WILLOW QUICKBEAM LODESTAR FOX
In 2002, after more then 40 years of paddling canoes and kayaks, nearly 20 years of building and repairing boats and almost as many teaching, I started to design boats. My focus has been on the boats I know best: small craft, kayaks, double paddle canoes and prams.
As a Registered Maine Guide I’ve had the opportunity to lead and instruct numerous kayaking and sailing trips and I’ve seen first hand how both beginners and seasoned outdoor adventurers use and interact with a variety of small boats. These trips coupled with my own solo adventures and time spent teaching in the shop have given me a great deal of insight into what works, or doesn’t work for first time builders, paddlers and sailors. It’s a unique perspective and a pretty tight feedback loop. My goal has been to create boats that are solid predictable performers for beginners yet continue to be fulfilling boats as paddlers and sailors skills improve. Design parameters and construction choices have been carefully choreographed to create strong, attractive boats that can be assembled from a kit by home builders or by students during one-week classes.
Currently I offer four boat designs. Three kayaks and one double paddle decked canoe. Three more designs are on the drawing board. Below you’ll find more information on this growing fleet. Please touch base if you have any questions on which boat is best for your needs. Or you can place your order here.
Current Design Offerings
Willow Sea Kayak
Where kayaks are concerned there is no true one-size fits all boat. Neither is there a boat that performs all tasks well. With the Willow Sea Kayak I’ve found a balance of volume, hull shape and strength that does cover a broad range of intended uses and fit a variety of paddlers and paddling styles. While ideal for day paddles, Willow has the volume and solid performance required of a true expedition kayak. Camp Chewonki has selected the design for their builders program. The kids spend the first 2 weeks of this 5 week program building their own Willow kayaks, then paddle them on a lightly supported 3 week expedition along the coast of Maine.
Willow is 17’ 8” long with a beam of just under 23”. The depth of the cockpit forward is 11 ½”, aft it’s 9 ½”. The average weight is around 44 pounds. The boat is suitable for paddlers from 130 to 250 pounds.
Finished boats start at $4,350
Complete kits are $1,225
Plans sets are $95
I happily paddled and worked out of my Willow Sea Kayak for five seasons. While the boat performs exceptionally well, as I paddled, I could not help thinking about the perfect kayak for my personal needs. I’m 6’4’’, not heavy, just tallish and I did feel like a bit more height in the cockpit would be nice. Other slight changes, more length and breath to match the added depth, a fuller bow for more buoyancy in waves, a finer entry and exit to help compensate for the added wetted surface and more of an extreme drop from the forward to the aft ends of the cockpit. In the end these changes were involved enough to warrant a complete new design. QuickBeam is not simply a larger Willow; she’s a new boat.
Tilted towards the larger paddler who might use the boat on extended trips the ideal paddler weight would be between 170 and 280 pounds.
Length over all is 17’9” and the beam is 23 ¾”. The depth at the forward edge of the cockpit is 12 ¾” the depth at the back of the cockpit, taken from the top of the coaming, is 10”. Weight is around 48 pounds. After using QuickBeam for a full and active season I can say I'm very pleased with the design and can think of no changes I'd make!
QuickBeam is offered as a finished boat or as a complete kit.
Finished Boats start at $4.125
Complete kits are $1,250
Lodestar is a performance sea kayak for larger athletic paddlers. The design was commissioned by one of my paddling students who wanted a sea kayak, but found at 6’ 8” and nearly 300 pounds he was unable to find a “real “ kayak that fit him. This is a truly high volume boat but the hard chined hull when brought down to its designed waterline performs exceptionally well in a variety of conditions. Lodestar is 18’ long with a beam of 24 5/8”. The depth at the forward edge of the cockpit is 15”. The cockpit is 36” long and 20” wide. Lodestar is only offered as a finished boat. A custom cockpit cover and neoprene spray deck are included in the price.
Finished boats start $5,300.
Fox is a decked double paddle canoe, a boat intended for protected waters along the coast, for lakes and for all those appealing backwaters and creeks you are always driving by and meaning to explore someday.
With an 80” long cockpit, Fox is a grand boat for hunting, fishing and tripping with a dog or young child seated forward of the paddler.
Fox boasts two accessible watertight compartments, which add flotation and dry gear storage. There’s ample room for a camping kit. A rotating seat back and caned seat insure all day paddling comfort.
She is 14’7” long with a beam of 30"; the finished weight is just over 40 pounds.
In a review featured in WoodenBoats’s annual Small Boats issue Mike O’Brien commented on Fox’s handling. “ Fox appears to have just the right amount of directional stability. It likes to keep going where we point it, yet it turns easily and predictably”. I’m not sure what more to ask for in a small boat.
Finished boats start at $4,350
Complete kits are $1,165
Plans are $95.