Submitted: 05-30-2001 by colonist
I built a CLC 18 several years ago. This is a high-volume expedition boat for a large person; my smaller friends have trouble turning her. It will comfortably fit a 6'6", 250+lb paddler, no problem. I added the large Feathercraft rudder, which makes long crossings in wind or current easier (paddling effort is translated 100% into thrust; the feet provide the effort to keep her on track). This also allows you to vary your paddling strokes, with increased endurance (I've paddled her up to 8 hours a day, in the boat up to 3 hours without a break). I would not recommend a smaller rudder for this boat. In calm water, she does just fine with the rudder raised (and like any kayak, will turn faster without the rudder when proper technique is applied).
The main problem with this boat (as built using CLC's kit) have been the forward hatch size (I would built it slightly larger than spec), and leaking around the hatch cover due to the weatherstripping getting old and hard. I'd try using a soft material for the hatch 'gasket'. Also, the original wood footpegs were definitely no good; the adjustable footbraces are much better. Mine is at least 5 lbs heavier than spec, since I double-taped the keel and added extra epoxy and deck stiffeners. It's basically bulletproof. (This boat is almost 4 years old, and I believe CLC has improved the footbraces and/or hatches since then.)
Overall, this is a great high-volume boat with good initial and secondary stability and a fairly high hull speed due to the long length. It's perfect for multiday expeditions, and for general messing around. I've used it for a 4-day river (class I) expedition, even using the rear hatch as a 'rumble seat' for a child.
Performance-wise, I don't think many recreational plastic boats would be faster. This boat is definitely not a racer, but will cruise comfortably at around 3-3.5 kts all day long with 300 lbs of paddler and gear. She handles rough water well; the high prow will catch the wind more than lower profile boats, but the rudder will cure that. A great boat to paddle, and a fun / fairly easy project to build.