Wednesday, March 31, 2010

P&H Cetus long term test



Manufacturer’s summary
“The 'Cetus' is a fast cruiser designed as a load carrier. It has become the natural choice for paddlers looking for a stable expedition platform or a fast, easy to paddle kayak for long distance paddles. However it's not just a kayak for long trips though, it's equally as capable being used as a fast day cruiser.”

About the test: paddling conditions and paddlers.
This test took place during the period May 2009 till March 2010. It is based on paddling the P&H for over 650km in a wide variety of waters off the west coast of Scotland: the Solway, the North Channel, the Clyde, Arran, Skye, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Jura, Islay, Colonsay, tide races such as the Mulls of Galloway, Logan and Oa, the Corryvreckan, the Grey Dogs and Dorus Mor. It has been tested in winds from force 0 to 7 and in flat water, open ocean swell, wind blown chop, tide races moving at 15km/hour and in surf on exposed Atlantic beaches. It has been paddled by four paddlers weighing from 60 to 92kg. It was paddled and compared with a Cetus LV, Islander Explorer, two Alaw Bachs, Alaw, Rockpool GT, Menai 18, Nordkapp LV, Quest LV and several Quests.

Design
Despite its name suggesting whale like proportions, this is a beautiful, low, sleek kayak, which hides its size well.


Although it is of similar overall volume to the Menai 18 and the GT it looks much more slender. The Menai 18 looks bigger all-round and the GT looks much bigger in front of the cockpit. It even looks smaller than the Quest, which is actually 14l smaller.


The Cetus is of swede form, with the wide point behind the cockpit. This is a design which promotes speed through the water (despite allowing a broad beam) The Cetus has the greatest maximum width of the kayaks here but the Menai 18 probably has a greater average width, as it carries its beam well forward and back.


Like the Rockpools, the rear of the Cetus hull forms a drawn out inbuilt skeg. This gives a long waterline length for speed when the kayak is upright but disengages from the water for manoeuvrability when the kayak is edged. Moving forward, a wide, flattish bottom with a slight V at the keel under the cockpit runs into a rounder section towards the bow, with no hard chines between the sides and the bottom.

Construction, finish, fittings and ergonomics
I have used five separate 2009/2010 P&H Cetus/LV kayaks and all, have shown a superb quality of finish in respect of lamination and assembly of the hull, deck and bulkheads. The GRP bulkheads are fitted with a rubber bung with a relief valve to prevent implosion/explosion of hatch covers in extreme temperature conditions. There were no faults in the fitting of components and accessories.


The two Cetus kayaks I had on long term were most attractively finished in dark blue metallic decks, white hulls and keel strips with sky blue seams and cockpit rims. I thought it a most harmonious combination and the whole looked stunning. If I was nitpicking, I would say that they were not quite as glittery as a Rockpool, but then no one out-glitters Mike Webb!


The long keyhole cockpit makes this one of the easiest kayaks to get in and out of, especially if you suffer from hip or knee problems like me. For 2010 P&H are now fitting the plastic seat lower in the cockpit and this allowed me (at 92kg) to fit snugly without removing the padded seat cover and cutting over an inch of foam from the seat base, (which I had to do in the first test Cetus, built in May 2009). For those that like to paddle using full hip rotation and do not like seat covers, the seat base is comfortable and supportive with just the right amount of rise at the front. The seat back was also supportive, not too high for layback rolls and resistant to folding forward under your bum during wet re-entries. Its tension adjusts effectively using a belt and two corrosion resistant D buckles. Smaller paddlers should stick some foam hip pads to the sides of the seat to ensure good contact for edge control. The thigh braces were not so aggressive and supportive as the Rockpools’ but were more pronounced than a Nordkapp LV’s, and about the same as the Expedition and Quest. They allowed a comfortable range of thigh positions from relaxed cruising to full “brace in a tide race” mode! They come fitted with a 3mm layer of closed cell foam. The Quest, Menai 18 and GT allowed a higher position of the knees, which some prefer. I also used to prefer a high knee position but since my knee injury, I have come to appreciate the comfort offered by the Cetus’s more straight legged position.

The footrests fitted are P&H’s own adjustable models that have exceptionally large and comfortable pedals. They slide on twist/lock “paddles” which come back to just behind your knees. A 90 degree twist (while you are still seated) allows the footrest to be slid forward or back with the paddles for a perfect fit. They remained firmly in place in all four kayaks I tried with them despite many rolls and wet exits.

