So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Well, I was excited on Sunday morning to take my CH 17 out for the first time. I was hoping for a nice experience but things turned sour fast. I car topped the kayak for the first time(works out great),  I traveled about 10 minutes to the lake with no probs.  I put the kayak in the water..shes a beauty!  I manage to get into the kayak, paddle a few comes the sour part.......then I rolled it and filled it with water. You should be laughing now. I wade back to shore, get the water out, find my cell phone is still in my pocket as well as my car key fob...oh well.  So, I try again,  I get a little further this time but roll it over again.  Geeezz, I am thinking at this point. I swim to shore, get the water out, and finally go out for a paddle.  Its my first time in 1 year in a kayak. I am thinking it was mostly me minus the muscle memory of balanceing the kayak.  The other bad part was that I did not install my foot braces yet. Do you think that I will have more stability once foot braces are installed? I have been in a few 17 foot plastic touring kayaks and I loved them.  The foot braces and knee braces are key, I think.  Any input would be appreciated. I have ordered the knee brace kit as well as foot braces now.  Being 6'-1" and 200 lbs may be part of this too. Top heavy/ center of gravity?

7 replies:

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RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Definitely get the footbraces - could be lots of things, but I find them tremendously helpful in keeping reasonable form. 

I'm about your size but have never tried a CH17, but I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work in theory. When I first started paddling, I went over all the time. I was in a Feathercraft K-Light that's probably similar in tippiness - the rentals out there are generally rock solid/stable performance so with any luck you may just need to get used to the new boat. Also, sit low and wedge in your legs.... Good luck!

RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Different kayaks paddle differently, that is why people on this board recommend you paddle the specific model you want before you build it. Also, some people are more comfortable from the start than others.

Now that you have it you need a little help. First: you need foot rests, knee pads (of some type, I made my own) and hip/thigh braces if you don't have them.

Second: you need some instruction. If a local dealer or club offers a class it might be a good idea. If you can't get to a class (or just to get started) there is a great animated kayaking site that will help a lot.  On the home page click on the British Flag for the english version as it is in several languages.

I am in the Charlotte, NC area, weigh 240lbs, am 6'2" and paddle a CH17 which took me a while to get used to.

Your reward for mastering this boat will be you will be faster than other plastic touring boats by a lot, faster than most fiberglass touring boats and have a boat that is fun to paddle once you understand what is going on.

Good luck! It is worth it.

RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Foot braces are key.  When I take my feet off the braces for a stretch, I feel a huge difference in stability, and I have a 24" beam flat bottom model of stability.

I would also like to echo Woodie's commment, get some instruction.  I grew up in canoes, took up kayaking last year so paddle strokes were all there, but after my Paddle Canada Level 1, WOW, that was well worth the money and then some.  Danno, not sure where you are but I will put a plug in for my favourite instructors:  They also offer courses in Gravenhurst, that is cottage country, southern Ontario.  A really beautiful spot to go boating if you wanted to make a vacation of it.

much like any new partnership, you will sort it out and (I hope) have many happy years together.

RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Wow, I can certainly relate. My first time in a boat was very similar. Years ago and having never paddled before, I went out and bought a plastic boat to fulfill a life long dream; the first time I sat in it was wondering what the heck I’d gotten myself into. The good news is you will get comfy with the boat. Two things to think about:


(1) You need to fix this! Your paddling career may be cut short by distaste for the sport, unexpected hypothermia or worse. You need rescue gear and the know how to use it. There are plenty of paddle float rescue technique videos on the internets (youtube has ton), pick a nice warm lake and practice.


(2) You need to figure out why you are going over. Sure, foot braces, knee braces, can holders are all important to good paddling but you need to learn your boat. If you sit in it, you will not go over (I guarantee it), if you are leaning and not bracing, then you might. When I take new kayakers out, I have them sit in a boat in less than foot of water and lean against a paddle sticking in the sand. I try to get them to find the edge, feel the stability and get comfy with the initial stability (which is generally not much on skinnier boats). When you find the edge, start leaning less and try tipping the boat with your hips more. The goal is get to the edge while your center of gravity is still over the boat. If you lean your body the boat will follow, if you lean the boat and keep your body centered you will stay upright… to a point. When you get comfortable with leaning and keeping your balance on the boat, you’ll rarely go over. Then you need to learn quick bracing for those time you lose your balance.


You still need to be prepared to self rescue in all conditions, so practice all that you can. A rolling class will do wonders for boat comfort as well.


You aren’t alone, this happens to us all. I can hand roll my single, and have paddled in and surfed on some ugly waves on Lake Superior a number of times, but I still can lose my balance while looking back to take a picture.


Don’t give up, but you’ll need to practice… it’s like driving a stick, expect a few stalls.

RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Footbraces are important.  I am a bit lighter than you (165-170) but felt like the CH17 was a huge boat on me.  I don't know that I could have tipped it if I tried, but not having a good tight fit makes it easier rather than harder.

If you're  not "one" with the boat, get some space fillers (foot braces, knee braces, hip braces etc) until you feel like you are.  It will make all the difference in the world.


RE: So...I took the CH17 out for the first time.

Chesapeakes have been around for a long time. They have probably supported those that are too fat and those that are to thin and those without footbraces and no account of general instabilty has come up.

If there is a problem it's probably you, your particular boat or your setup. Do you have any inner ear or balance problems from medications or otherwise? Does your boat conform to what the plans show? Could it be something simple like a seat that is so high it raises your center of gravity excessively.

The first thing I would do is get somebody competent to take the boat out to confirm the boat is OK or not.

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