SEA KAYAKER - JUNE 2001
KAYAKS FOR KIDS: A REVIEW OF SEVEN MODELS by Leslie Forsberg
[Reviewed: Chesapeake Light Craft, EPI, Ocean Kayak, Old Town, Perception Kayaks, Squeedunk, and Aquadynamics]
Our testing team included:
Caitlin Bauermeister, 13, who is 5'6" and 120 lbs;
Tashi Green, 13, is 5'1" and 108 lbs (she is one of four girls from the club to earn the title of national champion in the Bantam Division---age 13 and under---at the nationals in Gainesville, Georgia, last summer);
Mikaila Leonardi, 13, is 83 lbs and 5'2";
Aaron Scull, 14, is 5'7" and 115 lbs;
Emi Muller-Ginorio, 13, is 98 lbs and 5'; and
Megan Palmer, 13, is 4'11" and 105 lbs; she also competed in the nationals last summer.
I paddled each of the boats as well (at 5'5" and 118 lbs, I fit within the weight and height limits for each of the boats), and filled in the details about the boats' appearance and features, with occasional comments about the boats' performance.
CHESAPEAKE 14™ REVIEW
Chesapeake markets this boat to both children and small adults. It's a beautiful wooden boat with a smooth, sleek wood-grain deck and painted hull. It has a keyhole-shaped cockpit that is roomy -- I could get into it seat first. The Chesapeake 14 is outfitted with carrying toggles with wooden handles. This boat was not the easiest solo carry: it was hard to keep the bow up to balance, and it felt heavier than the other boats. Each of the hatches is fastened with three buckles.
The entire team commented positively about this boat's comfort. Emi and Mikaila both said that it offered them plenty of legroom. "It was really comfortable. There was lots of legroom, and I could lean back" (Emi). "It was the most comfortable boat of all of them; I like it" (Caitlin). Megan liked the "cushion on the back [the well-padded backband]." I found the seat and cockpit to be very comfortable. It fit me like a glove, although there was an extra inch or so to spare between my thighs and the foam thigh braces provided with this boat. (I have 36" hips.) All of the team found the Chesapeake 14™ to be very stable: "I could stand up in it easily. It's very, very stable. I don't think I could tip it if I tried to" (Caitlin). "It's more stable than the other boats, because I could lean far over. It's a little wider than the others" (Megan). "It was really stable. I tried to rock it, and it didn't really rock at all" (Aaron). Everyone agreed that this was the fastest kayak of those tested: "It's a lot faster than I expected it to be" (Caitlin). The Chesapeake 14 tracked very well, easily staying the course with no adjustments needed: "I aimed for the buoy, and it went straight for it" (Aaron). Half of the team members found the Chesapeake 14™ somewhat hard to turn: "It took a lot to turn it" (Tashi), while the other half found it to steer adequately: "Kind-of heavier feeling than the other boats, but it steered pretty good" (Megan).
Summary: The Chesapeake 14™ would be a good choice for young teenagers through small adults who want a boat with sleek lines, the warmth of wood grain, excellent stability and good performance, plus the cargo capacity for touring. Both the seat and the legroom are adequate for small adults, although my size-9 women's shoes fit with scant room to spare. Comments from the team include: "It was a pretty cool boat. It was fun" (Emi), and "If I was going on a trip, I'd take this one" (Caitlin).
Return to the Chesapeake 14 page.