Necky Chatham 18

Anyone own a Necky Chatham 18 out there ? How do you like it ? How does it perform for rolls (lay-back, sweep etc.)

ah yes …
The roll. In a Chatham 18. So narrow. Such a low aft deck. Sweeeeeeet!

Another owner
Very high quality, fast, yet maneuverable. Rolls easily, and tough as nails. Doesn’t likely have the storage capacity of some the other, longer boats, but I don’t need it. Love this boat!

I had one
It’s a good, fast enough high volume touring kayak with LOTS of footroom for it’s width. Well balanced regarding weathercocking and enjoyable behaviour surfing down wave. The bow develops support that’s not evident until you go fast down a wave. Most kayaks feel kind of wobbly as you scoot down a wave and this one feels stable all of a sudden, kinda odd but nice.

My complaint is that the relatively straight rocker and flattish bottom makes for kind of a twitchy feeling in waves. The Chatham 17 is a bit more forgiving in waves.

The foredeck is high so you can rig all kinds of underdeck rigging.

Kind of ideal for skinny long legged people with big feet. You can’t order it without the bulkhead installed but I was able to get it without footbraces installed then cut out the foreward bulkhead,it’s installed FAR forward. I think I reduced the volume in the cockpit by 11" when I reinstalled a minicell bulkhead/footbrace.

had one
what happened to it? Fall off your rack and get smashed? Certainly you didn’t SELL it I hope! My favorite color scheme–oyster & gray. I would have happily taken it off your hands.

Prefer the 17

– Last Updated: May-19-07 10:38 PM EST –

The 17 is much more forgiving, fun, all-around boat to be in. Both the 16 and 18 go a little too far in their respective 'quests' for my tastes.

I was just talking to the Necky headquarters retail manager 2 weeks ago asking the design perspective behind the 18. His reply was essentially a rough water, speedy, long distance cruiser. It is not known for being stable or maneuverable--in other words, potentially not much fun--sentiment of several owners around here. More than one individual locally has purchased it and then gotten rid of it. The flat bottom with narrow beam reminds me of a tippier Explorer with a somewhat floppy/abrupt edge transition like the Explorer. The lack of rocker, while it might help attain a higher top end speed, isn't real conducive to manuevering compared to other boats I've been in.

The 17, on the other hand, seems very well mannered and would definietly be my pick of these three boats.

I don't care at all for the Chatham knee braces--to much to go wrong mechanincally and get in the way.

In addition in a conversation with the owner's of Body, Boat, Blade last year we were comparing the rear coaming/backband placement of the Chathams compared to NDK and Valley boats. The Chatham coaming looked to me to be back breakers if you were to have your torso bent/smashed backwards against the rear deck going through the surf. There's only about and inch or inch and one half between the backband and the coaming on the Chathams and several inches on the Brit boats in question, which doesn't creat a fullcrum at your lower back upon which to break your back. This struck me as a potential significat safety concern and Leon and Shawna thought similarly. Maybe some surfing Chatham owners can pitch in here if they've been smashed backwards before in the surf?

Just my opinion.

Edit: Might look at the Aquanaut, Nordkapp, and Tempest 170 and 180. Faster cruiser?--QCC 700 or Epic Endurance 18 maybe? I was in an Endurance 18 a couple of weeks ago and it felt better than I thought it would and seemed at least as manuverable and responsive to strokes as the Chatham 18 odd as it might seem. Could be a fun gofast boat! 2007 models of the Tempest come with a rear Valley 16 x 9 hatch and shouldn't leak anymore. With 2006 models, WS is apparently giving you the Valley hatch cover and rim, but you have to get it installed yourself.

yep, sold it

– Last Updated: May-22-07 12:38 PM EST –

the search goes on. I liked it but it was a first year production with a gel coat that zippered off on any big impact. That was about half the reason I sold it.

composite Chatham17
It needs core material in the entire cockpit area, not just part way forward. Kinda ‘rings’ when hitting waves. I wish the plastic one had as high a hatch area as the composite one. The distance between the front vcp hatch and hull is pretty tight in the plastic version if you wanted to cram a dry bag forward you’ll have to squish it down to about 4".

jmden has it well described

– Last Updated: May-21-07 11:47 PM EST –

A good friend has a Chatham 18, a number of good friends have Explorers (including my wife's LV) and I've got an Aquanaut.

I prefer the Aquanaut. Many prefer the Explorer.

The cockpit of the Chatham 18 is huge. The forward bulkhead is placed for someone 7 feet tall. The foredeck is way too high. The chine at the cockpit feels like a wall between the paddler and the sea.

The boats response to rear quartering seas is abrupt and unsettling. Its secondary stability comes on and disappears suddenly.

In this class boat, I think the Impex Force 4, Valley Aquanaut, and NDK Explorer, Nordkapp LV, are the best behaved boats.

That’s interesting
The 18 is more playfull than the 17 for most, including the designers. The 17 is the “market” boat of the three.

The more focused a design is toward a specific objective, the less across the board it becomes. The 16 excels in rough outer coastal waters.

Anything other than an NDK will get heavy scrutiny from an NDK dealer. Loyalty is cool.

Readers Digest
A friend has a Chatham 18. He likes it.

A number of friends have Explorers. They like it.

You have an Aquanaut. You like it.

To summarize: people like the boat that they have.

Size and playfulness

– Last Updated: May-21-07 5:01 PM EST –

I've tried paddling the Chatham 18, was in it for quite a while on a training when we switched boats. Three things - first is that the cockpit in the first year of them is huge and the front deck is on the high side. I don't know if that has been tightened up subsequently, but unless you are 6' tall it's a heck of a froggy reach to a thigh brace.
(PS - Later update. I was reminded that a higher front deck can be desirable if someone has tight hamstrings. Me bad on forgetting that.)

