Wooden Canoe Kit by Pygmy Boats
Stun your fellow pleasure crafters twice with the Taiga Wilderness Tripper Wooden Canoe Kit. The first shock will come when they see the exquisite wood veneer beauty of this 17’ specimen slicing through the water. The second shock will come when you tell them you built it.
Designer John Lockwood has created the first stitch and glue canoe kit that incorporates traditional tripper canoe design, meaning the re-curved bow and stern and tumble home are in effect; something not found in mass produced plastic and fiberglass boats. Construction is said to be pretty easy, with pre-cut panels quickly wiring up around five temporary frames. Lastly, you can’t beat the Anchormanesque awesomeness of resting your rump on wicker seats as you paddle past the envious mobs. [Purchase]
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- Hoigaards Hoigaards is a great outdoor retailer in the Metro, sponsor of the Hoigaards Canoe Derby at Lake Calhoun, and contributor to RCBC.
- Midwest Mountaineering Midwest Mountaineering is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Visit their annual free April Canoe Event for the latest in boats and gear. Hear about watersports from the experts.
- Piragis Northwoods Company, Ely, MN A jewel in the crown of the Northwoods for canoe gear, rental, trip advice. MN's top Wenonah canoe dealer and friend of RCBC.
- Pygmy Boats Pygmy boats is the largest and oldest manufacturer of precision precut wood boat kits in North America. Be sure to scroll down to see the featured video of rolling a kayak!
- Wenonah Canoes Located in Winona, MN, an independent company that has become an award-winning designer and manufacturer of canoes and kayaks for all levels of paddler.
- Canoeing.com A comprehensive guide to canoeing and paddlesports for trip planning or shopping for gear.
- Urban Boatworks A youth learning work environment in a boat-building facility.
Osprey Triple Kayak by Pygmy Boats with a CLC sail Rig?
Submitted by BAVARIAN - Fri, 3/27/09 » 3:30 PM
I'd like to add a CLC sailing rig to my kayak. I'm getting to the final stages of construction and just wondering what parts of the boat might be a good idea to add some extra layers of glass. I'm gettiing close to closing up the hull. The construction diary up to now is posted here:
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The All-Rounder, as its name indicates, is classified as an all-round, general purpose SUP. It is beamy to give it stability, and has a flat bottom with a horizontal bow to ride over the water as opposed to the vertical bow of a touring or racing board designed to cut through it. The sides, rather than being single vertical panels, have a bit of flare at the bottom and a bevel at the top that keep the All-Rounder from having a boxy appearance. There may be some practical benefits as well. The two obtuse angles should be less prone to wear than a single right angle between top and side and a little kinder to the paddler who might fall on it. It adds an extra seam to be stitched, filled, and sanded, but I think it’s a nice touch well worth the effort.
The top of the board has three fittings: an attachment point aft for a leash, a rubber-and-webbing handle in the middle, and a vent forward to equalize air pressure when the board is not in use or when in transit through changes in elevation. The deck also has some discrete, transparent, textured strips for traction.
The 11′ board has a single 10″ fin set in a glass-filled nylon fin box built into the bottom. The box is longer than the top of the fin, offering the option to adjust the fin forward for better maneuverability or aft for stiffer tracking. The glass-filled nylon fin is removable, easily replaced if damaged, and offers more convenient storage of the board, advantages over a permanently attached fin.
Pygmy’s kit comes with 26 pieces that make up the lattice internal framework and 19 panels that form the hull and deck. All of the parts are cut from 3-mm okoume BS-1088 plywood. The longitudinal pieces have wave-like puzzle joints for easy and precise assembly. The puzzle joints for the exterior panels vary in size—small on the sides, large on the top and bottom—and are aligned with each other, making an attractive pattern around the board.
The aft 7′ of the deck is flat and the assembled lattice framework is fit and epoxied to the ‘glassed underside of that portion of the deck first, using a piece of plywood as a work surface. The forward end of the framework is epoxied to the deck in a second operation where the deck is elevated to its designed profile curve using some graduated lifts. The top and bottom side panels and the tail block follow.
The joining of the panel edges is not done with copper wire laced through pairs of holes in adjacent panels as they are in the stitch-and-glue construction of Pygmy’s kayaks. The edges are instead held together with strips of Gorilla tape, spot-glued with a thick superglue (cyanoacrylate), and ultimately bonded with epoxy/wood flour fillets. The bottom panel goes on last, set on a thick mixture of epoxy and wood flour applied to the edges of the framework. While the underside of the deck is fiberglassed, the interior surface of the bottom is not, and neither it nor the framework are coated with epoxy, thus minimizing weight and expense.
The exterior seams are filled with beads of a slightly thinner mix of epoxy and wood flour that get shaped when cured with a sharp file. Fiberglassing the entire exterior and installing the hardware follow. Sanding and varnishing complete the board, which tips the scale around 35 lbs.
The board’s light weight made it easy to lift and the handgrip attached at its center of gravity made it easy to carry. I liked this secure, comfortable handhold that I could wrap my fingers around over the finger slots I’ve used on other boards. The board could have used a patch of foam around the handgrip to ease the pressure of my knuckles against the deck. The handgrip didn’t get underfoot and trip me up with the paddling I did, but if you decide to take the board surfing, where a lot of fancy footwork is required, or do yoga on it, a recessed slot would be a better way to go. It wouldn’t be too difficult to create one in wood or add a commercially made one while building the board.
When I got aboard the All-Rounder it felt quite solid—I didn’t feel any give in the deck underfoot—and I liked its solid stability. I don’t get out paddling SUPs often, and while my balance is pretty good in a skinny, tiddly kayak, the skill doesn’t transfer well to standing up on a SUP board. The high stability will be a comfort as well to novices, SUP anglers, and yoga practitioners.
The board’s thickness maintains its stability for paddlers like me who weigh over 200 lbs. The chine between the side panels was right at the water’s edge with me aboard, so even when I had my weight to one side the board still felt stable. If the board were thinner and water washed over the deck when my weight was shifted to the side it would have been a different story.
I had no trouble walking and hopping back and forth on the All-Rounder to change my position. The board I paddled had non-slip strips in the middle, not all the way to the tail, so I didn’t shift my weight as far aft as I should have to get the bow up out of the water for sharp turns. The board was easily maneuvered even so and with the good stability I was comfortable doing cross-bow strokes for quick, tight turns.
The single skeg was effective when I got some speed up. The first few strokes pushed the bow away from the side I was paddling on, but once I had some water moving past the skeg I would do seven to ten strokes on one side before switching to hold my course. In the still water of the marina, my GPS indicated I was doing 2 1/2 knots at an exercise pace, and 3 1/2 knots in a sprint.
Outside of the marina the waves were small, less than 1′, and the only wake I had was from a distant ferry, so I didn’t have much to play with, but the board behaved itself in the waves I had. Riding the ferry wake, I was able to race ahead and plow the bow underwater in the back of one wave without any loss of control or stability. I never fell off the board unintentionally, but I did hop off several times and had no trouble scrambling back aboard and getting back on my feet.
The All-Rounder earns its name and should serve a wide range of SUP paddlers, especially new ones and large ones, and perform well in a wide variety of uses. If paddling with a dog or a child, fishing, yoga, exercise, or even napping is your thing, this new offering from Pygmy might be just the ticket.
Christopher Cunningham is the editor of Small Boats Monthly.
All-Rounder SUP Particulars
Kits for the All-Rounder SUP are available from Pygmy Boats for $1149.
Is there a boat you’d like to know more about? Have you built one that you think other Small Boats Monthly readers would enjoy? Please email us!
More than three decades ago, when guys like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were building technology companies that would change the world, another Ivy League educated geek moved to Port Townsend and pioneered a very different technology – wooden kayaks.
Like Gates and Jobs, John Lockwood was on the front edge of change, but his passions lay in the North Pacific and in the sleek, super-efficient boats that had been exploring these rugged shores for thousands of years.
