Anyone paddle the Chatham 17 and want to share their thoughts? I paddled a 16 yesterday and was favorably impressed. Wonder if the 17 is a close performer or an altogether different creature?
16 my preference
I loved the 16 composite with Whitewater thigh hooks that I borrowed. This boat was really designed for outer coastal paddling. It is excellent in chaotic seas, clapotis, high wind, etc. Lots of buoyancy in the chines to work with. You can really lay the boat out and spin it in rough water. It’s the most fun “sea kayak” I’ve used in those conditions. As I understand it, the 17 was a reaction to feedback that the 16’s cockpit was too tight?? (I love that!) and that the boat was too loose. Indeed the 17 tracks very well, has better “glide”, and a big cockpit. I think it’s the better “market boat” and will appeal to more people. The 16 is the better rough water paddlers boat. BTW, the designers wanted a fit in the 16 that would allow you to stay in the boat after pitch poling etc. I’m 205, big legs, 5’ 10", and I padded out the 16! I think the market just likes sloppy fitting big cockpits. Check out Pintail, Mariner Coaster as well. Also like Fosters Legend…
Salty hit it
I wonder if the total volume is much different, the 17 is fairly shallow in the fore/aft compartments but the general overall cockpit fit is comfy for the average sized person, the thigh braces are at a better angle than the 16. yep, the 17 is for folks who want more glide, smidge more speed and tracking but the same idea of a kayak that’s nearly invulnerable in high winds with excellent handling with stern waves. Also I’m guessing they figured out that the skeg on the 16 was in a funky position in that when it was lifted at the bow the stern skeg box would drag a furrow in the sand. I wonder if that contributes any slowness to the 16.
Just paddled a 16 today
on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. Had wind and some low waves. I am 5’ 7" and 175 lb and the fit was perfect! The boat is responsive, very resistant to wind, and edges beautifully. I did get water over the front deck when going through even mild waves so water-tight hatches are important. Also, my spray skirt was not tight enough and I got some water in when edging. The boat is low and edging can get the combing in the water so you need a good fitting skirt. Just as a point of reference, I also paddled a CD Sirocco, for a while today, and it seemed too roomy for me. It weather cocked like mad and I had to use the skeg most of the time. I did not feel connected to the boat and felt too high above the water. Later on in the day I sat in a Chatham 17 (didn’t paddled it though) and I could see what they did. The cockpit it definitely larger. The front deck is elevated in a pronounced way and for me it’s too much. I felt like I had to strain my legs to keep in contact with the thigh braces and the boat - not a good thing. The front and read decks are low and there isn’t much room in the hatches. The 17 may perform very well for the right size person - but I prefer the 16. I’m sure it’s not the fastest boat out there, but I put a higher priority on handling and maneuverability than on speed. By the way - the boat I used was plastic.
winds and weathercocking
it’s too bad the Scirocco isn’t as good as the Gulfstream regarding weathercocking and skeg control. What is dynamite about the Chatham16 is that you could paddle in 25mph winds,and if the skeg became disabled so that you couldn’t deploy it,you could still paddle it in 25mph winds,which is not something you can say about all skegged kayaks.
Ive been demoing the Chathams 16/17 now for the past few weeks as Ive been deciding on who would win my bank account…the Chatham or WS Tempest.
Have decided on the Tempest as it is TONS more comfortable, just as maneuverable, and has greater secondary stability. Costs the same too. Lots of extra features that you dont get with Necky and the fit n’ finish seems a little more refined. Bought two of them last week (one for my wife and one for me). Very glad to go with Tempests.
