If you could have one of these three?

SZihn

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Need advice here from those that actually know. Any advice is good, but those that actually have used any of these boats are those I'd REALLY like to hear from.

I am offered some Kayaks and I am trying to make a decision, but all 3 boats are in 3 different places and so I can't compare them side by side, and only 1 of the 3 is in a place I can actually paddle it and see what I think.

So here's my question: If you could speak to each set of pros and cons for any or all of these boats, how would you rate them if all were "free" to you and you could pick one and go home with it.


#1 A Dagger Baja 15.5 foot


#2 An Eddyline Fathom 16.5 foot


#3 A Necky Chatham (poly) 17 foot
 

Jasper

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A lot depends on your weight and goals.

The Fathom is newer, lighter, and carves great turns, I would consider it a great skill building boat and great for touring on flatter water. I personally have some hangups about taking an ABS construction boat into surf or rockgarden situations, so I wouldn't recommend it for that.

The Chatham is an american rendition of your classic british sea kayak, and at that a great allrounder. Surf, rockgarden, tour, fish, whatever, it can do it all. There'll be boats that are better at any single of those things, but you can have fun doing any of them in the Chatham.

I have no experience with the Baja Looking at pictures I suspect it is british style boat for lighter/smaller people, so if that is you, it might be worth looking into.
 

SZihn

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Thanks Jasper. You make the point about overall weight of the boat.
I am short and thick. Not fat but just thick. I weigh 190 and I am only 5'6" df66414e290077c82295dba1f837fdd9 by Steve Zihn, on Flickr

I have been told (how accurately I can't say) that short and solid is a good "build' for kayaking. Is that true?

I can see how being short could help a little bit by placing the center of gravity lower and giving less momentum if you get rocked side to side, but I'd have to bet skill would trump any slight advantage one may have from lack of height.

As far as the solid core goes, I can't see how it would really help, but again I don't really know. Paddling correctly I just can't see how larger arms back or chest could help. The lower torso is where most of it come from, so being strong there would be good, but only for endurance as far as I can tell. However without years of experience behind me (which I do not yet have) I am just guessing. What do you folks think?

When I go out I always have some rope,(wet about 3 pounds) a few basic things in my kit like fire starting and communications gear, (about 2 more pounds) knife, (only a few oz) and I always carry a 6"X 24 Line Float, (about 2-1/2 pounds) more as a tool for use in rescues and to give me a bit to "stand on" (rope with a short loop around my leg) to help jack me up a bit more in the water if the surface is choppy. In addition I often have a rifle (10 pounds) and some food and about 1/2 gallon of fresh water. (together about 5 pounds)

So if I start with 190 pounds, add the weight of a wet-suit and PFD,(6 pounds?) and all the gear food and water above I am going to guess my kayak's load is about 220-225 pounds. In colder weather I'd have maybe another 10 pounds.


So if any of those 3 kayaks were to carry around 225 to maybe 250 on the very heavy side, would that change the answer at all? My boat's fully loaded weight is going to be towards the bottom of that spread probably 19 times in 20.

I have a possibility of getting the Fathom, but that depends on a trade that may or may not happen. Only 2 men are talking to me about that as of right now. The Chatham is something I could buy myself in about 1 week, and I think I may do that, but I don't want to buy boat after boat. I don't have money to throw around that way. If I can get the one that will serve me and that I will not "outgrow" I'd prefer to get 1 that I can learn to use to it's potential even if that takes me a few years and not have to worry that I'd "need something better" later on.
 

Kayak Jim

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The Chatham is an american rendition of your classic british sea kayak, and at that a great allrounder. Surf, rockgarden, tour, fish, whatever, it can do it all. There'll be boats that are better at any single of those things, but you can have fun doing any of them in the Chatham.
I don't know any of these boats but the above is a pretty strong endorsement. That would go a long way to break me out of my analysis paralysis.
 

Jasper

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A lower center of gravity can help you feel more comfortable in a tippier boat, but in the end, skill trumps that. Core is everything in kayaking. Your arms help a bit getting the paddle in the right place, but the energy comes fully from the core and legs. If the core strength isn't there yet, don't worry, it will come quick enough!

Ideally you would take some classes and borrow/try different boats and see what works for you. That said, I don't think you can really go wrong with the Chatham and you can always work on outfitting to make the fit better ( Maybe a seatpad would help with thighbrace contact and backdeck clearance for rolling.) You won't "grow out of it", but you might at some point lust after a boat that is more specialized for your use as your skills develop.

