Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

I finally got to meet John Harris face to face today to lobby for more designs appropriate to a fast growing demographic: people over 60 who are still fit and active, but not as strong or limber as we used to be. We appreciate good performance, but need more stability, more foot and leg room and bigger cockpit openings. I also specifically suggested he offer a larger Shearwater and larger cockpit opening options on some of his other boats. John is the age of my youngest daughter, so he listened politely, but I got the feeling he wasn't eager to change anything. Maybe if he hears from more of us, the message might get through. If not, check out Pygmy's three new boats, which meet all of these criteria.


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RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Hear, hear, TFA - well and succinctly put, and I am sure nobody will take exception to your thoughts.   I had to enlarge the cockpit openings (length and width) on my two recently-built craft - Ches 17LT and Shearwater 17 - precisely to allow easier access for my less-than-limber 70 yo lower limbs.   With me, foot size is not a problem, but it may well be with others.

The above modifications worked perfectly well on the Ches - rather less so on the Shearwater - I'd have preferred to take a ready-made design that didn't necessitate my tinkering.

I am sure that CLC means well, but turning a deaf ear or blind eye is a bad sign!   The landscape of businesses of all kinds and sizes is littered with the corpses of those that paid inadequate attention to the most important people in their universe - their customers.   Not that I wish that on CLC at all, but...

It will be good to see what interest this generates, and any moves to address the opportunities by others.

Wordsmith

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

>>>>>>>John is the age of my youngest daughter, so he listened politely, but I got the feeling he wasn't eager to change anything.>>>>>>>

 

Well, I appreciate the feedback as always.  "Twofootartist"  listened politely while I listed the boats in our lineup with "good performance, but more stability, more foot and leg room and bigger cockpit openings":  

Chesapeake 17LT, Chesapeake 17, Chesapeake 18, West River 18, Wood Duck 12, Wood Duck 14 (a coming-soon design for big paddlers),  Guillemot L, Expedition Single, and three Great Auk models.

We don't have a Shearwater 18, the boat Wes wants---yet---but it's painting with a very broad brush to suggest that we haven't invested heavily in designs with large cockpits and more stability, and more foot- and leg room.

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Calm down John. The Wood Ducks are very nice boats - I bought plans for a 12' from you yesterday - but they are not suitable for open water paddling. Your Chesapeakes would serve us older guys very well if you offered alternates for 33" and 36" cockpit openings. The Shearwater is an absolutely brilliant design. The kit went together easily, the boat's lines are gorgeous and it performs like a charm. The 17 barely fits size 11 paddling shoes,though, not 12-1/2 as you advertise. I think you would find a strong market for a Shearwater 17 that is a bit wider, a bit higher and with a slightly larger (33") cockpit opening. -Wes Ewell

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

The Chesapeake 18 is mentioned, along with others with TOO SMALL OF A COCKPIT.  I mentioned this earlier and it also seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  My inseam is 36.  I CANNOT GET MY LEGS UP TO GET OUT OF IT.  I will have to take a saw to it sometime to enlarge it.  I would not get another kit for myself with a cockpit of this size.

 Kim

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

TFA, This might give you another alternative. I built this CH 16 with a Mill Creek type cockpit and have since built the CH 17 with this cockpit as well. I am nearly 60 and also find it hard getting in and out of standard cockpits.

Robert

CH 16

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

CH 16

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

A much larger cockpit for open water can actually be dangerous.  A wave crashing over the spray skirt can leave a paddler with a collapsed spray skirt and a lot of water in the cockpit.

 Having built quite a few kayaks, both from kits and plans, enlarging a cockpit is not that big a deal.  You just need an extra bit of material.  Making the cockpit smaller is another whole can of worms.  FYI, I'm sighting down the barrel at my 6th decade and beginning to relate to some of those flexibility issues.

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

You all may like to know that we actually do offer custom-cut larger cockpits for the Chesapeake & West River kayak kits.  Here are a few examples of the sizes we have cut in the past (sizes are ID):  32.5” x 19”, 33” x 21” , 34 x 18.5”   Other sizes are possible. 

 

Mr Kim, if you want to install a larger coaming on your boat, let me know and we can talk about your options.  It is an easy process.

 

The Chesapeake 18 and 17 should fit the requirements for paddlers such as twofootartist has requested.  They have exceptional performance, great stability, and ample footroom. 

 

Let me know if you have any questions. 

 

Ed

Chesapeake Light Craft

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Ed,

 

Thanks for the information. Where do I find these bigger cockpits listed on the site? How do I order?

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Drifter - that Ches 17 solution is a great one!

70 y.o. Wordsmith

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Another solution I haven't seen talked about might be to lower/flatten the aft deck like they did on the Pax. I'm not sure I would bother on an old boat, but shouldn't be too bad on new construction. This should make entry easier while not making the opening any larger.

Woodie

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

Drifter - Wordsmith here again.   I fully intend to copy your cockpit approach on my just-launched (once only) Shearwater 17.   I enlarged the cockpit but not enough, retaining the 'keyhole' shape, and was again disappointed at the entry/ exit problem.   Your solution will fix it, and, I think, blend in quite nicely with the SW's lines.

So - can you please advise the internal measurements of the cockpit - length, and width across the back.   And any other details please.   The coaming appears a little higher off the deck than normal - could I also please get some idea of how this was constructed (it looks like it might be a vertical lamination around the rim), and any dimensions and other thoughts if critical.  

I now await this info so I can start cutting-and-pasting my lovely but so far hard-to-live-with Shearwater (my fault!).   I'll post photos on completion.

Many thanks, Robert.

Wordsmith

RE: Boats for Older and Larger Paddlers

G'day Wordsmith, the length of the cockpit is the distance between the front and rear bulkheads and the width is about 17 inches. there are some good pix on this site showing construction of the Mill Creek kayaks:-

http://www.clcboats.com/media_gallery/slideshow.html?boat_id=31&content_type=1

or Woodenboat Magazine did a construction article with plans in issues nos.136 and 137, back issues and digital downloads are available. And of course plans are available here from CLC.

Hope this helps.

Drifter

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