My brother and I owned a heavy tandem kayak which was built when I was 14 in 1960. It was build by the grandfather of my friend Bennie Huisman from marine plywood on heavy Amarican oak frames. The cockpit coaming was Djati teak. So a very heavy kayak.
The builder ran out of marine ply so the last meter and a half on port was from triplex which rotted away after 2 years. The kayak did only come out of the water in winter.
I replaced the rotten part with marine plywood. That was my first boat building experience.
One year later I built an R1S youth racing kayak from plywood on mahogany frames. It was 5.2 meters long and 51 cm wide with a flat bottom, verry tippy at the start.
It was lost in a fire in 1970. From that time on until 1998 I only played with sailboats in the freetime.
In 1998 I bought a Gans Grandy expedition kayak (polyester).
The Grandi is not a real sea kayak. It is good for big waters but it paddels rather wet and tracks extremely because of its fixed skeg. Also its volume is not big enough for a 80 kg paddler with camping gear for a week.
A few month later I got the chance to buy a used P&H Baidarka Explorer designed by Dereck Hutchkinson with an ocean cockpit.
It is not a baidarka at all but P&H gave this name. It is not a beginners kayak but performs very well when the water gets rough. This is the only kayak I unintended capsized with. A few frightening moments because I could not find the grab loop. With an ocean cockpit the loop is much closer so I was searching to far away. I still can only manage the first part of the eskimo roll just as any body.
In 1999 I did find Nicks website and downloaded the plans for the S&G Guillemot. I paddled 10 years with it and enjoyed it very much. I ordered the plans for the Expedition Single and the Night Heron years ago.
At first I wanted to build the Expedition Single but because it was my first build I started with the Night Heron High Deck, which I thougt a bit easier for a first time strip builder.
Now, at the end of 2011, I paddled more than 500 km with it. The first few minutes I found her a little tippy but soon I was happy in it. I cannot fall a sleep in it just as in the S&G Guillemot but she is stable enough. Very responsive and fast. Tracks slightly better then the S&G Guillemot. I don’t need a drop-down skeg until now. Loaded with full camping gear she is very stable, far better then I expected.
After 10 years, S&G Guillemot is replaced as favorite by the Night Heron.
And now 2016 I paddled one year in the Fire Star designed by Rob Macks. It is a very nice paddling boat. Much room for camping gear. Unloaded with gear it is very tippy. But loaded with camping gear very stable.
I made a drop down skeg like Björn Thomasson.