modifying the chesapeake coaming

I recently tested the chesapeake models and only had one concern, the coaming.  I liked the Shearwater coaming as it did not "bend inward at the knees and gave a little extra room to manuever.  Can I simply take the "inward bend" out of the Chesse coaming to make it more like the Shearwater coaming?  Can I make it longer as well? Has anyone done this before?  Any suggestions?

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RE: modifying the chesapeake coaming

Are you talking about the shape of the cockpit opening, or about the coaming itself (the assembly which sits on top of the cockpit opening)?

I'm not trying to be pedantic, just want to make sure that we understand your question.

If you're talking about changing the shape of the opening from the beloved keyhole (or public restroom toilet seat) to a more open configuration, that has definitely been done by various builders, especially ones whose knees have gotten less flexible over time.

There is a tradeoff, however. Entry and exit will be easier, but the boat will not brace as well and rolling will be more difficult. You just have to decide which is more important to you.

Here's a thought - did the models you tested have thigh braces? If so, maybe the braces were just too thick for you. Making the braces thinner or just leaving them out entirely may be a better fix than changing the cockpit opening shape.


RE: modifying the chesapeake coaming

Thanks for the response and yes I was refering to the shape of the cockpit opening.  The pads were thin, so I don't think that was my problem.  You say the boat will not "brace as well".  Are you saying it be less sturdy in that area or more "tippy"?.  Why does the Shearwater have one type of opening and the Chesse another?

RE: modifying the chesapeake coaming

The cockpit shape does not change the inherent properties of the boat, it's the connection you have to it that changes. The "keyhole" shape is designed to create a place for you knees to press upward on, thus attaching you to your kayak when you are in an "interesting" situation. It will not brace as well because you will not be in tight contact with the kayak.


It's actually a modification of the original tight cockpits. The elongated notch in the front of the cockpit was added to ease entry/exit.It's considered a safer alternative to the smal, round, traditional cockpit.


RE: modifying the chesapeake coaming

I have a NorthBay, which has integrated thigh braces in the cockpit coaming.  I chopped them out as one of the first steps of my coaming build.  They made entry and exit very tight for me, to the point I had to twist my hips to exit, which made me really uncomfortable on land and very nervous for any wet exits.

If you're  referring to integrated thigh braces (a "keyhole" cockpit shape) then eliminating them is no problem.  You can accomodate thigh brace pads on the underside of the deck which suite quite well for bracing and rolling.


RE: modifying the chesapeake coaming

I recently completed a Ches 17LT then a Shearwater 17 - both S&G.   In both, I extended the cockpit lengthwise by about 3" to allow for the fact that my 70yo legs, knees, and ankles are not as flexy as once was the case, so the mod was designed to make entry and exit a little easier.   I also took out the part of the deck (in the Ches) that protrudes into the cockpit, forming the keyhole shape, so the inner edge in both cases (viewed from above) was a smooth curve from front to back.   It worked.  

In neither case did I feel the appearance was compromised, and in both craft I simply stuck a piece of Minicell foam about 3/4" x 3" x 4" onto the underside of the deck at the edge of the coaming to brace my knees against.


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