Necky Chatham 18

steering change with lean
when you have something that is potentially a bit faster and will change directions with a more abrupt shift in stability playful could be a characterization.

it’s worth taking out
when I did that on my 18 it added a lot of compartment volume and eliminated significant cockpit volume

How did you remove it?

elbow grease
drilled a few 1/8" holes through the bulkhead near the fiberglass flange then sawed away with a hacksaw blade around the perimeter. Used one of those handled hacksaw blades where you can adjust how much blade sticks out of the handle. It took about 45minutes. If you suspend the kayak upside down from the garage ceiling you can access all of it from a comfortable angle.

After cutting it out,and marveling at the efficient use of materials, file down the rough edges leaving the glued in flange, then make a template for the minicell bulkhead at the prefered location. If you were really into “moving it” then I guess you could replicate another fiberglass flange but the minicell is easy.

Initially I ordered it without footbraces installed/hull drilled so I could install interior mounted footbraces,once I saw how far forward the bulkhead was located I went ahead with the modification and tried out angled blocks of minicell against the new bulkhead velcroed on the bottom of the hull. I gave just enough room inbetween the blocks to stretch and touch the bulkhead. The decision to have minicell footbraces was purely accidental. I was going to put in some cut down Yakima footbraces for only about 4" total adjustment but once I put in the blocks of minicell it was a no-brainer. Figure on giving an extra 3" from your normal footbrace position for some adustment room and between foot stretching.

Something that helps spread the pressure on my feet and the bulkhead was making the footbraces with a heel rest, imagine a right triangular shaped piece of minicell about 6" tall by 5" long. Then curve out the long edge that your foot would go on into kind of a J curve. At the bottom of the brace was a BIG patch of velcro as well as on the cockpit. This provided some adjustability but also moved a lot of contact pressure into the hull and not just the bulkhead. Although with 5200 it’s glued in solid.

Elaho HV
that is one odd duck. I made a carved minicell seat for one thinking it’s twitchiness was a function of a loose seating arrangement. Nope.

well, I’m nobody who’s anybody
and I can’t account for your friend, but I chose the Chatham 18 over the Explorer for a reason. Namely because it was faster and more playful. At 22" wide, the Explorer is more predictable in conditions and more supportive than the 20" wide Chatham, but the same could be said of a bike with training wheels.

Yup - was my point

– Last Updated: May-20-07 10:01 PM EST –

The person posting didn't give their size. If they are smaller or very slight, the Chatham 18 volume (and cockpit fit) could be a problem.

As to other stuff - I didn't comment on the rear coaming specifically because I am too small by design for the boat - my impression on that wouldn't be of use. Wasted front space because of bulkhead placement is easier to measure and not size-dependent.

At my size 13" is too high a front deck, by a couple of inches - but I said that I thought someone at 6 ft of height would be a apt match. It appears that was a good guess.

It's handle... it reminded me a bit of the Vela in that it felt like it had a much tighter bow than my Explorer LV. I don't know if everyone would find that to feel playful - many of the boats that are considered to be playful in which I've sat have pretty loose bow. That may be personal taste and time in boats.

Again, the Chatham 18 is a nicely laid up and interesting boat. But it has a pretty strong personality, enough so that I think it is really really a boat that someone needs to take out on the water before deciding for themselves.

(By the way, we know of several extraordinarily good paddlers who either prefer or would as happily take the Chatham 16 out over others in its cohort when they want something seriously manuverable and responsive to play in messy stuff. The most interesting thing to me about these boats is that Necky has created a boat in three lengths that also has three quite different personalities, something that might have caused most kayak makers to give them an entirely different name.)

That would be fine!

re: people like the boat that they have

– Last Updated: May-21-07 9:33 AM EST –

I was pointing out that you misread my post. Or maybe simply applied your feelings ;-)

I now know of you and the folk Salty mentioned as preferring Chatham 18s over Explorers and ???

For me the balance point of livliness, speed, and predictability was best attained by the Aquanaut. I find the stiffness of the Chatham 18 in its responses to quartering seas, particularly rear quartering seas, to be unsettling. The 'naut feels more fluid in conditions. For livlier than an Aquanaut I prefer a Nordkapp LV.

I found the Explorer to be a boring boat, but more experienced paddlers I know prefer it than any other boat.

The Chatham 18 is the only boat of which I've heard two different BCU coaches note might be hindering a paddler's skills development. Both of these coaches prefaced their comments with "I don't like blaming the boat, but..."

There are many capable boats. Among them, each paddler can usually find one whose personality and fit is compatible with desires....

quartering seas
that didn’t bother me as much as plain old hanging out and paddling forward, what the boat did up foreward coming down a wave more than made up for the stiffness/unsettling you describe.

It was the general ‘stiffness’ sitting in chop and paddling forward that got bothersome. I think a bit more rocker would be nice.

"I don’t like blaming the boat, but …"
You say that the Chatham 18 is the only boat which you’ve heard two different BCU coaches describe as possibly hindering a paddler’s skills development.

Just curious–which skills?

knocked about…
One day a friend and I switched off my Aquanaut and her Chatham 18. We were playing in the clapitos off a point and islands in Lake George. The chop seemed to knock the Chatham around in a jerky and sudden manner. I felt I was being blind sided and had to brace more often than I’m used to doing. The Aquanaut seemed to be less jerky (jagged?)in its response to these conditions. It seemed as long as I was relaxed the boat moved smoothly in response to the seas. The term we both settled on for the Aquanaut’s behaviour was “better mannered.” I’m not sure it moved any less than the Chatham 18, just more smoothly.

The wall of chine of the Chatham 18 seems to get knocked about. This is not dissimilar to an Explorer but maybe more pronounced because of the lack of rocker in the C18.