Been paddling my Chatham 18 Composite since April. First kayak, so I don't have a huge basis for comparison. I'm still loving it. It's fast, even with my mediocre stroke I still keep up with the gang, which is very nice on those long stretches of open water. It's also nice when you're trying to get accross a busy lane between boats. It handles very well, I love putting it on edge. It also handles well in some rough water, I have found it very comfortable out in the harbor on some very windy days with a lot of big wakes. It tracks excellently, even in the wind, not a lot of correction required. I went for the 18 instead of the 17 mostly for the added cargo space. My wife got the Chatham 16, and their isn't a lot of room for gear in there, so we wanted a little more space to fit everything for camping out on the islands. I wasn't comfortable in getting in and out of the 16, the keyhole felt very tight. Since I've been paddling so much more, that doesn't really feel like an issue. On the downside, I'm not real pleased with the ratchets on the backband, they seemed like a great idea when I got it, but I now realize they are pretty unnecessary. They are already starting to rust pretty badly, (I hose off the salt after every outing, it doesn't seem like you should have to do much more than that.) Also, I'm pretty sure you can find some boats with a more cargo space in that size range. That shouldn't be an issue for me, since I don't plan to be out more than 3 or four days, if you're planning some longer expeditions it might be a concern. All and all though, I really like it. The 17's cockpit is the same as the 18, it is very comfortable, I'm 5'11' and 180. The composite price is the same on all 3 Chathams, give the 18 a try, (it's actually only 17'9").
I give it a 10/10!!
goony ratchets,like coffee 9cup holders
in a minivan, they gotta have them,if it’s 2005 and you’re selling a “sea kayak” in America it’s gotta have rustable ratchet back band adjustors that intrude into the cockpit coaming. No really,if you’re sitting in a kayak you supposedly are moving your back band front and back frequently. Must be like those running shoes with the Pump. “oh,gotta stop and pump my shoes!”
The bizarre part is that the Perception Avatar had the same rustable ratchets a couple years earlier,and Necky still used them. There must have been a world wide glut of rustable adjustable back band ratchets.
With the narrow coaming Chatham16 the adjustable ratchets REQUIRED metal brackets that reduced the hip/hip width down to 14.25" where the points of those brackets protruded down into the paddlers thighs. It helped that they now send the rm Chatham 16 out with the wider seat frame, or you can buy one for $30 to retrofit your 2004 Chatham 16. I did.
Aside from those complaints the hull is very user friendly in wind/waves.
I agree LEEG
I test paddled a Necky kayak, and hated the ratchets for the seat back. The front of the cockpit opening was aready narrow (I am a big guy), and these ratchets made it even narrower. This was one reason I didn’t buy it.
I have never had to readjust a back band, after initially getting it set.
A waste of money, and an intrusion to a already narrow front cockpit opening.
But isn’t the Gulfstream the same boat as the Sirocco but in glass instead of plastic? How can it behave differently? Is it the difference in weight that’s important here? I’m curious.
Back band ratchets
My 2004 Necky Looksha Sport has those same back band ratchets. In addition to seldom if ever using them, I find that they are so easily adjusted that they often adjust THEMSELVES. Practicing re-entries and similar clambering about will often release the levers and allow the band to go loose, requiring readjustment once seated. In a real-life rescue situation, this would presumably be yet one more bothersome and potentially dangerous item to check before safely resuming paddling.
And yes, my hinge pins are beginning to rust, and the boat’s never even seen saltwater …
To be fair, I am otherwise quite impressed with the rest of the hardware and outfitting on this boat, and had only to add my own perimeter deck lines and a little cockpit padding. Everything else seems well appointed and this boat, and perhaps other Neckys as well, offered more intermediate-grade outfitting than many other boats in its price range.
Although the fact that the rachets rust is a problem that Necky definitely should have thought of when developing the outfitting, I personally love racheting backbands. I paddle a lot of whitewater and this is something that is common in whitewater boats. When I get into a kayak, I love ratcheting myself into a real nice tight fit to become one with the kayak. Also for whitewater, you can paddle with a looser backband for river running, and then really crank it tight when playboating or running some more serious stuff. In that same sense you could crank up the backband for rolling/surf/rock garden play or leave it loose for general paddling. I guess it’s what you’re more comfortable with.
I haven’t looked
into it yet, but how much work can it be to get rid of the ratchets? I figure I will just let them go, (not like I have a choice there,) and then look into some sort of strap and buckle configuration. It really seems like a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
1" Nylon Webbing and Fastex Buckle
works fine. No more worry about rust.
The outfitting easily allows for almost any backband configuration. The boat I used had alloy buckles and no ratchets. I’m hearing that Necky will go to a nylon buckle. There’s also a slot in the seat frame for conventional attachement. There’s stuff about every boat I’ve paddled that I’ve changed. If the design allows for easy retrofit that’s good. Some do not. I think beginners may not understand what experienced boaters do…that all boats really need customizing, and that is easily done.