Watch the Petrel Play SG Video Series Start-to-Finish On YouTube (Click Here)

John C. Harris remarks:

Night HeronThe phylogeny of Nick Schade's Petrel sea kayak design could fill a book. It begins, it seems, with his Night Heron design of the 1990's. The Night Heron is a skinny, round-hulled, strip-planked kayak with visible roots in the Greendlandic Inuit kayak tradition—kayak designs that were once used for subsistence hunting by the Inuits. The narrow beam, rockered hull, and upturned ends are all West Greenland motifs. It's a beautiful boat; one resides in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. The Night Heron was renowned for fine handling, too, and in due course there were a slew of Night Heron derivatives, of which the Petrel is one. The shift in the naming convention from "Night Heron" to "Petrel" marks a shift in the design brief: from sleekness and speed for covering distance in the Night Heron, to a more nimble, multifaceted craft in the Petrel. The original Petrel was also strip-planked, but, as with the Night Heron, by popular demand Nick created a CNC-cut plywood stitch-and-glue iteration: the Petrel SG.

The Petrel SG's genial handling qualities suggested another crop of variations, eventually including the shorter, wider, highly versatile Petrel Play SG. Currently there are a dozen descendants of the lovely Night Heron, with more in the pipeline. This is why I often remark in public that we're living in a golden age of do-it-yourself boatbuilding. No kayak manufacturer could ever offer a dozen finely-shaded variants of a single design; the economics of mass production forbid it. But in the form of kits or plans, one or the other of the Night Heron/Petrel descendants is likely to suit your needs as a paddler perfectly. And the Petrel Play SG seems to be nearly perfect for everyone.

Nick Schade remarks:

Perrel Play SGAt one of the first OkoumeFests I attended, maybe 2007 or 2008, John Harris threw me a curveball question, asking: “What is the future of sea kayak designs?” I had to think for a bit, but the answer I came up with, boiled down to: “Smaller Kayaks.” The Petrel Play is my part of the response to that question. Historically, sea kayaks were designed for extended expeditions, when a lot of folks mostly do day trips. A long skinny kayak is great when you need to cover long distances with a lot of kit, but not necessary for a quick, fun day on the water. A 14-foot kayak works great for many paddlers.

The Petrel Play originated with the Stitch and Glue (SG) design. I wanted a smaller sea kayak with all the features you expect on a modern sea kayak: a secure seat and cockpit, waterproof hatches and bulkheads, sure and responsive handling in rough conditions, and not bothered by the wind. The resulting Petrel Play SG  checks all of those boxes and then some. It is an excellent kayak for a beginner paddler who wants an easy-to-handle, comfortable, and stable design; for the novice paddler who wants a kayak that enables confidence as they improve their skills; and the experienced sea kayaker who wants to play in rough conditions and rock gardens with a kayak that almost reads their mind with its responsiveness. I love this kayak.

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