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Chesapeake 17 Kit

  • 17' Length
  • 24" Width
  • 45 Weight (lbs)
  • $ 1,025 MSRP

Chesapeake 17 Kit Description

Chesapeake kayaks are expedition touring boats that excel in rough water and steep seas. With their high-volume bows, the Chesapeake's cruise over big waves. Their highly cambered foredecks shed water quickly and provide plenty of foot room for comfortable cockpits. The skeg-like stern design assures train-like tracking and minimal weathercocking, even in fierce crosswinds. The Chesapeake's hard-chine hull is strongly influenced by West Greenland design. It's easy to lean and turn, handles following seas confidently, and surfs beautifully. The long waterline and substantial rocker assure plenty of speed---you'll leave the plastic boats behind---while the high-volume hulls swallow up expedition size loads.

The Chesapeake 17 is our most popular kit, with over a thousand built. Its handling qualities and speed combined with a large cockpit and voluminous stowage make it one of the most capable touring boats around.

Chesapeake 17 Kit Reviews


Read and submit reviews for the Chesapeake 17 Kit.

Chesapeake 17 Kit Specifications

  • Seating Configuration: Solo
  • Weight: 45 lbs
  • Length: 17'
  • Width: 24"
  • Cockpit Dimensions (L × W): 31.00 × 17.00"
  • Primary Material: Wood

Chesapeake 17 Kit Features

  • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
  • Cockpit Type: Sit Inside
  • Hull Shape: V-Bottom
  • Chine: Hard
  • Storage: Bow Hatch, Stern Hatch
  • Special Characteristics: Kit

Additional Attributes

  • The Chesapeake is offered in three sizes: 16', 17', 18'
  • Chesapeakes are built to endure a lifetime of serious expedition touring
  • 4mm okoume plywood hulls and decks and fiberglass sheathing on both hull and deck
  • 6mm watertight bulkheads are standard, as are hatches, deck rigging, adjustable footbraces, and a comfortable seat
  • Epoxy end-pours at the bow and stern simplify construction and provide extra impact strength

Recommended Usage

  • Activity Type: Touring, Fishing & Hunting, Kayak Fishing
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, Open Water/Ocean, River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Duration: Day Trip, 2-3 Day Trip, Extended Trip
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult

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Chesapeake Light Craft
Chesapeake 17 Kit Reviews

Read reviews for the Chesapeake 17 Kit by Chesapeake Light Craft as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

This is my 3rd year using...

This is my 3rd year using this kayak. DO NOT be put off by having to build this kayak. By building it, you learn how to fix it IF anything ever goes wrong. And it won't. It's a very strong build. At 17feet long x 24 inches wide and around 45 pounds, I can carry it from my car to the beach without any issues. It absolutely does not need a rudder, tracks like a train on the tracks, and has never had any weather cocking problems. I've been out on my local lake in 30 mph winds, two strokes forward, one stroke backwards, with the biggest grin immagineable. You will have to get comfortable with edging this boat to get it to turn quickly, Take a class, get wet, gain experience, and this kayak will reward you with years of boating fun.

I built this one in 2009,...

I built this one in 2009, after putting it off for more than a year while the packages stood on my front porch in Beverly Hills FL. Finally topped it on my PU and hauled to my place,Sunset, in Ft. Collins, CO. Waited until fall to start and thus had to build a tent to cure the epoxy in the 40° nights. I added extra pounds as it was my first experience with epoxy and the inside bottom hull got coats too thick; however, it may have paid off for once in FL the bow painter, which I forgot to tie down, wrapped around the front wheel and a passenger noticed the hull had appeared in the driver side window such that I no longer could open my door. Exiting in trepidation I was surprised to find the hull intact, no damage, buTT the Yakima bar bent. A tribute to the toughness of CLC stitch & glue construction and my old kernmantle climbing rope. Since then the CLC 17 has been gouged and scraped from oyster shell beaches of 10K Isles, FL to the cobbles of Elk Island in YNP.

While it is no longer looking like a varnished coffee table piece (like on its maiden cruise) it has served well as a pleasure day tripper among manatees in FL as well as week long camps out west. I especially like the hard chines which give ample warning before needing to brace. Thank you CLC I am looking forward to building another of your fine kayaks.

