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Submitted: 03-12-2014 by HawksEye

I built the CLC Shearwater 16' Standard in the winter of 2013-2014. It was my second CLC build, but my first experience with hatches and puzzle joints.

First of all, the above dimensions are incorrect. For some stupid reason, the Shearwater 16' ends up with a 23" beam, which is wider than their 17' version. Perhaps they think smaller paddlers are less skilled and need a more stable boat? If so, I find that rather insulting. I wanted a fast, narrow, boat built for my size and this was the best choice I found. (limited choices for short women who don't want to car-top a 17'+ boat! I also considered One Ocean Cirrus LT, but the CLC design looked far easier to build.

There are a couple of issues with the manual and there is a design flaw with the rear deck form trying to occupy the same place as the rear bulkhead when fitting the standard deck to the hull. (There are no shear clamps with the standard deck.) CLC tech support was very responsive and tried to make things right, but they have no desire to fix the manual or the design flaw, or even tell the customer about the design flaw. CLC actually told me that overcoming those types of problems was part of the boat building experience.

The hatches appeared to go well, until I got to the gasket stage. I think edzep (reviewer) was a little confused about where the gasket material was actually supposed to fit, but for good reason. I, too, had issues, because my hatch rims were not far enough below the deck to allow the supplied, thick gaskets to 'engage the rim' and have the hatch sit flush with the deck. My hatches stick up like sore thumbs above the deck. That issue really torqued me off and the tech support guy said when he built his it worked perfectly and other builders make theirs work, so the implication was that I must have screwed up. So, I will call the hatch spacer problem another design or manual flaw because I did follow instructions.

Aside from those two issues, the build was tremendously fun and rewarding, until I got to the epoxy and varnish. I also had problems with epoxy fish-eyes and with varnishing, but the design & manual problems really left a bitterness in my mind.

My first outing was a 5 day trip to coastal Texas. When loaded down with my 145 lbs, camping gear and water, in calm conditions the boat tracked very well. She handled wind and chop rather well-- heading downwind, riding the swells was a blast. We were in some pretty windy conditions and there was some weather cocking, so I guess I'd recommend a rudder or skeg for this boat if you live where the wind blows. On our last paddling day, I took her out with minimal gear and she tracked and handled well, but there was far less wind that day.

A varnished deck requires far more care with gear than I realized. My spare paddle, map case clips and compass clips all left some serious scratches in the polyurethane I used. Don't get me started about my poor choice of finish...

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