CANOE & KAYAK - OCTOBER 1997
5 KIT BOATS: WE TAKE 'EM FOR A SPIN by Beth Geiger
[Reviewed: Monfort Associates, Chesapeake Light Craft, Betsie Bay Kayak, Flounder Bay Boat Lumber, Pygmy.]
Building your own boat is as much about the process as it is about the result.
CHESAPEAKE 17™ REVIEW
The Chesapeake 17™ is a recent (Spring 1997) addition to Chesapeake Light Craft's kit-kayak selection. In addition to the 17-foot kayak I tested, the model comes in 16- and 18-foot versions to fit paddlers of different sizes and cargo needs. The Chesapeake 17 has a 24-inch beam and weighs 44 pounds.
The Chesapeake 17™ retains the hard chines that characterize Greenland kayaks. For stability and comfort, CLC has added considerably more volume, a wider beam, and a much larger cockpit. Like other CLC kayaks, the Chesapeake has a rounded deck piece (constructed of bent plywood), which gives a strong deck, a pleasing look, and lots of foot room. CLC designed the Chesapeake 17 as a stable, high-volume choice for larger paddlers (160-220 pounds) or those looking for expedition-size cargo capacity.
With just four longitudinal seams in the hull and a rounded deck with no seams, the Chesapeake requires less stitching and gluing than a kayak with a multichine or rounded hull. CLC adds a sheer clamp (a piece of wood on the inside of the boat where the hull and deck meet), which, according to Keith Marks, makes it easier to install the cambered deck and also adds stiffness along the seam. The Chesapeake 17™ uses a layer of six-ounce fiberglass cloth over the exterior of the hull for strength.
On the water the Chesapeake had excellent initial stability, which is typical of hard-chine hulls. It also offered good tracking and quick turning, especially when leaned onto the chine. Because of its higher volume, the boat was affected by stiff winds, and neither of us, at less than 140 pounds, was able to sink the unloaded boat to its full waterline length. But we appreciated the stability when the water got choppy. At 5'6" and 5'2", we found that the higher deck made paddle strokes just a bit awkward for our shorter arms. A taller tester (6'1") had no problem at all. We all agreed that in the 17-foot version, the Chesapeake was a better boat for a larger person.
The kit retails for $699 [1997 price] and comes complete with all materials, including hatches and bulkheads, and with wood pieces and scarf joints cut.