Arctic Tern 14 Kit

Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Arctic Tern 14 Kit Description

Designer John Lockwood has done it again! In response to a growing number of folks who want versatility, he developed our Arctic Tern 14. Her crisp hard chines make her very responsive to lean turns, an ideal characteristic for playing in the surf zone. Teens and smaller adults will relish in the fact that there is a touring boat just their size. A lower wetted surface makes keeping pace with larger boats a pleasure, not a chore. At thirty-two pounds and fourteen feet, she is extremely easy to car top. Although the Arctic Tern 14 was designed with advanced paddlers in mind, it is also well suited to teens and smaller adults.

Arctic Tern 14 Kit Specs and Features

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

Pygmy Boats
Arctic Tern 14 Kit Reviews

Read reviews for the Arctic Tern 14 Kit by Pygmy Boats 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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We have both a Coho and an…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/27/2023

We have both a Coho and an Arctic Tern. We got married 14 years ago and these were our big gift. We had someone from the Northwest School of Wooden BoatBuilding do the work for us. If you look for it, there's a list of people who can help with or do the assembly for you. It's not difficult (especially since they changes from wire stitch-and-glue to Gorilla tape), but takes a lot of set-up for each step and a lot of waiting in between steps. They say 40 hours for the hull and cockpit, then another 60 hours if you want ports (you DO) and riggings. We've been all over Puget Sound and on various lakes over the years and they perform beautifully! I have the 14' Tern and it steers easily. They're light and relatively easy to get on and off the car. We can't go anywhere without questions, comments, and compliments! Put the effort into keeping them varnished and in covered storage and they will stay beautiful a long time!


This is my first kayak kit.…

Submitted by: podboy on 5/7/2020
This is my first kayak kit. It took me 2 years to complete because I set it aside over the winter and had a hard time get back to it. As I approached completion I got really anxious to try it out and as soon as I was on the water I was hooked! No more "plastic" kayaks for me. My Tern is great. Now I need some warm weather to get some marine varnish on it before I head out this season. A great kit to build.

I have built three kayaks…

Submitted by: bbonnen on 6/19/2018

I have built three kayaks paddled quite a few, having rented various boats for around a year before deciding on what I wanted. This is my all around favorite for several reasons. It is long enough to track well and has a pretty good cruising speed. It is easy to roll and turns on a dime. It is easy to control in a heavy chop or confused seas. It surfs well. It has enough storage space for at least week or two of unsupported camping, depending on how light you can pack. It weighs less than 35 pounds and is a beautiful boat that is often a conversation piece when on my car or at the dock. If you can follow step by step instructions you can build it, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the building process. Pygmy has good phone support if you have any questions.


I have a 14 ft Artic Turn…

Submitted by: csnyder on 8/10/2016
I have a 14 ft Artic Turn that I built 11 years ago. What a fantastic kayak. I have been out in the Ocean, La Push, Wa. & been in the rocky parts of the islands & the kayak is easy to handle. Also being wood it attracts lots of attention & even photos. Also very easy to build.

I built this kayak 11 years…

Submitted by: csnyder on 5/9/2016
I built this kayak 11 years ago. I had never kayaked before. This kayak is very quick at handling in all kinds of water. Fun to play in waves or close to shore. It also is a nice cruiser as I take it out mostly in the south Puget Sound.

When people are around I always pygmy comments on what a great looking kayak it is. Even my young grand kids love the kayak.

Building it wad easy & fun. Starting another model now.

Carl Snyder


The Arctic Tern 14 is the…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/28/2016
The Arctic Tern 14 is the second Pygmy boat that I have built and was a pleasure to first build and then paddle in a variety of conditions and locations in the N.E. USA, from the Hudson River valley to eastern Long Island to south Florida.

The Arctic Tern handles beautifully in all conditions that I have encountered. It is also very light, about 37 lbs. and easy to lift onto my car top rack. It is visually a beautiful boat, a real standout among all the plastic and fiberglass boats. Wherever I am paddling the Arctic Tern always gets compliments.


