Necky Chatham 16 vs 17

Hi all

I have an old Chatham 16 poly, I bought it used and it’s been fantastic, I paddle coastal waters around the southern outer banks. I’m 5’8" and 140 lbs and one thing I love about it is that it fits me perfectly, I have an old valley avocet as well and it is clearly a high quality boat but has never felt like the right fit for me quite like the Chatham 16.

I’m thinking about upgrading to a Chatham 17 to get a little more speed, and was wondering what I might be giving up in the process? One thing I noticed on the specs is that despite the 17 being 1" narrower than the 16, the cockpit is actually 3" wider and that’s got me worrying that the boat might be made for larger paddlers.

all feedback appreciated… thanks.

likely take more padding

– Last Updated: Jul-27-13 1:20 AM EST –

I am 6' and 210 pounds and can fit in the 17, but not the 16. My hips are too wide to fit in the seat of the 16. So even though the 17 is narrower, the cockpit and seat of the 16 is narrower. So to make it fit nicely for you, you would likely need to pad it out a lot.

The 16 is known as a slow boat, but quite playful.

Is your Avocet plastic or composite? I have heard a lot of smaller paddlers like the Avocet LV composite (but not so much the plastic).

Sterling Icekap is another often liked by smaller paddlers, but can be a bit hard to find.

More tracking too
Chatham 17 is more of an all around boat, hence less playful. But you will be giving that up in general to go to a around hull so likely faster.faster hull - is that something you want to do?

You are on the cusp, but your weight definitely puts you on the smaller side. You might want to see if you can try a WS Tempest 16 somewhere around you. Smaller paddler boat but, like the Chatham 16, more of an all around hull so likely faster. They tend to be readily available most places.

What other makes of kayak are available around you, to help improve the suggestions?

More tracking too
Chatham 17 is more of an all around boat, hence less playful. But you will be giving that up in general to go to a around hull so likely faster.faster hull - is that something you want to do?

You are on the cusp, but your weight definitely puts you on the smaller side. You might want to see if you can try a WS Tempest 16 somewhere around you. Smaller paddler boat but, like the Chatham 16, more of an all around hull so likely faster. They tend to be readily available most places.

What other makes of kayak are available around you, to help improve the suggestions?

One thing you would be giving up is
bit more money from your pocket.

Ask yourself, if any extra speed is really worth? You have stated that you really enjoy the Chatham 16 and as far as the “speed” rating, how many times would you truly use what might be ‘bursts’ of speed? Will you need to get a larger skirt or cockpit cover, different length of paddle, etc. should you go with the longer boat? These, and perhaps other variables may be taken into consideration should you decide to change from a Chatham 16 to a 17.

I had a Chatham 16, sold it for age related reasons, and I’m truly sorry I did.

Perhaps you can find folks with boats, which the others mentioned, that would let you try them out before making a guesstimate on whether you need to change.

Also, though not always a true code to go by, check the reviews on this board for the 17’ and others noted. Bare in mind that they are personal opinions and each individuals arms, legs, feet, & torso have different lengths, move in different patterns than another.

Best of luck in your endeavor.


– Last Updated: Jul-27-13 12:15 PM EST –

thanks. I have the avocet plastic. one of the reasons I bought it is what I had read made me think it was suitable for someone my size, but I've felt a bit like I'm "swimming" in the cockpit... unlike the chatham 16 which fist like a glove. and, the avocet is much more prone to weathercocking due to the shape, which I've found to be a particular issue where I paddle, where it's almost always windy.

these are all great points. the 17 has excellent reviews on here, and I love the 16 so much that I figured it would be a good upgrade. I’d appreciate the extra speed to be able to travel that much further. But now I’m thinking it might not be as good of a fit for me as the 16.

