Chatham paddlers, how does it surf?

-- Last Updated: Nov-28-09 2:23 PM EST --

I don't paddle as much as I'd like to, and I must admit I uasually just drive to the lake 1/2 hour away instead of making the 1 1/2 trip to the Jersey shore. But there are those times when we're at the Eastern Shore when surfing the bay or ocean is just too hair raising for my older VCP Selkie. (Anyone else still paddling a Selkie,....anyone?) So I'm going to demo a Necky Chatham 17 this weekend but I'm pretty sure there won't be any surfing waves involved. So can you tell me, is it good, or just OK, with waves from behind, and quarterly? Thanks for any info

Chatham 16…
…really good rough water/surfer…but one of the slowest boats on the planet otherwise…I had the plastic version.

very forgiving
two areas the Chathams excel at for lazy self-learners is control for weathercocking and down wave performance.

Surfs well for me
I haven’t tried it yet in big ocean waves, but i’ve surfed some pretty big inland storm waves, and i find it to be quite good at catching waves

See for yourself here …

No idea who that person is in the video…

I only have rented a Chatham once (I think it was the 17) and the waves were small of 1-2 feet max wind waves. It was quite good catching these, but otherwise very slow - if a wave morphs and drops you behind it, it would be difficult to outpaddle it and catch it again (possible with some faster kayaks, that also do not fall back off waves as easily; but these are not as confidence inspiring).

But that ridiculous raised bow! I had the feeling it blocks my field of vision as it is not only high but also quite wide! I suppose it will prevent pearling in some conditions but it is butt-ugly.

that’s not a Chatham
the front hatch immediately gives it away

Lazy self learner,…
I resemble that remark!:>) But thanks everyone for your opinion of the 17. I think I’ll take a look at it tomorrow.

Looked like one to me
May be it is not …

Rainbow Laser
A comment posted in the above referenced You-tube video states that it is a Rainbow Laser.

My bad - not a Chatham -;(

Chatham 17
is a great all round boat. There are some issues however. The flat bottom hull is great for surf and following seas. (the 16 is even better) The primary and secondary stability is very strong which means the boat doesn’t feel lively. Speed is Ok but the Necky dolphin bow causes drag in choppy water limiting top end. Turning needs a lot of edge also. I had one and sold it for an Explorer but I still have my Chatham 16 for rock play and surf. The 16 inspires a lot of confidence in rough water as does the 17. If you’re like me and don’t like a nervous ride in strong beam or quartering seas paddling the Chathams is like taking a valium. Not a bad feeling when the going gets gnarly.

Try a Chatham 16 for surfing

– Last Updated: Nov-20-09 11:08 PM EST –

Though I imagine a 17 would surf okay, the 16 is a much more responsive boat and is very good in conditions and surf.

I've only once seen a Selkie. Do you have any photos of yours and do you know its year of manufacture?

The ol’ Selkie ,…

– Last Updated: Nov-21-09 12:14 AM EST –

Was made in 87. It's 16'6" by 23 wide. When I bought it 6 years ago it hade a chimp pump, which I changed into a day hatch and added a 3rd bulkhead. It has a large skeg which keeps it on course really well in various conditions,but it's got a rounded bottom without a keel except fore and aft. When paddling in the bay with following wind blown waves the nose seems to dig in a little and as the wave picks up the stern, well, she's a real handful. Someone with skill might actually find this just requires a proper brace here or there. The secondary stability though is really good and lean turns are brisk.
I'll try to post a picture of the selkie soon.

Chatham 17
I second what greatmeadows said (except maybe the part about the dolphin bow) . . . I’m the guy who bought his boat. It comes into its own when there is energy in the water, but otherwise (the boat is the 46 lb carbon model) its like sitting in a Baralounger compared to my BBK Recluse and SOF.

quote of the day!
“paddling the Chathams is like taking a valium”

Hey that’s P-net…

If the 16 is so slow…

– Last Updated: Nov-21-09 3:20 PM EST –

Why did it handsomely win what may be the roughest water sea kayak race in California put on by the Tsunami Rangers?? Oh, that's right the "paddler" won, not the kayak!

But WHY would such an accomplished paddler choose such a so called slow boat by so many expert P-net paddlers? Maybe,,,,just maybe said paddler understood that it was a superb coastal kayak and as such in big water he'd net a "better / faster" result??

Which is faster a BMW sedan or a Jeep Rubicon? Which is faster off road?

The 16 is NOT the boat for most kayakers. It's for a few who paddle legitimately big conditions and understand why some of the characteristics that make the kayak so so in flat water make it superb in rough. The 16 had essentially NO marketing or committee input. It was designed by two long time paddling friends for themselves. Everything about it was focused to coastal paddling and their taste, which isn't mass market.

The 17 is the mass market / committee kayak designed for the average paddler in all round conditions. The best seller of the three Chatham's by far. The 16 is a well loved kayak for the hard core coastal paddlers and that's where it belongs. If you think it's slow it's NOT for you because that comment indicates that one doesn't "get it" regarding that kayak.

BTW, that's OK, natural,and very predictable. The more specialized a craft the more polarized the reaction. Kayaks, like ski's need to match the paddlers style, taste, and skill level. The reality is most folk are better of in an all round kayak for all round use. The 17 is the choice of the two in this case.

Most important is not the kayak but what one does with it and the journeys that take.

Right F’in On. My understanding is that Salty knows the C 16 like few others. But more to the point is to match the kayak to the needs of the paddler. There is no shame in not wanting to paddle the conditions where the Chatham 16 is at it’s best or to want to paddle those conditions but in a kayak with more storage room for campers who want more luxury, or whatever other trade-off is best for you.

There are a number of other very specialized kayaks that are not for everyone - the Anas Acuta, the Silhouette, the Rapier, the Looksha III come to mind. I appreciate the manufacturer’s for keeping the variety around.

It is important to me to know what other paddlers are using because it is a first cut at what might interest me, but it is important to understand why they are making those choices and then look out for #1.

Selkie introduced in 1985
and was Valley’s first attempt at a ‘day boat’. Meant to be more forgiving than a Nordkapp it did not seem to last very long in production. It was supplanted by the Skerry - now also out of production.

The Selkie was the first Valley boat for which hatches were standard rather than optional - as was still true in 1985 of both the Anas Acuta and Nordkapp.

I’ve only ever seen one Selkie in person. That was on Thief Island in Muscongus Bay in 2003 or 2004.


– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 3:21 AM EST –

why is the cockpit width so narrow?