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Name: bbonnen

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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 built my Arctic Tern in 2005 so it's 6 years now. Previously I had built an Osprey Triple (also reviewed on this site) with minimal woodworking experience and excellent phone support from Pygmy so with that experience under my belt it was even more fun the second time around. 6 years ago I would consider myself a beginner level paddler - now I would say pretty good intermediate skills.

This is a beautiful boat and will be a conversation piece wherever you go. It's very light and easy to cartop. It came in right at 39 pounds and after adding a skeg it is 43 pounds. It rolls easily and turns very sharply when on edge. Initial stability is more than adequate for a beginner and with experience you will not be wishing for another boat and I have paddled quite a few now. Unless you are into competitive racing it is plenty fast.

Last year I did an 8 day solo trip in the Everglades / 10 Thousand Island area of South Florida and had plenty of storage room. With good planning and packing I'm guessing you have enough storage for a 2-3 week unsupported trip. Speed was good and it was easy to paddle fully loaded - I'm 5'11" and weigh 210# - probably had around 150# of water and gear.

Suggestions:
The stock seat is adequate but I replaced it with one I bought from Redfish Kayaks which I prefer. Paddle with it for a while first - it's no big deal to customize the seat. I got fancy and secured the hatches from underneath with a bungee system - it was very pretty with a nice clean look on the deck and fine for day trips, but if you really want watertight hatches use Pygmy's system with the straps on the deck. I ended up reverting to this. I added a skeg but if you're an experienced paddler you may prefer to go without. I would not add the rudder - developing basic paddling skills will turn you easier and faster. And if you're a first time builder with no fiberglassing experience get someone to help you when you glass the deck and hull if possible - if not don't let it get in your way. Add footbrace studs to avoid drilling holes in the side for footbraces. Add perimeter deck lines for safety and convenience. Add knee braces if you surf or roll. Pygmy sells these as accessories on their site.

The suggestions are nitpicking and customizing - this is a fantastic boat and an easy 10.

I built the Osprey Triple 5 or 6 years ago so I could get myself and my 2 kids in the same boat. It is beautiful, rugged and versatile. Paddled solo it is much faster than a sit on top and also easy to keep up with a group of ocean kayaks as long as they're not racing. As a double it has lots of storage. With 3 people it has been good for taking out novices, older relatives who aren't so good at paddling, and allowing more friends to come along when only 2 boats fit on the roof of my car. I later built an Arctic Tern 17' and 14' which I also highly recommend. The triple still gets plenty of use though even with the kids grown and gone. Also it's a pleasure to build. I have no previous boat building experience and very little woodworking experience (I made a bookshelf once and can build a wooden fence) so I would agree with Pygmy no experience required. What is required is the ability to follow the step by step instructions. Phone support for my many questions was excellent - the people answering the phone have built Pygmy boats themselves. You will meet people with this boat - it's a real conversation piece on the car, at the dock, or on the water. A+ all around.