Chatham 16, rm, hatches question

the local shop got one and this looks neat,it’ll fit bigger paddlers better than the T-165,did Johnson get the rights to make VCP hatches? they look exactly the same,the question I have is how well they seal,there’s something a bit different about the oval hatch frames that make me wonder about how well they seal. Does anyone have experience rolling/dumping them and finding how well they hold up? Any thoughts on the metal seat frame and whether that will imprint through over time. Oh,they shouldn’t bother with the ratchet seat back business, silly stuff requiring metal plates and a seat back that really is just ok.

minimal info
I paddled the C16 for less than an hour at Port Townsend last fall. Flat water, not much fun available.

First impression was that it was remarkably stable, the outfitting a step forward but a bit too tight, and that it seemed very stiff for a 16ft boat.

Took it to the pool last night before for more info before I take it to the coast Fri (6ft swells, 10s interval forecast).

After 1hr of rolling and re-enter/rolling, two things became apparent-

1)none of the hatches leaked a drop. No exageration, not a drop.

2) for me, I can’t paddle it. Recognize that fit is personal, but the only way I could try this boat out in the rough is by ripping out the seat hangers. I have nasty, no, serious bruising and abrasions on my hips from the metal seat hangers.

OK, I have a background as a XC ski racer and competitive rower- my butt and thighs are kinda big. But I have used the Romany 16, Avocet (kinda my fav), and Tempest 165, and skeg Elaho. And while the major decision to own the Elaho is based on being a able to tolerate it for lengthy periods, still, I used all the others in seriously rough conditions, and while uncomfortable, none HURT me.

I am going out to the coast tommorrow, but the pain in my butt (OK, hips) the C16 gave me will make it less fun (I am not exagerrating- I hiked up my shorts to show my co-workers today, and the look on their faces was,well, priceless).

I will be taking my Elaho tomorrow, and bummed, because I really hoped the C16 hull would solve my issues with the E.

I will have fun anyway, especially if I find that right hand break…

thanks for the feedback
that’s exactly what I wanted to hear,re. hatches. They are VCP hatches after all,I like that thick rubber. When it came in I removed the 5/8" thick hip braces and it felt great. But still I was wondering about the vertical nature of the metal seat hanger. When I made a custom glass seat for my Express the hip braces were one continuous band of 6" 17oz biax/mat glass. The thing that surprised me was how much the hip braces flared out under the 15.5" wide coaming,and I’m not big hipped or thighs. The hip support in that hard custom seat is the most comfortable seat I’ve made even compared to having made 6 carved minicell ones.

Did you remove the bolted in hip pads? That’s funny about the Avocet,it felt too tight for me but that was just in the show room.

vertical hip bracing
If hip brace supports are wide enough apart you can pad it in with formed hip bracing but the seat/hip brace junction IS the bottom of your seat when controlling the kayak at the capsize angle. If there isn’t a molded transition from seat to hip brace then you’re cramming your butt into a wedged section formed by the seat/hipbrace.

The old glass neckys had a big vertical chunk of glass going from coaming to hull,when I got my Mariner Express it’s fixed seat had vertical sides to it that provided exquisite point pressure pain, the tempest plastic seat frame has vertical sides that custom padding is supposed to fine tune the fit, except it’s too tight for most people with them in,but if you take the pads out to fit into it you’ve got a vertical plate just the same. And if you’re leaning/rolling a kayak there’s nothing flat about ones hips where they contact the hip braces.

Seems to me that if whitewater boats have been doing just fine with molded seats,and British boats like P&H have comfy molded seats,that it would make sense to have a molded seat/hip transition and not a vertical hip plate .

On the Chatham16 the foam seat and bottom of the frame make for good sitting comfort AND some good leaning comfort as there’s enough curve/depth to the bottom of the seat IF you’re hips/thighs fit. From there I could imagine that if the aluminum frame bowed out from the bottom corner providing a bit more hip room following the contour of ones hip you’d have the OPTION of paddling it out with 1/4"-1" minicell.

That was my first impression after loosening the seat anchor screws and moving it forward so that I was’t stuck upright against the backband.

As it came from the factory the seat was moved pretty far back and the back band was on the coaming. Once I tightened the back band forward the foam seat had to be moved forward, at which point I noticed the seat fram was near the aft position of it’s slots. After moving it forward and taking the hip pads out to fit comfortably with the back band and thigh bracing what struck me was the vertical nature of the seat frame (like the Tempest and my other production kayaks) as it came up to the coaming.

On kayaks (composite or wood) that have a shallow flange that hangs down from the coaming you can have a narrow coaming and a variety of seat/hip options BELOW the coaming that aren’t restricted to hip width of the coaming. 15"-16" is too narrow for a significant population that has good looking hips.

Maybe if someone at Necky could get a piece of aluminum BEFORE it gets to the metal bending jig and experiment with making a bowed seat frame at the hips you could have a kayak you could paddle?

Hmm but that would open up the problem of flexing with aluminum and the frame shifting side to side unles there was ethafoam blocked between the frame and the hull at the hips.

