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Explorer style in wood?

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I was impressed with that classic beginner's boat the Explorer the other night at a skills session and was wondering if any of the club's or message board's wooden boat afficianados locally or not know of a strip-built that performs similarly: lots of secondary, fast and slippery, and yet with a quick and seaworthy high volume bow that doesn't wire in weathercocking.

What a nice boat. But awfully damn heavy. Seems too that there are very few Explorers on the used market right now that owners don't justifiably want both arm and leg for.

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The Outer Island provides similar stability to the Explorer and excellent handling characteristics. Some people find it harder to turn, but that hasn't been my experience. It's a strip-built only design.

The Night Heron is similar, but considerably more maneuverable, despite it's increased length. To me, it feels like an 18' Pintail. As you know, there's also a stitch-and-glue version, which seems to track a bit more strongly than the strip version. It's probably closer to the Explorer's handling in that regard.

Both of these boats have the same low aft deck that Explorer owners love. There are other excellent designs out there - the Merganser, for example - but they would need modification to lower the aft deck.

I've heard great things about the "King" from Redfish Kayaks, but I haven't seen or paddled one. Again, it's a strip-built only design.

So, are you ready to make the leap to strip-building? If not, I'd say that the S&G Night Heron is your best bet. If you're considering the Merganser with a lowered deck, I have a set of plans you can look at to give you an idea of what would need to be done.

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