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I find the 146 to have a good amount of space for multi-day trips, like a weekend or 3 days, and have taken mine out on the ocean for multi-day trips from time to time. The key is to pack like a lightweight backpacker (soft rocks, light weight stuff, and multi purpose gear). If you like backpacking, you already have almost everything for multi-day kayak trips. Just get your safety equipment for the water.
Back to the boat! I find the cockpit to be snug for me (6'3" and 230 lbs) but its snug in a pleasant way that is not constrictive (think comfy sports car feel). I have plenty of legroom and there is at least 2 inches on either side of my waist as I pass through the coaming. The Extrasport seating system is very customizable, easy to adjust, and includes a cup holder between your legs on the front of the seat, and the back of the seat has 4 or 5 height adjustments as well. My size 12's fit just fine under the deck and I have plenty of legroom to stretch out my legs straight. At 24" wide, you don't have to stretch over the side of the boat very far to make a nice, tight, forward stroke either. The knee braces it came with are non-adjustable, super comfortable and feel like they were molded over my legs... yes they are awesome! One of my favorite features though, is the small day hatch molded into the boat on the deck directly in front of the paddler. Easily the best day hatch I have used.
Things I added, and things it needs.
As I alluded to earlier in the review, I added a Feathercraft rudder kit. Installation was easy with a post type rudder bracket, and the holes for the rudder lines were easy to drill out due to the locations being molded into the boat. I also added a paddle holder (which was the only thing I felt it was lacking as original equipment), and a fishing rod holder flush type mount. The addition of a sail kit makes this boat an all around pleaser no matter what you're in the mood for on the water, and boy does it fly when it's wind powered!
I was sad to hear that old town no longer produces the 146. But I hear that Necky makes the same basic hull design (or used to) in the Manitou line (or maybe Looksha), but I'm not sure. To be honest, I've stopped shopping for my next kayak, because I have all the kayak I need right here.
Since this purchase I have obtained several other 12' boats but this one remains the favorite.
The other thing that bugs me about the boat is the small compartment on the deck has an opening that is too small for all except my smallest Nalgene, and the shape makes it such that I cannot put both my Nalgene and cell phone in there at the same time (but I can put my keys and Nalgene in there simultaneously). Honestly, the way things are working with that compartment I would rather have a dash like the Old Town Dirigo XT or Wilderness Systems yaks or a flat area for a bag instead.
I owned a Cayuga 146 for 3 years and liked it quite a lot. At 14.5 feet, the Cayuga is a transitional kayak, but pretty seaworthy. Mine tracked perfectly. It had a rudder but I found I almost never needed it, even in rough water, because the Cayuga handles so well. In calm water it has surprisingly good glide. The stability is excellent. A beginner will soon feel confident with the Cayuga 146.
The cockpit of the Cayuga 146 should fit a moderately large person. The original ExtraSport seat was pretty good. The new 2010 ACS seat is even better. You can reenter the Cayuga even with the seat back positioned fairly high, as it folds down as you reenter (it's not that easy to get the back back up though).
The storage capacity in the hatches is excellent. Iíve toured up to 5 days with the Cayuga. The hatches are reasonably water tight, but not perfectly so. The dayhatch at the front of the cockpit is very handy, but it is NOT waterproof.
The biggest drawback of the Polylink 3 Cayuga 146 is the weightó56 lbs with the rudder. Itís hard to load on a car alone, but once you get it in the water the weight is no longer a factor. In fact it feels quite substantial in the water and is not easily tossed around by the wind and waves.
The Cayuga is a real work horse: stable, dependable in all conditions, and capable of carrying a large load. If the weight doesnít bother you, itís a great kayak for both day tours and long camping trips. It can handle everything from ponds to the ocean. My rating is for the Polylink 3 version only. I personally would not buy the softer plastic version.
There's good dry storage, a nifty little storage area at the front of the cockpit, and a very nice seat. But the best thing about the Cayuga is the shape of the hull. Read about it on the website--they explain it better than I can.