Sculling for support etc…

The boat was designed by an Olympic coach. I find comments like that just plain silly.

Kayaks are all a balance of variables, and none are perfect at everything. Just as with skis, here are focused designs and broad ranging designs. Nothing skis powder like a dedicated powder ski, but said ski probably isn’t gonna be fun on ice. Then there are the all mountain ski’s which do most things pretty darn well, but excel at nothing.

I think people get really passionate about whatever they paddle and confirmation bias tends to want to nit pick other options. We want to confirm that we made the right choice. To that end we are all influenced by those around us, and beginners tend to take on the opinions of their leaders, instructors. If you are immersed in the BCU stuff (all good) your biases will be predictable. Those immersed in the racing side of things will have completely different opinions.

For every guru with an opinion, there are better paddlers with a different opinion. Who’s right?

I guess it’s just not fun to aknowledge that there are any number of great kayaks out there and it’s just a matter of finding a good match. What you can’t paddle well, the next person dances in, etc.

In this thread we have a couple of BCU coaches who think said boat will limit skill development, and an ex Olypic Team paddler, expedition paddler who says it’s the best sea kayak he’s been in…period. Who’s right?

I have always said to folks asking for advice on a kayak purchase “Narrow the field to several boats in the category of paddling that you like, then paddle all of them in the conditions that you like. Forget what I, or anyone else says, and forget the logo on the deck! Buy the one that speaks to you, and you just feel “right” in.” Don’t look back…go paddle it.

Consider the Possibility
That it was not that the boat was lacking, but the paddler was lacking. A paddler in a good boat that is over their head cannot develop “skills” easily since the paddler does not have the ability to use the boat. So one could argue that a high performance boat is not a good vehicle for beginners to learn in. OTOH, one can argue an easy to use boat is easy to use everywhere and better even in demanding situations. Makes for a horse race I suppose.

Kayaks are all a balance of variables

– Last Updated: May-21-07 11:59 PM EST –


"The boat was designed by an Olympic coach" - an Olympic sea kayak coach? The sea kayaks I'm familiar with designed by Olympians (Epics) are great boats, but not necessarily the ideal for all paddlers in all conditions. As said there is a counter guru for every guru ;-)

The Chatham 18 is a good boat. I like its speed and glide. It is a capable boat whose personality is not particularly to my liking.

As I noted more experienced paddlers I know prefer the NDK Explorer to all other boats. I don't - though I appreciate why so many like the boat.

I like playing with different boats. My two recent favorites are the Island Qaarsut and Nordkapp LV. I was also duly impressd with the Force 4, though it does not have the 'fun' quotient of some others.

I enjoy my Romany and my Aquanaut - two very different boats. Hell, I get a bigger kick out of my Elaho DS now than when I bought it years ago!

I also enjoy both my Inazone and Pirouette....

Are there desirable characteristics
that go with that “knocked about” feeling you’re describing? It sounds somewhat similar to how the V10 behaves in chop, and the tradeoff there is beautiful surfing. Needing to brace a lot in slop may say more about the paddler and the paddler’s comfort in the boat than it does about the boat per se.


– Last Updated: May-21-07 3:28 PM EST –

As often noted all kayak design involves trade-offs.

Among other attributes, the flat bottom slab sides of the Chatham 18 probably gives the boat more initial stability for its beam than it would have with a v hull or soft chines. How many other 20" woa boats feel as confident?

A flat bottomed slab sided kayak will probably surf better than a rounder hull kayak with all other variables being constant. My Romany, with its flat sides and bottom, is a fun surfing boat. My Inazone should surf much better than my Pirouette.

I’m with bohemia…

– Last Updated: May-21-07 5:13 PM EST –

As a lowly, non-expert CH18 owner, what I am reading from some of these comments is that, when compared to a wider kayak, the CH18 can feel a might twitchy. Well heck, I can barely spell BCU, but it seems pretty obvious for this to be the case. Perhaps these 'coaches' need to get out of their relaxing, observation craft and spend some more time working for a living in lively boats... OK, being facious, but think you get my point.

What puzzles me can a narrow, jagged, unsupportive, unfluid, unpredictable, jerky, twitchy boat like the CH18 be said to stifle support skills development? Were this actually the case, one would think this to be the IDEAL training vehicle for the necessary development of these skills. Unless, of course, the goal is to practice in the docile trainer, and then train and re-train as one goes along. Ka-ching...

Some time ago, as a raw beginner, I hopped out of my newbie-barge and rented an Elaho HV, in 2' chop. Somehow managed not to get pitched, but scared the bejezes out of myself. Afterwards, felt like such a piece of unskilled crap that you know what I did? Went out and bought a new Elaho HV, and forced myself to operate in it. Now, that boat handles with ease, and the CH18 is an outright dream. Hard to imagine paddling a 22" boat any more.

Again, please don't get me wrong, I respect all you experts a great deal, just trying to make a point.

The pairing was lacking.
I am not saying the Chatham 18 is not a good boat any more than I would say the classic Nordkapp is not a good boat.

Some excellent paddlers like very supportive boats (Tom Bergh, Nigel Dennis, Steve Maynard, etc… and the NDK Explorer). Some excellent paddlers like more demanding boats (Stan Chaldek and the Nordkapp HM and Paul Caffyn and his ruddered Nordkapp).

Salty’s friends and Bohemia preferring the Chatham 18 might be closer to the more demanding tendency.

Even the report of the Nordkapp LV I’ve read and seen most cited by experienced paddlers off Wales included one who liked the boat a lot while noting that he had to brace alot more than he was accustomed to needing.

Different characteristics suit different paddlers at different times.