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I have paddled over thirty different boats and this one is the best all around boat I have ever used. It braves the rivers and the open water. I have used it for many ten day solo trips and can always seem to squeeze in all of the gear I need. I don't wish it was fiberglass or Kevlar because I am sure I would have destroyed this boat long ago if it was. I am not sure if they still make a plastic but if they do it will be worth every penny. I call her the foxy otter and she is 11 out of 10.
The first time I took it out, I thought I made the biggest purchasing mistake ever. The boat felt so tippy and unstable to me, I had to return to the dock with cramps in my back, because I was so tense trying not to dump the boat (it was 39 degrees out).
I am so excited that I did not give up on this boat. Each time I paddled it my confidence grew. I now LOVE this boat. It is exciting to paddle, very fast and will bring me years of joy. I had a specific question about this boat (it's true weight) and decided to send an email to the folks at P&H Sea Kayaks in Great Britain and even asked if they would mail a brochure that covered this boat to me. The email was answered that day, the brochure arrived about 5 days later!!! These folks really stand behind their product!
Once we got going the acceleration of this boat was impressive. It did try to weather cock, but with a drop of the skeg it tracked straight as an arrow. All in all I was so pleased with the overall comfort and performance I couldn't wait to get back to the shop and plop down my cash and purchase an all white carbon kevlar model. She's just beautiful to look at, and just as beautiful to paddle. My rating is 9 out of 10 because after only an hour of use I don't feel I have the right to give it a 10. I will repost after some more time in the saddle and let you know. PS. Thanks so much to Alex at New England Small Craft, she is very knowledgeable and patient answering all my questions.
After a couple of years with plastic capella, I sold mine and bought a used fiberglass capella. I'm extremely pleased with the new fiberglass model. Everything I loved about the plastic model is there but now it is even stiffer, lighter, and faster. A couple of minor complaints: 1. the used fiberglass model I bought does not have the cushy foam thigh brace pads that my plastic model had. I've glued some thin foam padding in and it is fine, but not as nice as the plastic boat's. 2. the fiberglass model I purchased has a built-in storage space for a spare padel molded into the top of the deck near the back of the boat. Sounds good, but the spare paddle sucks; it takes up room on the back of the boat and means that the rear hatch opening is smaller than usual. The hatch volume is the same, but it's harder to stuff things into this smaller opening. Other fiberglass capellas don't have this option. They have a regular rear hatch and an additional third day hatch behind the cockpit. I really wish I'd held out and found one like this instead of the one I ended up buying.
Finally, after spending more and more time in boats, I might someday want to get a slightly narrower boat. The capella performs quite well in all conditions, but I'm eyeing a p&h sirius now.
Also, at 6'4" and 230 pounds, the number of kayaks that can accommodate me comfortably is rather small. With minimal outfitting, the Capella fits like a good hiking boot. Excellent boat!
Short story is I've paddled a lot of polyethelene touring boats and this is the first one I'd actually recommend to someone who has some paddling experience under their belt, but not quite as much bread in their wallet.
I was quite surprised to learn that in fact the thigh braces are not padded. The fiberglass work is just so smooth and beautifully done that padding is not necessary (unless needed for fit). You will not find a rough edge on this boat. I am equally impressed with how the Capella handles. My primary paddling venue is an inland lake-flat water. But, I have had her out a few times in the Great Lakes and had a chance to see how she handles in wind and waves. I find the Capella stable and responsive in bigger conditions. I average using the skeg about half the time I'm on the water; it is very easy to set your angle on the wind by changing the depth of the skeg.
The boat also turns beautifully through edged and leaned turns. You can actually carve a perfect circle by holding her on edge a few seconds longer than necessary for a normal turn. So, the Capella is responsive. I'm also impressed with the hatches and storage space. I've been on some weekend trips where loading all of my gear including a thick Thermarest sleeping pad, sleeping bag, tent, stove, food, and etc. was not a problem. Everything fit and went in a lot easier than for the folks that have kayaks with smaller hatches. The Capella also handles great when loaded, very stable.
I recently started working on Eskimo rolls, and just got my first roll with the Capella. Having no rolling experience I have to take my mentors (he has a VCP Nordkapp) word that the Capella rolls well. P&H has also impressed me with their customer service. I have emailed them a few times and always received a quick response back. On their website, they indicate that they try to respond to email twice per day.
