The Guillemot family of cedar-strip sea kayaks grew out of Nick Schade's quest to create a kayak to get out to the exposed islands off the coast of Maine. He wanted a boat with good all-around performance for his own use that would be efficient for making open water crossings yet responsive when close to shore. It needed to be sporty, with quick acceleration and manoeuvrability. Schade drew from a wide range of inspirations to create a dream boat that would be comfortable and easy to paddle to the places he wanted to be. The responsiveness comes from the whitewater kayaks he was paddling at the time. The ability to cross open water was borrowed from Greenland Inuit kayaks.
The design that resulted is characterised by sweeping end-shapes and a rounded cross-section. With a shallow v-shaped bottom and moderately hard chine, the Guillemot is comfortably stable and manoeuvrable. The volume is brought well into the ends for a smooth ride over waves. The low lines of the deck keep the boat out of the breeze for good balance in cross-winds.
The Guillemot is designed with somewhat loose tracking, for maximum responsiveness. With practice you will find that the kayak tracks easily. At first it will take some concentration to hold course, but with experience the boat will respond as if it were reading your mind. It will soon react quickly and easily, seeming to go where you choose just by thinking about it.
A detailed Guillemot kayak build log (with photos) can be read on our forum.
A simple scaling-down of the Guillemot creates a fun and able boat for smaller paddlers. This boat is efficient and easily paddled. Due to its narrow width it may be less stable than other boats you have paddled, but if you have been paddling boats designed for larger paddlers you may find they have more stability than you really need.
This boat will be efficient and responsive for small paddlers used to boats that are designed for much larger paddlers. It is not a straight-tracking design but is well balanced and behaves ably in rough water.
This enlarged version of the Guillemot is intended for larger paddlers who need additional room for their legs and feet. In addition, Schade has added to the height of the deck to give more foot room and redistributed the volume to provide slightly stiffer tracking. The cockpit is bigger than the standard Guillemot and like all Schade's designs you can easily adjust the size of the cockpit to fit your needs.
This design differs from the Expedition Single (see below), being wider and shorter. This boat has more foot room and slightly more weight-carrying capacity. It also has the simplified shape of the Guillemot so it will be easier to build than the Expedition Single. If this boat does not appear to have the capacity you think you need, take a look at the High-Capacity Great Auk.
If you are looking for a kayak for playing in waves and surf, this boat will provide a lot of fun. Its wide, flat bottom allows for quick turns and easy surfing. Its low volume makes it an easy roller, but it is wide enough to be stable as you play.
It turns easily with a steering stroke like a white-water boat, yet tracks quite well. This boat is probably best suited for a small paddler because there is very little knee room, though designer Nick Schade's brother is 6′ 2″ and has a lot of fun with this boat. All the Guillemots roll well but this design is the easiest. The low aft-deck permits the paddler to lean right back and easily touch their head to the aft-deck.
The extra length of the Expedition Single provides volume for gear and efficient long-distance paddling. Although this kayak may appear long for a solo kayak, it is quite manoeuvrable. With the same cross-section and similar profile shape as the Guillemot, the Expedition Single has many of the same handling characteristics. Like all the Guillemot designs it is stable for its width and has a smooth transition from initial to final stability.
Designer Nick Schade admits that he is delighted with the Expedition Single design. Novices are comfortable with its stability and experienced paddlers are impressed with its performance. Everyone who has tried this boat is amazed at how easily it handles: it doesn't feel like a 19 foot boat.
This design is an adaptation of Schade's successful Guillemot design to a tandem kayak. It is a roomy, stable and comfortable boat. Schade drew the stern to easily accept a rudder but it is not required. The cockpits are quite far apart, permitting the paddlers to be out of sync. There is room for a hatch between the cockpits. This is a good two person kayak for beginner to intermediate paddlers. Speed-oriented paddlers who want a tandem should look at the Great Auk Double or Fast Double (see below).
The large, deep cockpits make this boat very comfortable and secure. It has good volume for a dry ride and room to move your legs around. There is plenty of capacity for multi-day trips, especially if you install a centre hatch.
This tandem kayak is based on the Expedition Single, stretched to make a fast, fun boat for two paddlers. This is not intended as a racing boat, it is a high performance touring kayak suitable for intermediate to skilled paddlers. Beginners looking for a double should look at the Guillemot Double (see above).
This is a boat for a pair of experienced paddlers who want to paddle together but don't want the compromises of a shorter and wider double. It gains enough stability from its length to compensate for its narrow beam.
It is a little hard to get on and off the car, but once in the water it moves easily and really is fast. Its length means it is not a quick turner, but it is quick on the straight. It consistently does very well in races such as the Blackburn Challenge.
The two cockpits are far enough apart that the paddlers do not interfere with each other at all, even if they paddle at different cadences or if one paddler stops. The boat also rolls very easily.
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: