The Petrel is a responsive, lightweight kayak suitable for day trips in rough water, but equally at home poking into sheltered estuaries or exploring the shores of isolated coves. This boat 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.
Petrels are small birds that feed at sea by fluttering just above the swell with their feet tip-toeing across the water. Early sailors thought the Storm Petrel could walk on water. Like its bird namesake, the Petrel kayak is at home at sea where it can dance among the waves.
I've been paddling my strip-planked Petrel for years in all kinds of conditions from relaxing explorations of quiet little coves to getting beat up by hurricane surf and tidal races. The boat has served me well and I get a lot of feedback from other Petrel builders and users who find the kayak helps make them feel like better paddlers.
Nick Schade, Petrel designer
This boat is derived from Nick Schade's Night Heron designs but it is shorter, has more rocker and has more reserve buoyancy in the ends. The moderately hard chine of the strip-planked Night Heron has been softened forward of the cockpit and transitions into a hard chine behind the cockpit. The forward section provides smooth performance pushing out into waves and reduces the tendency to broach while surfing. The hard chine aft provides some shape that facilitates carving and leaned turns. The result is a lively boat that accelerates quickly to catch waves, carves down wave faces and manoeuvres easily.
The deck shape takes its cue from Greenlandic Inuit skin-on-frame designs with a sharp chine-like feature line on either side. This provides knee room while keeping the deck low overall. The side of the deck slopes in quickly so it is out of the way for paddle strokes close to the hull.
The Petrel is intended as a day tripping boat 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.
Nick Schade's book ‘Building Strip Planked Boats’ (included with the cedar-strip kit) contains very detailed instructions on building the original cedar-strip Petrel and is a must-have.
Nick Schade's line of strip-planked Greenland-style sea kayaks are renowned for sophisticated performance on the water, beautiful lines and sculptural hull details, but strip-planked boatbuilding is not for everyone. For many people, the hours involved in building a strip boat just don't fit into their lives.
The new stitch-and-glue version of the Petrel eliminates the fussy strip-planking procedure. Computer-cut plywood panels for the hull and deck are stitched together with wire, then reinforced with epoxy and fibreglass. The simplified plywood hull has its own sculptural qualities and gives up none of the performance and handling of the original. Puzzle joints, one of Schade's signature design motifs, give the stitch and glue Petrel great artistic flair.
A Greenland-style kayak with speed and refined handling that excels in surfing conditions. Like the strip version, the stitch-and-glue Petrel has a transitioning chine; a soft multi-chine bow and a hard-chine stern. This allows for responsive control surfing, with less tendency for the bow to lock in and softer landings going up through waves.
It can be built with all the features paddlers expect from a modern sea kayak; features not found in any other kayak kit. It has super-waterproof rubber hatches, including a day hatch behind the cockpit, giving it a rugged, business-like look. These hatches are recessed to minimise spray and ease rescue techniques and the cockpit is also recessed to make rolling easier. It also has an efficient retractable skeg, which is easy to adjust and is offset from the centre line to virtually eliminate jamming.
The stitch-and-glue Petrel is a sophisticated design that is not the easiest to build but the complexity pays off in the paddling. The boat works well as a long distance touring kayak for smaller paddlers or as a day or overnight boat for larger paddlers.
Acknowledging the market demand for stable recreational kayaks but unable to resist the urge to play in big water, Schade created the Petrel Play, a 14 foot recreational kayak based on the stitch-and-glue Petrel. This shorter, wider kayak will suit a beginner for exploring lakes, or an expert surfing big waves.
For many paddling trips the greater speed and tracking of the 17 foot Petrel is unnecessary. A shorter boat can be more responsive, lighter, easier to store and still paddle fast enough to get where you want efficiently and comfortably.
The versatile Petrel Play is suitable for a novice paddler who just wants a stable, easy to paddle kayak as well as the more experienced paddler who wants a responsive and manoeuvrable boat for playing in surf or rock gardens. It will appeal to paddlers of all shapes, sizes and skill levels for moderate pace cruising and has good stability in waves, with the ability to lean comfortably.
The Petrel Play is a sleek, West Greenland-style kayak with advanced handling qualities in all conditions, especially waves. A sport-oriented kayak for surfing, it is fast enough to keep up with most full length sea kayaks as long as you don't want to race.
All the kits include:
As well as the above, the cedar-strip kit includes:
The stitch-and-glue kits also include:
These plans contain sufficient information to build the boat from scratch rather than a kit. The plans include full size drawings.
The forms and strongback are available for the cedar-strip boat and no other wooden parts are required besides the cedar strips, which are not included. As well as the forms and strongback, 290 m of Bead-and-cove cedar strips will be needed.
This option contains only the building manual and pre-cut wooden parts for the stitch-and-glue boats. This option is for those wanting to obtain the other materials from other sources.
This option contains the non wood items needed to build the boat. The plans and manual are not included.