Tempest 170 or Chatham 17

Paddling a Current Design Breeze about 2 years, I am 6’4" 200 lbs. size 13 shoes. Would like to move into a touring boat that I won’t outgrow for awhile.

Test paddled a Tempest 170 RM., Chatham 17 RM & Chatham 17 composite liked the handling on all three. Tested the 170 at a different location, hard to compare equally. Had an issue with the foot pegs (see my post Tempest 170 question). Dealer has great price on the Tempest, but it needs a little modifying. All three seemed stable and easy to manuver

Just looking for input and opinions.

going from your other post you appear to be considering a range of $900-%3000+ ??

If you were considering composite I’d open up the choices beyond those two with lots of demo time/research given the expense. For the $3000price range of composite boats there’s a lot of good choices.

The Tempest feels more manueverable(IIRC) but it’s more limited if you have a disabled skeg as it weathercocks more.

It would be mighty hard to pick the more expensive boats for the price difference but a couple things bug me about the Tempest that aren’t correctable and are correctable on the Chatham.

The hatches. Some folks say they’ve had no problem with the Tempest hatches. I’ve seen a few couple year old Tempest 170’s with totally worthless hatches that could be lifted off with your pinky finger or would collapse in a rescue. I’ve heard tell that’s all been fixed but I wonder. On the $900 one you’re looking at,what happens if you put your hand in the middle of the aft hatch and press down with 75lbs. of pressure? If the sides pull up then you have an idea what’ll happen in a rescue.

A lot of plastic Chathams have the VCP hatches installed with inadequate amounts of sealant and need to be reinstalled. That said when sealed,they are sealed and as good as any VCP hatch.

I’m afraid you’re in the middle of personal preference territory regarding the difference of Tempest/Chatham. I think a big strong person would enjoy the Tempest more as it’ll respond well to being tossed around. If you wanted to carry weight the Tempest looks like it’ll handle it better.


If you get into Greenland style side sculling and the different rolls, the T rolls much better than the C17 IMO. For just a standard paddle roll, sweep or C-C, or something in between, the C17 would be fine. It’s not an effortless side scull like the T though, and related to that, it’s not effortless in the rolls that use less paddle purchase, like butterfly or shotgun, which are usually the next ones you learn after eskimo.

Weather helm.

I’m borrowing here from what others have said. I hope they’ll correct me if I’m wrong. The C17 with it’s low decks gets very little effect from the wind.

The T17 gets more effect from the wind. I experience weather cocking (turning into the wind) in 15 + knots. In more than 1.5 ft chop, the skeg doesn’t completely eliminate it. The better your corrective strokes are the less this will matter. Some report experiencing lee cocking (turning down wind)in heavy wind.


To me the thigh braces are great in the T. I never thought the thigh braces were so great in the Cs. You may notice that if you start rolling.

I chose the T. YMMV.


tempest 170 or chatham 17?
I struggled with this one too.

I like both boats rotomolded, all i could afford. I think the primary stability on the Tempest is higher, but the pay off is the rotomolded chatham 17 is more manouverable (carves turns slightly better, etc.) and may be slightly faster. Then again, the seat isn’t as form fitting as in the plastic tempest, and the chatham 17 seems slightly harder to roll to me, needing a more powerful hip snap.

The previous poster is right on the hatches, at least in the plastic tempests. they don’t inspire confidence. On cowboy reentry, I have to consciously keep my elbows off the aft hatch. Any pressure and it pops, no matter how well I have it on. That problem supposedly has been fixed in the 2007 composite tempests.

I opted for the tempest in plastic, mostly because I got a price I couldn’t refuse, and when you are in conditions, you want the more stable boat. I still like the chatham though. It’s a fun ride.

Good points.
If you can go fiberglass, at 200 lb, then try the explorer. If lighter, T165 or Romonay. If heavier, T170. The big bias in my choices is I want a comfy layback and a does-everything boat, including G rolls. If you don’t need a comfy layback , then there’s other good choices too.



– Last Updated: Sep-20-07 2:49 PM EST –

do you have an opinion on the Tempest vs the Chatham 17 for down wave handling?

Steve/Flatick says the hatches are fixed on the plastic boats but I don't see how if it's the same design. My $.02 is that a hatch that can't handle a persons body weight won't handle a hit of turbulent water. Either situation is not one you'd want the possiblity to occur,,AT ALL. If I had a boat with that tendency I'd want some kind of belts and suspenders solution for the hatch.