The result was Pygmy Boats – a tiny Port Townsend boatshop that for 33 years has been designing and shipping do-it-yourself kayak kits to the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
Pygmy didn’t make Lockwood a billionaire. But his enterprise helped transform Port Townsend from a sleepy milltown into a Northwest destination defined in part by the quintessential image of an aging, oxidized Subaru with a honey-hued, wooden Pygmy kayak lashed to the top.
And now, at least for the moment, Pygmy is finished. In a brief Facebook posting last weekend, Lockwood said the company is going into “hibernation” this week. At age 77, he wants to retire. Negotiations with potential buyers ended with the Covid pandemic. So the showroom at Point Hudson is closed, and Pygmy’s skeleton crew has stopped producing kits.
In his posting, Lockwood wrote “I’m proud I have designed boats that could take me and you off the end of the road and into the peace of wild places.”
So that’s that for Pygmy.
Or not. Lockwood leaves open the possibility of re-opening in the future. But, even if Pygmy disappears, thousands of boats he designed and marketed, built by weekenders in garages or backyards around the world, will be around for years to come.
Lockwood’s passion was born 50 years ago, in 1970, when he hauled a collapsible Klepper kayak up to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and floated 900 miles down the Yukon River.
He was hooked, entranced by an ancient boat devised centuries ago by Northwest natives who carved canoes from cedar logs, or by northern Aleuts and Eskimos who assembled kayaks with sealskins on wooden frames. Over the next few years, Lockwood worked the winters writing corporate software, and the summers paddling his Klepper up and down the Northwest coast, camping in a hand-made teepee and living off fish, mussels and clams.
In 1986, Lockwood quit his job and concentrated on his first love, cutting a computer-designed, ultra-light boat kit which he called the Queen Charlotte. That boat gave birth to Pygmy, named for the peaceful Mbuti, or “Pygmy”, people of the African rain forest that he had studied in anthropology classes.
His timing was excellent. Puget Sound had become the epicenter of a kayaking craze, producing fiberglass boats that had become part of the regional landscape. In time, kayaking spread across the nation and around the world.
Fiberglass boats, however, were expensive and heavy. Lockwood’s kits, once assembled, were cheaper, lighter, and flat-out gorgeous. Year by year, Pygmy produced more models that proved to be sleeker, lighter, faster. Most took their names from Northwest seabirds – the Osprey, Murrelet, Artic Tern.
The kits, which most recently sold for about $1200 plus shipping, arrive in a long cardboard box containing dozens of precut plywood panels, fiberglass cloth, epoxy, hardware and several pages of intricate instructions. Assembly consists of drilling holes at the edges of the panels, piecing them together with wire or plastic ties and stiffening the joints with fiberglass cloth and epoxy.
Sounds simple enough. Experienced woodworkers might put it all together in a couple of weeks, but amateurs spend months, working weekends and calling Pygmy now and then for advice.
And no doubt many kits remain boxed or partially constructed, stowed in the garage rafters.
But persistent first-time builders can, with a little help from Youtube videos, end up with a splendid boat weighing some 40 pounds and capable of sliding almost effortlessly across Northwest waters.
Fans of Pygmy Boats, a Facebook group with some 900 contributors, is loaded with advice and tributes to Lockwood and his three decades trying to improve on his designs. “I’ve built three and I’m just getting started,” writes one builder. “Family and friends are clamoring for their own beautiful kayak.”
But clamor may not be enough to resurrect Pygmy Boats. One alternative is Chesapeake Light Craft (www.clcboats.com) of Annapolis which has displayed its boats-from-kits alongside Pygmy’s at the annual Wooden Boat Festival. CLC reportedly expressed some interest in buying Pygmy until the pandemic intervened.
But now Lockwood is going home, leaving his lovely wooden kayaks to ply Northwest seas, or traverse the streets of Port Townsend atop those Subaru roof racks.
