For both the discerning sea kayaker and the aspiring art collector, looking at the handmade wooden kayaks of of Nick Schade may cause an initial gasp of pleasure, followed by a growing desire to bring one home and give it a place of honor, either in the boat shed or above the mantel. And that’s perfectly natural, as even though these boats are beautiful, even elegant, they’re not just for looking at – they’re made for serious paddling.
Nick Schade has been designing and building high performance sea kayaks since 1986, under the name Guillemot Kayaks. His handmade boats are sensual to behold, and even though they may look fragile, they’re built to stand up to hard use. The wood of the kayaks are covered by fiberglass, so the varnish or outer finish may get scratched, but according to Schade, it doesn’t hurt the boat at all and the surface can be refreshed, making the scratches disappear.
Each of Schade’s kayaks is built by hand out of hundreds of small pieces of wood, each one individually fitted to create the shell. The resulting wooden shell is covered by fiberglass and epoxy resin, rendering it both waterproof and tough. It’s a long and laborious process, as you can see in this video (which reduces about six months of work to less than 5 minutes of video):
Schade’s work has drawn acclaim from both craft world and the art world, and one of his boats, a Night Heron, is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Each of his kayaks is custom-built to the customer’s specifications, and are offered at several levels of finish, including custom wooden inlays and graphic designs.
He also offers plans, kits, and classes if you’re more of a DIY guy. Find out more at Guillemot Kayaks.