I paddle in size 10 boots and despite the kayak’s low profile; there was enough room for day long comfort. However, the pod of the fore deck hatch extends past my toes (74 cm inside leg) and prevents me moving them into the midline for a change of position. While I found this restricting at first, I soon forgot all about it, given the overall comfort offered by the Cetus. Also, the fore deck hatch is so very convenient for such things as flares, sun tan oil, head torch, energy bars etc. A safety feature is that the pod also reduces the volume of the cockpit meaning less water will be scooped in during recovery from a capsize.


End toggles (secured by elastics), deck lines and elastics, Silva 70p compass recess and security/tow line bar were of the usual high P&H standard fitting and function. Behind the cockpit there is a transverse recess designed to take a paddle shaft while launching and landing. Personally, I like to keep my nice carbon fibre paddles well out of the way of my bum and the shore. However, there is no doubt that the moulding adds to deck rigidity and I do like to sit on the rear deck while getting my legs in and out of the cockpit. In comparison, the flat rear deck of the GT was very flexible and I did not like to put my weight on it.

A large rubber oval rear deck hatch was partnered by a smaller round one towards the bow. Little moulded drainage channels in the deck extended out from the hatch rims reducing pooling of water. The day hatch and fore hatch were lighter covers with plastic centres. All covers were tethered. Tent poles need to be removed from a tent bag to bend it through the round forward hatch. The oval front hatches in the Menai 18 and Nordkapp LV make it easier to load long objects. In five P&H Cetus and Cetus LV kayaks I tried, all compartments remained dry, despite some extended wet work. In terms of carrying capacity, the Cetus is very commodious. However, if I was to order one, I would still seriously consider getting one with a strengthened custom bulkhead (£90) positioned to maximise front hatch volume and minimise cockpit volume, this would necessitate fitting the shorter 4th hatch pod from the Cetus LV.

The relatively narrow bow, together with the shape of the foredeck means it is easy to get the paddle entry well forward and close to the hull for efficient paddling. The decals are quality items and not cheap transfers. They are 3D items and I particularly liked the bow logo, which looks like an eye.


The new P&H skeg system has run into development problems in some kayaks. It is an ingenious skeg slider with a ratchet that pulls the skeg up, and holds it up, against a shock cord that pulls the skeg down. When it works, the system results in an extremely light and effective skeg control and it does not have the risk of kinking a wire cable as in many other systems. Over the last year, I have paddled five P&H kayaks with this system. Two worked perfectly, one was a bit stiff and two became so stiff that the skegs were unusable. P&H have recognised the problem and have put a great deal of effort into developing components of the system to find a solution and to supporting those customers who were affected. The P&H website has a skeg system help link from its homepage. This link will guide you through a couple of self diagnostic tests before giving you contact details. I tried following this and was contacted by P&H the same day. A day later I found myself talking to their chief development engineer and also the boss of the parent company, Pyranha. I am impressed by how P&H are committed to supporting their affected customers and I would have every confidence in buying a further P&H kayak. The most recent (2010) P&H kayak I have seen has a skeg which works faultlessly. The skeg blade is a high aspect design, which is rather flexible.

Performance

Manoeuvrability
It only takes a few paddle strokes to realize how much you are going to enjoy paddling this kayak. The slightest lift of a knee and you feel the kayak instantly respond to edge by turning. The Cetus feels alive. On the same afternoon as I tried the Cetus for the first time, I also tried the Rockpool GT (also for the first time). This is an excellent, fast, capacious, expedition kayak, with an incomparable finish, but in comparison with the Cetus, it felt directional and unwilling to turn as tightly. In the Cetus, even in windy (but flat water) conditions I was nearly doing 360's with a sweep and single bow rudder. It is more manoeuvrable than the Quest and Rockpool GT and considerably more so than the Menai 18.


When used as a day kayak, I had no difficulty exploring caves and threading through rocky channels following an Alaw Bach. Of the other expedition style kayaks, only the Islander Expedition came close to the manoeuvrability of the Cetus.


