Chatham 16 vs. Tempest 165

Many thanks…and…an Ebay Tempest 165
Great comments!! I do look forward to hearing more about the comparisons between these two boats.

I plan to check out both boats, and to also check out an Avocet…perhaps an Aquanaut RM and a few others as well before making a decision in the Spring.

BTW…I noticed a Tempest 165 on Ebay.

Thanks again…


There’s also the CD Sirocco
to check out. I don’t believe anyone mentioned that one yet.

that would definately be a worthwhile choice as he’s too big for the Avocet/T-165.

Chatham 16
I’m biased on this boat! It’s the finest rough water kayak I’ve paddled bar none! Used a Carbon prototype on a trip to the Brooks last summer where I encountered sustained 50 knot winds, and for a few hours hurricane force winds (I was firmly on the beach during the later). The kayak is superbly nimble, surfs very well, can be spun around on edge in a stroke, is very neutral in wind, has a great skeg system etc. I also loved the fit and thigh hooks. Mine had the bigger WW hooks in it. I’ve owned and paddled Valley and NDK boats including the Avocet. There is no comparison. Spike nailed this 16!! The plastic version is likewise awesome. In the end all of these boats mentioned will float you and go where you point them. Much of this stuff is subjective, but I believe the Chathams offer an edge in terms of quality componentry, and handling.

I Have To Admit
that the Chatham, of the new boats short of the one’s in Japan, is most visually pleasing to my eyes. Not the way to judge a boat. But I really like somewhat the “Greenland” look. I didn’t realize Spike Galdwin designed it. That’s piqued my interest more since the guy likes waves and rough water.


Spike is a world class paddler and highly regarded designer. He hand shapes and thoroughly tests his designs.

Not tight at all!
I’m 5’ 10" 210 lbs. and I have an easy fit in the Chatham 16. Big guys like Gronseth, Tom Berg, etc., easily fit in the 16. Even guys up to 270 have fit into this boat. The outfitting allows for a wide range of fit. Both the 16 and 18 are lower volume boats relative to the Tempests. The 16 is a rough water playful boat that I hauled two weeks worth of gear in without issue. It’s very efficient in big water and wind. The 18 is a faster kayak in flat water yet still retains big water abilities. I believe the outer coastal types will prefer the 16, and the all round tourers will appreciate the super-efficient 18. I understand that they are working on a 17 as well.

I love the Chatham…
but that should not be a surprise as I am the general manager of Necky Kayaks. There, my bias is on the table. I have been lurking on this board for a while and have been hesitant to post due to my obvious bias but here it is.

The Chatham 16 should comfortably fit athletic paddlers up to about 230 lbs. I am 5’10" 205-210lbs with a 30" inseam and fit very easily into the boat. The cockpit is more roomy than the Avocet and Romany 16, but smaller than the Tempest 170 (I have only paddled once in Deception Pass and the cockpit huge), I have never been in the smaller tempest so I can’t compare. I have watched paddlers ranging from small women up to 250 lb men get into the Chatham 18 and proclaim it the right fit for them – rather unique for a boat with a beam under 20".

Flatpick is correct when he says that the two boats are very different animals. The 16 is extremely stable with virtually no feeling of “step” on the transition from initial to secondary stability. It is also one of the most manueverable touring boats that I have paddled (the Pintail feels like it turns a little bit quicker, but with some tradeoffs). It will paddle either an inside or outside lean turn and does exactly what you want it to. There are no surprises with this boat.

The 18 is faster not quite as turny and a hair less stable (while still feeling more stable than most 22" wide boats). A higher foredeck and slighty different shaped cockpit allows this boat to accomodate a larger paddler than the 16 despite its narrower beam. The 18 probably doesn’t meet the requirements of the initial post in this thread because it is not available in plastic.

I will resist the temptation to write a performance comparison to other boats and would encourage anyone buying a boat this spring to test paddle a Chatham!! I have watched the boat inspire confidence in aggressive beginners, while still captivating expert paddlers with its responsiveness in rock gardens and surf. Have fun testing…

Bias is not an issue when tabled…
I think it is great that Flatpick and then Squash have chimed in to offer their opinions…along with many other seasoned paddlers. It is great when you share your input. I KNOW you are biased…you are supposed to be…makes sense to me. But…you are also sharing data that you believe in…for us to consider.

We ALL have bias of some kind or another. I find it really helpful when gathering data about a boat, or a guitar, or a car…whatever…to gather opinions…to gather data about performance, reliability, aesthetic feel…all that good stuff.

With a boat,clearly the bottom line is looking at it, sitting in the boat, and paddling it…preferably for many hours in varying conditions. But…prior to beginning to do that…it has been great to gather opinions. Plus…hell,all of your enthusiastic opinions and recommendations feeds my imagination which takes me away from the 0 degrees temp outside and the -30 degree below zero temp. expected tomorrow night! This is fun stuff…all part of paddling.

