Necky Chatham 18

Disappointed by my long ordered but unpaddleable Explorer carbon/kev (and having just sold my glass Explorer) I had resolved to buy another Explorer out of the new shipment. A highly knowledgeable friend urged me to give the Chatham a close look, and the salesperson suggested I give one of their just arrived Chatham 18’s a try on the pond. I was favorably impressed. The glass Chatham is lighter and less expensive than the Explorer with much more value in the finish and better constructed. Stability was impressive for a 20 inch beam boat. Still the niche I would use the Explorer for would be big water, and I could not have a trial in the Necky in our local tidal races or a nor’easter. What clinched the deal was that it rolled, if you can believe this, even easier than the Explorer. If I get dumped, I’m right back up. The hull is Explorer like, but the sides drop straight down from the coaming. Saturday morning I’ll be surfing the reversing falls at Blue Hill, ME and in the afternoon playing in some 5-6 foot swell breaking in on Schoodic P… I’ll let you all know how it does next week.

BTW, the dealer got two of the first shipment - eleven Chatham 18’s (a glass and a carbon)delivered to the east coast. Myself and another customer, also looking for an Explorer, were the only two to paddle the boats. We each left with an 18. Sold out on the 5th day.


I ordered a glass one
I paddled and bought a plastic Chatham 16 then paddled a carbon/glass 16,I was pleased enough with the wind/weathercocking balance that I figured they were doing something right in the testing,so the glass 18 is on order without any testing. First glass boat in 12yrs since I bought a Mariner Express, also bought untested. Unfortunately they can’t ship it without the front bulkhead. My assumption is that the front bulkead is probably a foot beyond my feet to fit the tall paddler plus a little extra so I wanted to mount it closer myself but their production sequence doesn’t allow for that. Oh well.

I’ve heard good things about the 18 and mixed reviews of the shorter one. Sound like completely different boats.

Let us know how it does.

Very impressed…

– Last Updated: Jul-29-04 9:54 PM EST –

with my carbon/glass Chatham 16. I've paddled a couple hundred miles with it in varying conditions and it handles like a dream. I've gotten used to the "fit like a glove" cockpit. I'm 6 ft. 2 inches and 185 pounds, and the more time I spend in the Chatham, the more comfortable it becomes. There is plenty of leg room, even for my 34-inch inseam. I use a thermo pad for resting my upper legs, but the seat pan is quite comfortable. The white-water knee braces and back band are also great. The knee hooks have more surface area and wrap around somewhat to prevent slips in braces and rolls. The back band is stiff and solid, but adequately comfortable. I can touch hands beneath the boat, and the deck just foreward of the cockpit is lower than most kayaks in this class. Although the cockpit is 31 inches long, it is somewhat narrow, forcing me to enter by dipping one hip. This was odd at first, but I have to say the feel, once I'm positioned in the boat, inspires lots of confidence. That being said, I suspect a good many folks will find the hip space tight or impossible.

I also paddle a Gulfstream and a Tempest 170, both of which are also outstanding. With proper outfitting, these kayaks handle energetic seas with grace. They are higher volume boats, and maybe because my Chatham is newer, I am having fun with its nimble nature.

I am having a problem with what appears to be an unfinished or incorrectly finished skeg box in the Chatham. Some leaking there, even without rolling and with very snug hatch covers. Am looking to Necky to see what they can do to help me out with that issue. Interestingly, if you examine the inevitable hull scratches (even very shallow ones), the undercoating is black. I don't know whether this is because of the carbon fibers, or whether this is a layer of black gelcoat. Will look into that too. The skeg doesn't retract fully into the hull, though the hull itself is formed to indent, leaving the retracted skeg even with the keel line. Don't often use the skeg, except in steep following seas. In any case, the finish outfitting on the Chatham seems superior to most boats I've seen.

The carbon layup is pricey, but I hope to get years of pleasure from the boat.

Here's an interesting review of the shorter Chatham if you're interested...


How would you compare…
the handling of your Chatham 16 and your Tempest 170. The Chatham is a beautiful boat, though at 5’10", 215lbs the Chatham was too narrow for me.