Everytime I paddle the Chatham16/17 I think,,A little more rocker would be nice. Never satisfied.

haven’t surfed the chatham 17…
so can’t compare with the tempest in that regard. I agree on the aft hatch; it is flat dangerous in surf to have such a weak aft hatch.

’most’ of the hatch rims on the roto versions of the Tempests are fine, requiring a pretty healthy push down to get 'em to implode. many are bone dry.

but…if someone is having problems we will warrenty the problem with a kajaksport rim and hatch kit replacement.


T-170 hatches
I’ve owned and paddled the T-170 since 2003 and have a lot of miles on it—never had a problem with the hatches but then would never consider a cowboy style rescue—if I blow my roll then would do a reentry and roll—much much easier in any type of sea than the cowboy.

does that fix work for Tsunamis as well?
The front hatches and day hatches are fine, but the stern hatches are pretty bad. On one Tsunami I can’t even get the hatch cover to seal.

dealer should be able to get you the kit


Kayaksport hatches
Does that require cutting out a place for the rim in the plastic and screwing it on the deck?

dremel makes a cutting bit that zings the plastic off and you seal and bolt on the new 'un


Roto Tempest hatches
I’ve had a plastic T165 since June 2005. The hatches are very easy to remove, yet I’ve never had one come off unintentionally.

Have practiced cowboy re-entries on it with NO trouble. That doesn’t mean a 200-pounder will be able to do the same. Or someone thrashing around and panicking.

Chatham vs. Tempest
I’ve been paddling a Chatham 17 RM for two seasons, and totally love the boat. I’m an intermediate paddler (whatever that means these days) 6,2 225bls with size 13s, so I think I’m on the large side for this boat. Its a snug, but comfortable fit for me. I also owned a RM Tempest 17 for a few months, but didn’t really like the way I fit in the boat, and the boat also weather cocked for me in high (20+ knots) of wind. The seating system was not as comfortable for me as it looked, and I found the minimalist outfitting of the Chatham more to my liking. The Chatham’s outfitting for me creates a more direct interface with the yak, while in the Tempest I felt like I was bumping around in a barcalounger. I was a less experienced paddler when I owned the Tempest than I am currently, so I’m not certain how I’d get along with the Tempest now, but I’m not looking back at having traded it for the Chatham. I think the Tempest would be a better touring boat, as it has a higher loading capacity and more volume then the Chatham, at least for me coming in at 225+ pounds not including gear, but I use the Chatham as a day touring\play boat. I think if I were 30lbs lighter the Chatham would be great for touring, so long as you went light and fast with compact gear. Definitely not a boat suited for extended expeditions. I suppose thats what the Chatham 18 is for.

Things I’ve noticed in the two seasons of owning my Chatham:

-It locks in when there is any type of energy on the water, and is easy to trim direction with the skeg. Putting the skeg all the way down, the boat will go down wind\wave almost on its own. The skeg will also trim for quartering, or running parallel to the wind.

-I do use the skeg regurly about a quarter of the way down to keep it moving straight. Takes a lot of edging\corrective strokes for me to paddle it with no skeg, except directly upwind.

-It surfs really well, and loves bumpy conditions.

-It and I love rough water, the boat is confidence inspiring in the rough stuff, it just digs in and goes where you want. The flat bottom and soft chines work well for me.

-I did have to reseal the hatches. Now they are bone dry.

-The boat has stood up well to two years of heavy use, and other than the hatches, I have had no issues with it.

-The boat is no fun in flat conditions, and for me feels slow. Once there is any type of energy in the water, it seems to come alive.

-There aren’t many Chathams in the Northeast.

-Its easy to roll, and turns on a dime.

-The super low profile is sweet once conditions pick up, the boat just snakes through the water.

-In high wind (25+) the boat will be obstinate when broadside to the wind, and needs a little coercion to get either up\down wind. The “locking in” characteristics of the boat seem to work against itself a little here, but getting the boat either nosed a little up or down wind, the boats snaps out of it. All that is needed is a little lean and a strong sweep.

-The backband is comfortable, but the adjustment straps do work themselves loose while you are paddling the boat. I haven’t tied them in yet, I simply readjust them a few times a day. I suppose I should just tie them in.