Having been surprised by the manoeuvrability of the full size Cetus on edge, I was expecting a great deal from the Cetus LV (which I also had on test). However, I found that with my 92 kg weight, it was not much more manoeuvrable than its full size sibling. Investigating this, I found that when I edge the Cetus LV, the long built in skeg does not fully disengage, and shorten waterline length as happens on the Cetus. Lighter paddlers of the Cetus LV experience greater manoeuvrability, because the skeg disengages. The Cetus LV is really for smaller paddlers who want a decent fit and handling, rather than for big paddlers, wanting more manoeuvrability. What P&H have done with the Cetus/LV/MV is to create a series of kayaks that allow people of different weights to experience the same handling characteristics. You should make sure that when you demo a Cetus/LV/MV, you choose the smallest size that still allows the waterline to shorten as you edge. A satisfying gurgle from the stern during an edged turn should be a clue that you are in the right kayak. Even when fully loaded for camping, the 60kg paddler found the Cetus a bit big but very much liked the Cetus LV. The other test paddlers, weighing 75 to 92kg, all found the size of the Cetus ideal.

Speed

Despite it having the greatest maximum beam in this group, the Cetus proved to be very quick to accelerate up to top speed. The Cetus, Cetus LV and Nordkapp LV all required fewer strokes to hit their maximum and pulled ahead of the other kayaks we paddled. Swede form kayaks are known for their paddling efficiency and the Cetus and Menai 18, also proved to have equal maximum sprint speed. The Nordkapp LV, Cetus LV and the Quest ranked next. The Alaw Bach (and to a lesser extent the GT) had a slower maximum as it tended to squat on its tail producing more drag when paddled hard. We didn’t measure the Expedition’s maximum speed (using an EGNOS enabled GPS) but it appeared to sit between the Quest and the Alaw Bach. Despite its potential maximum speed, the Menai 18 proved rather disappointing when trying to maintain speed when paddled unloaded in a wind. However, it redeemed itself when loaded and or paddled by a large paddler.

Stability
I found the primary stability of the Cetus on flat water to be comparable with the Menai 18 and both were significantly more stable at rest than the other expedition kayaks. Where the stability of the Cetus really shone was when at rest in bouncy conditions, for example when taking a photograph. It also scored highly for camera work because it is so quick to turn and change viewpoints. It is quite simply the best kayak I have ever been in for photography. The Cetus, Menai 18 and GT were all very stable on extreme edging, more so than either the Quest, or the Expedition (but none of the others turned so sharply in response to edge as the Cetus). We all felt that this characteristic would make the Cetus ideal for relative newcomers to learn about edge control.

Behaviour in wind, waves, surf and tide races
Having such a low profile means that this is a wetter kayak in waves than the, Menai 18 and GT and even than the Quest, which is not a particularly dry kayak. However, the Cetus bow rises less over short steep waves than the Menai 18 and GT and it does not slam down into the trough like the Menai 18 (and to a lesser extent, the GT). Unloaded in force 6-7 winds the Cetus could be comfortably paddled into wind and short steep waves at 45 degrees. In these conditions both the Menai 18 and GT tended to have their bows blown down wind. The Cetus was also the easiest kayak to turn, bow through the wind.


The Cetus can be used without a skeg, as it is so responsive to edging. However, on a long crossing, I still much prefer to use the skeg. On one of the Ceti on test, the skeg was too stiff and had an “on or off” feel, so we were not able to finely titrate the amount of skeg to the wind strength and direction as the paddlers in Quests were doing.


On a fully loaded 15km open crossing from Colonsay to Jura, with an ocean swell and force 4 wind from the rear quarter, the Cetus skeg stuck up. Despite edging, I found it a real effort to keep on track compared with the others in a Quest LV and Quests (which excel in these conditions). The Cetus tended to broach. The Expedition skeg also got stuck during testing and this kayak proved a real effort to paddle without a skeg in any wind. In another Cetus (with a functioning skeg) the tendency to broach was much reduced but the Cetus still required more paddler input than the Quest, when paddling down wind and swell. Like the Cetus, I found that the Menai 18 also had a tendency to broach downwind, particularly in smaller, close spaced swell. The Menai 18 had a very small skeg and this made it less easy to keep on track downwind. Rockpool have since increased the size of skeg fitted to this kayak. The GT (even with a large Kari-tek Hydro skeg) was another kayak with a tendency to broach in these conditions whereas, the Quest/Quest LV ran straighter.


In small to medium following seas and in surf, the Alaw Bach picked the waves up with much less paddler input than any of the other kayaks in this group. However, an experienced paddler could use the acceleration of the Cetus, Cetus LV and Nordkapp LV to catch even the most unpromising swell. Once on the wave, the Cetus was steerable by edging, especially if you stayed well up on the wave. If you allowed it to slip into the trough, the Cetus was likely to broach, even with the skeg deployed.