I fit perfectly in my Tempest 170.

There have been many comparisons of these two boats in recent months. I am curious as to how you might compare the similarities/differences in these two boats.

Many thanks…


the seat
supposedly they’re going to make a wider seat frame,but like the Tempest two part hatch covers I bet they’re going through inventory or hoping folks don’t notice after more sales.

The Chatham 16 can’t be leaned as far over simply because it doesn’t have as much freeboard as the 170, the blue seat can be thrown out and a minicell one carved in it’s place allowing a more custom fit. For folks who can’t fit in between the 15" aluminum frame because it’ll cut into the thighs and don’t have the “new” wider seat frame you can slam the frame as far aft as it will go then have minicell jammed against the side of the frame extending forward for thigh support.

The Chatham16 is slower turning (less rocker) than the 170. I can paddle the 16 in 20mph winds without needing the skeg,in the 170 I’d need the skeg.

If your legs are long enough you can remove the aggressive thigh braces in the Chatham and hook under the coaming, I’ve been in the surf without the metal thigh braces and have felt comfortable but I’d like something inbetween the metal ones and just the under side of the coaming, maybe there are some conventional plastic ones.

I removed the goony ratchet seat back and put in a regular one eliminating more hardware at the coaming.

The 16 will get some water across the bow compared to the Tempest but that’s the tradeoff for reduced windage.

rumor has it that there’s a Chatham17 in the works.

Hey, sorry to hear that the carbon Explorer didn’t work out… what happened? Also feeling a bit guilty about relieving you of your old one! But, I’ve given it a good home :slight_smile: (Someone else in Connyak has posted one for sale BTW)

Anyway, have fun in Maine and will look forward to hearing how the Chatham does in the hands of an expert!

Carl C.

Chatham 16, Tempest 170
Two very different boats. First off, I really like the Tempest 170. Sitting in the boat is a pleasure. The outfitting fits me like a glove with a very comfortable seat. It has rock solid stability all around and it paddles very nicely but the Chatham I found to be much more manoeverable. I am also too big for the Chatham however so I had to pass on it. Right now I’m trying to decide between a Tempest and a Capella. The Capella has the manoeverability I want but I don’t like the outfitting at all. The Capella I’d have to reoutfit but the Tempest I’d be good to go right out of the box.Ideally, I’d buy both boats because they each have their good points.----Rich

Thin gelcoat?
Hummm. I have never seen a “black” sub-gelcoat, although I guess it is possible. I suspect that the white gelcoat is so thin you are actually getting down to the carbon lay-up even with minor scratches. You don’t need a lot of gelcoat to protect a boat from UV, and maybe that’s how Necky keeps the weight down on both their Carbon and Fiberglass models of the Chatham? That OK, but the finish will not be to terribly abrasion resistant.

Paddlers complain about Brit boats have excessive gelcoats. Maybe Necky will start a trend where North American kayaks are known for their ultra-thin gelcoats? :slight_smile:

Safe Paddling, Joe

Moving the bulkhead
I had them send my foot rails loose to accommodate my long legs.

You might see if they could do a custom bulkhead location…I asked, too, and they wouldn’t send the bulkhead loose.

I saw a carbon/glass Chatham and the black layer isn’t carbon,not sure what it is but it’s not the visible carbon cloth but an opaque layer of resin.

Awesome kayak!
I’m sure you’ll love this boat, I had out the proto-type last fall for a few days here in BC and fell in love with it myself. Hope it works out well and you have a great time back on the east coast! If you’re heading up to the Maritime provinces for any paddling next season, let me know!

Cheers…Joe O’

Chatham 17
There was a Chatham 17 at the Gulf of Maine Sea Kayak Symposium last month. Rep said it was spanking new.

You mean most are not already known
for their thin gel coats.

Tempest is my boat also
I paddle the Tempest 170 also, but did not find any problem in quick manuverability.

I’m totally stoked with this boat.

Necky builds the Chattam 18 which might fit you better then the 16.

Happy paddling which ever boat you decide on.