Keep 16
Havent visited here in many months. I’m the guy who along with Spike Gladwin designed the Chatham series boats. We did the 16 entirely without corporate or sales input and did the boat we wanted. Of the production coastal touring boats it’s our favorite. The things that make it less efficient in calm water make it the opposite in rough coastal seas. Some may recall the 16 won a coastal race or two in California in the past… So speed discussions among generally slow kayaks are kind of mute. I shaped the 17 in reaction to feedback on the 16 and it clearly is the “market” favorite all round boat. We applied a lot of input from guru’s nation wide and the boat went through a few versions, the first being too tippy. Cockpit is bigger and most folk like that better. I fit great in the 16 at a husky 200 lbs. I personally find the 17 kinda blah and nowhere near as fun as the 16. True, real world speed differences are slight, but internet differences seem vast??

Keep your 16 for ocean play and buy a surf ski, or an EPIC touring, QCC or similar designed hull for legitimate speed upgrade for fast touring.

Salty, A big thanks to you and Spike
for the great design of the Chatham 16. It’s a fantastic boat and a lot of fun. I love the integrity of Necky’s skeg cables. An awesome boat.

It’s nice to hear from you again. Of all your posts I’ve read, I most enjoyed the one about the kayakers who thought they had the right of way, in a shipping lane and then had the audacity to flip you off. NOT!! Talk about a “dumb” kayaker. It’s folks like that which give paddlers,in general, a bad name.

You know what they say about opinions …
… And that’s all anyone can give you. Best bet is paddle as many boats as you can to see what works for you. Try the ones you might not have at the top of your list: you might be surprised!

So here’s my opinion. First, I’d focus on your weight when looking at boats. If you’re not camping, smaller and LV might be best. The 16 sounds right, as does the Avocet and Tempest 165, as someone suggested. But those are just a few options. There are lots of good boats out there.

Years back I picked a Tempest 175 over a Chatem 17 after several demo’s because the Wildy was faster, more comfortable, and more playful. While that seems to be the general opinion in these two boats, there are plenty of people who buy the Chatem over the Wildy. So it’s really all about the fit and feel for you.

I also discovered that the Tempest 165 was really the size I needed, and upgraded (downsized) to a glass 165. Playful, but not as fast. Like the Chatem 16, a different boat than the 175… A few years later, I upgraded to a glass Nordlow. Fast AND playful. It doesn’t get any better than that. When making that change, I tried an Avocet glass and plastic, plus several other boats.

Or as Salty suggests, keep your Chatem 16 for play, and get a n ocean ski for speed. I just bought an Epic V8. I know it’s fast, but the engine matters. So for me it’s not a speed demon, but it’s a little faster than my Nordlow. But a good paddler in any decent kayak with good form could spank me in a race. It sure is a fun boat, but you’re not gonna play in the rocks with it: 18 feet and very little rocker, a rudder, and a light composite build that would not handle a rock very well. Used skis can be had for a decent price.

Good luck, and remember that finding the right boat can be a lot of fun.

Ah thanks
Last year I happily reported dramatically better maritime behavior among paddlers in my local waters and that trend continues. I think it has a great deal to do with local instruction. Body Boat Blade seems very active as does Island Adventures, kayak Academy etc. High caliber instruction it seems and I have had zero incidences with rude paddlers in the last couple of years. So I’m thinking more folk are seeking knowledge and wanting to better their skill levels all around.

Thanks on the 16. Of the many boats I was involved in, or did solely for Necky etc, the Chatham 16 and Eliza composite are he ones I’m really happy with because they really do what we intended them to do, and do it well. I also enjoyed the Chatham 18 but sales drove the big cockpit which wasn’t my choice. Still way more fun than the 17 and more playful. I never had a bad day in the 17, but to me it was a market kayak. Sales knew best cuz it outsold the rest! Eliza composite is a fantastic little boat and superb in wind and seas. Poly version OK, but not the same. Long story there…

These days I only surf paddle a bit as too busy running freight boat and soon on tug to Bering Sea etc. But I see folk out paddling and camping and fond memories come to the forefront.

The wire in the Necky skegs is awesome and I’ll take credit for that one. SE 508 NiTi .118 I successfully retrofitted other brands with the wire and I never had a failure. .118 is overkill actually.

