thick strips (vs the typical ¼ inch). I was very careful with my epoxy work and did some fun things with rigging and a skeg. To my delight, the entire boat, fully outfitted came in at about 33 lbs…..which I really really like.

Paddling: I weigh about 185 bs and am 5’ 10” inches and have 10.5 feet and the boat just fits me. It is an extremely easy to paddle, responsive and maneuverable boat. It is perfectly fast enough for routine day tripping and will easily match the speed of any touring boat with little effort. It is a low volume boat so not the boat to bring if you are a pack-rat…..but can easily handle a lunch or light dinner and other routine stuff. I do want to emphasize this boat is like a tailored suit, so as I mentioned, I can’t imagine the boat being comfortable for somebody bigger than me. If you have big wide hips…it could also be a problem (note the boat is only 20 inches wide).

The boat has a significant rocker and is incredibly maneuverable and easy to turn and it is very sensitive. I feel very comfortable paddling it and would not describe it as tippy. But it gives feedback and sense of really being in tune with the sea and what is happening with the wind and the water. I feek very safe paddling it in sloppy conditions because of the ability to control the boat and orient it properly to wave action and whatever else is happening. it's shape tends to cut through the water and not get slapped or blown around....so you get a strong sense of control where other less refined boats quickly feel unmanageable. As I mentioned, I built it with an adjustable skeg….and the skeg is important to being able to trim the boat to your conditions. To make a long story short, skeg up and you can spin the boat on its axis. Skeg down and she tracks like an arrow. I have paddled the boat in flat glass water and in 20 knots of wind and sharp chop…..and there are few kayaks that I have experienced that so nicely handle these extremes.

Other: the looks of a petrel are just very attractive. If part of paddling is having a good looking boat, it is hard to find any hull so beautiful. I routinely spend a lot of time talking to people about it who will just come up and want to ask me about where did this beautiful thing come from. I also want to highlight the extreme light-weight potential of strip built boats. I use this boat a lot because it is simply easy to manage a 33 lbs boat. Easy on the car…easy off the car. No struggling. While a typical strip built like this will be closer to 40 lbs….it was possible, with care and without doing anything crazy, to get it done in the low 30 lbs range.

So definitely a “5” in my book.