Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Hi I am in New Zealand and would like to build either the Cesapeak 16 LT or the Shearwater 16 from plans as I think the posting of the kit would kill me financially. I am hoping that somebody has build one of these and might be able to let me have a look at it so that I can get a better idea of their look and feel. I am quite happy to travel to see a boat. I life in the Cambridge area. I would also like to hear from anybody else anywhere in the world that made the decision between these two boats. What did you base it on? The two boats seem quite similar to me in a lot of features. What distinguishes them?

Looking forward to hearing form you, Cheers, Ducky

8 replies:

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RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Ducky – greetings from Oz, just across the water!    Having completed this year both a Chesapeake 17LT and then a Shearwater 17 (essentially identical to the 16’ versions of each) I feel somewhat qualified to answer your question as to the differences between the two.   My first build was the Ches – having built a number of small off-the-beach catamarans some years ago, including the NZ-designed Paper Tiger 14' cats, I wanted to refresh my skills on the pretty straightforward design represented by the Ches. The Shearwater followed in short order.   The primary difference, I think, is visual – the Shearwater is a more attractive design to these eyes at least, with its upswept bow and stern and the three-piece cambered deck.   This element also benefits the paddler by giving increased clearance during paddle-strokes so there is reduced risk of inadvertent contact between paddle shaft and deck edge! Performance-wise – and I am far from an expert – I found them very similar.   I had expected the slightly narrower Shearwater to be a bit more ‘tippy’ than the Ches, but it wasn’t.   Construction-wise, very similar challenges, except when it came to the Shearwater deck assembly.   Handling the three-piece pre-assembled deck structure was very tricky – simply a nightmare when just wired-up, improving to merely nerve-wracking even when stiffened by the first tack fillets.   It comprises a 3mm curved centre deck section, with long skinny spear-like 4mm sheer panels hanging off the sides.   More than once it started to fold up like a Japanese origami paper sculpture - heart in mouth time!   The building manual warns of this!  Otherwise, a reasonably competent builder could move straight into a Shearwater build from the plans and excellent building manual, I’d feel, although on balance I’m glad I practised first on the Ches. Whatever choice – enjoy! Wordsmith 

RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Hi Wordsmith from accross the ditch, thanks for your helpful and qualified reply. I also think that the Shearwater looks more elegant but I was not so sure about the deck and it's three parts. I recon I can probably master the folding bit- I am good at origami.

Are there others out there that have similar experiences with these two boats? And I still would very much apprechiate a voice or two from New Zealand. Not that an Australian voice is not good enough, but it is a tad too far to go and look at the boats. Cheers, mate. Ducky

RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

 Hi Ducky,

Welcome to the forum. Can't help you much with the Chesapeake or the Shearwater but I have been through the kit import process (I live in the bottom South West corner of the Mainland).

I discovered the CLC boats a few years ago and decided on the Mill Creek 16.5 as shown below (link function doesn't work in my browser -  have to copy and paste):

There is a distributor here in NZ (just google CLC) but when I was pricing the kit it was actually  cheaper for me to import it directly from the states myself than buy from him - strange but true. You might want to investigate that option for a kit first before you go the plans route - he may have adjusted his pricing.

When I bought my MC16.5 (April '08) the NZ dollar was up around US .85 so it wasn't so painful as the sub 70 that it is now. If you do import a kit you'll be stung import duty/GST and associated 'admin' costs by the good old NZ government, mine was about 320 NZD. However even with this extra cost it was still cheaper than the NZ distributor.

 The kit arrived in good order in a flat pack, well actually it looked like they tossed it out from 30,000' as they flew past but everything inside was in excellent unbroken condition. The only thing missing was the roll of fibreglass tape which was either swiped by a baggage handler or fell out of the pack somewhere (there was a slight opening in one of the ends). However CLC shipped out a replacement straightaway - first class service by everyone there.

Just thought I'd share my experience, (I know you said you may go the plans route). Good luck with whatever you choose and I look forward to seeing the build progress.



Te Anau

RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Hi Steve, thanks for your reply. I am now quite certain that I could not afford to buy a kit. It sounds as if I could pay for a fair bit of the ply wood that I need for the boat from the money that the importing would cost if I just buy the plans. They will probably sting me for them as well but because of the lower price the tax should be lower, too. And that should be true for postage as well. Sorry to bore everyone with the nitty gritty.

Cheers, Ducky

RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Hi Ducky

I completed a MC 13 from scratch here in Hamilton. The plywood was supplied by Plyman in Auckland (a phone order delivered to the garage door) with fiberglass and epoxy sourced from the fiberglass shop in town. I'd probably buy all of your plywood at one time as transport is relatively expensive, but the fiberglass and expoxy you can buy as you need to.

Although scarfing and cutting the panels seemed daunting at the time, once you got into it it was all quite straightforward.

Good Luck


Hamilton NZ 



RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

I'm a first-time builder and novice paddler, and I had the opportunity to try a Chesapeake 16 LT and Shearwater 16 at a CLC demo in California. I couldn't tell much difference paddling the two, but perhaps someone with more experience would notice a difference. To me, they both seemed stable and I couldn't tell if one was faster than the other.

As far as appearance, I thought the upswept bow and stern of the Shearwater looked a bit sleeker than the Chesapeake hull, but I liked the single-piece curved deck of the 16 LT better than the 3-piece deck of the Shearwater 16.

I was going to build from a kit, and I thought the puzzle joints of the Shearwater would be easier to deal with than the scarf joints on the hull of the 16 LT. On the other hand, attaching the Shearwater deck to the hull looked like a much more difficult process than attaching the Chesapeake deck to the hull.

In the end, I decided to go with the 16 LT. I really liked the look of the curved deck and the 16 LT kit was about $150 less expensive than the Shearwater 16. Maybe I'll build a Shearwater as my next project!

Hope this helps,


RE: Calling New Zealand CLC boat builders

Hi- I built a Sport Tandem from plans and had absolutely no issues doing so- the plans and instructions were crystal clear and helpful- I hadn't built one before but did have a resonably logical mind and lots of engineering experience- sourcing ply and glue wasn't an issue, and plan delivery and expence kept it simple- also you don't have to store all the bits till you are ready to start. My next project is a Mystery bulid- thats a longer term project- the double only took a couple of months to knock off.


Good luck

Graham (Christchurch, NZ)

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