Chatham 17 poly vs composite

I own the poly version, but my daughter has basically claimed it. I enjoy the boat, and think it is an excellent boat, so I was thinking of replacing it was the composite version.

Looking at the Necky website it looks like the composite 17 is slightly longer than the poly. Has anyone paddled both and noticed any differences in performance?

The 17 is the “market” boat

– Last Updated: May-13-09 1:33 PM EST –

It has attributes that most people prefer, and is a great all-round boat, as you have experienced. It is by far the most popular of the Chatham's. The 16 is a much more focused design targeted at really rough coastal conditions, high wind etc. Some of the design features that make it so excellent in such conditions compromise it a bit on flat water. The 18 is very cool, but likewise more focused.

The more focused a design, the less all-round it becomes.

This is not to suggest the 17 can't handle big seas, as it does nicely. Rather it is a more tracky, efficient A to B boat that is quite neutral in wind.
It's a more efficient distance cruiser than the 16.

If you go with composite, get the new construction! It is vastly superior. There are some bargain comps. out there that were made in Maine. Some were OK, and others had some real issues. I'd pay more for the new model as it's soooo much better, and still under-priced for what you are getting.

If you get a bargain Maine boat, go through it carefully and just be prepared to fix any weird things.

I was considering the 18…
however no dealers around here carry “top-end” boats. They’re happy to order something, but it is rare when they carry something other than poly and rec boats. There is no way to test paddle the 18. Since I am familiar with the Poly 17 and like it, I thought if the composite is similar I would feel comfortable ordering without a test paddle.


– Last Updated: May-14-09 1:07 PM EST –

and the 17 is great. You'll find the Cobra Int. built CH17 to be very stiff and solid, superb workmanship, air tight, and tough! Go ahead and stand on the deck. They are an epoxy, glass, post cured matrix. There's about 80 hrs. of labor in one of these boats.

If I were you I'd grab one soon as who knows how long they'll let that level of quality go for what it costs now?

You'll know a Cobra Int. model by the smooth outer seam with no lip, as well as gorgeous workmanship.

I can honestly say I've never seen a tougher, better made touring kayak.

Check out You Tube "Necky composites"

I wish they made a Chatham for us heavier folk… I’m around 240 just by myself, never mind any gear.

Or else I need to move to the west coast where I can paddle big water in a 16, and not have to worry about covering flat water…

have you paddled a 17?

my impression
is that the composite has more freeboard and volume in the forward compartment. Salty could correct that if I’m mistaken but it seems 1/2" taller at the deck. With the plastic boat there’s only about a fist width between the bottom of the front hatch flange and the bottom of the hull. The composite version has more room for pushing dry bags forward.

That’s a positive…
because at 6’2" 230 and size 12 feet the 17 poly is tight. The extra space is a good thing.


Speaking of ordering new construction
I did just that, and my dealer was told it would be shipped within three months. Is that reliable? Apparently Necky told him they’re not holding inventory but just building to order.

No idea?

– Last Updated: May-14-09 10:31 AM EST –

Makes sense though and well worth the wait.

Just talked to the local dealer…
he said Necky has four Chatham 17 composites in inventory ready to deliver. I may regret putting this here because I’m still debating whether I want to spend the money. You’re not in the market for four boats are you?

Make sure they are Cobra built
My bet is they are Old Town built. I’d pay $1000.00 more for the new construction.

Older models may be OK,but look it over carefully and test for leaks. Can be a good deal, as some are marked way down, and I understand many were gone over at the factory a second time.

Understand that Necky went from good construction (Stoddard / Fast Passage) to marginal (Old Town) to world class (Cobra Int.)

The Cobra built boats have a smooth seam with no lip, are epoxy, post cured lay-up, and beautifully finished. Hats off to JOI for finally getting it right. Let’s hope they stay the course!

Old Town team is fine, but that’s not where their passion is. Good on them for recognizing that and focusing on what they are good at.

…unless your daughter takes to it!

Learned my lesson…
if I buy one, I’m not even going to let her get in it.

that explains some of the killer deals
from last year. A friends shop got a carbon 17 for dirt cheap last fall. It wasn’t as dicey as a glass 17 from three yrs before where two glass 17s had completely different layups. One looked like they left a section of glass out of one half of the cockpit. It was noticably more flexible on one side and you could see a difference when shining a light through. The soric core was in an odd position on that one.

Just means I still have some cash lying around for a while, and a new V10 would be fun too…

My bet is you’d be fine in a 17 with light gear load. I know one big boy who’s at least 240 does fine in his. 16 probably too snug for you.

Time Line?
So when did they switch to Old Towne? I have a 2005 Chatham 18 Composite, just out of idle curiousity, is it an Old Towne?

Doubt it but not sure
If you phoned Necky with the serial number they should know. But my guess is it’s a Fast Passage. Pretty well done. How is it doing for you?