-I’ve never had any problems with the skeg, the Necky wire system is bombproof, at least so far (knocks on wood.)

-I wish it had enough capacity for me to take it on some extended expeditions (2-3 weeks) but I’d need to use a snorkel if I tried packing that much food, or for places like baja, water into it. I did take it on a 5 day trip in Maine, but again I almost needed a snorkel at the beginning of the trip. I was pretty much a torso on the water, waves were washing over the back deck pretty regularly.

All said, I think both the Chatham 17 and Tempest 17 are excellent boats, it just depends on what you want to get out of the boat. For me the Chathem 17 excells in rough water\play. I did paddle the Tempest in some roughish conditions, and it too is a totally rock solid boat, especially as I was a newbie when I did this. I find the Chatham more manuverable though. If I were using the boat exclusively for touring, the Tempest would be a better pick. The Tempest really settles in nicely when packed with gear (I did my first overnight in the Tempest) but again a paddler who is lighter than I am could get more range out of a Chatham.

check, thanks nm.

I loved my Chatham 17
but have never had a Tempest

(That hasn’t kept me from lusting after one, however.)

A few random thoughts:

The C17 is ugly as all be. I can’t stand how it looks, but I love how it feels. Absolutely the most comfortable kayak I have ever worn. I agree with Learner about the minimal outfitting: the Necky foam seat is a dream. So simple, yet so comfortable.

Then turn to another quasi aesthetic/quasi functional point: bunjees and deck lines. The Tempest has a beautiful paddle park up front, but I can’t stand the cris-cross bunjee layout in my working space–just in front of the cockpit. A question of personal taste. Instead I prefer the linear layout, side to side. Simple and clean. The Tempest has more bunjees than you could ever want (a plus), but has more bunjees than you could ever stand to look at or need (a minus). Six of one, half a dozen of another. A draw.

Agreed about hatches. Gotta love those Valley hatches–big and water tight.

Again, I have to agree: the Chatham is the best behaved boat I have ever paddled in conditions. The biggest I have ever paddled in was 3-5 ft. seas in 30+ winds, and the bigger the water got, the scarier the conditions got, the calmer the boat behaved. Absolutely rock solid. It was uncanny. Like someone had stappled it down.

The Chatham 17 will NOT turn on a dime, however. At least not for me. When I started “training” for the BCU 3* assessment, one of the skills I worked on was paddling a figure eight. Forwards and backwards. And what I learned was that the boat will cut a far tighter turn in reverse–not true of my other boat, a boat that will TRULY turn on a dime, a Sirocco. Although there is less room to pack, the Chatham comes into its own on trips from A to B.

I haven’t experienced the problems rolling that Aquaman talks about, but then I don’t do the advanced rolls. If I have any trouble, now I can blame the boat! :slight_smile:


I don’t have much experience with the T
But like the hatches, seat, and cockpit of the Chatham better. I also think the Necky is a bit more maneuverable. The CH17 is an excellent boat (I own a couple), provided you install or are blessed with the grey foam seat. The older, black seat is too high at the front lip, and causes pain and numbness within 30 minutes or so. Also, the VCP hatch rims do tend to leak.

With my RM 165…
it’s been thrashed a fair bit in surf and the rear hatch has not failed yet. I get a lttle water in the back and day hatch, none in the front compartment, it’s a 06/07 Roto Tempest.

On the fit…Still amazed how when the kayak gets picked up and sucked down into a closing wave face I manage to stay in. That said - the previous kayak was a large cockpit ,less active body fit with knee hooks etc…

I’m pretty much a newbie, but
I’ve been in both the Chatham 17 and the Tempest 170 in the past two weeks. I’m 6’-3" and 270#. The Chatham sat too low in the water. Necky doesn’t list capacities, so there was no way to know except to try it. The outfitter contacted the Necky Rep and was told it was “iffy” as to whether the boat would hold me. Today, my wife and I both demo’d Tempest 170’s. She loved it and is probably going to buy one, I liked it, and the guide said that it appeared to sit high enough in the water for me. I also demo’d a CD Sirocco. I didn’t feel as stable in it as in the Tempest. The Tempest has a more pronounced keel. They both were fast, but the Sirocco would take some getting used to. Next weekend we’re taking two Tempests out for a few hours.