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After paddling this boat for 10 years, i can't imagine not having her- though its finally time for a new skirt and some new neoprene hatch covers.
I'm a 65 year old retired Emergency Responder, and the Cape Horn 15 is stable, with lots of room for extended trips, and though heavy, I can still put it up on the car- if you can pick up one of these -by all means do so esp. if this is your first touring kayak. get the rudder. Last year I did the whole of georgian bay with her, about 600K, and the year before that, circumnavigated Manitoulin Island, the worlds largest freshwater island- as well as the North Shore, and the year before that did a 700 K trip to near the end of Lake Erie from my home on Lake Huron. This kayak can do the long trips, - I've never used the little day hatch and just sealed it up. Had a minor problem with a leak from the cockpit into the back hatch- easily fixed. Never had to replace any lines or rigging, though i keep it in the garage when not in use, and not out in the sun.
Well done WS.
For a beginner paddler, it has felt very stable even in surf. It does weathercock somewhat in moderate winds, but this is easily corrected with the rudder. The seat is not the most comfortable, but I have paddled for up to four hours without a problem.
The only negative things I can really say about it involve the day hatch and its weight. The day hatch cover can be tight and hard to remove at times. Although I have read specs with weights in the 50s, the plastic Cape Horn weights in slightly over 60 lbs as measured by myself on a scale. It can be difficult to lift and load on a car solo, and would be even more difficult to get on a van or SUV. Some sort of rolling rack system would be ideal for a tall vehicle. Also, if moving it more than a few feet from the car to the water, it may be wise to either build or buy some sort of kayak cart. I built one out of PVC and rubber wheels which fits in the stern hatch while underway.
These are our first kayaks, but before buying them, we had taken a basic paddling course and tried a few designs as rentals. So far, we both like the design and performance of our Cape Horns. One shortcoming, as already mentioned, is the boats could use more deck bungees.
Another shortcoming, but this affects me more than wife, is that the boat tends to weathercock in a following sea and wind. Maybe I need to improve my paddling skills more?
The kayaks track well into the wind and in most conditions we've been in. My wife never uses her rudder, and I only use mine when I'm lazy and don't feel like dealing with wind and/or tides and currents. The boats are relatively fast, and I've had no problem keeping up with other boats on a short haul.
As for the hatches leaking, I've only experienced this when I neglected to batten them down properly. We've practiced wet exits, self- and assisted rescues, had waves break over the boats, and have found barely a drop of water in the storage compartments. Even when water has leaked in, it is usually less than a cupful and almost always in the stern storage compartment. I suspect, as other do, that it's probably linked to leakage through the rudder cables than through the hatch cover.
Our paddling has been primarily in some coves, salt marshes, and along parts of Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River, as well as the state's largest salt pond, so we haven't exposed ourselves yet to any really challenging conditions, save boat and ship wakes. The worst we've dealt with so far has been paddling into 1-2' chop against an outgoing tide and a 20-25 knot headwind, which we handled well.
The boats are stable--so stable that my wife actually had difficulty capsizing hers the first time she tried a wet exit in it! The only time I've capsized unexpectedly was when we paddled in chop close to shore without our sprayskirts. A large wave broke over the stern, flooded the cockpit, and flipped me faster than you can say "flip." Had I been wearing a sprayskirt, I wouldn't have gone over.
Since we bought the boats, we've taken another kayak course to improve our paddling and other skills. The more we use these boats and improve our skills the more confident we are with their seaworthiness.
I haven't learned to roll successfully yet, but I know a more experienced CH owner who says the CH rolls and recovers well. I can't wait to learn!
In short, I think the Cape Horn is a great sea kayak and buy for the money.
I paddle mostly in tidal rivers and bays and near shore ocean waters. This is great boat that can handle almost anything you throw at it, including 5-6' ocean waves. As noted it tracks quite well, but you do need to engage the rudder on windy days or when the ocean has more than a 2' foot roll.
I kayak primarily with a friend who has a 17' hand built cedar boat with a 23" beam. When leisurily cruising, I have no problem keeping up; however, we were paddling pretty hard one day in rough open water while crossing the bay (2-3 miles) and you could see the difference the faster boat made. He simply pulled away from me. He was on shore at least 5-10 minutes before me. Having said this, my boat can handle heavy surf much better.
Based on alround performance, you will be hard pressed to find a better boat in this price range.
I am not sure if links to web sites are allowed in this forum, but I have posted my two trips (with pictures of 2 x 15' Cape Horns) and I think you will see that my wife and I took a lot of gear and could have easily have stayed out for a week, or longer. We did not carry any gear for each other - we each carried our own stuff. The thing with these kayaks is that you have to buy specialized gear, small stuff. If this site will publish the link, you can read about my experiences with the 15' Horn at http://www3.sympatico.ca/ublizi/
You'll need high speed cable or similar because the pics are all large, ie I did not thumnail them. Hope this helps anyone who is thinking of tripping.
Speed ain't bad but that's were the 17 ft plus boats really shine! Storage is good for a day trip and maybe an overnighter but no way can you go out for any longer! I did some island hopping with a friend and I had to put most of the heavy stuff in his Cape Horn 17'. On the plus side the boat still handles quite well fully loaded!
