Submitted: 09-17-2004 by LeeG
I've been padding for 13yrs. Teach sea kayaking, fat and not very fit anymore. The ocean is 2hrs away. My regular boat has been a glass Mariner Express.
Positives: The Chatham16 is excellent for handling in high winds, mild weathercocking that skill or skeg can counteract. Similar to my Express in control but without any of the tendency to slide sideways across the surface of the water. This is the boat to have if you're stuck in high winds. Stable. Good combination of maneuverability and tracking. There are more maneuverable kayaks, there are stiffer tracking kayaks.
The cockpit is accomodating to modification but I don't think it's what Necky intended. Toss the blue minicell seat and carve your own.
I've been in small surf a few times and like it. The coaming is narrow enough that with the aluminum thigh braces removed I can have adequate bracing for rolling but can paddle knees up when I want in flatter water.
Negatives: Aluminum seat frame is the wrong size to accomodate more paddlers who can fit the displacement of the hull. I've got a 31" inseam and HAD to shove the seat frame all the way to the aft setting so as to not experience cutting pain from the frame. With the new carved seat from 3" minicell, chunks of foam extending forward from the frame it's perfect. The rusting ratchet seat back widgets are worthless, throw them out. The aluminum thigh braces are ok but find the narrow coaming provides adequate control for rolling/bracing in surf. Maybe there's an old fashioned set of braces I can cut to fit. There needs to be a different hatch gasket material, redid the day hatch with 1/16" neoprene and that fixed it. The other hatches are next as they take on at least a pint in half a days worth of surf.
This is a good kayak, fixed mine with under deck bag, doubled deck bungies. Found a soccer ball on the river today, jammed it under the two doubled foredeck bungies and it made a great bass guitar. Good tone. I have a composite Chatham18 on order.