Submitted: 05-19-2005 by dan
I just purchased a composite (regular lay-up) Chatham 18 i should be honest and state that i just tried the boat on a whim, i hated the chatham 16, i thought it was slow (even for a 16' boat) and ugly(for any kind of boat) and i wasn't at expecting to even come close to liking the chatham 18, but i soon found it to be very different than it's ugly little brother ... i was in the market for a ndk explorer hv, i have a posiedon( romany hv) which i love and the ex hv handles very similarly to the poseidon and i needed a tripping boat(too many ands?) ...well i should start off with my first impression: the chatham 18 is a beautiful looking boat... in fact i remembered thinking that when i saw the proto-type at port townshend a while back, but i soon found the beauty was *much more* than skin deep! the boat handles wonderfully, although not slow, it looks to be faster than it is, I have already paddled it in 2-3' wind waves on the Columbia and it surfs like a dream, good volume in the bow, doesn't lock in like the Explorer or Viking, however what surprised me was how neutral the boat was when traveling abeam to the wind. It was gusting easily to 25mph and the boat didn't seem to want to weather cock or lee cock- I was worried that it might have a tendency to lee cock just by the looks of the boat, but again i just didn't notice much of a wind effect , however on my first few trips I will probably be very careful with the packing of kit (50/50 or just a bit more weight fore) just to be on the safe side.
The primary stability is solid and the secondary is fantastic, on edge the Chatham 18 spins on a dime... as for turning in wind, it very easy to hold a moderate to extreme edge when sweeping/ bow ruddering to turn upwind and likewise when back paddling to turn down wind.
As for things to modify (you always have to modify a new boat right?). I will have to move the front bulkhead aft about 7" or so-maybe a bit more, lots of wasted space. I got rid of the ratchet system and just attached my back band straps to the slots on the metal stays; I like low tech. and i didn't like having all those straps everywhere .... c'mon necky, what were you thinking, it's a cheesey set up for such a nice boat!! ... also I had to trim the fiberglass that connects to the metal stay (that only took a few minutes) the corner was digging into my leg, the skeg is too thin or too weak or too something because, when deployed, it hums like a bad country western singer. Good thing the boat doesn't seem to need a skeg ... besides the w.s. tempest series who figured this out first, kudos steve if you are reading, somebody else has *finally* put a skeg control recess out of the way of both your knee (inside the hull) and your knuckles on the control side - are you LISTENING NDK and VALLEY????
After I get done with a couple of tours I may take the skeg and skeg box out to gain more aft stowage space. Iíll make a post later this summer after a few trips. Oh yeah the fit of the boat is great. I am 5'9" 205, pretty much built like a tank and I have lots of room. I couldnít believe it to tell you the truth. Despite my quibbles, I gave the boat a 10 because it is a fantastic handling hull. I highly recommend the Chatham 18.