This is my second review of…

Submitted by: grayhawk on 9/26/2014
This is my second review of the Tern 14. I built it in 2002 and loved it but eventually my interests evolved to camping a racing and the sweet 14 wasn't getting that much use plus I had gained 35lbs. and the boat just wasn't the same. A friend wanted the boat for surfing and finally talked me into selling it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I am now 70yo and back to my original weight also my camping and racing days are nearly over. I mentioned that I loved the Tern, he said he wasn't using it and agreed to return it.

After owning many kayaks, I can say that nothing comes close to the 14 as a day boat.
I am very fortunate to get it back.


This is a kit boat using very…

Submitted by: joelsyak on 9/3/2014
This is a kit boat using very accurately cut 4mm Okume mahogany plywood, fiber glass and epoxy. The kit comes with very complete instructions and is quite easy to build with just a few simple tools. The best part is that you will have a beautiful finished boat with about 60-70 hours work. The finished boat weighs about 34 lbs. It handles beautifully in all types of conditions, easy to paddle and transport.

I built the AT14 back in…

Submitted by: paddler235818 on 8/6/2014
I built the AT14 back in 2004, along with an Arctic Tern 17. I've also built a Redfish Silver Spring strip-built. For what I like to do, which is go out on calm lakes, launching into the ocean off the beach and surfing, poking around in up to class III rapids, etc., this is the perfect boat. I feel like I put it on rather than sit in it. Paddles plenty fast, turns well for a log (I also built a Matunuck surf kayak, so tough to compare anything to it!) tracks straight in tough conditions, and looks good.

The reason I've added my review, is to tell those 215 LB, 6'3", size 13 shoe folks out there that this is a great boat for you too. It will ride a little lower in the water and you'll have your feet pointing outwards, but I have spent hours in the boat without being permanently crippled.

Of my 4 kayaks, this is the one I grab 90% of the time, and whatever the conditions, with this boat I'll have fun 100% of the time.


The Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 is…

Submitted by: abraxas on 7/3/2014
The Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 is perhaps the best kit boat on the market today for a person under 160 pounds. It is fast enough to cruise with much longer boat while allowing the paddler to expend much less energy, because of the low wetted surface. Surfing this little boat is a joy, because of the ease of saying on a wave headed in the right direction. Rock solid stability, and tipping the scales at 32 pounds, are my two favorite features. You might call this a boat for all reasons, and it is a 10 in my book.

I have had a dozen wooden…

Submitted by: abraxas on 8/4/2013
I have had a dozen wooden kayaks and nearly as many designs, and the Arctic Tern 14 rates very near the top on all the things you would want in a kayak. I am not a builder, so I can't speak to the construction side of this boat, but paddling it is a dream. As others have mentioned, the top end speed is about 5mph, but you can cruise all day at 4 mph, and still have something left to party.

I am an experienced paddler…

Submitted by: miles123 on 7/26/2013
I am an experienced paddler with over 10 years in a recreational kayak and 3 years in serious sea kayaks. I feel the Pygmy 14 will be my lifetime boat. This boat does everything well, plus very light to handle and easy to store and transport. The only weakness would be sustained hull speed compared to longer boats over longer trips.

The Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 is…

Submitted by: paddler231981 on 4/6/2007
The Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 is my fourth boat overall and the 3rd kit(stitch&glue construction) boat I have built. The kit seemed to go together with more precision than my CLC kits. At first I was hesitant to get a boat with such a short waterline thinking it would compromise my sprint speed and make it difficult to keep up with my colleagues. Also, at 23" this boat is beamier than my previous builds. Truly the At 14 does not have the fastest hull speed, but the reality is that this boat excels in every other category. I have have had more fun in the short time paddling this boat than all my other ones combined. The primary stability is good yet still playful. The secondary is confidence inspiring allowing you to make leaned turns that become second nature. Catching a wave is no problem, in fact this boat is terrific in the surf and the maneuverability seems to give it a great advantage over longer boats. In wild conditions, the Tern 14 really shines! The defined keel allows it to track fairly well and all that is needed to adjust is a slight knee hang to offset any weathercocking or in a quartering sea. The angular deck accommodates my upright paddling style in spite of having a wider beam. At 5'6", 150lbs. I am a rather diminutive paddler- this is probably the middle of the range recommendation for the AT14. It is a perfect fit for me. The only recommendation I can make is to customize the cockpit. I carved out a dense foam seat, added hip and thigh padding and trimmed down the back band so it would complement the seat. The smaller cockpit makes me feel more connected yet ingress/egress is no problem. I didn't install hatches on the deck- instead I put small inspection ports in the bulkheads. For me this is predominantly a playboat and I don't have to hassle with hatches that don't seal properly. That is one of the great things about stitch and glue construction, customization is easy. As far as the hull speed, I can cruise along with other kayakers with no problem. The all out sprint speed...well considering everything this boat has to offer, that is low on my list of priorities.

