I bought the Chelan in early spring. I love it. I already had a Gannet by Necky. I am sold on the diamond hull. I find it so easy to turn because of the hard chine hull. Talk about comfort. My husband has a Napali sit on top and complains about the UNOWANT being sore while I am soaring. I just give my seat a little pump and smile. I love the rudder. it lets me make such smooth racking moves.
I like X deck rigging, I find i can easily organize my safety gear and snack bag under the bungies. My Gannet ios rigged in a similar fashion.
So far I have not had any problems keeping water out of the hatches. If I do I was thinking of adding a rubber seal around the perimeter of the hatch hole and seperating walls.
I have taken it on lakes and rivers. I was easily able to keep up with the rest of our paddling club. I find it cuts in the waves and does well against the currents. I took in the Niagara River last week, ( yes above the Falls, not that close, but close enough to see the New Casino ) and it was great. You could however feel the force and the strenght of that mass of water, mind you this was on a calm day.
My only regret is that it was not marketed this year. It is a great ladies boat. All in all I have been impressed with this boat. I plan to use it for surf, lakes and local rivers. Its length, weight(55 lbs), and spirited performance make it a nice day to day kayak. I can recommend this boat to anyone wanting a fun, comfortable light touring boat. I will follow up with a report on its performance in the ocean.The Chelan is a new boat for 2003. It resembles the popular Zoar Sport with the trademark Necky diamond hull. It has flush mounted hatches much like the Elaho. Because of its short length (13'7") and hard chine hull it really turns on a dime. I was impressed with the comfortable fit. Necky has really made a breakthrough with its new air seat. The seat has an air bladder under its seating surface that is pumped up via an air bulb (like a blood pressure cuff). They combine this with a supportive backband to provide what I feel is the most comfortable kayak seat I've ever used. A member of our kayak club actually retrofitted this seat into his Dagger boat. This translates into more comfort and more time spent in the boat. The rudder design has changed as well. A more durable metal housing is utilized. Nice small details-soft toggle handles make portages easier, rudder loop keeps the rudder in place during transport.
On the water:
This boat is really alot of fun. It has very quick response to turns and leans. On edge, one strong sweep stroke will put you in another direction. The boat tracks well for a small boat. The hull takes advantage of its wetted surface area by having a more gentle amount of rocker. The dolphin bow tends to ride up waves and shed water to the side. When the going gets rough the Chelan handles chop with ease. This is my first hard chined boat and I'm sold on the hull shape. I am looking forward to lauching this boat in the New Jersey surf next month.
Now the negatives. The deck rigging needs improvement. The molded-in deck rigging attachments make the paddle float rigging an "X" shape rather a more stable square. I re-rigged the float lines immediately. Some slight leaking in the hatches was noticed.
The neoprene covers under the hard hatches should provide protection against all out failure but I'm thinking dry bags.
All in all I have been impressed with this boat. I plan to use it for surf, lakes and local rivers. Its length, weight(55 lbs), and spirited performance make it a nice day to day kayak. I can recommend this boat to anyone wanting a fun, comfortable light touring boat. I will follow up with a report on its performance in the ocean.