I highly recommend the Capella even for serious beginners (like myself). The skeg really helps you ease into advanced handling of the boat. I find myself using the skeg less and less, but in the beginning it was mostly down. When I first purchased the Capella, I could not handle her without the skeg and my edged turns were poor. My trip down the lake was more wandering than keeping a straight heading. Now, I intuitively drop my hip or lean just a bit as needed to keep a heading.
If you do purchase a P&H boat, you can expect it to generate a lot of attention. My Capella has been studied thoroughly by other kayak owners. P&H really is ahead of the game in attention to detail, the skeg system, hatches, and the seat.
I'm guessing here, but I think that the strong tendency for this boat to point into the wind adds a lot of safety and predictability. I no longer see weathercocking as a bad thing. I should add that my daughter was out in my boat in light winds and did not feel that the boat weathercocked at all. So, the paddler's weight may have some effect on the boats performance, I weigh 225 lbs, she weighs 125 lbs. Regardless, the skeg is really nice. I usually will only have to touch the skeg control 3-5 times in a two hour paddle, so it's not intrusive.
I'm just starting to seriously experiment with putting the kayak up on it's edge. Way before you feel you are going to tip over, the cockpit is in the water. So, buy a neoprene spary skirt at the same time you buy the kayak.
I am impressed with the quality of this boat, the fit and finish are excellent. If there are any sharp points or places to get scraped up, I have not found them yet. P&H has really put some time into the craftsmanship of this kayak. The seat and backrest are comfortable. At first I thought that the cockpit was smaller in the 2001 model vs. the 2000 model, but P&H assured me that it was not.
My second choice kayak was over one thousand dollars less, but I am really glad I choose the Capella. It is worth the extra money.
The Capella really stands out. Since I'm so new to kayaking it was hard for me to justify spending the big bucks for a f/g Capella. But, the quality that went into the boat won me over.
The seat and backrest seem comfortable, although I've only done a few two hour sessions to date. It does appear that I have a little less room in the 2001 model than the 2000 model I test paddled. On the 2000, my foot pegs still had one notch remaining forward. On the 2001, I am all the way forward on the pegs. I've emailed P&H to ask them about this. I think a smaller paddler would do fine in this kayak, you may need to pad out a few spots if you are really small. But, I have a feeling that this kayak could accomodate many different size paddlers.
I'll update this post once I am more skilled in kayaking and can give a review on handling. For the present, just know that I can not control this boat w/o the skeg down. But, thats half the fun for me. I'm looking forward to learning how to handle this boat with the skeg up.
There are no signs of any "oil can" ripples in the hull, even after sitting on racks. The seat is very comfortable and the thigh braces give a nice positive "locked in" connection to the boat. I have been out for 4 - 5 hours of steady paddling with no aches or pains. The Capella has better than average speed and turns very well with the slightest lean. If you are a beginner, don't let the initial wobbles bother you. This kayak has good stability and excellent secondary stability. No fear of turning over. This kayak is very quiet through the calm water, it is able to navigate through narrow rivers and inlets, and it is a blast when you get out in the waves and white caps! The obvious oversight, the rear bungee cord can be corrected in a matter of minutes. This one is a definite 10!
We went on Pamlico River and into Pamlico Sound (NC) on a day when the wind kicked up some and it rained a bit. I enjoyed the ride, which is a tribute to the way the boat handle the chop. Another day, we fooled around on a windy lake and again on a calm lake. On the first tip, there was a small problem with water coming in to the rear compartment from underneath where the skeg pivot met the plastic skeg mount. The boat had been dropped off a car at an earlier point in its life, and this may have caused that leak. I took the liberty of repairing this in the field with some marine caulk, which did the trick completely. Hatches were totally dry after that. There is a little tendency to yaw, especially if you place your paddle away from the boat. Some people may want a boat with more tracking, but I think you would then give up some of the wonderful handling and feel.
Drop the skeg and tracking is true. Very portable and tough. Linear plastic - can be repaired and recycled. Turns easily even with skeg down (though better up). Good stability even for a begginer.
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