The Coho: Voted Best Wooden Kayak by Sea Kayaker Magazine, 2011-2014
"The Coho has been on the market for 14 years and hasn't lost any of its appeal. When we reviewed the Coho in 1998 (see below), it drew high praise from a 5'2" woman and a 6'2" man alike. The 17'6" by 23 3/8" kit kayak weights only 39 pounds, making it easy for smaller paddlers to carry. For our reviewers the Coho was 'beautifully responsive' and 'tracked quite well.' One put it 'on the top of my list for an expedition-style kayak,' and another rated it 'my hands-down favorite of all the boats I have reviewed. I would recommend it to anyone.' Varnished wood and light weight always make a good first impression but only performance on the water could give the Coho its longevity." -- Article published with Reader's Choice Awards, Sea Kayaker Magazine (November 2011-2014. Reader's Choice Awards are triennial).
Coho Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, Oct. 1998
KW (6'2", 200 lbs Male) said, "The good handling for its length combined with its quickness and beauty send it to the top of my ratings for an expedition style kayak."
VS (5'2", 160 lbs female) said, "Of all the boats I have reviewed, the Coho is my hands-down favorite, the combination of light weight and superb handling make this a wonderful boat. It is a good-tracking cruising boat I would recommend to anyone, whether novice or an experienced paddler."
--Sea Kayaker Magazine, October 1998 issue. For entire text, click: Full Text Coho Review
"Varnished mahogany always turns heads at the beach, but the appeal of the Arctic Tern 17, introduced in 1999, had to be more than skin deep to take such a commanding lead in our reader poll. In 1986, designer John Lockwood produced the first computer-designed kayak kit and went into business as Pygmy Sea kayaks. The Arctic Tern, available in a 14 foot and a 17 foot version, is his 13th kayak design. At less than 45 pounds for a full-size touring kayak, it's easy to carry. It's simple to get in and out of the cockpit, and there's plenty of foot room forward. The angled panels at the perimeter of the deck allow for good interior volume without interfering with paddling. The initial stability is fair and secondary stability excellent- a combination that makes the Arctic Tern 17 a breeze to edge. For fishing and photography, a bit of cargo in the hold will provide a steady platform to work from. The single-chined hull tracks well and, set on edge, carves a nice turn. The kayak accelerates quickly and is very easy to drive along at a brisk cruising pace. If you're going to build a kayak, you'll want one worthy of your investment in time and effort. The Arctic Tern will reward your efforts with a finished product that's as pleasing to look at as it is to paddle."
Arctic Tern Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, December 1999
"I really loved this kayak. the hull design is top notch, it combines superb rough-water handling , good tracking and turning, and outstanding surfing ability for a touring kayak. A great choice for beginners interested in learning good technique and edge control." (KW, 6'2", 200 lbs, male)
"I really enjoyed my time with this boat, and I was loathe to give it back. It handles well and one could use it for day paddling, long trips, and even local racing." (HE, 5'1", 105 lbs, female)
"The Arctic Tern is a pretty boat with nice handling characteristics. It is a good general-purpose cruiser that would carry ample gear for camping. For someone coming into the sport, it would be a great woodworking project and a nice boat that one would not soon outgrow." (TE, 6'1", 200 lbs, male) Click here for more information: Arctic Tern 17
GL: 5’ 11”, 165-pound male. Three day trips. Winds 5 to 20 knots, waves 1 to 2 feet. Cargo 45 pounds
MC: 6’1”, 160-pound male. Day paddles and playing in surf over four days. Winds 5 to 25 knots, waves and surf to 3 feet.
MN: 6’, 220-pound male: Day paddle. Winds to 18 knots, waves to 2 feet. No Cargo
“Excellent cruising speed, excellent acceleration, and good sprint speed as well.” (GL)
MC was “impressed by the Murrelet. It exceeded my expectations for ease of rolling and was quite comfortable to paddle, even in rough water...Rolling is a real pleasure with this kayak”. For MN “The Murrelet was a great combination of features for cruising, playing when the wind is up and rolling for the sheer fun of it.”
Stability and Maneuverability:
"The stability profile is good for leisure pastimes in calm conditions and active paddling in a chop. The Murrelet tracked well. A single sweep will initiate a turn and the Murrelet will continue to carve on its own while edged.” (MN)
“Steering with leaned turns was excellent.” (GL).
GL found “no noticeable weathercocking with the wind coming from any direction; I felt no need to adjust trim, lean or paddle stroke while paddling across a stiff wind. Turning upwind or down was not difficult so I don’t feel that the Murrelet needs a skeg or rudder.”
Rolling and Rescue:
“Rolling is a real pleasure with this kayak” (MC).
