follow up to my July 5, 2008 review.
This summer I shipalted in the original design hatch closure system. (10) It is much easier for loading gear and watertight integrity is unmatched. I wouldn't recommend the hidden hatch system (bungee/hook) if you want to camp with any kayak you might build.
I got quite a few miles this season, did a lot of camping, and even considerable portaging. A lot of rough handling, there are some paint scrapes but epoxy integrity is not compromised.
I really like this kayaks performance. A twenty mile paddle outing goes by in a flash. It's fun in all conditions, surfed good, rolls exceptional. I got to show it to Mark Rogers (the designer) at Inland Seas Society Symposium last June and he was impressed with my work. Nigel Dennis also paddled up to me one day and we discussed boat building. And it's a traffic stopper... for those moments when you can't be on the water.Completed my Arctic Hawk build in time for my annual summer solstice trip to the Apostle Islands.
The Kit and CONSTRUCTION - (8).
Delivery was a bit confused , I finally personally delivered another guys kit stuff to his house because the CLC folks don't use UPS, and the delivery company rep was a BIMBO.
I got the kit in January and inventoried it and was missing parts. I called CLC and they seemed confused as to what the kit consisted of and tried to tell me that the part I was looking for did not exist, but I emailed them a photo of the the x1 part, there were supposed to be x2. Understandble, they do a lot of kits. Everything was set to go, I installed a heater in my garage (10), on -20F days I could keep it a nice easy 70F in the garage and my electrical bill was only $200 a month (-10).
I started the build the second week of March. The Hawk comes with the much touted manual and it was good resource to have. I also got "The ZEN of Woodboat building" video as a PNET perk, it was not applicable to the Arctic Hawk build methodology. The construction takes time and patience which I had plenty of, winter was long. Towards the end of the build I felt that my hardner was dwindling so I bought another quart, I really only needed another pint, but I did need more than was supplied. I didn't over use it either. I never had any issues with epoxy curing and I only created 2 little pucks. And the kayak is less than 45lbs.
Not supplied in the kit construction pieces: I chose to put in an optional retractable skeg kit (10) (a nice carbon fibre job) direct from Superior Kayaks, and to put in the invisible hatch hold down kit (4); no drill footbrace studs (10), preformed minicell foam seat all supplied by CLC. They didn't require that much additional epoxy. I painted the hull with Interlux Brightsides Marine Poly I got through CLC, but I could have gotten it cheaper locally I learned later. I used it too create graphics as well. I used Interlux Schooner Varnish for the deck which stayed natural and applied it over the hull to protect the graphics.
ON THE WATER.(10) Launched June 18.
Cons. Hatches leaked, performance (4). The gasket material supplied was weather stripping and it had to be trimmed for the invisible hatch kit, it is spongy and the hatches soaked in water excessively. I tried the bungies tight and it pulled the rear hatch out of position. Loose was better, still wet.
After the 5-day shakedown cruise, I changed the gasket with scotch mastic tape. Very much better but still leaky.
Ocean cockpit and my homemade tuitsoq were perfect together, cockpit was very dry.
Having an affinity for hard chine greenland style kayaks, I loved the Hawk right away. It static braced with ease, I could perform every roll in my vocabulary with it. So all the skills that I developed for self recovery were going to fit in nicely.
It is quick, nice crusing hull speed and easy to maintain pace. Crossings were quick and true(skeg). It was pretty nimble in the sea caves and I had it packed to the gills. Regardless of all the old hype, it is a classic weather cocking greenland boat. It is probably weathercocking right now in the garage, so installing the retractable skeg was a wise choice, it worked flawlessly and effectively and it deploys adjustably.
Mine is the most beautiful kayak on the water today.I completed the arctic hawk kit sold by CLC in the winter of 2004/2005. Since completing the boat I have put about 200 miles on her typically 5 to 10 miles at a time day paddles.
While CLC manufactures the kit, the brains behind it are that of Mark Rodgers of Superior Kayaks.
The kit is true to Mark Rodgers design and construction techniques. An experienced builder can create the same boat that is sold by Superior Kayaks and avoid the 5K+ price tag and two year waiting list.
With respect to construction, the boat is accompanied by an almost 500 page detailed step by step manual with careful elaboration of all construction issues and finishing technique. I, for one, found significant value in the manual in terms of improving my appreciation of the finer points of wood kayak construction. That being said, as stitch and glue kits go, this strikes me as an advanced project in order to get the fit and finish of the professional built boat. I easily put 200 hours into the construction with lots of thinking time. It is the eighth wood kayak I have built.
The results, however, are worth it. With a traditional Greenland look, the boat in mahogany is gorgeous. Its paddling qualities match its looks. It will drive straight but it is extremely responsive to a leaned turn. She glides with little effort and its low deck makes for an easy stroke with little chance of banging your knuckles or your paddle. I mostly paddle in calm protected waters but have also taken her into 2 foot swells. Given her high bow, she has little tendency to pierce waves and rides up over most everything. The boat does weathercock in strong winds but a little lean will typically correct the problem avoiding the need for correcting strokes. I have not rolled her, but the low coaming makes it easy to lean back and the upturned ends make her want to come back up.
I routinely paddle her with a friend who has the exact same boat (by Wilderness Systems) executed in fibreglass. The advantages of the wood construction are obvious in the weight of the boats. The kit I built came in at 42 lbs....the glass version is almost 50. That being said, my colleague is certainly more laisez faire about running her up on a beach than I am. (would you run your Stradivarius up on a beach?) We constantly get comments from other paddlers about the great looks and lines of these boats.
If there is a downside to the Arctic Hawk it relates to her interior volume and deck height relative to almost every other modern sea kayak out there. She is low volume with a relative low deck at the knees. In addition, the coaming, even with the keyhole option is small relative to almost all production boats. This is a kayak that you put on...not get on.
I weight about 195lbs with gear and am 5' 10". The boat allows little room for bending the knees and even with the key hole cockpit, I cannot get my knees out first....so I have to slide into it on getting in and pull myself out of it exiting. This, I found, to be extremely challenging at first. It took a while to get used to it. It is not a boat that I ever lend to inexperienced paddlers as a result.
Given the overall length of the boat, 18ft, this was a surprise to me when I first paddled it (No, I never did take a test ride). So I highly recommend taking a test paddle before committing to this kit...particularly if you are a bit large (over 180 lbs) and or don't have great flexibility because as I said earlier, it has very low cockpit height and a small coaming relative to most every other boat of comparable size.
Overall, I give this boat a 9 out of 10. I would summarize my experience as somebody who was totally seduced by the Arctic Hawk's great looks and paddling qualities but wishes for just a bit more room. CLC is apparently working with Superior Kayaks on several other projects involving "cousins" of the Arctic Hawk, one a bit larger and one a bit smaller in size. Maybe the larger one is the 10 for me.