Submitted: 09-06-2011 by Bob
The CH 18 is the 2nd Kayak I owned and the 2nd boat I have built. I have had it in the water 5-6 times at the time of writing. The kit went together OK, a few probles that were resolved by either re-reading the instructions or by an email to CLC. The problems were really due to the lack of information within the manual - a bit unclear at times. I did make several customisations to the boat during the build as well. -- Rating: 8/10
Size: This is a big boat - for the Big paddler. I am 6'1 and 300lb and I built this boat because there is not many suitable boats for us bigger paddlers out there. My biggest complaint about this kit is that it comes with a cockpit opening designed for the smaller paddler! - Little guys do not build this boat the cockpit opening should be bigger! I made mine bigger - moving it out to 20" wide and 35" long and it is an easy fit for me getting in and out. There is plenty of room in the cockpit once you are in. -- Rating: 7/10
Stability: It has rock-solid primary stability. I came from a plastic SOT and was a bit concerned about the stability of the boat, but after a few hours, I found that it was almost as good as the much wider plastic boat I came from. I have not really found the secondary limits yet (too cold!), but it seems to be pretty good.
I have been out in 20kn winds, with approx 2foot waves and power boat chop and it never feels like you are going over. -- Rating 9/10
Paddling: I built this boat becasue I wanted something faster than my plastic boat and I have not been dissapointed. Easily do 5+ mph in good conditions, and with a 15kn tail wind, 7+ mph. -- Rating 9/10
Tracking: I built this boat because I like to do Marathons (read 60+ Mile Marathons) and built it with a rudder. When Building, I added a fair bit of extra rocker to the boat -ending up with about 5". Even without the rudder it tracks rock-solid and I have found that it only needs minimal rudder input to keep on track. -- Rating: 9/10
Weight: Well the plans say the hull weight should be 48lb. My finished boat, including rudder came in at 44lb. This includes me adding in an extra bulkhead for a day hatch.
I think If I had been concentrating on the weight, I could have got the weight down to the high 30's without too much effort at all. There are Several areas within the build where substantial weight savings can be made without comprimising the build. There is no need to add 3/4 lb of epoxy in each end, when 2oz and a bit of fibreglass will give you more strength! -- Rating: 10/10
Build Time: I spent about 9 months (off and on) from kit to water and probably spent around 150 hours building and finishing the boat. This is a lot longer than suggested by the instructions, but then again, taking your time means ending up with a better product. Do not kid yourself - the finish will take around 1/3 of the build time. -- Rating: 7/10
The more time I get in this boat the more I like it. Build this boat if you are a bigger paddler looking for a rock-solid performer that will allow you to easily keep up with the plastic fleet.