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Submitted: 12-15-2007 by William Menke

I rented a Chatham 17 from Citi Kayak in San Francisco, California and spent a very pleasant afternoon paddling it around the Bay.

I'm a big guy (6'2", 210 pounds) and, at 21 inches wide, the Chatham 17 is a fairly narrow boat. Nevertheless, I felt very comfortable in it. I found the thigh bracking particularly well-done, as it enabled me to get a very firm but comfortable grip on the boat. I liked the seat, too.

Being a racer who uses a wing paddle, I prefer an upright paddling posture, and this seat definitely helped me maintain it. I mostly paddled it with the skeg deployed. It tracks very well and feels very stable, even when taking the occasional large wake from passing tug boats. I did not find it at all tippy, but as I am trained to paddle an olympic-sytle K-1 (that most-tippy of boats), mine is perhaps not the most credible endorsement of stability.

Now to the negatives: the Chatham 17 was not nearly as fast of a boat as I was expecting it to be, given its rather slender width. I could maintain a speed, as measured by a GPS odometer, of 5.7 m.p.h. without much trouble, and sprint the boat up to 6.3 m.p.h., but I can reach these speeds in almost any 17+ foot boat.

Two other negatives are noteworthy: I consider any boat that weighs more than 50 pounds to be a chiropractor's dream, and this one comes in at 63; and I dislike stiff rubber deck hatches, like the ones on the Chatham 17, for they are extremely hard to close with cold, wet hands.

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