This is a FAST boat, easy to paddle, easy to maneuver, easy to load and indestructible. Spend another eight hundred or a grand for a composite boat and cringe when you rake the hull across a rock. Or, spend much less, get a killer ride and when that rock scratches the plastic, shrug your shoulders and tell yourself there's another scar with a story.
Old Town's been at it for a long time and they stand behind their products. I have a Dirigo and Loon in the garage and a new 130 Cayuga on order. Enough said.
So far the things I have noticed that I didn't like, which are pretty minor things overall, are: with the cross lock hatches, you really need to push down on them when you close them for them to seal properly, if not a bit of water will seep in. The deck rigging on the front is in a box shape instead of an X, which is just personal preference more than anything. And as someone said earlier, the rim around the cockpit could be set in a little deeper to hold the skirt better, but I also have a Cayuga 130 as a spare boat, which has a slightly larger cockpit, which the skirt holds onto a lot better. So it seems more like a problem with the skirt being a more universal one than a problem with the cockpit rim itself, but it would be nice if they compensated for it a little. The kayak weathercocks a bit if you have waves/wind coming from behind you, but not enough you can't compensate for it easy enough. And being a big guys, 6'2" 215 lbs I fit in the boat well, but any taller, and the footpegs probably wouldn't be long enough, i use them pushed as far ahead as possible, so try one out if you have any doubts.
So now for the good things. The boat is very stable, even for a guy my size, i don't feel confined or uncomfortable at all. It tracks quite well without a rudder, but on the flip side, takes a bit to turn, so it's not for small narrow streams. I have always felt stable, even in up to 3-4 foots waves. I don't have a rudder, but I would recommend one if you think you need it, makes the boat rock a little less with ocean waves, and keep straight in the wind. If you need to turn a lot it might help where this boat is made for tracking straight. The seat will seem like it would be more comfortable than it really is at first touch, but i still find it quite comfortable for 2-3 hour + trips. Lots of room in the hatches, no troubles with bulkheads leaking, and the day hatch has been called by some not quite 100% watertight, but the only water I have gotten in there has dripped in off the cover when I opened it up to take a look.
So overall, I think it's a great boat, would recommend it to anyone if stable, straight tracking is what you want, and only give it a 9 for the minor things I had up top.
I just got back from a 2 day solo camping trip. I could easily have packed food for 3 or 4 days as there is a lot of space in the hatches as well as behind the seat and in front of my feet. If I had a smaller tent it would free up much more room.
Kayaking has opened a whole new world for me and I give the Cayuga 146 a lot of credit.
The boat is made from a very stiff High Density Polyethylene, which gives it a somewhat higher stiffness than some other Kayaks I observed this summer based on the "cave in" factor while attaching to the rack. She handles pretty well for a 14.5 foot boat, and maneuvering in the Pine was not difficult.
The storage compartments are roomy, and the hatches stay on with the help of criss-cross straps, but there is some leakage. The cargo bugies are well placed, and rigging is functional, particularly with the handy carrying handles. The water tight camera compartment was a big selling point for me, and it is very functional and watertight.
The seat is surprisingly comfortable, but should be adjusted off the water. Raising the seat negated attachment of my Seals 1.7 size spray skirt. The skirt fits tight and there seems to be conflicting sizes recommended by vendors.
All in all, I really like the boat.
I finally took a closer look at the coaming around other kayaks. ALL of them have a sharper curve, or attachment area than my Cayuga. In other words, the bungee on the skirt sits deeper into the coaming on other kayaks. The Cayuga coaming has a softer curve and I know that's why I can't keep the skirt on. I still believe the Cayuga series is a great kayak, you can read my earlier review for more info, but after much paddling in even calm surf, the problem is more important than before. I may try another brand of spray skirt, but I still believe the coaming is the problem.
So, my rating for this great kayak, if you need a spray skirt, goes from a 10 to a seven. Sorry, Old Town, but I believe we have a problem....
