With the Auk range, designer Nick Schade sought kayaks that are roomy and stable, can carry a lot of camping gear, and move through the water smoothly and easily. The Auk family has grown and evolved to fill a wide range of niches, from calm water pond boats to a fast touring or racing kayak.
The Auks are characterised by long waterlines and plumb ends. The sectional shape is gradually rounded with a bit of flat on the bottom. The result is good initial stability and solid secondary stability. The long waterline contributes to efficiency at speed and good glide.
Due to their relatively simple shape the Great Auk designs are relatively easy to build, using the cedar-strip method. The bow shape has a small amount of hollow that provides a clean entry on flat water while adding lift as the waves get larger. These designs are well suited for mounting a rudder, but this is not a requirement.
A detailed Guillemot kayak build log (with photos) can be read on our forum. It is built using the same cedar-strip method as the Great Auk range.
The Great Auk is a roomy, fast and stable kayak that tracks very straight. The long water line and clean entry permits it to cut through the water with a barely visible wake. The flared bow gives a very dry ride, lifting over most waves with little effort. This is one of Nick Schade's more stable single sea kayaks and is a good all-around boat for someone wanting a stable, efficient cedar-strip kayak.
Beginner kayakers will find this design to be comfortable and reliable. While not a stiff tracker, it is well balanced and with a little practice novice kayakers will be able to take this boat a long way. It will not be a design you outgrow immediately. Larger paddlers will find this design roomy and capable. It can easily carry quite a substantial load so heavier paddlers will still find it usable for multi-day trips.
This kayak is a shortened version of the standard Great Auk. It is a recreational kayak well suited to sheltered lakes and harbours where you may occasionally encounter moderate winds and modest waves. The relatively short length allows it to manoeuvre easily in tight streams and estuaries.
This is the ideal boat for exploring sheltered lakes and ponds and for poking around sheltered bays. It is short enough to be easy to handle, both on and off the water, while having enough length for efficient handling over distances. While not intended for rough water, it has enough stability to handle waves and enough length that it can still move if the wind picks up.
If you want an even shorter version of the Great Auk, try the Little Auk.
If you are going on a months-long tour up the Inside Passage you might want to carry a lot of supplies and this is the kayak to do it. It has the capacity to carry a large load efficiently. It is stable enough to be rigged with a small sail.
This boat may not be appropriate if you feel you just need a little bit more capacity than normal; it is best suited for situations where you need a total capacity over 350 lb and will still perform well with over 600 lb on board. Large paddlers will find this design efficient and comfortable while still able to carry a lot of gear.
The Razor Billed Auk is a fast boat suitable for long distance touring or recreational racing. It has enough volume to carry gear for an extended tour and has the long waterline and low wetted surface area to move efficiently through the water at speed. This boat is less stable than others in the Great Auk family, but will still be quite comfortable for skilled paddlers in rough water. Due to its length it can bog down a little in steep chop, but it will still be faster than most sea kayaks.
This cedar-strip design was originally created with recreational racing in events like the Blackburn Challenge in mind, and it has proved quite successful at that purpose, but it was not intended to be a flat-out racing machine with the inherent compromises required in such a design. It is intended to function well as a capable touring sea kayak for those people who want to go places quickly and efficiently.
By stretching out the Great Auk, Nick Schade has created a tandem sea kayak that will be comfortable for occasional paddlers while providing an efficient and capable boat for a pair of skilled kayakers. The long waterline allows a couple of strong paddlers to really step out and go fast, while the respectable volume provides enough capacity to carry gear for multi-day trips.
The Great Auk Double is longer and a little wider than the Great Auk, to carry the heavier load of two people plus their gear. It takes the sleek lines of the Great Auk to make a fast and comfortable tandem for intermediate paddlers. This is not just a simple stretch of the Great Auk: Schade has adjusted the shape to add more volume near the ends. This combined with a higher bow will help the boat rise easily over waves.
This boat fits in between the Guillemot Double and Fast Double in terms of performance. It will be faster than the Guillemot Double because it is a little longer and narrower. This makes it a little less stable. But it is not as long or as narrow as the Fast Double.
The plans contain sufficient information to make it possible to build the boat from scratch rather than a kit. They include full size drawings for all the forms. We recommend Nick Schade's book, The Strip-Built Sea Kayak, which covers the techniques that are used to build strip-planked kayaks.
For those wanting to obtain the other materials needed to build the boat from other sources, this option contains the pre-cut forms and strongback and the necessary plans to build the boat. The cedar strips are not included (see below).
As well as the plans, forms and strongback, bead-and-cove cedar strips will be needed in the following quantities: