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In between trips, I've done a lot of rolling practice (which included plenty of wet exits) in local ponds. The front hatch stays bone dry and the rear hatch only gets a few cups of water in it after multiple overturns. In calm water, my GPS speed averages about 7 - 8 km per hour and in choppy water my GPS speed drops to about 6 - 7 km per hour. Initial stability is very comfortable for paddling, but maybe not comfortable enough for non paddling activities like fishing. It responds nicely to edging or leaning for making small steering corrections. I do have the rudder which works well, but I've found that I only use it if there are quartering tail winds.
I would have rated the Cayuga 160 a "10", except that the seat back is too high. Since Lakes Michigan and Superior can get pretty choppy, I always need to use a spray skirt. The high seat back made it very difficult to get my spray skirt to stay fitted in place at the rear of the cockpit. I finally solved the problem for good by cutting off 2" across the top of the entire seat back.
In summary, the Cayuga is ideal if you don't have room to store a kayak that's any longer than 16 feet, but you need room for a lot of camping gear in a kayak that can handle large bodies of water.
Anyway, I took my new yak out in the wind and rain/snow. Entry and exit was very stable and beach gravel did not scratch or scrape the surface. Within the hour, I felt very confident in the handling, stability and capabilities of this craft. By the end of the second hour I enjoyed playing in the chop created by the wind (20+ mph) and felt like a kid again. Although outfitted with a rudder it was not necessary in this wind, just point and shoot.
My rating of 8 is based on the fact I have only been out once, and I don't have a frame of reference for other kayaks except for the one I used many years ago.
Finding good on-line service can be difficult but for what it's worth I would rate Outdoor Play at the top, service and delivery were first rate.
The kayak handles well in every situation I have taken it, but it handles above my expectations during 3 foot waves. I have zero complaints about this and believe the people at Old Town did a fantastic job with the design. Sure, the market has other fiberglass or kevlar kayaks for 3 times the money, but this kayak has the bang for the buck. I suggest this kayak to anyone looking for a really great ride with comfort, efficiency of paddling long distances and stability.
The bow is not as raised as other dolphin bow kayaks, so heading into larger waves it can bury the nose into waves which sweep back into the edge of the front hatch. The raised hatch cover then sprays a good amount of water back towards the cockpit. Heading into a F3+ head wind you will get very wet. And the hatches ship a little water when the deck is awash. (Applies to the rear hatch too when washed over with quartering waves).
The Cayuga 160 seems to be a very well balanced boat and unless there are steep waves, and wind conditions are F4 or more I mostly don't need to use the rudder. However, once seas are big enough to stop me putting the kayak up on edge to steer then I would drop the rudder and play it safe (It should be noted I changed the rudder pedals from the sliding arrangement to a "gas-pedal" type as soon as I got the boat, so I cannot comment on the standard footrests).
The Cayuga 160 surfs very well - it really is quite easy to pick up a relatively large wave and ride it for 5-10 seconds at a time. With the rudder down you can pick up rear quartering waves at quite an angle without broaching.
As far as confidence in its stability I am now far more comfortable in choppy conditions than my friend in his more traditional glass 22in wide kayak, but I don't seem to suffer too much in the speed stakes - and can average 3-3.5mph for 3 or 4 hours at a time. I may run into its hull speed eventually, but generally there is enough spare to put in a few power strokes to catch a wave, or to make a sprint around a headland in between wave sets.
I was caught in worsening conditions this last weekend. F4-F5 went up to F6 and waves were 5ft and quartering sets were coming in as we headed for a planned exit point. The waves were frequently breaking and several times I had to lean on the paddle fairly hard as I surfed them. I am fairly confident in the Cayuga's secondary stability now, and while it was not prudent to continue our paddle it gave a great boost to know that the boat was not out of its element in (what was for me) challenging conditions. It was predictable, stable and confidence inspiring.
For an 16ft plastic intermediate sea kayak I now have to give it 10/10. Very very impressed.
Excellent initial and good secondary stability. Long keel line with only moderate rocker make for good tracking while a very comfortable seat and knee braces which makes reasonable edging easy enough to alter course and carve gentle turns. Relatively low rear deck minimizes windage meaning you don't need the rudder unless you are into more challenging conditions. While it's not as fast as a narrow composite boat, it is easy to paddle at a fair speed (est 4mph+) and has a good glide. Paddling into 3ft wind driven swell I didn't get too wet - the bow doing a good job of parting the water, even when submerged in oncoming waves.
I would subtract a point for a very flat bottom which might add to initial stability, but make it more sensitive to larger waves, and the plastic across the hull under the seat is very thin without support so it can "oil-can" easily. Care in transporting and storage (and landing on beaches) is needed. This is the price you pay for a relatively light weight of under 26kg (not bad for a plastic boat with rudder). However, the excellent finish and attention to detail almost makes up for this. Bungees can be re-threaded and are then more than adequate for split paddles, hydration packs, tow lines and bilge pumps. There are full deck lines and the hatches are huge and watertight. They are really big with integral seals and easy to open and refasten. The small day hatch right in front of the cockpit is much easier to use than the traditional location behind the seat!
For a beginner or an intermediate paddler trying sea kayaking after a few years of recreational freshwater paddling it won't disappoint - it handles as good as it looks, and everyone I've met says it's a fine looking boat.
The Kayak I got has a rudder, and it also makes a great difference. I am fairly new to kayaking[ at 56] and still need to learn a lot about technique. Got in the river the other day and the wind was blowing really stiff, I put the rudder down and only had to worry about paddling, not controling. It could have been a pretty rough day, but it turned out great because of the rudder.
Went out this evening, again pretty windy, put down the rudder and practiced my paddling rather than have a fight for control. I needed to make a fast trip because it was getting dark. I think my stroke is improving.
I had been using the kayak without the rudder in better conditions, and it is fairly easy and comfortable to control by edging and stroke. I prefer to not have to use the rudder, but I am really glad to have it, to extend my usability of the kayak. I would have to think very carefully if I really wanted to try conditions that I have already been in, without the rudder.
I am not to thrilled looking at the hatch covers, but I think they work fairly well. Maybe I just have to learn to put them on tighter, if that is possible. I had been looking for about a 45lb. kayak 12 - 14'. I am about 200lbs. so the extra length of the 160 carries my size better. The 54lb. weight is a bit more than I wanted to load and unload myself, but it is doable. Most 14' kayaks weigh this much anyway.
The keyhole is the smallest I could reasonably use, smaller than I wanted. But again it is working out great, smaller is good when the splashing starts. Every time I use the boat, I like it more, more glad that I went for it. Every time I adjust the boat, it fits better, glad I adjusted it and could.
I am sure there are better boats out there (for more money, much more than I paid) but I won't be needing a better one for a long time. I can just buy a better paddle and I will be able to improve that way, for less money!
The Cayuga performed very well. It was easy to paddle and was very stable in 3ft to 4ft swells. The initial and secondary stability were very good. The boat is very easy to turn without using the rudder. It handled waves beautifully, I was able to surf 2 to 3 waves consecutively over and over again. The boat was easy to paddle and was pretty fast, I covered the 12 miles of open water in less than 3 hours - the first hour of which I spent a lot of time waiting for other people in the group. When I got in the groove the boat really moved nicely. Although I will say that you really feel like there is a lot more boat in front of you compared to some of the more sleek and low kayaks I have tried since (i.e. the Necky Chatham 16, though of course the Necky is much more money). The tall deck accounted for a few smashed knuckles into the deck during the trip.
I am 5'-10" and 160 lbs and was pretty comfortable in the boat. The seat is comfortable, with good lumbar support. The thigh braces happen to fit me just right but are not adjustable so paddlers of different heights may have a problem (you would have to drill new holes if you want to relocate them). The small hatch in front of the cockpit was very convenient. It fit a bottle of water and some power bars with room to spare. It was nice because it was out of the spray skirt and right in front of you. Overall I was pretty happy with the boat am giving serious consideration to buying one. Itís a lot of boat for the money.
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