The CLC 17' Chesapeake is...

The CLC 17' Chesapeake is a real nice boat! I finished two of them recently. One for me and one for my daughter. The kits go together easily and look professionally done when finished. They are a good choice for a larger kayaker (either taller or rounder) as they have a high volume and can still take a large amount of gear for camping. They are seaworthy under rough conditions. I saw a movie on Public Television of a couple of guys who made a trip from Alaska to Seattle in these boats. In most categories of kayaking these boats are at or near the top so they get a top pick for a good all around kayak. The only thing I would not recommend them for is shallow white water with lots of potential rock strikes.

I made a Chesapeake 17...

I made a Chesapeake 17 kayak in 1998 and launched her into Lake St. Louis in the St. Lawrence River among ice chunks in November of that year. I named her Borealis and have paddled her here as well as in the Atlantic Ocean and in the many rivers of Prince Edward Island.

I can't believe 17 years have passed and she still looks like new except for some scraping on the hull which I touch up every few years. Had to replace the compass but otherwise she's still going strong.

Construction was a breeze with the CLC plans and took me about 8 weeks part time to complete. I used 9oz fiberglass instead of 6oz so she is really strong. I find I don't need a rudder as she is easily maneuvered even in narrow rivers. On the high seas she handles like a champ and ships little water with the spray skirt I made. Hatches are water tight for the most part and I can carry gear and wheels in them.

I recommend the experience to anyone as long as you take proper precautions in working with epoxy fumes.

Amazing boat... loved the...

Amazing boat... loved the design and speed and stability... my only gripe was the small cockpit... I am NOT a fan of ocean cockpits. I would love to try one with a larger cockpit

This boat will surprise...

This boat will surprise you when you paddle it! It is a big boat... lots of freeboard, lots of carrying capacity... but it out paddles many narrower boats. The hull has very little rocker, so the water line is quite long, giving it a very comfortable fast-cruising speed. I wouldn't recommend it as a day paddler (the "LT" version would be better), but if you are headed out for a few days (or far longer), this boat will carry your gear without sacrificing your paddling enjoyment. It is swift, accelerates well, tracks great (no rudder needed), good initial and ultimate stability. A very predictable, comfortable, capable boat.

As for the build, I personally prefer the sheer clamp construction of this boat to the wired deck seam of most others. It is a little more forgiving and a lot less challenging. No problems with the build. Everything went together as it should. Another great CLC boat (this was my second and I'm on to my third, a C16 for my ex-wife... don't ask. LOL)

I built a Chesapeake 17 in...

I built a Chesapeake 17 in 2007 and have paddled it many miles since then. I'm a 210 pounder at 6'2" and own a Dagger Magellan, a composite Necky Looksha 17, a composite P&H Capella 167, and a composite Current Designs Nomad (it's really the older Extreme). I paddle them all according to my whims. My "go to" boat, without a doubt, is the Chesapeake 17. The only boat that can equal the Chesapeake 17 for speed and efficiency is the Nomad, but the Chesapeake 17 is just more comfortable due to room. I usually paddle on open lakes or inland coastal waters and paddle many miles at a session.

The Chesapeake 17 is just an all round more efficient, sea worthy, and comfortable ride. The many comments garnered at the gas pumps don't hurt anything either. The capacity is abundant but not a con in any way,(of course I chose it for my week long Maine island trip). I have never really paddled a comfortable kayak, but with the happy bottom pad and the Thermarest seat and thigh pad, it's as comfortable as any kayak I've ever paddled. I installed the rudder when I built it and would not ever do that again. It's just not needed.

Bottom Line: If I could only have one kayak, It would be the Chesapeake 17. I love it. The other kayaks I own have their pros and cons, but the Chesapeake 17 is my choice, hands down.

I have only two complaints...

I have only two complaints which I will get out of the way first: I had to make my own custom seat to get something comfortable to sit on. The seat it came with was inadequate and actually left me quite sore on extended trips. Also, the front hatch could be bigger. When I build another one I'm going to customize that as well.

