Necky Chatham 17 for a big guy? WS Tempest?

I’m 6 foot tall, size 12 1/2 shoe, about 235lbs, 38 in waist and 32 inch inseam. I’m a relatively experienced paddler (just got my ACA level 2 intro to touring instructor cert this past summer) and currently have a Necky Zoar Sport 14’, a Venture Skye 17’ and a Dagger Specter 15’.

My legs immediately fall asleep in the Dagger and it’s an absolute barge. I feel like I’m paddling in syrup in that thing. The Venture is nice but it’s pretty tight and the seat is really high and short so it’s not very comfortable and makes me feel like my center of balance is way off even though it edges rock solid.

The Necky Zoar is an absolute dream. It’s the most comfortable boat I’ve ever been in, handles great and is laid out well. I can paddle that thing for hours on end but I would like something longer than 14 feet for bigger water and longer trips and would like something with a skeg rather than a rudder. Since the Chatham looks like it’s the same cockpit layout and seat system as the Zoar I thought it may be a perfect choice. I do know it’s 3 inches narrower in the beam and has a slightly smaller cockpit opening (my Zoar takes a 1.7 Seals skirt and the Chatham takes a 1.4) but otherwise looks similar. I also paddled a WS Tsunami 145 when I taught kayaking for LL Bean and found it a good fit and had considered a Tempest 17 as a comparable option. Whatever I get would definitely be plastic. Sturdy and tough gets more points with me than light and fast. The Chatham is what I keep leaning towards.

Here’s the caveat before anyone recommends boats, I don’t have a lot of money. What I spent on all 3 of the used boats I have is less than what some of you spend on a paddle so going to demo new boats at a dealer isn’t an option. Anything I end up with is coming from the classifieds and may end up being a long drive. That’s why I am asking for some advice before I waste time driving to see boats that one of you may already know would be too small. Anyone Paddled a Zoar and Chatham and can make a comparison? Alternatives? Suggestions for HV plastic touring boats? Any input is welcome.

Welcome to instructing and congrats on your L2 cert. I’ve owned and paddled a Zoar 16 and Tempest 17, and have paddled the Chatham. Like you, I loved the Zoar however it is a very different hull than the Chatham which has more rounded chines while the Zoar is multi-chined and the Tempest more or a single hard chine of a traditional sea kayak. #1 is all are good plastic kayaks for an L2 sea kayak instructor.

Of those options for teaching up to L2, my personal preference would be Zoar, Tempest, and distant third would be the Chatham as the bottom seems very flat to me (which I do not like). Teaching in a 14 ft kayak up to L2 has some advantages with new paddlers who may require you to make some quick direction changes. FYI, I almost always teach L1 in a Dagger Stratos 140, L2 in the Stratos or P&H Scorpio, and L3 & L4 in an NDK Explorer HV.

Completely agree with you about buying used. I’ve bought, used, and resold many kayaks over the past 27 years and have only bought two “new” at close to MSRP, however they are forever kayaks for me after a couple decades of deciding what I really wanted in a kayak.

Finally, we are basically the same size, except you have 25 lbs on me and my shoe is only an 11.

Kayakhank, Great info. Thank you. I will most likely use the Zoar for teaching since I can whip it around pretty easily and I have a couple Perception Carolina 14s available to me for student loaners. I always liked the Stratos and might well have one of them instead of the Zoar if there were cheaper used ones around. The bigger boat is mostly for me to continue to grow myself as a paddler and take on a little more than I can in a 14 footer.

Good call on the boats for students and your teaching. If the purchase is for you to grow, I would seriously consider the Tempest more than the Chatham. Plus you being a slight bit heavier, you will like the Tempest more than I did for everyday paddling. It seemed to ride better fully loaded than empty…a common trait for some kayaks.

You may want to find a good long boat in fiberglass. They are much easier to find used at a great price right now compared to good plastic long kayaks…just my observation over the past year of C19 (and variants).