If you want speed
Pick a lighter/faster kayak. The 17 isn’t a fast kayak. Your reservations about cockpit outfitting can be addressed with minicell and hip pads. At 140lbs I’d look at small fast to accelerate kayaks and composites like a QCC 600 instead of 65lb plastic kayaks. Research skin boats and S&G kayaks.

Yes, keep the Chatham 16
The C16 is a fabulous boat. If I didn’t have a Romany I’d pick-up a Chatham 16.

I love my Romany as a playful boat and use it for surfing, tide races, refreshing skills, as well as a day and guest boat. It is not, however my traveling boat. For that I use my Aquanaut or Nordkapp LV.

If you want a bit more glide (speed) but don’t want to be engulfed by the cockpit or loose all of the playfulness you might try a Nordkapp LV or Aquanaut LV (composite, the poly version is a larger boat.)

Sales drove?
The Chatham 18 cockpit was goofy big. Any input on the Eias? I’m trying to figure that one out. Stern is way too loose. In the plastic version the rudder barely dips into the water and in the composite version the stern floats high with my 225 lbs. I wish it had a stern like a Manitou13

Yes Lee
So much of what you consumers see at the shops isn’t necessarily the work of a sole designer with a concept, rather a design by committee. There are those models that sneak through the MBA’s such as the CH 16 and Eliza composite. The Eliza composite became the best selling composite kayak for them by far, so, lets just tweak it and make a big brother? I’m not familiar with it but knew they were messing about with an Eliza remake. Never set eyes on it or paddled it so can’t comment. Yes the 18 was intended as a spirited longer touring performance kayak for big guys. The reps at the time really drove for a big hole. The boat was not successful. These companies feel driven to come out with new stuff all the time, more gimmicks, goofy hatches, etc, for shelf appeal and marketing bling. I got news: Within a certain set of dimensions there are only so many hull shapes you can derive without huge overlap. That’s why there are so many very similar designs out there. Having said that it’s surprising how little true innovation has occurred in sea touring. I think it’s wise for folk to find a kayak they really enjoy being in and then go use it on journeys. It’s the journeys that matter and being on the water. Sure gear matters, but some of the endless musing over very very similar hulls seems a waste to me. This OP IMHO should get a fast tourer if speed truly matters, not split hairs. He’d enjoy both!

I tell folks

– Last Updated: Jul-30-13 12:13 AM EST –

What we're talking about is 10% of what matters, get on the water and decide. That's where you'll find the other 90%.

Something goofy happened to the Elias hull like what happened to the Ch18 cockpit. I still haven't heard a good reason why the Ch16 cockpit is so narrow , the kayak hull can take take a heavy person but the seat hanger in the composite kayak impinges on a lot of people that wouldn't happen if it was an average width.

What gets me lately is the ubiquity of cored hulls. I'd rather have a hull made up of successive layers of cloth and core in specific places. We've got an old Tofino that has been abused and used but no hull damage.,none. It can flex 2" along the hull with no consequence.

speed vs playful
I do like my kayak to have more glide and less resistance yet still be somewhat maneuverable in choppy water or surf.

But agree with Salty, as an instructor and guide for many trips and classes it didn’t matter what kayak I used, as long as I could fit in the cockpit. Tempest, Explorer, Capella, even a Romney HV on a 10 mile paddle is fine, as no one else wanted to paddle it and I don’t care, and paddled half the trip backwards. Even the 16’ Wilderness Systems newer model that I can’t remember the name right now was a blast for instructing classes because it was easy to maneuver.

For a single boat owner I like a compromise, but maybe I would feel the same way about many other kayaks? There are over a dozen that would be fine for me. If you really want to improve your skills you can try something more challenging like Nord LV or Epic, etc… Although I do like a bit more glide in my touring kayak and still be somewhat playful.

so true, so real
cuts through all the shit out there.

If this board had stickies this one would be the permanent # 1 sticky.