That being said, I LOVE my C17.
I have paddled literally hundreds of miles in Lakes Superior and Michigan carrying all of my camping gear on six (so far) backcountry camping expeditions of at least 5 days. Even fully loaded with 100 pounds of gear and my 200 pound body, I can easily maintain 3 miles per hour, hour after hour.

I also get lots of compliments on her looks. When I cross the border into or back from Canada, the border agents don't ask if I have firearms or tobacco, they ask, "Did you build that thing yourself?" I have not experienced the weathercocking problems that others described.

She is a BIG boat, best for big guys like me going on big expeditions. If you are 150 pounds and looking for an afternoon on the local lake, this is not the boat for you. But for who I am and what I use her for, she is perfect.

I like the Chesapeake line...

I like the Chesapeake line of kayaks because of their performance and construction. The Chesapeake 17 wood construction gives it great looks as well as a weight I am comfortable with. It has great feel in the water and can carry enough for me to cruise for a day with ease. I highly recommend it.

Last year I built this...

Last year I built this boat and I am now paddling the second year with it. I love the boat and how it cuts though the water. The hull is very stiff and the boat is fast and stable and is tracking straight even in windy conditions.

My only complaint is the seat cushion that comes with the kit. Installing the foam seat cushion as proposed in the plans which is gluing the foam to the hull is too low and very uncomfortable to sit in for any period of time. When entering the boat water from the wet shoes and legs gathers right in front of the seat and you sit right in the puddle of water. I fixed the seat problem by cutting up an IKEA folding chair and using the wooden seat portion as a frame to glue the foam cushion on top and installing it into the boat. Not sure why the engineers that designed this boat could come up with a seat that matches the genius of the rest of the boat.

I just completed this boat...

I just completed this boat after starting it in early April. This is my first wooden kayak and I purchased it as a kit about 7 years ago. The kit has been stored since then and I finally bit the bullet (and found the time) to build it this spring. Its maiden voyage was a couple of weeks ago on a high mountain lake in southern Oregon. I love it. It tracks beautifully and glides across the water like butter through a hot knife. Granted, I have nothing to compare it to, but I highly recommend this boat. I've customized it slightly, but in general I followed the plans pretty much to the letter. I also like the seat that came with the kit since it allows me to sit low in the boat offering much great stability.

One reviewer mentioned the fact that it uses nails to attach the deck. I like this look. The nails are copper and when they are shined up before sealing with epoxy, they create a very impressive contrast to the wood. One note on the epoxy supplied with the kit. It's a slow hardening epoxy, so be aware that it can flow for quite a while after its applied. Overall, this is a very impressive kayak that I anticipate will offer me many years of enjoyable paddling experiences.

After paddling a year as a...

After paddling a year as a novice with my 17' plastic sea kayak with its tri-hedral hull, I decided to acquire a second kayak by building a Chesapeake 17 (C17) as a winter project (I live in interior Alaska). The kit was easier than I thought it would be to put together; I don't even consider myself "handy", but the boat turned out beautiful. I'd hoped the C17 would perform at least as well as my other "production" boat, but didn't really expect it to. Was I ever surprised. Other than a relitive deficit in secondary stability due to its flatter hull section and a slightly smaller volume available for packing, the C17 outperformed my other boat in almost every other aspect. Over the past five years I have paddled everywhere from lakes and class I to II- rivers to coastal areas (i.e., Prince William Sound) with both boats. As long as the seas stay lower than 5 feet, I choose to paddle my C17 every time. It is more comfortable, faster, and, with proper strokes and edging, can turn and respond much quicker. After five years, I finally replaced my plastic sea kayak with a "river touring kayak" so that I can explore some of the "wilder" rivers in the interior. Needless to say, I could never part with my Chesapeake 17. Being a sailor as well, I have puchased the CLC sail rig and look forward to building it this winter and sailing next spring in the coastal waters of Alaska. I rate it a 9 only because I believe there could possibly be a better boat out there for me -- but I haven't found it yet.

The Chesapeakes' chines...