I love my Arctic Tern 14. I…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/8/2007
I love my Arctic Tern 14. I built it 3 years ago and have used it every chance I get. It looks and performs better than I dreamed. The building process goes smoothly if you follow the instructions to the letter and prepare for each step. PLEASE buy the cabinet scraper when you order. this will save you hours of sanding time. Take your time and your boat will come out perfect. Pygmy Boats are beautiful! Good luck and happy paddling!

This is my 3rd kayak. And the…

Submitted by: paddler231330 on 9/26/2005
This is my 3rd kayak. And the first one I hand made it. I found this beauty on the internet, and requested for a catalog. However, it never arrived. I bought it anyway, from far overseas Asia. The whole assembling process took me 3 months. Thanks to the detailed instruction and tons of suggestions/reviews on the internet, putting the boat together was generally uneventful. However, like others, the glassing and sanding of the baby has been very stressful. Maybe Pygme can develop some kind of teaching VCD so customers can understand more of the glassing procedure. It's really hard to lay the glass cloth and saturate it flawlessly flat. Maybe the company was very confident of their provided instruction, they never reply my e-mail regarding the varnish materials. This was the only thing I have to complain about them. As a foreigner, verbal communication through the phone is inefficient and expensive. Hope they can be a little bit more thoughtful on this. After all, the boat is too beautiful so many people all over the world will appreciate it. I paid heavy shipping/customs/tax fee but never regret it. And now I own the only wooden kayak in my area.

Agree with most everyone else…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/30/2005
Agree with most everyone else ... the boat is an excellent turner and tracker, but has noticeable limits on absolute top speed. It will maintain average cruise speeds just fine though, and is correct configuration for surf zones (quick). For most weekend warriors it’s a better overall choice than the 17 (lighter, turns better, transport advantages. One possible issue is foot room. Maybe I put it together wrong, but my size 10's are a tight fit with shoes on. Still, I got a weeks worth of camp gear, including a rifle and a cot, in the little 14 for a rare "expedition" on Great Slave Lake. Get a boat that suits what you will do MOSTLY. Admit it. Mostly you will day trip. I also had a leaky hatch and believe this minor fault lies in the factory design, not the (flawless godlike) workmanship. If I were to build it again, I would NOT do hatches, but would buy a cockpit sock.

It was an easy & satisfying build, except for the endless sanding. Spent as much time on sanding/varnishing as I spent putting the entire kayak together. But it is a beautiful and functional object. Have had it for three years and it's my all time favorite possession. We have rocky shores here, and the hull has proven very durable. Maintenance is no big thing. Get one of these AT14's. Don't put in hatches. Make sure your feet fit. You will be happy.


I built my Tern 14 two and a…

Submitted by: grayhawk on 5/26/2005
I built my Tern 14 two and a half years ago. This was my first real kayak and I compared every other kayak I paddled against it. Now after owning several other boats the Tern 14 is still my gold standard for all around handling. There is something to be said about the simplicity (no rudder or skeg) of a well-designed hard chine boat. It tracks, turns and balances almost automatically after a few paddles and at 33lbs. A joy to handle.

It has a faster cruising speed than most of the Pygmys and rated as one of the most efficient kayaks period at normal cruising speeds. It is much faster than my long boats in very shallow water and I use it almost daily in and around the mangroves. It was designed by request of the Tsunami Rangers so there is very little that this boat can’t handle. Although limited on top speed this is a great day tripper or club boat. I am 5”11 and 170lbs. and I confer this is near the top range, although it is rated near 300lbs. I have now added a Tern 17 for my multi-day trips.


