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Submitted: 01-24-2011 by kfool
I recently purchased a Necky Chatham 18 in carbon, although originally it was not a boat I was considering. I had read all the reviews, and after trying it, found it to be exactly what I wanted to improve my skills. This particular 18 had some stress cracks in the gelcoat, so the dealer invited me to paddle it for a couple of days to test for water leakage and to make sure there was no structural damage, which it did not have, and the gelcoat was easily repaired. I got it for a great price.
I am an intermediate paddler, 5'10", 175#, and have paddled a poly Chatham 17 for 5 years prior. I paddle ocean, rivers, tidal currents, ICW with lots of clapotis, inlets with rough chop, day paddles, and 3-4 day camping trips in the Everglades.
I found the carbon 18 to be amazingly light, but a bit "squirrely" compared to my poly 17, but have easily adapted to it, although I have not had it out in REALLY rough stuff yet. I have taken it out in 1-2 foot waves in the ICW with 20-25 mph headwinds and crosswinds, 2-4 foot ocean swell, and some tidal chop in an inlet. I anticipate perfecting my techniques and am looking forward to warmer weather to practice rescues and advance my rolling repertoire. Also, I am especially anxious to try cowboy and side scramble self rescue, as I've gathered it's not easy in such a narrow boat.
This boat is fast enough to easily handle 10-20 mile day paddles and daily 10-12 mile links of multiday trips. The foot room is great for a variety of footwear, the cockpit is just right. Some reviewers point out the forward bulkhead being too far forward, but I feel it's just right to fit in a seabag in front of the footpegs to carry extra gear for trips.
All around, it's a great boat and I would recommend it if you're looking for a boat to advance yourself. I think you'll find, as I have, that the 18 quickly settles into a comfortable rhythm in all types of paddleable conditions.
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