Both hatch covers work very well at keeping water out. The angled glove box is very convenient to use, I would give this boat a 10 if it weighed 5 lbs. less.
I have been thrilled with it's comfort, performance and versatility. I paddle lakes, streams and ponds in the North Country and have greatly enjoyed my Cayuga. I am planning overnight trips this summer and look forward to adding to my experience with the Cayuga. I will also be adding an Old Town Dirigo 120 to my flotilla this spring, for my wife and guests to use. Never doubt the quality and reputation of Old Town; even as part of Johnson Outdoors, they remain true to their origins. The Cayuga 146 has made me an extremely happy paddler!
First, the seat is extremely comfortable. The Extrasport XtraComfort is one of the very few truly comfortable seats on the market, along with the Phase 3. Iíve tried both and I prefer the XtraComfort for long paddles. When youíre in your kayak an entire day, with only a few or no rest stops, believe me, you want a good seat. This seat adjusts 3 ways to fit your body perfectly. The drawback is that itís very hard to adjust while youíre sitting in the kayak---the adjusting straps are hard to locate and itís almost impossible to tilt the lumbar support far enough forward to raise or lower it. I also find that my shorts stick to the rubber and ride up in the crotch, which doesnít occur with the nylon-covered Phase 3.
The cockpit should fit a fairly large person, which I am. For me it has a comfortably snug fit. My knees and thighs wedge nicely against the sides and the thigh braces, so control feels good. The cockpit is large enough for comfort and small enough to discourage waves from entering---a very nice compromise between a recreational boat (which cannot be used on a large windy lake or on the ocean) and a sea kayak, which is very cramped for many people.
If youíre used to the huge cockpit of a recreational kayak, you may think the Cayuga LOOKS confining. But once youíre in it it actually feels very good. You feel securely held and in direct contact with the hull for enhanced control. In fact the Cayuga feels better to me than a recreational cockpit, which gives you a feeling of not being held securely.
The storage capacity of the Cayuga is excellent. I used the Cayuga for a 5-day camping trip this summer and had adequate space without having to cram my gear into the hatches. I did use the large space in front of my feet for additional storage. With everything in plastic bags that worked fine. The hatches are reasonably water tight, but not perfectly so. I have intentionally submerged the boat upside down in the water and almost no water entered the hatches. I have paddled in high waves for several miles and again found very little water in the hatches. I believe there is general agreement that no hatch is totally waterproof, and you must always use drybags or plastic bags. The dayhatch (glove compartment) at the front of the cockpit is very handy. I use it a lot for my camera, sunglasses, and so on. It is NOT waterproof. It leaks enough that your camera should at least be in a ziplock bag.
My Cayuga tracks perfectly. Still, I often use the rudder because it does help in wind and waves, and itís just plain fun. I wouldnít want to be without a rudder personally.
Seaworthiness: The stability of this boat is really excellent. I have paddled the Cayuga 146 in waves up to about 2 feet and in extremely windy conditions for fairly long distances. Although I was a bit rattled and had to pay careful attention to each paddle stroke---especially in a following sea---in fact I have never been swamped nor tipped over. In a following sea I did receive some water behind the seat---my fault for not having a sprayskirt. The bow rides nicely over the waves rather than crashing through them. When a wave comes at you from the side you can roll the boat up and over it without being in danger of rolling over.
Iíve had the Cayuga on the ocean, but only close to shore on a calm day, or in waves but in a harbor, not on the open ocean. But I feel that this boat is ocean worthy, in spite of those who say only a 16-footer is ocean worthy. On a windy day the large lakes of western Maine present conditions that are very similar to the ocean. The Cayuga 146 is perfect for those conditions. I never tempt fate by crossing a large expanse of open water under those conditions, but I wouldnít do that in a true sea kayak either. Nor would I go out in 3-foot waves in ANY boat---thatís just not fun for me.
