Submitted: 11-20-2006 by Joe B
The Chesapeake 18 is the second kayak I own and even though I've only paddled it once, I think it's a great kayak. I just finished building it from the kit with no major problems at all. Definitely read the Chesapeake manual first once through before starting construction.
Boat Size: The Chesapeake 18 is a big kayak. I'm 6', 240-lbs and fit comfortably in the boat with room to spare. I added a foot operated bilge pump I found on-line from The Bosworth Company. To accommodate operating the foot pump, I moved the front bulkhead closer towards the cockpit and I still have more than adequate legroom. The amount of storage space is massive, and the front hatch isn't too small.
Stability: When I first put the boat in the water, the initial stability felt a little shaky, but after discovering the secondary stability is excellent, and getting the feel of the boat, the initial stability is just fine – 8 out of 10.
The secondary stability is 10 of 10. I can lean the boat over on an edge until water starts to enter the cockpit and still not tip over for nearly 4 out of 5 tries. I wanted to practice my self-rescue technique, so I was seeing how far the boat would lean before capsizing.
Paddling: The boat paddles easy at 4 to 4.5-mph – 9 out of 10.
I've paddled in a Seda Glider, Seda Impulse, and a Pygmy Osprey HP (My other kayak is a Wilderness Systems 16' Tarpon SOT). The Chesapeake 18 doesn't go as fast as these other kayaks, but at 4 to 4.5-mph it paddles just as easy.
Tracking: The boat turns left or right too easily while paddling, but that's my fault.
The boat has about 2” of rocker according to the plan dimensions. During construction, I added a lot of weight inside the bottom of the hull (temporarily) to correct a depression in the keel at the cockpit before gluing the hull together. Adding the weight pushed the depression out, but it also pushed the keel down even further and added even more rocker, approximately another inch, giving me 3 inches total. This was unintentional, as I was trying to get a depression out of the keel not introduce rocker. This was not the correct method for fixing depressions in the hull, but I cheated – oops.
Subsequently, with 3” of rocker, the boat at times turns like a top left or right while paddling. By the end of my first trip though, I was able to correct most of the unwanted turning using a slight edging opposite the turn.
Weight: According to the plans, the boat should weigh about 47-lbs. Mine weighs 70-lbs. I did add the foot pump and associated hardware, but at most that added 10-lbs. So the boat would've weighed in at 60-lbs. Again, this may be my fault. I ran out of epoxy (Resin & hardener). I used another quart of epoxy (Resin & hardener combined) adding extra weight, but not 13-lbs extra – 6 out of 10.
Self-Rescue: Self-rescue is tough in this boat – 5 out of 10.
The Chesapeake 18 has high fore and aft decks. This makes self-rescue difficult when trying to pull yourself up onto the back deck. I made one successful self-rescue attempt using the standard self-rescue technique (Paddle and paddle float, pulling yourself up onto the aft deck). On subsequent tries, the boat kept tipping over, so my friend suggested crawling up onto the stern of the boat. This worked much better. So be warned, the deck sits extremely high out of the water, which makes self-rescue difficult.
Overall the Chesapeake 18 is excellent - the boat is made for bigger paddlers, so it's a big kayak. I'll take it even at 70-lbs. The fit is great – I actually need to buy more foam to make it fit better for myself. It paddles easy – glides through the water at 4.5-mph. Very stable - while wanting to practice self-rescue, which means I had to capsize, it showed me just how stable this kayak really is. It tracks a little funny, but again, that was might fault for adding too much rocker during construction.