Submitted: 08-18-2007 by marksil
I own a plastic Chatham 16.5. I fell in love with paddling, bought an old Ocean Kayak SOT and it was time to move up. I bought the boat used on Craigslist, and chose it because it seemed to fit me snugly(6'0,175)and I liked the control I felt. The thigh braces either fit you great or they don't.I would say I'm probably at the top end of fit for this boat. I have owned it for almost a year now, and it has taken me from a beginner to an intermediate. It has been a great craft to grow into skillwise. It is wonderfully maneuverable with the skeg up. I can easily navigate tight sloughs and rock gardens when I am ready. I have been out many times in the south end of the San Francisco bay. Summer afternoons the winds REALLY pick up and the chop can hit 2-3 feet w/ tidal swells coming at you almost continuously!Just keep paddling and the Chatham just rides through, the low deck makes it very resistant to wind issues. I find it easy to keep direction even in strong crosswinds. It also tracks great for a boat with such a lot of rocker. You do sacrifice some speed, however I would not consider this boat slow. Even though the fit is tight, the cockpit is large, so wet exits and re entries are pretty easy. I especially like the small strap right behind the cockpit to slip your paddle blade for paddle float self rescues.I have had to reseal the hatch gaskets, they leaked like sieves! It seems to stay pretty dry now, but the boat takes a LOT of spray in wind and waves. I have read some negative reviews about this, however for me getting hit with spray is half the fun of being out in conditions. So, if you are looking for a high volume touring boat with lots of storage and comfort for long trips, this boat won't work well. But I don't think that's what it was designed for.It is a fun, maneuverable, predictable performer that has been a great boat for me to develop skills in!