North Star specifications; Length-18' 4", Width- 22-1/2", weight 40 lbs.


North Star© was inspired by the kayaks of the Aleut Eskimos of Alaska and by George Dyson. Using anthropologists drawings of a baidarka as a starting point, I designed North Star to retain the excellent handling qualities of this native design and yet have the stability and features the recreational paddler wants.

Laughing Loon was the first, and still is the only company, offering the Aleut "baidarka" style sea kayaks of the north Pacific Aleutian Islands region, as a hard shell "stripper".

I built the first North Star baidarka in 1993.

I had the good fortune to hear George Dyson speak at the Maine Maritime Academy in 1992 on the "baidarka" style sea kayak. His claims about the outstanding speed and sea worthiness of this design seemed exaggerated. I was paddling solo whitewater boats at the time and immediately noticed the similarity between the high volume and full stems of then current whitewater boats, and the Aleut baidarka.

These baidarkas were designed for big waves and rough water!


I have since found the baidarka design to be the the fastest,
most sea worthy kayak I have ever paddled!

I have had many calls and letters from owners and builders of my baidarka designs, tell me the same. I have also had my baidarkas called the "surf board you sit in", for their outstanding surfing characteristics.


Check -out Ken Katz's review of one of my baidarka designs


North Star received an award for outstanding craftsmanship and detail
at the 1994 WoodenBoat Show in Southwest Harbor, Maine.

The unique features of the baidarka are: The split or bifurcated bow. The lower half is a cutwater, parting the waves for a smooth flow of water over the hull. This lower vertical edge also improves tracking as it slices into waves keeping the bow from being deflected by winds.The upper half of the bow flares outward. Waves hitting this surface create lift and coupled with the great volume of the forward hull, lift the kayak over waves. The bow makes a smooth transition into a highly rocker keel accounting for 1/3 of the fore hull. This rocker coupled with the design of the bow make the baidarka style an incredibly great kayak for surfing waves.

As a kayaker paddles faster, hulls with a fine or pointed stern will squat in the depression created by the stern waves. The high volume of the baidarka style stern, keeps it high in the water reducing stern squat, and increasing speed.

Also this truncated stern, sends hull waves farther back as speed increases, forcing the waves to act as they would on a boat with a longer water line, increasing speed.

The volume of the stern is carried backward and is truncated, then sweeps into a fixed rudder. The rudder makes tracking excellent. The swept sides of the rudder create a surface that is an asset in surfing. One of the hardest parts of surfing is catching the wave. The surfaces of the rudder get a push from braking waves to help you catch the wave.

The features of the bow and stern combine with the shape of the hull, to produce very fast (easy to paddle) kayak, designed to handle rough seas with ease. This kayak has the highest volume of any single kayak design around, making this an outstanding expedition kayak or a kayak with room and capacity for the tall or large person.

Study drawing of North Star showing profile, plan and body plan views

The North Star design has a much greater volume/width carried forward and aft as you can see in the drawing above. This means that you will have more foot room forward and more gear carrying capacity forward and aft.

All other kayak designs, are based on Greenland kayaks, which narrow to a point very quickly and offer less foot room for someone with long legs. And less gear storage.

The baidarka hull is"fish form"(the widest part of the hull is forward of center) said to be the most efficient design for speed. North Star has moderate primary stability. The high volume of the hull produces incredibly high secondary stability, especially in rough water conditions!

I have retained the excellent handling features of the baidarka in my wood strip interpretation, the North Star. I rounded the central V section of the traditional baidarka hull to improve stability for the recreational paddler. I added water tight storage compartments fore and aft, accessible through water proof, hard shell covers. And, I modified the deck line and enlarged the cockpit to make a more comfortable seating arrangement that is easier to enter and exit.

The North Star is ideal for the larger paddler. I suggest this kayak for paddlers 180 to 250+ pounds. It has a generous cockpit with ample leg room and foot room. The North Star can handle 400 pounds + of paddler and gear.