“The very solid fit in the cockpit made rolling a breeze. C to C was a snap— The layback was excellent.” (MN).
"The foredeck was nicely contoured to stay well clear of paddle strokes. The Murrelet was designed for doing Greenland style layback rolls and it certainly delivers. I could do a very comfortable layback with full contact of my PFD on deck—superb. It’s a rolling machine, even hand rolls are not difficult.” (GL)
"Stowage space aboard the Murrelet is excellent for a week outing or longer. The extra depth of the four-panel aft deck allows for bulky items like my large bear canister. With 45 pounds of cargo aboard “the kayak tracked and turned nicely, and secondary felt bomber secure.” (GL)
The Bottom Line:
The Murrelet is a great kayak for Greenland-style rolling, and yet has some stowage advantages for long trips. I loved the light weight for car-topping and enjoyed paddling and showing off this wooden beauty. It’s stable enough for athletic beginners, and a playful, rough-water rolling machine for the experts” (GL)
Murrelet Review, WoodenBoat's 2013 Small Boat's Edition
"A svelte and versatile new kayak from Pygmy Boats"
"The stitch-and-glue construction used for the Murrelet is straightforward and very well suited to amateur builders, even those first-timers who’ll find themselves gathering skills and tools... Rolling using only my hands isn’t a skill I practice regularly, but I hit my first attempt at it in the Murrelet. After that, it was no surprise that many of the roll techniques I can perform in skin-on-frame Greenland kayaks I’ve built specifically for rolling translated well to the Murrelet. You could have a lot of fun in the Murrelet without ever paddling away from your launch site.The Murrelet is a kayak that you could easily manage as a novice paddler and yet never outgrow. As your skills improve to include longer passages, rougher water, and rolling for self-rescue and for fun, the Murrelet will not come up short. And when you’re not paddling it—if you have a living room wall long enough—you’d have good reason to put it on display. It’s a work of art."
To see the full review from WoodenBoat, click here.
Murrelet Video Kayak Review by Adventure Kayak Magazine:
"Given the growth and popularity of Pygmy boats since 1986, the Murrelet looks and performs exactly as it should— like
the culmination of 26 years of design experience and refinement..."
Arctic Tern 14 Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine Aug. 2002
Reviewers: KC, 5'7" 140lb Female
GL, 5'11" 165lb Male
"so light to lift. Every time I hefted it, I was thrilled by how easy it was to shoulder carry...This boat puts a solo carry within the ability of paddlers for whom it was previously not possible."(KC)
"holds its course admirably. It did a great job of tracking upwind, and held its course in a crosswind."(KC)
GL surfed boat wakes "with great results. I found I could ride the wakes at a slight angle with a strong stern rudders and stay on the wave. Fast acceleration and quick turning helped catch the wakes."(GL)
"Because it is light and nimble, the boat comes up to speed instantly. It is delightfully easy to hold a touring pace"(KC)
"The Tern 14 is a godsend for smaller boaters. Its shallow cockpit design, nimble handling and light weight are coupled with straight tracking and good speed." (KC)
"The Borealis Xl from Pygmy has lines that are "pleasingly deceptive; the kayak has the appearance of 'normal' size and yet its dimensions are significantly greater"(TW, 6'1", 180 lb male).
"For a kayak large enough to accommodate larger paddlers, the Borealis is light enough for an easy solo carry"(MK).
"For my 34-inch inseam, the extra-large cockpit is heaven on earth....The foredeck is canted and doesn't interfere with high-angle paddle strokes."(MK, 6'1" 210 lbs male).
"The primary stability is very high. I could sit in the chop and the boat kept itself under me. Secondary stability is very high-a real wall to lean on when edging"(TE 6'1", 200 lbs male).
"Despite the wide beam it was quite easy to push along at 4 knots."(MK). "Ample storage for long trips is a high point for the Borealis XL. Extra goodies and all the luxuries of home can fit in the grand compartments."(TW).
The Borealis Xl "is really the big guy's dream: a quality kit touring kayak that combines a grand size with great looks and good handling."(TW)
Pinguino 145-4PD Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, June 2013
“It’s a multipurpose kayak with few peers: surfing ability for coastal travel or day trip fun; low windage and well-balanced for rough conditions; ample gear storage for multiday trips; and high stability for photographers or fishers” (GL, 5’11”, 165-pound male).
“The Pinguino is an affordable, beautiful and easily transportable little boat that can promise lots of fun in both flat and rough conditions for the beginning to advanced paddler. For a solo carry the Pinguino was “wonderfully light.” (LJ, 5’1”, 150-pound female)
“The Pinguino handled my weight with ease and rewarded my paddling with easy manageability. While its top-end speed is, as expected, not as much as that of the longer sea kayaks, it is certainly up to cruising. The Pinguino is an entirely tour-capable kayak that would keep me upright while I enjoy the scenery and take photos” (TE, 6’ 1”, 200-pound male).