Considering that women are a significant portion of the smaller kayak market it would make sense to make SURE that the smaller displacement kayaks actually fit the smaller displacement person who has bigger hips than taller top heavy guys who comprise a larger portion of the buying customers.

That’s why the Tempest 165 seat didn’t make sense,a kayak for a 150lb person,but you had to remove the hip braces for the average hipped GUY to fit into it. For arguments sake the average 175lb guy has narrower hips than the average 150lb woman. So the smaller kayak is even tighter for the intended customer. Now imagine that you’re a woman who is 5’10" and average proportions. She really can’t fit into the T-170 with the hip pads removed.

Width of Chatham’s seat…
The Chatam’s cockpit width is listed as 15" — is this the inside dimension? From these descriptions it sounds like the seat hanger has the same (or less) width — is this correct? Anyone actually measure the width of the seat at the position of the hangers?


seat hangers
Lee, I remember one boat I owned, one reason was the seat hangers! The Explorer HV had the FG seat hangers inset from the coaming. Why do manafacturers think the hanger has to drop down from the coaming?

This is sort of like the carpentry rule of, if you don’t remove enough, you can always take off more; except in reverse. If the seat hangers are too tight, there isn’t much to do except remove it all and do a complete custom job. But it is insanely easy to snug up.

I sort of get used to the feeling of the front edge of most seat hangers, due to the size of my thighs. I have used the T165, and it was a wicked fun hull in the rough stuff, but a bit too tight. But it didn’t cause bleeding! The Avocet was a different sort of tight, the thigh hooks were simply too low (forced my legs almost straight out, and the thigh hooks met my thighs at mid thigh- ouch). The Chatham 16 would not fit me with even the thinnest foam, and the metal edges took off a layer of skin, the bruises still hurt.

But good news- I just heard that Necky has some wider seat hangers to retro- fit the Chatham.

I can hardly wait- I really, really wanted to use the C16 today at the coast, as I mentioned in the earlier post. had to use the Elaho.

Extra credit- here is a photo of the arch I got maytagged in today. The photo is from an earlier trip, but the swell was about the same-


those are photos,it’s been a long time since I’ve been near water like that. Great to hear about the seat hangers. I went through making the straight seat work on my Express for a couple years with different chunks of foam but finally learned enough about fiberglass after making a s&g kayak to make my own molded seat. So even though the coaming on it was 15.5" wide the hip/thigh portion of the seat widened out under the coaming substantially. So when I was bracing or rolling the total area my body weight was pressing into the thighs was one large area, there were NO pressure points unlike the straight stock seat that left lines in my leg that took a few hours to go away.

Relatively lower displacment kayaks are likely to be used by lower displacement people,who tend to be women, who tend to have wider hips. So why would the widest setting for the seat be just ok for a guy and narrower than the average kayak?

I do realize that every woman doesn’t have a big booty or every guy have thunder thighs like yourself but it seems like a forseeable decision to make the seating possible for the likely customer looking for a lower displacement kayak who might have wider hips than the average guy.

paddled it today
15-20kt wind and what small waves the short fetch around here could kick up. I’m getting one if I can get it with a wider seat frame. You’re right Otter about the pressure points on the hips,it’s concentrated to a couple square inches. I would put some minicell/ethafoam blocks between the seat hanger and the hull sides as the slight movement is noticable. In the long run I can’t see side/side shifting as being a good thing. It’s a very good boat for high wind,neutral enough without the skeg and just a little skeg is needed to take out weathercocking. Deploying the skeg all the way isn’t needed.

I’ve been looking for a plastic boat that had less windage than my Express but still acceptable overall handling and footroom.

15.5" width,
with the little hip pads in there it’s 14-14.5" wide depending on where you measure. The problem in this design is that even at the 15.5" width which is pretty normal for “paddlers” kayaks the actual support is just a sheet of aluminum with the edge Otter describes. On all those other kayaks with narrow hip measurments the sides of the seat curve up to the hip plate with a fair amount of thigh support forward so that while you are leaning there is a wide area you are leaning against and it’s continuous with the seat.

Measureing hip width irrespective of seat/hanger configuration is like measuring apples and oranges.

For reference the Elaho with skeg or rudder is 16.5" and 17.5", a LookshIV is 18". All those variations of molded seats. The Current Designs DH and Caribou are all around 15.5" but those are with once piece molded seats where the thigh support extends forward.

Something tells me someone said “make it 15” wide" without the follow through to see if 15" wide with a two part seat/hip frame is the same thing FOR THE PADDLER as 15" with onepiece platic seat bolted to a hanger.

New Chatham seat hangers for $15
I spoke with Necky yesterday regarding the retrofit seat hangers. In the next month or so there will be an “in line” change and at that point all new Chathams will have the wider seat hangers. They obviously see the current hanger as a design flaw. I have 4 Chathams on order for a kayaking program and Necky offered to send me the new seat hangers for their cost, $15. I plan to take them up on their offer.