The Chesapeakes' chines are all nearly parallel to the waterline. This results in more wetted surface, more drag, fuller ends, a longer effective waterline length, and a higher top-end speed. Most people don't paddle their boat at the top speed, except for short bursts, and even if they're capable of it, they're generally paddling in the company of folks who can't paddle that fast. Having a fast boat and not using it's capable speeds just means unnecessary wetted surface which means more drag than you need to sustain a 3-knot cruising speed.

Don't get me wrong, the Chesapeake is an excellent boat. It has tons of stability--I really think a 24"-ish beam is great for beginners. A lot of beginners rush out and buy 27-30" beam recreational kayaks, and hate them because they're so sluggish. 24" is nice, because you can start to feel the effects of good edging and leaned turns, but not so twitchy that you're afraid to go out and play in larger and larger waves. I've been in 5' boat wakes with it, and had no problems at all. In fact, I was so comfortable in it, I probably outgrew it quicker than I would have in a different boat--because it helped me "feel my edge" as I slowly progressed in my skills learning. If you have a hard time packing small, you would have no problems packing the Chesapeake. I think the front hatch is a bit too small for the volume it offers, but other than that, it's a dream to pack. If you pack like a backpacker, you can fit two people's gear in this thing! I learned a lot from my Chesapeake--I can roll it--it's not the easiest touring kayak to roll, but it is rollable.

I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm knocking the Chesapeake--it's just a very large boat, and often larger than most people need for a day-paddling boat. It is very comfortable in big seas, and for carrying larger people or lots of heavy gear. I have no problems squeezing my 6'-6" frame and size 14's into it.

It's a good boat, but not a great boat. More like a canoe than a kayak. An able and seaworthy craft capable of carrying huge loads, but bigger than 95% of the people out there need, and not an ear-to-ear grin fun boat. It's like driving a pickup on a windy road. You can do it, but it would be more fun in a sports car, and not necessarily more dangerous, either.

I purchased my Chesapeake...

I purchased my Chesapeake 17 used. It is equipped with a rudder. The boat weathercocks rather badly without the rudder but with the rudder handles quite well. This is a high-volume boat and even though I am 200 pounds and typically carry 30 pounds or more of gear for day paddles it is plenty big for me. If I were building one of their boats I would (at my weight) get either the 16 foot Chesapeake or the lower-volume 17 LT. I am building a competing brand of kit kayak right now and I like the competition's construction techniques better. The Chesapeake has nails and has internal rails which hold the deck to the sides; the competition does not have either of these. Despite these minor criticisms, I have spent a lot of happy hours in my Chesapeake boat -- probably 40 trips (averaging about 10-12 miles) in 1.5 years.

The boat handles well and...

The boat handles well and looks great. It is a high volume boat and is a little large for me, 5'9", 160 pounds. I have used it extensively in the Gulf of Mexico, 10,000 islands, on camping trips. It carries a large and heavy load. It has a tendency to weathercock, which can be counteracted with careful load distribution and with edging.

I also have paddled the boat on Central Florida rivers and creeks. The boat carves edged turns nicely, allowing me to maintain full power strokes while negotiating river bends.

I built the boat with additional strengthening ('glassed deck and bulkheads, through-bolted deck hardware, additional deck ribs, additional 'glass inside hull), resulting in a total weight of 52 pounds.

Two friends of mine, weighing over 200 pounds, have paddled the boat in open water conditions, and the boat handles better for them than for me. It has less of a tendency to weathercock.

It does track nicely and handles well with a following or quartering sea with little tendency to broach. In 2 to 3-foot chop, the high-volume bow will rise and fall to the water with a slap.

My only kayaking...

My only kayaking experience is in sit-on-tops: a Scupper Classic and a Scrambler. Therefore, I can't comment on how my Chesapeake 17 compares with other sea kayaks. However, I love my boat, and have spent every possible moment paddling it since I finished building. The building process was pretty easy, though I'd have to say that the manuals could use an update. The kit came with the plans and two booklets - one a general treatise on building stitch and glue boats, and the other more specific, though it was a manual for more than one version of the Chesapeake design. I was able to figure most of it out by myself, though I did have to email the company to explain a few things which weren't clear in the manuals. They were very good about answering questions. One thing I've learned during this process is that many of the kit builders have a lot of prior knowledge, which leads many to make modifications to the building process. I think some of the ambiguities of the manual arise from this - they kind of assume that you know something about boat building, or have some experience in kayaks.