The perimeter lines are there for safety, allowing you to tackle rough conditions knowing that you will be able to reenter the boat. Many kayakers justify the uncomfortable seat of a sea kayak with its very low back by saying that a high back prevents reentry. I have reentered the Cayuga many times in SOLO practice and can assure you that the seat back does not prevent reentry. It will either fold down or pop down to its lowest adjustment point while youíre sliding over it. Yes, it will be difficult to get it back up once youíre in the boat, but at least youíre in the boat safely. In fact my guess is that it is considerably easier to reenter the Cayuga than the smaller cockpit of a sea kayak.
Speed: In calm water this boat glides beautifully and tracks perfectly. It is a joy to paddle in calm water. In wind and waves it takes considerably more effort. However, a friend who has the same boat assures me that she is able to keep up with sea kayaks in rough seas. Iím not a speed demon---I would much rather have a stable boat like the Cayuga and sacrifice a little speed.
Now we come to the two big drawbacks of the Cayuga 146. The first is its weight. My boat with rudder weighs 56 pounds. You will find different sources claim it weighs either 50 or 52 pounds without the rudder. Old Town is infamous for understating the weights of its boats, so if this question concerns you, by all means take your scales with you when you test the Cayuga. In any case, putting this boat on and off a car and hauling it in and out of the garage is a drag, so much so that I use it far less than I would like to because of the weight. But you have two choices: shell out another $500-$1000 or more for a lighter boat, or live with the extra 10 to 15 pounds of the Cayuga. Fortunately, once you get the boat in the water those 10 to 15 pounds become meaningless. In fact I sort of like the substantial feel of the Cayuga in the water---it does not get tossed about by wind and waves.
I spent the entire summer looking for a light (35 to 45 pounds) composite boat that would have all the other characteristics of the Cayuga: comfortable seat, reasonably narrow, 2 hatches, 14 feet. Let me tell you right now that such a boat barely exists on the market, if at all. For example, the popular Kestrel 140 in composite is a beautiful boat, but it paddles like bathtub due to its excessive width and the seat is nowhere near as comfortable as the XtraComfort. Hence I am still paddling the Cayuga while waiting for some smart manufacturer to design its 40-pound twin.
The second drawback of the Cayuga is the single-layer plastic that Old Town chose in 2007. If you put a polylink 3 and SL side by side and press on the cockpit rim, you will readily see the difference. The SLP is very soft by comparison. I havenít paddled an SLP, but I suspect it must be slower than the 2006 polylink 3 (stiff = fast in the kayak world). I think Old Town made a mistake when they changed the material and Iím very glad I have a 2006 model.
A few words for those who are debating whether to get a recreational, transitional, or sea kayak: if youíre a beginner or intermediate, get the Cayuga 146 and stop fretting. It will answer all of the needs of an intermediate paddler---calm lake, wind and waves, many ocean conditions, day trips, long tours. It will excel at all of those and you will do it in comfort and safety. Why paddle a short, fat bathtub (recreational kayak)? For a great many paddlers a sea kayak is overkill, subjecting you to a cramped cockpit, lousy seat, and low waterline when all you want to do is have a leisurely afternoon cruise on a calm lake. Plus you have to store those monsters in your garage. If you buy a 10- to 12-foot recreational kayak, you will not be able to use it for touring, will be limited to calm water, and will outgrow it in a single season. My advice is to start with an intermediate boat, which anyone can learn to paddle in a matter of minutes.
I conclude that the Cayuga 146 is the best touring boat on the market for the time being, for its combination of comfort, stability, and touring capacity. I rest my case. Get yourself a Cayuga 146. You wonít regret it.
P.S. If the Cayuga 146 is good, does that mean the 160 is better? I say no. Why grapple with more length and weight when the 146 will do it all? I havenít paddled the 130 so I donít have an opinion about it, except that it would be a good recreational choice at the very least. The Old Town website says it weighs 2.5 pounds MORE than the 146---a mystery indeed.
The stability and comfort are fantastic. The "waterproof" storage hatch will definitely need some sealant. Water gets in but cannot get out. Don't put your cell phone in there until you have performed the additional sealing and testing. The foam bulkheads were not glued sufficiently during production, I see that listed several times both here and other review boards. So, if you buy one, take it home and do the job yourself. I got no response from Old Town when I listed this concern.
