Kayak Plastic Longetivity?

I was looking at the Necky Chatham and wondering about the super-linear poly in which it is offered.

Can any fortune tellers out there tell me what this boat will look like in 15 years if I store it properly? I am not concerned about the weight or speed, but am wondering if the hull will deform over time. I like 'glass as I can repair it, but the plastic is so much cheaper. Can this plastic be welded? Glued/Epoxied?

Also, I am nearly 200lbs - am I too big for the Chatham 16?


About the same

– Last Updated: Dec-14-08 1:15 AM EST –

Stored properly and 303'd regularly a poly Chatham 16 will look about the same in 15 years as it does now - of course you will likely have to replace the decklines and Valley hatches during that time, but you would on a composite boat as well.

The hull may deform a bit over time , but if stored properly, not so much as to effect the boat's performance

If you fit in a Chatham 16 you are not too big for it ;-)

I have a ww yak bought in '93 that
has held its form, and the plastic does not seem to have gotten brittle. Hardly ever used 303 except when the boat was carried west and exposed to sun day after day. And of course the boat has been beaten around quite a bit.

I store my plastic touring boats…

…on their sides with wide straps at the bulkheads.

The hull will not deform over time
It is not time that deforms the hull. It is improper storage or carrying on top of the car in hot weather with certain types of carriers and tie-down lines that are tight. On a trip to North Carolina when the temps were over 100 degrees F, our kayaks just about melted into the Thule saddles when we left them on top of the car for days. You need to keep them out of the sun as much as possible, because it is the heat and UV that does the damage. I had a perception Keowee that was 20 years old that looked like new because it as stored indoors and was never left on the roof in the hot sun for long periods of time. If your hull does get deformed you can get it back to normal by heating it and pushing it back to the right shape. It’s best to try to avoid that in the first place by not leaving your poly kayak on the roof in the hot sun for long periods of time, or over tightening your straps. As far as fading goes, there are sprays that will protect the poly from the UV rays that age it. With proper care, your kayak should look good for a very long time.

lifespan / size
I paddle a pair of Neckys that are from around the late 90s or early 00s. They are doing just fine.

I am 6’ and a touch over 200 pounds. I have large legs (from cycling a lot). I do not fit in a Chatham 16. Not even close. But I have heard of others at 200 pounds and different proportions to I who do fit. So only way to know is get some butt time in the boat.

Chatham 16

– Last Updated: Dec-13-08 9:09 PM EST –

I am 210#, 6'3 and I fit like a glove in my Chatham. I too have large, very muscular legs from biking 15 miles a day, 5 days a week, and skiing downhill every weekend from November to April. I have no problem fitting in my boat. It's snug, but that's how I like it. But you need to sit in one, and paddle one for a few hours, or days, to see if it's what you want. And as far as 303 is concerned, I have a friend who has 20 year old plastic boats that have been stored outside in the sun and never seen a shot of 303, yet they are still fine, get used often in whitewater bouncing off rocks and have not cracked, which is what most users (and sellers!) of 303 would tell you - it prevents plastic from deteriorating and getting brittle. So, I don't know that it's necessary, but I use it anyways, I guess I figure it sure can't hurt.

I’ve still got …
a cheap poly boat that I bought used in 1978. It’s still quite usable, I could go out and stand on, or sit on it now with no problem.

Stored properly, I belive it will out live your children. Maybe your grandchildren.


Many Thanks!
So - to sum up,

Poly will last a long time if I store it well and am careful around heat. This makes sense, as my Royalex canoes are old and sturdy, but I have seen some pretty awful looking old rec kayaks.

The Chatham 16 may or may not fit me, but if it does it will be OK for my weight. I should try both the 16 and 17.

My only remaining question is how easy it is to repair in the event of either a big failure (poke a hole/crack in it), or long-term wear (sand a hole in it).

Mine did
My Necky Elaho DS has always been stored on its side on straps with pool noodles at the bulkheads. It has always also been carried on its side against stackers. Yet the hull deformed under the seat.

in 15 years
you will have been mr_kayakhead for 14 years.

I would have thought you’re about at the upper weight limit for a Chatham 16. Cosmetically the 16 and 17 look similar, but performance-wise they are two very different boats. The 16 is short, has more rocker, and is very manuverable while the 17 has fairly straight walls all the way up to and beyond the front hatch and as such is noticeably more difficult to turn. Both are stable in big waves and easy to roll. The plastic is thick and holds up well. Get J-cradles and store and transport it on its side. If stored out of the elements and out of the heat it should last forever.

Don’t drag your boat and you shouldn’t get holes.