The Petrel is a responsive, lightweight cedar-strip kayak suitable for day trips in rough water, but equally at home poking into sheltered estuaries or exploring the shores of isolated coves. This wooden 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 wooden strip-planked 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 cedar-strip Petrel and is a must-have. It covers all the techniques that are used to build strip-planked wooden boats.
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 Petrel.
The Petrel cedar-strip kit includes:
The plans contain sufficient information to build the boat from scratch rather than a kit. They include full size drawings for all the forms.
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, 290 m of bead-and-cove cedar strips will be needed to build the cedar-strip Petrel.