CLC Shearwater and Chesapeake questions

-- Last Updated: Apr-21-11 11:58 AM EST --

I am currently building a CLC Shearwater 17. The project has gone along faster than I was expecting and been very enjoyable. I am hoping to have the boat completed by next month.

My brother, who has been helping me build my Shearwater is considering building a Chesapeake 17LT. I know parts of the assembly process are different but how does the performance of the Chesapeake 17LT compare to the Shearwater 17? Does one paddle faster than the other? Is one noticably more stable?

I would definitly appreciate input from those who have paddled both boats.

Lastly, The park that often launch from has lots of rocks/rocky areas where I launch (the other areas are marsh) and was wondering if there is any kind of gel coat or something extra I can add to my Shearwaters hull to add an extra layer of protection. I am doing an extra layer of 4oz glass but is there anything else I should or could do to protect the hull?


– Last Updated: Apr-22-11 10:10 AM EST –

I have built and paddled a CLC Patuxent 17, MillCreek 13, Chesapeake 16,18, Northbay, Pax 20, Shearwater 16,18,17W(the 16 and 18 are related to CLCShearwater 17), Pygmy 13, Coho, Penguino 13.
Paddled the Shearwater 17 in 1999 and built the other Shearwaters in the following years. Worked at CLC after ChrisK sold it and was a kayak instructor during that time.
The Chesapeake 17LT came about after multiple feedback from local paddlers trying out the regular 17 and saying "damn this is big" so the side panel was shortened 1". It's essentially the same hull in the water, very big, very stable. If your friend is bigger than you and wants more volume (and only slightly more footroom) it's a decent choice. It's handling isn't anywhere as responsive as the Shearwater. In winds above 15mph it's weathercocking becomes objectionable and cannot be corrected with leaning like the Shearwater17. After a bit more feedback the skeg kit was offered to address this. It will broach more easily than the Shearwater from following waves and even though it's entire volume is larger than the Shearwater it's bow will bury noticably than the Shearwater which is rockered more and has greater flare in the side panels.
The nature of the Chesapeakekayak construction limits how the bottom panels shape can develop near the ends so it lends to very sharp entries with little volume, which is ok in the stern but not so ok in the bow. If he's a beginning paddler he probably won't notice these differences but if he has some experience paddling an unruddered kayak it'll feel kind of crude. It can be paddled fast but that's not that important in wind/waves if you are struggling with direction and without skeg/rudder or you want to maneuver without broaching.
The construction method of the Chesapeake is inherently a few lbs heavier with no gain in strength as many parts are hull forming and redundant once the deck is on whereas the Shearwater uses temporary forms and 4mm ply where the Chesapeak uses 6mm, deck beams and shear clamps.
If your friend is 200+lbs and wants a roomy kayak there are better pickings than the 17LT or if he would like something like the Shearwater but a smidge bigger the Merganser18 by is a better bet.
Pygmys Murrelet looks interesting. I would assume it is as good as the other Pygmy boats from a paddlers perspective. They look like evolutions from the Coho. I would paddle a Coho in rough water over a Ch17/LT anyday.
I forgot about your glassing question. Is the bottom of the Shearwater two layers of 4oz? Another layer of 4oz would be plenty. Put it on in a kind of a tapered diamond pattern with sides cut off. Basically you taper it from the keel ends where your thickened rub strip ends, about 16" or so from the end of the bottom panel, and expand it out to the chine 6" back from the rear bulkhead (wrapping just over the chine to be sanded down on the side panel, going forward covering full bottom panel then tapering narrow towards the bow keeline. Putting a single strip of tape down the centerline is a waste of effort since major scrapes occur anywhere under your butt and bottom panels.
Make sure to roll extra epoxy over all edges/chines/coaming/hatch edges and only hand sand them. You'll naturally put extra epoxy on large flat surfaces with thin layers covering edges. Then when you sand you'll sand through the epoxy faster on edges than the flat sections. It's the edges that get dinged up and it's at the edges where small cracks can lead water into end grain and cause stains. If I've done three fill coats on a panel I'll put two more on the chines and deck seam. With hatches and edges of hatch openings I'll put on 4 or5 thin coats of epoxy that has a little cabosil in it. Not enough to discolor it when applied but foggy in the cup. Hatch edges and deck cutout get dinged and that's where the end grain is exposed without glass protecting it.

You and your brother are in luck!

– Last Updated: Apr-22-11 1:44 PM EST –

Just go to CLC's demo day (on Wednesdays, forgot how often - check their web site) or better yet show-up at Okume Fest in May! You will be able to paddle both as much as you like and make your own conclusions. Not sure how much of a drive it is for you from your listed location in "SE Virginia" to the Annapolis, MD area but I think worth the drive if not sure about what to build next...

Chesapeake vs. Shearwater

– Last Updated: Apr-27-11 10:18 PM EST –

I tried the Chesapeakes and the Shearwaters on demo day at CLC. Even to me, a relatively inexperienced paddler, the difference was immediately apparent. The Chesapeake was -- relatively -- bulky and difficult to maneuver. The Shearwater was a pleasure by comparison -- faster and more responsive. Sort of like the difference between a minivan and a sports car. The Chesapeake was probably a bit more stable, but I had no problems with the stability of the Shearwater. This was all on flat water, no wind to speak of.