For GL, the Pinguino had “a neutral helm with no weathercocking whatsoever in conditions to 15 knots; turned easily in any direction, and tracked with no need to adjust trim or paddle stroke.”
The Pinguino had “good acceleration, with a cruising speed fast enough for group paddles” (GL).
Pinguino 145 & Pinguino 145-4PD Review, Small Boats Issue by
WoodenBoat Magazine, December 2014
"The Pinguino’s stability makes it an ideal platform for fishing,
photography, and relaxed outings... It’s a well-mannered design with a respectable cruising speed and a good amount of cargo space for carrying several days’ worth of camping and cooking supplies. It’s near-sister, the Pinguino 145 PD, which
is shown above, has a smaller cockpit that allows for rolling and advanced control."
Rolling and Rescue:
"For rolling and self-rescue drills, I much preferred
the 145-4PD for its lower aft deck and snugger cockpit.
Rolling was a cinch, especially when I used a layback rolling technique. A long sweep of the paddle brought me up on the aft deck with minimal effort. Wet-exiting after a capsize wasn’t hampered by the standard cockpit’s shorter and narrower opening. The Pinguino’s light weight made it easy to empty water from the cockpit. I could lift the bow of the capsized kayak and hold it high while the water drained out... The 145 4PD sacrifices a bit of cargo capacity for a
lower profile in the wind and a more compact fit. Its cockpit coaming rests on a deeply recessed deck panel, and a nicely sculpted piece provides a graceful transition to the peaked deck. The coaming and the backrest are significantly lower than in the 145; the layback
clearance was excellent."
"There wasn’t a rudder on either Pinguino, and while one is available as an option, I didn’t feel the need for one. The Pinguinos went where I pointed them... The Pinguino turned quite nicely when edged. It continued to carve between strokes and even when I stopped paddling. When I put a strong edging on the kayak, the turning radius tightened but the stern didn’t skid around. While having the stern skid can be handy for maneuvering in tight quarters, it kills speed. By favoring carved turns, the
Pinguino carries momentum well."
Pinguino Sport Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, April 2010
"In windy conditions this boat certainly exceeded my expectations. The designer seems to have gotten the fore-and-aft balance right. I have seldom paddled in a boat that performed better in a crosswind."(MK, 6'1" 210 lbs male)
"The Pinguino was a lot of fun in wind and rough water. There are a lot of things to like: lightweight, lively feel, good manners in a blow. It also adapts well to lazing about on a calm day and tending to camera or fishing pole."(TE, 6'1", 200 lbs male).
"The Pinguino hits the mark dead-on, a recreational-style kayak for the home builder. It is perfectly suited for photography or bird watching and its stable behavior made it confidence inspiring, fun, and easy to paddle."(TW, 6'1", 180 lbs)
Pinguino Sport Review, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, April 2009
"It's been a long journey for Pygmy Boats founder/owner/designer John Lockwood, whose original desire to build a lightweight wooden kayak to drag up the banks of B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands after breaking his hip turned the Harvard-educated computer programmer onto developing breakthrough 3D plate-development software to craft the panels for his boat kits. All we needed to know was that his sea touring line performed well in crosswinds without rudders. That, and that there would be no assembly required to surf them. So over 20 years after those Queen Charlotte trips, Lockwood was back in B.C., ready to see his latest creation, the short and lean 13-foot, 36-pound Pinguino Sport, tackle the wave. The surprising result—in that this was a wide boat with a large deck height not designed with the advanced paddler in mind—was that it was one of the best wave performers of the two surf sessions. 'The secondary chine makes it easy to hit the brakes and go back, not so much in the trough, but as you’re coming up off the wave, the ends release and you can carve it on edge back and forth,' said one tester, noting the lightweight nature also seriously reduced any drag in the water. Lockwoo d chalks up that agility and acceleration to the boat’s multi-chine hull profile, enabling it to perform like a hard-chine boat." (Canoe & Kayak: Skook Review II, a review of kayak performances at Skookumchuk rapids: click here to see the review on Canoe & Kayak).