Here are some of the boats I tried. The Wilderness Systems Pungo 12 (cockpit was way too big), Boreal Designs Sedna (didn't track well for me except with rudder down), Necky Manitou 13 (uncomfortable cockpit with a strange buckle system mounted to the cockpit rim), Necky Manitou 14 (felt a bit barge like but roomy), Old Town Cayuga 13 (fast with great glide but too tight on my size 12 feet), Venture Kayaks Easky 13 and 15 which both felt very slow but roomy and stable, and the Old Town Cayuga 146 which I bought without actually testing based on the performance of the 13. Other boats I would have liked to test were the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 but lots of people said it is very slow. Also, the Necky Chatham 16 or 17 but they were a bit out of my price range and probably not as well rounded or comfortable as the Cayuga 146. I might look into those when I get more experienced.
So pretty much every boat that I initially tried had some problem that I didn't like as stated above. But the Cayuga 130 was by far the best overall for me and also for my wife. It fit her perfect and she easily cruised by me while I was testing other boats. But like said for me the foot room was very cramped. But the seat was super comfortable and adjustable. I also really liked the built in thigh pads. They really held me in the boat tight. But what really sold me on the Cayuga was the hull design. It is relatively flat directly under the seat but it sharply turns into the bow and stern so it cuts through the water really well rather than pushing it. A quick look at the hull really shows why it works so well for beginners and more advanced paddlers. True definitely not as stable as a wide boat like the Pungo but more stable than most sea kayaks. Too be honest it was probably the least stable (initial stability) of all the longer (13'+) kayaks I tried but after about 10 minutes in the boat you get used to it. But at the same time you quickly realize that the secondary stability is really good. Attempting a couple rudder turns with the paddle tipped me a bit more than I expected but it didn't feel like it was going to capsize. I also want to mention the tracking. Man this boat really tracks well. The only other boat that came close was the Manitou 14 which was one foot longer and didn't have as much glide. Other features that I liked about the 13 was two bulkheads for tons of storage room and great flotation in case of a capsize. It also has a neat little screw on hatch on the dash that one could keep a waterproof GPS or camera.
Now onto the Cayuga 146. Fortunately I got to try out all of those boats above in one day so I pretty much knew what I was looking for and had them fresh in my mind. Of course a lot of researching on this site and others prior to trying out the boats was needed. I was convinced prior that the Necky Manitou 14 would be the boat for me due to the reviews, size, and speed but I guess not. My goal was to now find the larger Cayuga 146 because if it had more foot room it would be perfect for my build and ability. Luckily I ended up tracking down a red and yellow one on Cape Cod at an Eastern Mountain Sports. Their regular price of 1200 each was a bit more than I wanted to spend but each boat also came with a rudder. I didn't really think I needed it but that's all that was offered anywhere near me. So I drove down the next day and dry fitted them with my wife. Immediately there was noticeably more foot and leg room. That extra 1.5 ft of boat made for more cockpit room down by my feet as I hoped. The boat is 1/2 narrower (24.5") than the Cayuga 130 but I couldn't feel the difference. Also I should note that the cockpit entry is also slightly smaller which I also couldn't really feel. But for comparison much tighter than a pure recreational kayak like the Pungo but just right once you are in. Again, I am 210 lbs so I'm not a small guy and I am still easily able to get into this cockpit which is similar in size to most all longer touring kayaks and a lot of sea kayaks. Surprisingly the boat also fit my wife who is 5'6" and of medium build. For comparison the Necky Manitou 14 would have been too big for her tastes but this even longer Cayuga fit her great. Probably due to the great adjustability of the seats and large thigh pads. So knowing that the Cayuga had great speed, incredible glide, and rather stable for a day touring boat I decided to buy both of them. Luckily the boats were 20 percent off so I saved a ton of money. I got a couple Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Fiber shaft paddles also. The light weight is great and I have had no problems with them. I keep them feathered at 90 degrees because it is rather windy up here. I also velcroed my Garmin GPS 60 series with marine charts onto the dash and safety loop it to the paddle leash. Just some industrial velcro strips and it has never come off even in 2-4' seas (storm I got stuck in).
