Read reviews for the Shearwater 17 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!
I have been paddling the Shearwater 17 for three seasons. I have been building stitch and glue kayaks for a while now and this boat was my 10th project over a number of years so i have had a lot of practice.
From a build perspective, the designer is Eric Schade. The kit and instructions are from Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) and the kit and instructions that come with it are thorough and complete. the only elements outside of paint and finishing materials that i needed to buy was a good seat (which i picked up from Redfish kayaks), a nice set of toggles and some additional rigging material for how i like to outfit the boat.
The build itself is modern and sophisticated for a stitch and glue and while ok from a first project perspective, is worth taking your time on to get it right. Using the CLC Builders forum - CLC's on-line technical support and community -- is a great resource to sort out any particular step in the construction which may be confusing.
the boat has hard chines, a multi section deck with some beautiful curves and color contrasts, and when finished bright, will provoke a lot of conversations about the craft at your local put in. overall, the boat has a low, sleek, fast look to it with elements of traditional greenland kayak styling, fully outfitted, my boat came in at 43 lbs.
from a paddling perspective, the boat matches it sleek picture. with gear i, weigh about 190 lbs and i am 5" 10 inches with a 30 inch inseam. i would describe the fit as comfortable but not roomy.
i paddle almost every week during an 8 month season and would describe my skills as advanced. the boat is easily driven and can hold a nice cruising speed, its deck design/low volume is easy to paddle with various styles without ever striking the hull with your sticks. the boat rolls easily, responds well to leaned turns and tracks nicely even on a windy day without a skeg or rudder. it is a boat you can easily use to develop advanced paddling skills.
the boat has fore and aft hatches and plenty of space for a lunch or dinner out and i routinely use the boat for little picnic outings (paddle two hours, eat, paddle back) but it's not a boat with so much volume that i would be comfortable trying to get a tent into or heavier equipment into it.
i have also used this boat as guest boat for those with a little bit of experience....but not for an absolute beginner. its stability is fine and it is not in anyway tricky.
i don't really have anything negative to say other than the boat fills a niche in my paddling portfolio....and while it does what it does well, there are a couple places i would approach with some caution - 1) it's not a high-volume boat, so if you are a large person, you want to test fit it before committing to it; 2) not a boat for rock gardens....think of these boats as high-quality glass boats.....while they will survive scrapes and are easily repaired and refinished, if rock gardens is your thing, that's why you have plastic craft, 3) for the same reason above, not a great boat to practice multi-boat rescue techniques (e.g., pulling another boat over your deck).
That said, if you like the looks and it fits you, this is a high performance day tourer in a light package and at a great price (if you are ok building it) that you should definitely keep on your list for consideration.