Photo © by Joel Rogers
Founding member & writer Ross Anderson worked 30 years for the Seattle Times, writing about Pacific Northwest politics, history and natural resources. He won a number of awards, including a 1990 Pulitzer for coverage of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. He lives in Port Townsend and is a founding member of the Rainshadow Journal. Email him at [email protected] (photo by Karen Knaur)
Pygmy Boats is the original manufacturer of precision, pre-cutstitch and glue kayak kitsin North America. In the last 32 years our designs have been awarded "Best Kayak Kit" and"Best Wooden Kayak" and are enjoyed by thousands around the world. Started in 1986 by boat designer and software engineer, John Lockwood, Pygmy Boats produced North America's first computer designed wooden sea kayaks. Whether a paddler is novice or advanced in technique, we have a boat kit to suit your needs. Kits are 1/3 the price and 30% lighter than fiberglass with equal durability.
Have questions about building one of our top-rated boat kits?
Call us: 360-385-6143 ore-mail us: [email protected]. We are here to help you choose a boat kit or answer your boat building questions. Read Our Covid-19 Update Here.
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Wooden Kayak Company Is A Profile of Perseverance
One of the biggest festivals in the nation celebrating wooden boats is happening in Port Townsend, Washington this weekend.
Amidst the sea of gleaming decks and varnished wood you can find of flotilla of sprightly, wooden kayaks. The local business that produces the wooden boat kits is paddling against a tide of fiberglass and plastic.
The company is called Pygmy Boats. The moniker was inspired by the founder's nickname from his college anthropology studies. Pygmy sells what it calls "stitch and glue" construction kits for do-it-yourselfers with no prior woodworking experience. The showroom faces a sheltered harbor in Port Townsend, ideal for a test paddle.
I checked out the best selling model, a sleek and snug touring kayak. One thing I discovered right away is that the elegant boat turns heads. Three times in the span of less than five minutes, strangers stopped to shout a compliment or ask a question.
The richly varnished, thin plywood craft is surprisingly quick and much lighter than plastic kayaks I've rented before. I can lift it with one arm, which has never happened to me before with a kayak.
Company owner and founder John Lockwood recalls the debut of his prototype at the Seattle wooden boat show in 1986. That didn't go so well.
"Two people capsized it," he says. "Nobody really liked it."
Lockwood redesigned the prototype after that. He sold one build-your-own kayak kit the first year, 45 in his second year in business, and then sales started taking off.
But we have to go further back in time to appreciate the chain of events that produced this small business. Lockwood's life changed course when he fell during a visit to his brother's house.
"I fell about 10 feet and landed on my side on a slab of cement and pushed my thigh bone 4 inches through my pelvis and broke my hip joint."
If this happened today, Lockwood would receive a hip replacement. But this was 1967.
"Everything I really loved to do I couldn't do anymore," Lockwood says.
The previously active young man needed crutches for the next seven and a half years until his hip healed properly.
"I took up kayaking, which I could do," he explains. "I could do it on crutches. I could sit. I still had lots of upper body strength."
Lockwood built his first wooden kayak so he'd have something more durable to drag across beaches during an extended sojourn in British Columbia. By the time he arrived in Seattle in the mid-1970s, the idea for a business was born.
"Here I am in Seattle and there are three or four of these kayak companies that started up," Lockwood says. "They've got these boats I see around on top of cars that don't look anything like sea kayaks to me. I was a real critic already."
It took a number of false starts and years of frugal living before his wooden kayak kit business found its sea legs. But then he was in the right place at the right time with a unique product when the sport of sea kayaking blossomed in the late 1980s.
Now, the kit boat maker employs seven people, but Lockwood says sales are down from a pre-recession peak.
"The sea kayak market has matured," he says. "In terms of its growth, it probably hit its peak somewhere around 2004-5 and has contracted a little bit. But niche markets have still really taken off."
Lockwood says the company's product line has expanded to 23 models to appeal to different niche markets. The two newest to debut at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival cater to "petite women."
The typical wooden kayak kit costs a little over $1,000. Shopper Jim Hix of Portland finds that reasonable.
"If you get a really nice fiberglass one of similar weight and performance characteristics, it's going to be a lot more (expensive). This is really beautiful. Plus you've made it yourself."
Hix figures it will take him about two months to assemble a solo kayak in his spare time.
On the Web:
Pygmy Boats Inc. - official site
Port Townsend Wooden Boats Festival - September 6-8, 2013