Submitted: 02-23-2004 by Dan Plummer
I was attracted to the Bahiya’s hard chine, classic Swede-form shape of the hull--widest just around the rear of the cockpit--and the overall narrow width (20.4”), but decent length (17’6”) which gives the boat considerably more capacity than some of its 16-foot brethren. This boat is beautifully made, and includes nice accessories and design features that distinguish the P&H from many other boats. For example, it has a transverse recession in the hull behind the cockpit for cradling the paddle during re-entry and a small depression spanned by a bracket through which one can in theory pass a lock or small cable to secure the boat. The boat is equipped with a retractable skeg controlled via a steel cable, and it works flawlessly.
The seat is adjustable forward or aft in one of two positions, and has a very comfortable adjustable Explorer back band, which is able to pivot easily forward and aft. The cockpit is of moderate size and my scrawny 5’7”, 135-pound frame fits just fine, obviously. The space between the seat and hull is only about 4 cm wide, and this is too narrow to store anything other than a tightly rolled paddle float. The boat has a full complement of deck lines, extensive bungies on the foredeck, and a couple of bungies on the rear deck designed to carry a spare paddle. The fittings are all recessed, but are glassed over on the inside to preclude the hardware snagging your gear or clothing.
At 52 cm (about 20.4 inches) wide, the boat is expectedly a little less stable than many other sea kayaks, and probably not a good first kayak for that reason. In heavy winds, the boat tends to weathercock slightly but not at all uncontrollably. With the skeg deployed, it turns to the downwind direction, but not fully. I always require a lean and a few sweep strokes to turn it fully downwind. When surfing or in quartering seas, it seems to have a slightly greater tendency to yaw or broach than my Valley Nordkapp. I have not yet paddled it fully loaded, but expect the boat to become considerably more stable in that condition. The boat is extremely easy (and fun) to edge and turn. Being narrow as it is, and with comfortable bracing for the knees, it is an easy boat to roll. This easy handling is certainly the most pleasing feature of the boat.
All in all, this is an impressive boat that fills a niche for a high-performing sea kayak that is fast and nimble, but has the comfort and capacity for moderate-length trips.