Submitted: 08-09-2001 by SWB
The Chesapeakes' chines are all nearly parallel to the waterline. This results in more wetted surface, more drag, fuller ends, a longer effective waterline length, and a higher top-end speed. Most people don't paddle their boat at the top speed, except for short bursts, and even if they're capable of it, they're generally paddling in the company of folks who can't paddle that fast. Having a fast boat and not using it's capable speeds just means unnecessary wetted surface which means more drag than you need to sustain a 3-knot cruising speed.
Don't get me wrong, the Chesapeake is an excellent boat. It has tons of stability--I really think a 24"-ish beam is great for beginners. A lot of beginners rush out and buy 27-30" beam recreational kayaks, and hate them because they're so sluggish. 24" is nice, because you can start to feel the effects of good edging and leaned turns, but not so twitchy that you're afraid to go out and play in larger and larger waves. I've been in 5' boat wakes with it, and had no problems at all. In fact, I was so comfortable in it, I probably outgrew it quicker than I would have in a different boat--because it helped me "feel my edge" as I slowly progressed in my skills learning. If you have a hard time packing small, you would have no problems packing the Chesapeake. I think the front hatch is a bit too small for the volume it offers, but other than that, it's a dream to pack. If you pack like a backpacker, you can fit two people's gear in this thing! I learned a lot from my Chesapeake--I can roll it--it's not the easiest touring kayak to roll, but it is rollable.
I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm knocking the Chesapeake--it's just a very large boat, and often larger than most people need for a day-paddling boat. It is very comfortable in big seas, and for carrying larger people or lots of heavy gear. I have no problems squeezing my 6'-6" frame and size 14's into it.
It's a good boat, but not a great boat. More like a canoe than a kayak. An able and seaworthy craft capable of carrying huge loads, but bigger than 95% of the people out there need, and not an ear-to-ear grin fun boat. It's like driving a pickup on a windy road. You can do it, but it would be more fun in a sports car, and not necessarily more dangerous, either.