Pinguino Sport, Woodcraft Magazine, July 2010
"While kit boats abound, we chose to build the Pinguino Sport from Pygmy Boats Inc. designed by Pygmy's founder, John Lockwood. It offers a smooth, quiet paddle at a 3.5-knot pace. It's easy to enter and exit. And talk about portability! The completed craft weighs just 34 pounds, making it easy to carry. The kit's price tag for a wood boat shouldn't scare anyone away, nor should the beginner-level woodworking skills needed. You'll learn the 'stitch-and-glue' process- tying parts together with wires and then welding them with epoxy and fiberglass... With just a small collection of hand tools, you can make this handsome recreational kayak in less than two months and enjoy it and the boatbuilding experience for a lifetime." (Excerpt from Woodcraft Magazine's website)
OspreyStd. Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, Dec. 1996
The boat is quick and responsive. It accelerated and held speed with little effort" (DA). When unloaded, the GoldenEye gave all of our reviewers a sense of easy, effortless paddling, perhaps because of its light weight. "The day of my test I paddled over ten miles and I felt like I had hardly done any work." (VS, 5'2", 160 lb female))
"The boat held a variety of courses in the wind with little effort. I noticed no excessive weathercocking. In the wind conditions I encountered it just went where I pointed it (DA, 6'1", 175 lb male).
"This is a fine cruising, fishing, and general use boat for a larger and intermediate level paddler. Its comfort and sea handling characteristics are excellent. It is light, simple and does everything well." (DA) "It is so light, so comfortable and handles just beautifully" (VS).
--Sea Kayaker Magazine, Winter 1996 issue. For entire text, click GoldenEye-Std. Review
Note: The Osprey Std. and Goldeneye std. kayak designs share identical hull characteristics below the water line. The difference between the two designs is the Osprey std has our updated four panel deck design with the rear cockpit recess feature. All statements regarding Goldeneye performance characteristics are applicable to the Osprey std design. Click here for more information: Osprey Std
Queen Charlotte Review, Sea Kayaker Magazine, Summer 1994
"The Queen Charlotte has a quick and sure response to leaned turns. It accelerates well and easily holds a cruising speed....RS (6'2", 190 lb male) and SK (5'10", 165 lb male) enjoyed surfing the Queen Charlotte. "The hull felt strong and rigid when falling off the crest of bigger waves and didn't flex (SK) 'Fun to carve, turns off the sharp edges, and the boat tracked well with the flat bottom planing and tending not to broach'. RS's comments summed up the general feeling among our paddlers: 'Light-weight and beautiful, the Queen Charlotte is a fun maneuverable play boat for surf, but with adequate speed for touring...beginning paddlers should find it quite comfortable, while more advanced paddlers should enjoy the performance getting up on edge."
--Sea Kayaker Magazine, the Editors & assistants, Summer 1994 issue. Click here for more information: Queen Charlotte
Wineglass Wherry Review, Wooden Boat Magazine's Small Boats, 2009:
"The Wineglass Wherry transports effortlessly over-land on a two-wheel dolly. Balancing its 90lbs over the wheels, I was able to push the boat along the blacktop, down the ramp, and into the water alone, without any strain. The boat was reassuringly stable. With its double-ended waterline, it carried well between strokes with clean water astern and, despite it's light weight, the motion in waves was not corky. The wind built to 12kts during my outing, and I set course at various relative angles. The boat was well-mannered on all points of sail, tracking dead straight. This was especially impressive on a beam reach, when one might expect the boat to round up, or "weathercock". There was none of this behavior.. If you've built a stitch-and-glue kayak, then you already know how to build a Wineglass Wherry. You won't need a strongback or forms; the panels are simply sewn together right on the shop floor, quickly yielding the shape of a boat. This boat turns heads." For entire text, click: Full Text Wherry Review Click here for more information: Wineglass Wherry
Taiga Tripper Review, Canoe & Kayak, August 2002:
"After years of desiging and producing stitch-and-glue touring kayak kits, John Lockwood now offers a canoe for the paddler/builder. The finished product draws admiring stares from passersby, and it handles well on the water, too. The canoe nearly resembles a lapstrake boat, or better yet, a wooden version of fabric stretched over an internal frame. But there's no internal frame, and the fabric is wood veneer.
Stability: The seats are mounted exceptionally high (bow 11 inches/stern 14 inches), which gives the perception of uneasy initial stability. In fact, the hull is quite initially stable with lowered seats. Final stability is outstanding. In strong wind and waves, the hull felt reassuring and secure.
Capacity/Dryness: The Taiga Tripper is as dry in inclement conditions as any other canoe in this lot. We also loaded 420 pounds into it, which did not even begin to approach it's safe loading limits.
Outfitting: Canoe bench seats are hung from the gunwales. Separate outwales and slotted inwales cap off the wood construction and give good tie points, as well as easy emptying. The boat came with an off-the-shelf yoke plus a single thwart. At 65 pounds, the boat is remarkably light for a wood canoe." Click here for more information: Taiga Tripper Canoe