BTW…Flatpick…does your screen name come from your guitar picking…if so I should change mine to Fingerpick…different bias…but the same instrument…

My bias is to enjoy all of your biases…


– Last Updated: Jan-14-04 9:52 PM EST –

Go ahead -- I'd be interested to see your comparisons to different boats, and to hear a bit more about your design goals and process. What were your targets? What designs did you consider "best in class" for various aspects of performance? How does your final design match up?

There's nothing wrong with being biased towards your own product -- it'd be a bad sign if you weren't. But if you try to tell us it does everything better than every other boat we might be a bit dubious...

Welcome aboard!

BTW, you might want to update the Necky website so folks can actually see the Chatham...

Necky Website and Chatham Pics
As far as I know, the new Necky sit eshould be up in about 2 weeks. For now, you can see a couple pictures of the Chatham 16’ poly on my site at

As some of you know, I am biased towards the Necky kayaks(Team Necky Paddler) but I also think there are a lot of other nice kayaks out there as well…try as many as you can before you buy!

Cheers…Joe O’

Elaho v Chatham 16

I too am glad you have stopped lurking and started contributing. Having experienced AND connected people posting makes this board very valuable.

That being said, I was wondering how you would compare the Chatham 16 and the Elaho.

I have been paddling an Elaho just about since they were introduced. I still love the boat and it has high regard from experienced paddlers. When I decided to order an Aquanaut this past summer, Tom Bergh advised that I also keep my Elaho (which I had already determined to do). It is one of the only American designs the staff at MIKCo use regularly.

how well can a kayak with the displacment for 270lb person fit a 125lb person? Can the thigh bracing accomodate the range of legs that fit a 5’-6’+ person?

spray, are you associated with Necky or a retailer?

NICE Squash!!!
but be careful as Spray may think you ‘un-cool’ for sharing your bias and valuable insight with us.

or just do as I do and not give a flying

$#!+. :slight_smile:

I’m very anxious to do an A/B comparison in the gorge with the T 165 and the C 16. I’ve done it with just about every other boat we sell!

take care and thanks for JOINING in!


and the winner
is our very own Holmes375!!!

congrads dude!


and who are you



Totally Agree!
I personally welcome the involvement of industry reps, designers, team members, etc. I think most of us are smart enough to hear and filter out what’s useful or not.


and at least
you know WHO the frick we are. We don’t hide behind some anonymous handle poking grief at anyone who might believe in his wares.

Tho, I would imagine Squash won’t catch grief.


Chatham Questions
I’ll try to answer several questions with this one post. The Chathams were not designed to target any one specific boat, but rather to meet certain performance goals. That said, it is fairly obvious from looking at them that the comparison set of boats would be more Greenland and British designs that traditional west coast kayaks (which Necky has a long tradition of leading designs). I worked with the design team to give them a design brief against which the boats were designed. Here are sections of the two briefs:


Boat Description: A low volume day/weekend touring boat designed for high performance and heavy weather.

• 16’ Low Volume

• Highly Maneuverable Ocean Play Boat (Heavy Weather Boat)

• Outer Coastal, Rock Garden

• Built for performance in big seas and high winds

• Mid to High primary stability

• High Secondary stability

• Poly and Composite

Attitudinal Target:

• Intermediate to advanced paddler that wants to improve their skills (rolling, bracing, surfing, etc…). Enjoys the challenge of paddling and skill building vs. paddling simply to reach a destination. Paddling is the primary activity, camping/picnicking/sightseeing are secondary.


Boat Description: A high volume day/weekend touring boat designed for high performance and heavy weather.

• 18’ High Volume

• Highly Maneuverable Ocean Expedition Boat (Heavy Weather Boat)

• Outer Coastal expeditions (vs. traditional Necky boats designed for the inside passage)

• Built for speed over distance and performance in big seas and high winds

• Mid to High primary stability

• High Secondary stability

• Composite only

Attitudinal Target:

• Intermediate to advanced paddler that wants a high performance boat that is efficient to paddle on long trips (20+ mile days) and capable of handling the challenges of open water paddling.

Sorry for the formatting, but I only wanted to cut and paste.

As for the Elaho comparison. It depends on if the comparison is to the Elaho Rudder or Skeg as they are very different paddling boats. The Chatham 16 has better initial and secondary stability than both of those boats. Stiffer tracking than the skeg and comparable to the Rudder. More manueverable than both Elahos. Speed is faster than the Elaho Skeg and comparable to the Elaho Rudder. Better than both of them in the surf. Also, the Chatham can do either and outside or inside lean turn and both of the Elahos want to do an outside turn.

Hope that helps.