At the 2000 Newfound Rendezvous Peter Hunt of Little Dubber Boats compared the cruising speed and sprint speeds of the fastest sea kayaks at the show using GPS. At the end of the show he came to me and told me my North Star was the fastest kayak there!

North Star tracks, turns and surfs like a dream! This is an outstanding sea kayak!


For current pricing for a finished North Star follow this link.
Contact Laughing Loon for details.

I have a North Star available at my shop to view and paddle for those who wish to see and feel what this kayak is really like. I charge $35 an hour to try out boats.

Building Plans are available.


North Stars purchased from Laughing Loon
Lawyer, Harvey Schwartz, of Ipswich, Mass.,
purchased the first North Star, built in 1993,
by Rob Macks of Laughing Loon.

Harvey in his North Star

"(NYC) True wilderness kayaking, raging currents, heavy seas, boat wakes, wild natives."

Harvey Schwartz

Kent Batt's North Star


Built from Plans

It is I who should be thanking you for a sublime boat building and, indeed, paddling experience.

Etienne Muller
Sneem - Co. Kerry, Ireland

Etienne Muller's review of the North Star

Over the last two winters I have built two of your boats. I started with a North Star for myself, then because I enjoyed the boat so much, I decided to build a Fire Star for my 13 year old son Reid. We celebrated the completion of the latter by doing a 4 day, 3 night backcountry kayak camping trip on Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rockies. We were able to store all of our gear below decks, and even had room for pillows and a bottle of wine. I received nothing but compliments from tourists about the boats. I look forward to building the next one. I'll attach a couple of pictures if you are interested. Thanks again."

Iain Seal, Slave Lake, Alberta Canada

Hi Rob,

"Launched my NS a couple of weeks ago and would like to say that the kayak is everything I hoped it would be. I posted a year ago looking for ideas for a true sea going kayak that could handle conditions on the Irish Atlantic Coast and I'm happy that with the North Star that's exactly what I 've got.

Tracking has been a joy in all conditions I've been in so far but really enjoyed a spell in a following sea where the NS excelled. The only thing I can't figure out is that with a fairly rounded hull how come the NS doesn't feel the least bit tippy. All in all another satisfied customer."

Best regards,

Pat (Podge Pierce)

"Wow! Fantastic! A real head turner! Perfect blend of beauty and utility! Building her was one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling projects I've ever done. The whole process has changed my life, stretched my creative limits, opened many doors for exploration and creativity, self expression and communication."

Curtis Paddock, Kilei, Maui, Hawaii

"I just wanted to write and thank you for your design and plans. I launched my North Star on July 24, 1997 , and am thrilled with the results. She performs beautifully. Driving to her first water was also an experience with people waving at me on the freeway, giving me thumbs up signs and wanting to know what is was ... I'm sure you will understand that she is quite an attention grabber. I believe that each boat made a special trip over to me at some time during the day. People are even calling her a work of art! The patience of a year and a half in production definitely has its rewards, far beyond expectations. Anyway, I just had to express my gratitude to you for your beautiful design, as well as your help by phone as the need arose."

Dick Oman, Portland, OR

 After 9 months I have actually finished your North Star and delivered it to my son.
See the pictures attached.
The boat shape is very attractive and a hit with those who saw it launched. Very easy to get up to speed and tracks well.
Thanks – wish I had seen the new video on making the bow before I started."

Marc Upchurch

My son was trying to sell a SOF and had his Biadarka (North Star) out at the same time. No one would look at the SOF.  One person wanted him to sell his North Star on the spot. The interest was completely unusual here in Texas.

I'm thinking about building one for my self. I found the North Star to be the most comfortable kayak I have paddled.

Here are some photos of my kayak (North Star).
It took over two years to build, but was worth it.
David Kirk, Chambery, France

Check out this new video to get you started
stripping your Baidarka sea kayak faster

Building the Baidarka Bow and Stern

Rob Macks shows you, step by step, how he builds his baidarka bow and stern parts. This applies to the bow and stern for any of Rob's Star line of baidarkas such as the Dark Star, Shooting Star, Fire Star, North Star or Twin Star.

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