Kayakhank, I live in Pittsburgh Pa so much of my paddling is on our big urban rivers which often consists of staging my boat in a parking lot and launching and landing on concrete boat ramps and shorelines littered with all the detritus of the industrial revolution and some occasionally hiding just below the murky surface. That’s why I’m leaning so hard towards plastic boats. Fiberglass may be more suitable if I’m going up to lake Erie but around here where I paddle most often, I’m a little rough on them.
I’m definitely considering the Tempest more now. They seem to be a little easier to find than the Chatham also since they are still in production. My only concern was the fit as some of the reviews here made it seem like it was a bit of a squeeze. I’ll have to find one somewhere where the seller won’t mind me spending a few minutes kicking the tires and checking the fit.

There are a pair of CD Siroccos showing up for sale in the DC area for $900 each. As I recall, those are designed for a larger paddler.

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Shaggy, I am a bit bigger than you , 4" taller with a 13 foot. I borrowed a Tempest 180 , a great boat to paddle but it felt a bit big. If it had been mine, I think I could have easily have adjusted it.
I owned a Zoar 16 that was a good fit but still the cockpit felt a bit big. For whatever that’s worth. I weighed 240 then, 215 now.

I own a Necky Chatham17. I am only 5’ 6" and 190 pounds. But I let my friend Thor use my Chatham to learn some kayaking skills, and he’s 6’ 5" and 265. He fills the kayak, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem at all for him. That may or may not be helpful to you, but a bit more can’t hurt I suppose.

I am 6’, 228#, size 11 feet. Level 4 instructor, and pretty much only use either my Dagger Alchemy 14.0L or my Dagger Stratos 145L when teaching or paddling for fun in conditions (only level 4 class I do is a tides and currents class, and that I teach just a few times a year - most of my instructing is level 2 or 3). So long as you aren’t trying to cover major distances nor trying to keep uo with a pod of fast paddlers, a day touring boat will do everything you need.

The Tempest 170 (plastic - don’t think I’ve ever tried composite) fits me well. I remember way back when demoing both the Tempest and 17’ Chatham, and finding they were very similar in size and performance.

Some other skegged plastic boats that would probably fit you:
Valley Etain/Aquanaut HV
Any of the NDK “surf” versions
Dagger Alchemy 14.0L
Dagger Stratos 145L
P&H Delphin 155
Tempest 175

And some ruddered boats
Necky Eskia
Necky Looksha 5 or 17
Probably the Looksha IV or Sport, but they seem a little more tight than the Looksha 5/17
Jackson Journey 14 (but not the 13.5)

Giving you a bunch of boats, including ones a bit outside of the skegged, long boats you asked for, so you can keep your eyes out.

Never paddled one myself, but the Scirrocco mentioned above is supposed to be good for larger paddlers. A 6’7", level 5 instructor friend of mine used that for most of his teaching.


I am about your size, maybe only slightly less around the waist. I owned a Tempest 170 Pro for a few years. I loved the technology of how WS made the seating and other boat fittings. However, I discovered the cockpit of the Tempest is relatively small compared to similar size kayaks, and many owners, including myself, made the adjustment to move the seat back a couple inches to create some more room.

There never was a problem for me doing a wet exit, but I struggled at the beach to get out of the boat after a fews hours onboard. I was always curious about the CD Siroccos as mentioned above. I began to be intrigued with Swede Form style boats, but never tried one…


Current Designs Storm (17’) is a good big guy boat. I’m 6’1” , 230#, size 11 shoe and the Storm fits me quite nicely. It is the plastic version of the CD Solstice.

Was a very popular poly kayak (no longer in production) so there is a good chance you can find it on the used market .

Actually, the Storm GT IS back in production. CD’s website doesn’t show it, but dealers have been able to order it for a couple of years now. Very different performance profile than the Tempest 170, to my taste, but a good option for a taller, larger paddler looking for a relaxed fit.

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This has been a lot of great and really helpful advice. I appreciate everyone who’s been responding

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Not as fast as some of the narrower 17 foot kayaks, however the Storm handles big water comfortably. I bought mine because I felt comfortable just sitting in it (no paddling) in moderate swells.