It's been about a month now since I have bought the boats and they still perform excellent. They make the coastal kayaking so easy and comfortable that I wonder if I should have tried to find the 16ft version or tried some 17ft boats by other brands (true sea kayak lengths rather than touring). It seems the coastal/sea is what I enjoy the most. But again I realize the Cayuga 146 at 14'6" long is more versatile and stable enough for a beginner/intermediate paddler.
To sum it all up after 2-3 trips a week for the last month I give the boat a 10 for aspiring beginners or intermediate level paddlers because it is long enough to handle moderate seas, tracks incredibly well with its pronounced keel even without the rudder, great primary stability due to the rather flat bottom directly under the seat only, great secondary stability due to the rest of the hull design (soft chined and very steep at hull and stern), incredible glide and speed for a boat of this length, large hatch openings for overnight trips, convenient dashboard hatch for light, knife, phone, etc. and even a rudder when needed.
Hope this helps as much as the reviews of all the boats have helped me. Feel free to email me if anyone has any questions.
I've taken this kayak in the slow moving Willamette River in Oregon, the Siletz, Salmon and Nestucca rivers on the Oregon coast and have even played in the surf with it. I will even recommend it as an ocean tourer, with limited cargo area for new, intermediate and advanced paddlers. Tracking is very good, even without a rudder. The sharp shape of the bow and stern help it track better than the following rudderless boats I've paddled: Wilderness Tsunami 125, Perception Carolina 14, Dagger 12. Granted, the Dagger doesn't belong in this category - it plows rather than cuts throught the water, but that's what I had to compare it to. In coastal rivers playing with the tides, I can feel the lack of a drop-down rudder, but the extra cost doesn't outweigh the advantages for me.
This is a fast, durable easy gliding kayak that is as good as products costing much more. The variable density poly was at first a concern. To save weight, the Cayuga plastic is very thin in spots. My paddling companion told me he could see the interior of the forward hatch on a sunny day. I believe him. I carry the Cayuaga with a Thule crade-type carrier, hull down. We cinched it down on a J-style carrier and dented the bottom, which did rebound after a day in the sun, but I'd rather not have to do that again. As for the hatches, no they are not watertight -- I haven't seen any that are 100% and that's what drybags are for. Some slight leakage in both hatches, no big deal, and the buckle closure is so much more convenient than struggling with the old school type found on all other brands. The small cockpit in front of the paddler is not watertight--the gasket is not quite up to snuff, but it's wonderfully convenient and besides, that's what dry bags are for. Two 12 ounce beer cans fit well there and the pronounced shape keeps the surf from rolling into the cockpit, a nice touch The seat is fine, some easy adjustments once you get used to it. The plastic scratches like any other poly boat, but has not presented any problems. Consider the cost against composite kayaks--if the Cayuga flew off my rack at 60mph, I do believe all I'd find would be some asphalt gouges and a kayak that still glides well.
All in all, this is a deal for the money. Old Town has been at it for decades and they've put a lot of work into their recreational kayaks. This series -- "transitional" is something they should be proud of. You owe it to yourself to paddle a Cayuga after demoing other brands. Prepare for a surprise.
So my feeling is, just buy one. You can spend days and hours testing and comparing. That could be fun. But if you are kind of in a hurry to make a purchase decision and don't have time or the knowledge to really learn and compare the finer points, just get a Cayuga 146. It has lots of user friendly features. Did I mention comfort? This just lacks heat and vibration and it could be a barka lounger. Light, fast, pretty(cloud color), fast, stable, roomy and fast.
The kayaks arrived and we picked them up. They were missing the rubber edge seal around the cockpit, ok, we can use them until the edging arrives.