The second thing is the concept of playfulness - the person we know who owns the 18 is a damned good paddler, and uses it as a cruiser. I read that some find it useful as a more playful boat, but given the experience of paddlers we know I would suggest that anyone considering this boat should get into it themselves and decide on the playfulness factor for themselves. This is not a universal response.

The last bit is storage - the reason that the first year 18 has ridiculously limited storage for its apparent size is that the bulkhead was set unnecessarily far so it'll fit Wilt Chamberlain. (this was not the designer's idea, or the cockpit - corporate did that) Between that and the skeg box in the back, the boat has really compromised storage for its length. It is possible that this has been corrected, but it's worth a check. Or maybe Necky will custom place those bulkheads by now - they wouldn't earlier on.

That said, the layup and construction quality is impressive. If you like Necky's approach to the adjustable thigh braces, some don't, it's a well-made boat that handles conditions fine as long as you are comfortable with the feeling of how it does it.

Bulkhead Placement
That front bulkhead placement really is goofy and I wish it were aft about a foot or so. To make that space viable for gear I glued some lash tabs to the cockpit floor and underside of the deck. I can get quite a bit of stuff safely secured up against the back of the bulkhead that way so the space isn’t wasted but…gee, Necky, catch a clue here about what people want. Fully loaded for extended camping that boat is really pleasant to paddle but you have to be creative to get two weeks worth of gear in it without using the deck.

Salty, could you expand on that?
I’m no expert, but I’m trying to figure out how the 18 could be more playful. You probably know alot more about boats than I do, so please help me out here.

Not quite…

– Last Updated: May-21-07 11:48 PM EST –

I wrote: (edited to protect the innocent)

There are a lot of boats I think are more predictable in conditions and more supportive of skills than a Chatham 18.

Many comments here…

– Last Updated: May-20-07 12:11 PM EST –

...certainly do not relate to my experience, and I am far from an "expert". I own and use 3 Chathams; 2 17's (one kept out-of-state) and an 18. In my experience:

. The fore-deck height of my 2006 CH18 measures exactly 13". Combined with the 20" boat width, this doesn't seem/feel "huge" to me whatsoever(I'm 6'0". 210#). All things considered, the CH17 actually feels more voluminous to me, due to the greater hull width.

. The coaming locs on all CH boats has never been an issue for me. In my experience, the coaming heights lie directly behind the back-band. As such, as one's back angle goes up as it goes out, I cannot easily contact my coaming, even in a lay-back. Would like to see a bit more storage room behind the seat, however.

. In my experience, the CH18 is faster than the CH17, MORE maneuverable than the 17 (yes, you need to edge well), and it's stability profile feels very, very similar to the CH17. Stability is not a problem for this intermediate paddler. As such, with the CH17 length being only 4" less than the CH18, I am finding that the 17 gets significantly less use these days. I also own an Elaho HV, which feels, at least to me, less stable than any of the Chathams, esp. in rougher conditions.

. I don't understand the comment about the thigh braces being complicated, or getting in the way. They attach to the hull very firmly, using 2 stainless screws each, and, in my experience, do not move once set. I also find that they don't get in the way for me. I can see them as troublesome if fore/aft location and pitch angle are incorrectly adjusted, however.

I understand that the CH16 feel and performance parameters are completely different from the CH18 (can't fit in one w/o pain, so I have no first-hand experience with the CH16). However, in comparing the CH17 and 18, there is a bit of a quandary.

As salty alludes, the CH17 does seem to be a design-by-committee. I suppose it was designed to appeal to those folks unsettled with the thought of paddling a 20" wide boat. It's only real benefit over the Ch18, it would appear, would be a very slight increase in stability. Other than that, it languishes in comparison, as the dust on mine would evidence.

Edited for poor spelling...

Some good points
First, the front bulkhead is, or will be moved aft. Very fair comment to which I agree. The cockpit is big, secondary to Necky wanting a longer skinny boat for big paddlers. I’d like it smaller, but funny thing is, a lot of people love it for that reason?

That boat is way too big for you Celia, as it was never designed for someone your weight. You cannot displace the hull adequately. Composite Eliza is a boat I’d like to see you try…very cool little kayak. My wife loves hers, as do I.

Taste varies. Wilso, your comments are directly opposite for example from Keith’s, one of Spikes pals who circumnavigated the Charlottes recently. The CH 18 is his favorite boat of the many he’s paddled. Ex- Olympian, so he can paddle… Who’s right? No one Who’s wrong? No one. The very thing one paddler may hate, the other loves.

I like and own the 16. I paddle it over the Avocet or Romany as for me it’s outstanding in the waters I paddle. Is it better? For me yes, others perhaps not. I’d be happy with almost any of the boats listed. I’d choose the 18 over the 17 CH having paddled both, but that’s just me. 17 is a very tracky, nice gliding hull that is also lower in deck height. Nice, just too tight a hull for my taste.

The great thing here folks is that you really cannot go awry with so many great kayaks out there.

As I understand it
The 17 was the result of a lot of input from well respected paddlers nation wide. It went through a lot of testing. This team realized that most of the market liked a trackier hull.

It’s a cool boat and is the most popular of the three according to my buds.

Lesson learned: to each his own…

Bulkhead on Eliza

Do you know if the bulkhead on the production composite Eliza is also pretty far forward? I’ve got about a good 12" past the end of the foot brace rails and am considering adjusting that. Is the placement of the bulkhead important for any support issues overall? I was thinking of removing the foot braces, moving the bulkhead aft, and installing 15 degree slanted foam footrest against the bulkhead. Would love more storage in the bow compartment.