Till you have your boat, work on hamstring and lat stretches, your body will thank me later :D
 

Jasper

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And,oh. Since you mention carrying line: If you carry any line in your boat that isn't safely stowed, have a knife readily available and practice cutting yourself free while hanging upside down underwater with someone standing by to rescue you...
 

CRPaddler

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I'll support the nomination for the Chatham. I own a Chatham 16' and it's a great boat, I've used it both for shorter touring (camping) trips and playing in currents and rough water. The 17' will be a bit better for touring (faster as it's longer and can also hold more gear), a bit worse for playing (doesn't turn as quick as it's longer) - but overall a great all round kayak. I would highly recommend it.

As a note, I'm 6'2 & 190lbs. So your weight will be good in it. Both empty or fully loaded for a trip. I have had shorter people paddle it and they've fit comfortably in it. Can't guarantee they were 5'6", but definitely quite a bit under 6'0".

Alex Mathews is on the shorter (and lighter) side and he's paddled Chatham 16' for quite a while. This video has a bunch of Chatham 16's out there - both fibreglass (yellow with white bottom, orange with white bottom) and poly (multi-colour sunrise/sunset)


The fact that it's poly is, I think, a good bonus. Cheaper, but also very durable and can be scratched up, dragged over rocks, etc... Mine has held up to a whole lot of abuse and is still going strong.
 

SZihn

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I enjoy reading the posts you guys put here. Some confirms what I think, and some enlightens me to other possibilities.
The knife thing.........yeah that's a hold over from my military days. We ALWAYS had knives with the water because there was always some gear tied off and getting fouled in a line in the water can be deadly. So I have a short very sharp knife rigged to my chest on my PFD. It sets inside the vest so I can easily reach the handle, but it's not out where it gets caught on anything.
CR Paddler I am going to take your advice and buy it I think. I can't see a down side to it as of now, and if for some reason I want another later I can always sell it myself.
JohnAmbercromby, I can't get a Spray Skirt with the boat. he uses it on his other ones so I have to buy my own. I will ASAP. When I get home with it I'll try to find one available but for certain I'll have to order one. My last one for my loon I got from Old Orchard in New York. What material and type of skirt do you recommend?
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I can't get a Spray Skirt with the boat. he uses it on his other ones so I have to buy my own. I will ASAP. When I get home with it I'll try to find one available but for certain I'll have to order one. My last one for my loon I got from Old Orchard in New York. What material and type of skirt do you recommend?
Try to get the brand/model/size skirt info from the seller. That will be a start, assuming the seller has a good-fitting skirt for that boat.

There used to be an excellent site for skirt info that wasn't limited to one manufacturer:skirtfit.com
Unfortunately it's been taken over by Immersion Research and turned into a site for IR skirts only.
https://immersionresearch.com/pages...ng-rec-surf~mn_necky~md_chatham~sz_17-polymer
They list the Chatham 17 poly cockpit as 33.5" x 17.75"

You often see two sizes on a skirt - the cockpit size and then the 'tunnel' size which needs to match your torso size. You'll definitely need a L or XL tunnel if the skirt has a tight fitting neoprene tunnel.
My preference is for a neoprene skirt with a neoprene tunnel but I've happily used other styles - breathable fabric skirts, neo deck skirts with fabric tunnels, etc.. As long as it fits the cockpit rim well - goes on easily, stays on, and releases when I want to exit - I'm pretty happy. The rounded edge of the cockpit rim on a poly boat doesn't grab the skirt quite as securely as the thinner lip on a glass boat. You definitely don't want the skirt to pull loose at the sides if you lean or edge the boat, or if you do a roll.
I like Seals Shocker skirts. I also like my Level Six Excursion (fabric) skirt.
Reed Chillcheater also makes excellent skirts in a stretch rubbery fabric. I've had good mail-order service from them from the UK.
They will make skirts to custom sizes for a reasonable charge if a stock size doesn't fit.
One of these would probably work for you (I have a similar one):
https://www.chillcheater.com/decks/aquatherm-spray-deck-with-adjustable-waist

Skirts are in such short supply that you probably won't have the luxury of a lot of choices.
 
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JKA

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I'll support the nomination for the Chatham. I own a Chatham 16' and it's a great boat, I've used it both for shorter touring (camping) trips and playing in currents and rough water. The 17' will be a bit better for touring (faster as it's longer and can also hold more gear), a bit worse for playing (doesn't turn as quick as it's longer) - but overall a great all round kayak. I would highly recommend it.
Until recently I owned a Chatham 16, which suited my 5'6" 165lb frame, but I found the Chatham 17 a completely different beast. I once found online, but can't find again, a comment that the 16 was designed by paddlers to play in, while the 17 was forced on them by the company's corporates who said the market needed a bigger boat to sell to bigger paddlers. You're a solid guy, sounds like it was made for you!