The kit was very complete, with a few exceptions. The supplied foot braces are small trapezoids of wood which have to be glued in exactly the right place, because they're in there permanently. I didn't know exactly where that place would be, and I wanted to allow other, different-sized people to try out my boat, so I ordered the adjustable foot braces. The boat doesn't come with a spray skirt.

The main shortcoming, from my point of view, was comfort. The supplied back band didn't offer any support, and seemed to squash my kidneys. I bought a taller, stiffer back band from a bargain bin at a local shop, and am now happy and comfortable. I also found the supplied seat to be very uncomfortable. I bought a pool float from Wal-Mart and a sleeping pad from Big 5, and was able to glue together some added support for my legs. Finally, I've ordered a plush Thermarest seat from REI, because my bottom was getting very sore on my last paddle.

Having said all that, I have to say, I LOVE MY BOAT! It paddles great and is very fast. It holds tons of gear. I haven't had the opportunity to go on a tour, but I have been able to paddle across our local bay to the sand spit, where I've set up a camp chair (which fits in the aft 'cargo hold') to read in peace and contentment. The boat attracts a lot of attention wherever I go, from all sorts of people. A power boater said it was a "bitchin'" boat. A guy leading a group of tourists on a kayak outing, who was paddling a nice, "store-bought" sea kayak, said, "Now that's a beautiful boat!" I agree.

I built this kayak because...

I built this kayak because I was looking for a winter project, the Chesapeake folks had a very good website, and the boat was simply good-looking. Being a cheapskate, I was also attracted to their 15% winter discount. I had never been in a kayak and really didn't care if I would like it or not....the building process drove me. Now I feel I have rooted up an acorn. Not only do I have a neat-looking boat, but it is a delight to cruise the local lakes and river. Kayaking is as addictive as aviation!

I talked a friend into building the Chessy 17 LT version, and it is virtually identical in handling to mine. With both being hard chine boats and relatively light, they accelerate quickly, but have an initial tippy feel that "goes away" during the first hour of operation. They track very well, and for that reason must be leaned quite far on the chine to turn quickly. I'd give mine a 10 for fun, but since I'm 5'-10" and 160 lbs, the 17 rides high with no additional load and I occasionally hit the coaming with my paddle when trying to go fast. The LT is better in this regard.

The Chesapeake folks furnish a first-rate kit , reasonably priced, and are very responsive to questions. The rank beginner should turn out an excellent kayak from their kits by following directions and taking care in the process. Although I am not partial to construction materials, the wood boat has an indescribable "feel" as compared to a plastic kayak of the same size, but you'll be committed to scratch removal and repaint during winters if you want it to look nice over the years.

I'm 60 and feared the legs-out kayak sitting position as being bad for my aging back, but the boat is more comfortable than I thought it would be. 2-hour paddling periods thus far are no problem.

This kayak was...

This kayak was surprisingly easy to build. I was rewarded with a beautiful boat that draws a lot of positive comments. Fortunately, it performs as good as it looks. It is lighter than its fiberglass cousins and is very fast. It tracks like an arrow, has great initial stability, and excellent secondary stability. If you are the least bit handy and willing to put in the building time (50-60 hours), you will have an outstanding kayak that will outperform most others.

Kit built, stitch and glue...

Kit built, stitch and glue construction. What a wonderful boat. I couldn't be more pleased with my creation. The kayak is light (45 lbs) took me 6 weeks to build, has a furniture quality mahoney finish. I tend to attract a lot of attention when I have on the car and in the water.

Not only does it look good, it tracks straight, has great initial and secondary stability, GLIDES over the water with very little effort, has large hatch covers, rigging is solidly attached to the deck and turns on a dime! It does scratch easily when I disembark on a rocky beach. (light sanding and a quick coat of varnish gets rid of the scratch).

The kayak is relatively easy to assemble with simple tools and some patience. Highly reccomended!