I built my Tern 14 a little…

Submitted by: paddler230905 on 12/14/2004
I built my Tern 14 a little over a year ago and love this boat. It’s my first kit boat and a very fun project. At 6' & 175lbs, I am at the top range of this boat's design but have not found any problems. She turns on a dime, goes over on an edge easily, has great secondary stability, and rolls well. I have taken her out in 25+ knot winds on the Hudson and she was a pleasure to paddle both into the wind and with quartering seas. Lastly at 35 lbs it is a great car topper. Highly recommend this boat to all.

I built an Arctic Tern 14 for…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/5/2003
I built an Arctic Tern 14 for my wife. The kit went together smoothly and easily. I launched it at the lake and my 10 yr old quickly evicted me from the cockpit and had a blast. My 7 yr old evicted the 10 yr old. We had a blast. I took it out a bit deep to roll it a few times. It rolls well. The recessed back combing is a great help in rolling. I took it off Tybee Island GA into the biggest baddest water I have ever experienced. It surfed like a dream. It is a point and go kind of surfing kayak. It isnt a dedicated surf boat but man can it play. It maneuvers well and is extremely buoyant. Fun! I had a big pair of waves slam into each other at a 45 degree angle and I was caught in the middle. The collision threw me into the air and upside down hard! I rolled up shaken but OK. I went back for more and that little boat really seemed to enjoy it. It will turn on a dime yet track extremely well. The only down side to this design is that you hit a speed wall at about,say, 5mph that is hard to overcome. It cruises unbelievably easily at a normal speed of about 3mph. Probably about a third less effort to keep up with my friends when paddling. I would build it again. If only I could afford to.

I built my Arctic Tern 14…

Submitted by: Apbronso on 9/8/2003
I built my Arctic Tern 14 over a year ago and have put several hundred miles on it! It's great for overnight trips and handles well offshore when suring or fishing. I've even pulled in a 36lb wahoo while fishing from it without worrying about the stability. The only problem I 've had is that the rear hatch leaks a little. I think it's due to my "expert" craftsmanship.

Outstanding kayak! The Artic…

Submitted by: paddler230316 on 8/18/2003
Outstanding kayak! The Artic Tern 14 is easy to build, tracks well (but not as straight as the larger boats like the Coho 17' or the Artic Tern 17). The size makes the AT 14 maneuverable and easy to paddle for my wife 5'4", 125 and kids ages 13, 15. I always have to slow down for others. At only 30 lbs I can carry it to the Sound or a lake with one hand.

I built the artic tern 14 for…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/5/2003
I built the artic tern 14 for my wife and it fits here great at 5'6" 130 lbs she is very fast in the water, tracks like a dream and with the bulkheads and hatches weighs in at 39 pounds( i got a little caried away with the epoxy). I also added a kevelar keel strip and coated the bottom with graphite powder mixed into the expoxy for duribilty. Im very impress with how durible this boat is now. I can slight it into the water right off the dock of sit in it and launch in the rocks of my neighbors boat ramp with just superficial scratches. More advanced paddlers then my self have tried the boat and found that it was a joy to paddle with great secondary stability. It was almost as much fun to buiold as it is to paddle. The hull is so much stiffer than nay other plastic, fiberglass, or kevelar boat that I have seen and tried. I would recomend the graphite coating for all boat that come down here to the everglades-tenthousand island country.

I find the Artic Tern 14 a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/30/2002
I find the Artic Tern 14 a rewarding kayak to paddle. The size and handling characteristics makes this boat fun to paddle. I am 6' 165 lbs. The boat fits me great. As a novice paddler this boat allows me to develope better paddling skills. It tracks very good which makes it a pleasure to paddle on openwater and is very manuverable when doing leaned turns. Weathercocking is minimal and I don't see a need for a rudder or skeg. The low front deck makes paddleing easy. With the bulheads and hatches installed I can load enough camping gear for a weekend trip.
Arctic Tern 14 Kit

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