The Chatham will be an excellent boat to develop the skills you want. Go for it.
 
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SZihn

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I'm going Saturday to see it and paddle it. I'd say it's probably coming home with me and I'll be in it the next time we have some wind to see how I do with it in the waves. I won't go out in high waves until I get a skirt however. I'll have to order a spray skirt ASAP but until I have it back home I don't want to order because I don't know for absolute certain I'll get it yet.

I got my last spray Skirt from Old Orchard Canoe and Kayak and they were prompt, the wait was not bad. I think it took about 20 days including the time it was in transit. Some folk have told me they had to wait a lot longer when ordering from other outfitters. Now, having only ordered 2 times, I can't say they are always great to work with, but for 2 out of 2 they were for Anna and I. So far, I'd recommend them.
 

SZihn

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Well I got the Necky Chatham 17. I got to paddle it a bit and I can see it’s beyond my abilities for now. That’s what I wanted. Now I can grow in skill and not worry that I will grow past the kayak’s abilities very fast or by very far. I am going to have to get a skirt for it, and I need to get on some water with some waves and chop, but I am REALLY looking forward to learning. Someday I may get the Eddyline Fathom, but for now I have all the boat I can handle. Looking forward to learning all I can in it.
 

SZihn

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Now............the learning curve will be something I'll have to undertake. It's far less stable on flat water then my Loon.


I already capsized, but found reentry in flat water is a breeze with this boat. WAY easier to turn over when it in and also when outside it. I could get over the stern behind the cockpit quite easily. Keeping it balanced as I get back in is like walking on an edge, but I'll learn. It's fun, even failing with this Kayak, and I will be in it at every opportunity. As much as my time off from my shop will allow. As soon as I get a skirt I want to learn to roll like an otter.
 

PhotoMax

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It is a good idea to know the water temperature you are paddling in.

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that show bracing, etc.

I am still learning. I have a high center of gravity being 230 and 6’4”. I found my Romany to be very tippy at first. The only thing that really cures it is time in the seat and getting to know where the limits are before you capsize. In the begining you will not have trust in your boat and attempt to constantly stay perfectly centered with your butt muscles. Try to loosen up. In shallow water practice leaning from side to side with your paddle ready to smack on the surface and snap back. Move your head as you do this. The tippy fealing fades as you move faster. Once you are moving you will find that your boat likes moving at a sight angle, especially when paddling into the wind. Keep at it and after some time you will suddenly realize you never felt that tippy feeling.
 

SZihn

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It's just as you say photomax.

I took it to the water for about 1 hour today. Just to get the seat band and the foot pegs in the right place mostly. It took a bit of fiddling to get it where I can user them.

I always have a lean when I am going ahead. If I shift my butt over about 1" the lean goes to the other side. Yet it didn't seem to effect my straight line progress. I thought a lean would make me turn, but in this Kayak I was able to go very straight and I like that. I did try leaning to turn. I leaned over and went up-side down. But I found it is REALLY easy to get back in. Something the loon is far from. getting back in my Loon is impossible for me without a paddle float. In the Chatham I could just do a "hands forward pushup" and drop my middle right on top so I was in perfect balance and screwing my legs into the cockpit made it wiggle a bunch, but not so much It overturn again. Going from the water to on top of the deck behind the cockpit was so easy I was shocked. getting turned 90 degrees and inserting my legs was a low and careful operation, but I was able to do it 2 times with out capsizing again. I LIKE that about this boat A LOT!

I want to cut some firm foam hip braces to insure sit in the seat the exact same way every time.

Temp of the water is not bad. I wear a full wet-suit because of my lack of ability to float and in that sit I never felt a bit cold . I am sure if I were in the water after the spring thaw I'd have a different tune to sing. When the water was snow yesterday, it get very cold.
 

PhotoMax

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If you plan on paddling alone in water that gets colder I would invest in a dry suit as soon as you can. The first time I practiced getting back in my boat while wearing a dry suit I noticed a couple of important things the suit offers: you have a lot of extra boyancy. This secure “I am in no danger of downing” feeling gives you time to pause and think about your self rescue. This is a big deal. You also do not get the same physical shock that cold water can give you. I have capsized in the Salish Sea while wearing shorts and a long sleeve shirt. Perfect sunny day but that cold water just stuns you. I was surprised at the sudden physical force that level of coldness snaps at you. There are lots of things that can go wrong as a result. It was a good experience looking back. The dry suit helps in several important ways…
 
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