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Submitted: 06-07-2013 by marksil
I have owned my gorgeous, black, Advanced Composite Chatham 17 for about 4 years now. It is an awesome boat. Many people have said here that if you could only have boat, this is the one and I totally agree. The only boat I have paddled that compares is the P&H Capella, and I believe this boat has a superior build, and a bit less expensive to boot. The Advanced Composite construction is almost seamless, like it was made from 1 solid piece of cloth. The thinnest layer of clearcoat, and that is all. About 44 lbs, and quite easy to shoulder carry, the balance is almost perfect as you hold it near the back of the cockpit.
I paddled a 16 ft plastic Chatham for 2 years, and loved it's handling, surfing abilities and confidence-inspiring stability, and it turns on a dime! But it is SLOOOOOOW! And heavy in plastic, it was time to reconsider. Like many marriages, I fell in love with her beauty, but the relationship has deepened as we have gotten familiar with each other.
My first paddle with the boat was in Northern California's Pillar Point, in 18 mph winds and 3-4 foot following seas. I was initially wondering if I should even be out there,given my skill set at the time. Boy, did I realize right away I had made a good choice. This boat is rock solid in a following sea, only breaking waves at the beach will make it broach. I never felt out of control, even as speed rapidly increased on the wind wave's face.Beach surfing is a bit different, it is a long boat and I find it hard to pull out of a broach as compared to the 16 ft Chatham, which is a legendary surfer. But I find with good torso rotation and a wing paddle I can keep 4.5 to 5mph going for hours. I was able in a time trial to average 6 mph over a two mile sprint. Not bad for a British-style skeg boat!
It is not as instantly maneuverable as the 16, but with an honest edge I can still 360 in about 4 strokes. Stability is fantastic for a 20" beam, and the cockpit is very nicely outfitted, much cleaner than my old plastic 16. I have had no issues with the hatches, they let in a little bit after a day in the spray, but not enough to care about, they wipe dry after paddling with a towel. Curved bulkheads help the hatch capacity, but this is definitely a low volume boat.
All in all, IMHO, the perfect cross between a mileage maker and a play boat, and absolutely ideal for the wide variety of conditions that are found in the San Francisco Bay, which is my boat's primary place to be enjoyed. A day Cruiser par excellence! Get this boat, a cheap plastic Looksha Sport for the rocks and coast, and a Seda Swift for packing with gear, and you will have every boat you will ever need,although the answer to the question"How many boats should you own?" is always the same, "Just one more!" Happy Paddling!
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