Submitted: 12-18-2007 by Johnysmoke
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" 225lbs. with size 13s, so I think I'm on the large side for this boat. It's snug, but a comfortable, fit for me. The Chatham's outfitting for me creates a direct interface with the yak. 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 that's 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 regularly 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 Chatham 17 is an excellent boats. For me the Chatham 17 excels in rough water\play. I find the Chatham maneuverable.