FW Chatham 16 test

I had a chance to paddle the Chatham 16 roto today in dead calm conditions and learn a few of its flat, smooth water characteristics. Having paddled the boat in big current without any fw to speak of didn’t give me a full view. Next is some wind!

From the stock position, I adjusted the seat forward about an inch, removed the hip pads and tightened up the backstrap. After a half-hour my left leg went to sleep and refused to be awakened. I then released the footpegs forward a notch. Loose fit but my leg came back to life.

The boat is nicely balanced and edge turns quite well when prompted, as predicted. It won’t turn unless prompted, a very good thing, IMHO. Both onside and offside boat tilts carved the hull beautifully. The trim seemed OK, tho I was paddling solo and had no visual.

I can see why Spray likes this boat, as it is very similar to the Romany 16, his favorite vessel (I believe). More similar than comparing it with the Tempest 165. It is highly maneuverable, turning well at the bow and stern. Stern looseness a bit more evident than bow looseness. Without boat tilt the hull turns smoothly without creating extra spin momentum, a good thing, IMHO.

Comparing with it’s cousin the Elaho, it’s stern is better behaved.

Speed and glide were OK, comparing similarly with the Rom 16. Not fast, not slow.

Paddling in reverse was excellent, as observed in previous current paddling.

Balance in the roll plane was great. Plenty of both primary and secondary stability, with a looseness needed for good edge work, without feeling twitchy.

Comfort was good, tho I would have to tweak some more to get my left leg back in the game. Just enough room for my 33” inseam and sz 10.5 stompers. Good thigh contact and seat comfort, once I figured how to adjust.

A top contender in the roto Brit-style boat class. IMHO


Thank you
I’m thinking of replacing my Elaho with a Chatham, so your comparisons are helpful.

I’m looking forward to test paddling a composite Chatham 16 - when the water here is unfrozen.

what is the volume like on the 16
what is the deck height fore and aft? How wide is the beam?

I can
measure when I get to the shop this morning but fore deck height is medium. Not tall like the Quest, not low like the T-165.

Back combing/ aft deck height is again medium. plenty low for balance brace once you move the seat forward and plenty of freeboard for re-entry w/o filling the boat with water.


22" NT

in other words
still alot of volume. Not a true low volume kayak.

oh yeah
but a ‘good’ volume for technical ocean, surf and current play for 150-200 lbers w/ kit.

IMHO, too small a volume boat squats when pushed, buries in swell, is grabbed by current, is hard to re-enter w/o copious amounts of water filling cockpit, and is a wet ride.

like jeans, they gotta ‘fit’.


thanks for the unbiased review
your stock still high with me man!

I’ll second that!
Coming from the designer of a competitor’s boat, the Tempest, I can only say that I am impressed with Flatpick’s unbiased review.

IMHO Flatpick is first and foremost a PADDLER…followed by a shop owner and kayak designer. I’m still looking forward to trying out a Tempest one of these days!

Cheers…Joe O’Blenis (Team Necky)

s&g Night Heron
Steve, a friend in SoCal has just finished building a stitch and glue Night Heron (Nick Schade design). It would be a kick to get your review of it in Sea Kayaker magazine.

I’m in Irvine @ Southwind kayaks doing some Instructor training the 27th thru the 2nd.

Bring it on!



You’re right there Joe. paddling is NUMERO 1. I live to paddle and am fortunate enough to have made a career out of it.

The other thing is I sell ‘paddling’, not boats. they’re just the vessel that allows you to ‘go paddle’. I best sell the ones that work well for my customers in our environment. Testing them and determining what works well is my job and I REALLY like it when the new stuff works. This same knowledge is what gives me an edge on designing. And it’s all based on MY humble opinion. Other opinions make for an interesting world! (where’s ol’ Spray??) =:-0)

Glad you guys like me sharing it with ya’!