My biggest peeve three years in a row is the leaky hatches! Why can't they make a Cape Horn with the rubber peel off hatches like on the Tempest? But all things considered, it's a shortfall I can live with.
This is a fantastic boat to start sea kayaking in and build up your skills and confidence. But after three years I really want to take it to the next level! It's just so hard to find a worthy successor!
The Cape Horn comes into its own when doing salt water tours at the beach and marshlands. YOu can carry food and things you need to make the tour more comfortable. Its a great boat!
On the down side, I think the hatch covers are so-so. They really need a rubber gasket or something like it to prevent water getting to the neoprene covers. Also, the day hatch is quite hard to get at on the water. Last point, regarding the cup holder.....what were they thinking....most people don't kayak with a slurpee!!! put something that can handle a normal water bottle or coke can.
In the end, this is the best kayak I've ever owned (7 so far). I rate myself as an advanced paddler and find this kayak fun in all water conditions. Of course when I get my next tax refund, I might look for something in fiberglass or kevlar. I have a feeling my wife will not be so enthusiastic, so the Cape Horn and me will be good friends for some time to come.
I'm 6'0" and 180lbs, and my wife is 5'6" and 130lbs. We found that the Cape Horn 14 fit her very well, and the Cape Horn (now called the 15) fit me well. We bought the rotomolded plastic versions. Got the boats home, and fitted the pads that come with the boats. Fit is now excellent for us. Out on the lake these boats have proved to be an absolute joy to paddle. Slight initial 'tippiness' but excellent secondary stability. We've probably spent 20+ hours each in these boats, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anybody. Workmanship is very good, design is excellent. Handling, tracking and speed are excellent. Our only nit is some seepage gets into the bulkhead compartments. Frankly, its so little that I haven't bothered to fully investigate. We've been very happy that we went with plastic, both for the cost and durability advantage over composite.
So far we've spent most of our practise time on a local lake. We've also done the Black River in South Carolina, some protected bay paddling in the ocean, and a terrific trip at Lake Tillery in NC. I have a high standard for perfection, so I can't give these boats a 10, but I probably wouldn't give ANY boats a 10, because everything is a compromise. When you consider what you're getting for the money, these boats are tops! GO get yourself a Wilderness Systems Cape Horn, in whichever version fits best! (I am not in any way associated with Wilderness Systems or Pro Canoe.)
We had agreed that for first boats we would be better off buying rotomolded kayaks, despite their higher weight, because of their durability and lower cost. We now own and love a Cape Horn and a Wilderness Systems Epic, and are completely satisfied and very impressed with their capabilities.
Thus far the Cape Horn has spent roughly four months in the tidal waters of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, and the deep, open waters of Moosehead Lake, Maine. In both environs, it has earned my complete respect. During two weeks on Moosehead Lake (179,000 surface acres of water), the Cape Horn carried my 200 lb frame plus a lot of camping gear all over the lake without a single problem or shortcoming. Although not as fast as the Epic, it moves right along without a great deal of effort and, handles rough water with aplomb. Our first encounter with rough water came on our six to seven mile return leg of a camping trip. Before we had reached the mouth of the cove we had camped in, waves were over a foot and the wind was building. By the time we reached open water we were facing three to four foot swells with breakers and a 15 to 20 knot wind. Despite our lack of experience in rough water, the boats handled extremely well and before long, although still cautious, we were much more confident. From abeam, or from the bow or stern, the Cape Horn took the swells and breakers amazingly well, and with my cooperation and quickly increasing skills, kept us upright all the way home. I actually reached the point that I would intentionally surf some of the bigger swells just for fun.
The only (minor) complaint I have concerning the boat is that both the front and aft deck profiles are sufficiently low that waves splash over them and the hatches will take in a little water. Overall, it's a rock solid and capable mid size boat.
I have been paddling with a group all summer and the boat has enough speed to allow a novice to keep up. It tracks well enough that the rudder is not needed in most conditions and when deployed does not diminish speed. It performs well in moderate waves (one to two feet) but I have not encountered rougher. It remains to be seen how I feel about the boat as I gain more paddling experience.
Wilderness Systems has come up with an excellent design.
I donít know about Wilderness Systemsí distribution, but I havenít seen many Cape Horns in stores, and very little written about them. I think Perception does a much better job with color blending in plastic- my Ice Blue Horn has some weird dark blue into pale blue blotches and drips molded into the hull- not nearly as nice or as flowing as Perception. Some of their other colors are pretty awful ["Granite Aqua" and "Rasta" with its Red/YellowGreen combo come to mind.] And the shiny molded hatches look kind of cheap, not as nice as the ones pictured on the prototype in the catalog. But all that is minor. It weighs about 55 lbs. Kind of heavy to get on the Thule rack solo, but can be done.
The boat paddles well, and Iím thrilled with it. Last time out was in Long Island Sound off Connecticut, a couple of hours after a tornado passed within 20 miles. Plenty of chop, gusty winds and one stable, dry kayak. Recommended highly.
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