We took them home and had to attach the rudder cables because they are not attached by the factory. Sure would have been nice if they included directions. The cables had no connectors where they attach to the rudder bolts, so my choices were to loop the end over the rudder connecting bolts, or go to the local hardware store and pick up brass bushings to keep from fraying the cable. Ok, bad start, but we really wanted to make this work because we like the kayaks and believe it could all be fixed after the weekend through the dealer. Next day we took them out on the local lake. They were fairly fast, very stable, and extremely comfortable. After 2 hours both cables attaching the rudder cable to the left footrest broke. So, we tied the cable to the footbrace so we could still use them. The rudder on one boat pop down while paddling and would not go back up when pulling on the cable. Well, that was when we decided that although we really liked the kayaks, we should cut our loses, return the Kayaks, get our money back, and purchase a different kayak.
While I do believe that all the information I read in the reviews on this site were accurate, I think that buyers should be aware of the current quality problems that we experienced. Had the kayaks been purchased without the rudder, our issues would have been minimized. By the end of the weekend our enthusiasm for these kayaks was destroyed. We ended up purchasing current designs kayaks since that time and are extremely pleased with the quality and seaworthiness of the kayaks.
It suits my needs perfectly and so far has handled well in all conditions I have had it out in. I kayak in relatively small lakes or bays sheltered by islands in larger lakes in Northern Ontario, generally going about 4 to 5 miles in one direction and then returning, so I almost always have wind in one direction. The kayak handles very well in wind and with the spray skirt if any waves break over the boat it is fine. Once I get it moving along it seems to just fly (compaired to canoeing)tracks straight, turns well and is comfortable. The small hatch in front of the cockpit is ideal for storing small items and the slope of it holds a map in the perfect place to look at while paddling. When I go out I find the hatches hold plenty of gear for a day trip and I imagine with a lot of care in planning I could overnight with it.
I did not get a rudder but so far have not felt I needed one. The foot braces stay put and are easy to adjust (I have had a problem with some other brands of kayak, especially if there is a rudder, with foot braces slipping). I am glad it is light weight but with the plastic I am not too concerned with a few inevitable scratches.
I can load it easily myself in a truck but because I have a bad hip and am going to have a hip replacement I cannot carry the kayak. I bought a kayak cart which is easy to use and saves having to drag the kayak to get it to the water.
I guess if I could change one thing, on it and it's minor, I would have a hole in the bow as well as the stern for a rope to tie up with when I land for a break.
I have gone from a 12' Arcadia (nice for small water but lacks tracking to a 14' Dirigo lot of room very stable & wanted to bring the dog along but after 15 min he had had enough & I decided it took a lot of work to cover open lakes water. Then a 14'Necky Manatu very fast & easy to paddle. Nice & light to load on the cartop but turned like a fright train. tried the Cayuga & it felt like it had it all easy to paddle tracks well good speed lot's of Dry? easy to get at! storage handy small hatch in the front of the cockpit for keys cell ect. & this boat turns easily. I think I'v got a keeper
I found the cockpit of the Tsunami a bit confining due to the fairly large thigh braces and neither the Tsunami or Cape Horn tracked as well as the Cayuga and the phase 3 seats of Wilderness Systems kayaks immediately caused my back to ache terribly (I do have a spinal irregularity so comfort was my number 1 choice). The Carolina also caused back ache.The Storm was pretty comfortable but it is a heavy, long boat and not what I wanted to purchase. When I sat in the Cayuga 146 I immediately knew it would be much better on my back. I also found the Cayuga 146 tracked better, with no rudder, than any of the other boats I tested and it turned well.
I was able to give it a 3 hour trip in a fairly large lake. There was a light wind but still 1 foot to 18" waves. It handled very well and I felt stable no matter what direction I was going. Although several times waves washed over the boat at the end of the day the hatches were bone dry. I am a 56 year old woman and I had no trouble getting the kayak into and out of the back of a pickup truck and appreciate the 50LB weight of the kayak. So far I am very happy with my decision.
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