On a 3’ surf landing (on the west coast of Colonsay) I broached but three less experienced kayakers in 2 Quests and a Quest LV ran straight into the beach. In these conditions, the Cetus skeg definitely increases the resistance to broaching but then the stern goes very quickly. I wonder if the high aspect skeg’s flexibility contributed to the stern suddenly breaking away under the forces of coming in through surf. The Cetus was very stable when braced in the broached position. It was also very controllable coming in through the surf zone on the approach. A great deal of this controllability was due to its quick acceleration, allowing you to slow down, let a big, threatening swell through, then accelerate to catch a more manageable wave, to carry you into the shore.


Just looking at its fine bow sections, we all felt that the Cetus might be at risk of pearling in steep following seas. However, there is a distinct upward curve in the sheer line from the front hatch forward. On test, pearling was not a problem, loaded or unloaded, even in steep 1m surf on the exposed Atlantic coasts of the Hebrides.






We also gave the Cetus a good testing in a variety of tidal conditions. Not only did the Cetus handle the unpredictable waves in the races in a secure manner but it seemed to be remarkably unaffected when crossing sharp eddy lines. Overall, the Cetus inspired confidence, giving a very smooth passage through difficult, rough water conditions.

Rolling
The Cetus proved predictable and easy to both roll, and to renter and roll. For an expedition kayak, its relatively low back rest and rear deck made lay back rolls easy (though this is not a Greenland style roller!) Once up, it tended to settle in a very stable manner, quite unlike the Nordkapp LV, which usually required a quick brace to stop it going over on the other side again. I rolled the unloaded Cetus and GT, back to back multiple times. There was not a lot between them but when I got tired, I failed to roll the Cetus first. I think the very positive Rockpool thigh braces helped roll the GT. After a re-entry roll with a flooded cockpit, the Cetus proved to be more stable than the Quest, Menai 18 and GT.

Dimensions
Standard construction, weight: 28kg (the test kayak had the optional keel strip fitted), length: 543cm, breadth: 56.5cm, cockpit length: 80cm, breadth: 41cm, height at front: 31.5cm, rear of seat base to front of cockpit: 72cm. Price £2149 (keel strip extra).

Conclusion

After a thorough test, in a variety of challenging Scottish conditions, we found that the P&H Cetus is another significant step forward for British form sea kayaks. It is part of an outstanding family of kayaks that allow paddlers (of a wide range of sizes and abilities) to experience a versatile kayak that is stable, fast, manoeuvrable, comfortable and well built. The beauty of the Cetus family is that this performance applies to both loaded and unloaded use. I, like many of my enthusiastic sea kayaking friends, have ended up buying two kayaks; one for expeditions and one for day use. With the introduction of the Cetus family, this is now looking like an unnecessary luxury. Some 2009 kayaks have developed skeg problems but the way that P&H have responded and are supporting affected customers must give a great deal of confidence to potential buyers. Two of the four main testers in this report are now considering buying an appropriately sized Cetus and another would like to buy the Cetus LV, if she had enough money!

Conflict of interest statement
I had free use of a P&H Cetus while on long term loan from the factory. As I already own four very nice composite sea kayaks, P&H Quest, P&H Quest LV, Rockpool Alaw Bach and Nordkapp LV, I was not dependent on the loan Cetus to go sea kayaking. The loan Cetus has now been returned to the factory.

PS
Tony, one of the seakayak photo.com testers, has just sold his Quest and ordered a Cetus with dark blue metallic deck, white hull, black trim and custom bulkhead!!

35 comments:

  1. Great article I love these types of kayaks.How do you balance in them I spend more time in the water than in the yak.My sit on is stable for me.Would love to know how to balance.
    Look like fantastic places to paddle there !!I'm from australia..

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  2. Great review Douglas, makes me glad of my decision to go for the cetus.
    I must admit I only thought about changing my Quest after you gave me a shot in the cetus down at Ballantrae a few months ago- I had no idea what I was missing before then.
    I will be keeping my Alaw Bach as a day boat though.
    I did think that I would have prefered the rockpool GT as I loved the look (Grey/white deck), finish and seating position in the GT. But the Cetus wins on handling.

    I went for the blue deck with black trim. Looking forward to getting it on the water.Tony

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  3. Thanks Steve, paddling a kayak is actually easier than riding a bike, it just takes a couple of sessions and you are on your way. The Cetus is a very stable kayak but one that maintains speed and manoeuvrability.

    Hi Tony, I really liked my Alaw but sold it for an Alaw Bach, which fitted Alison and Jennifer better but was just a bit tight for me. Like you, I had hoped that the GT might be a bigger Alaw but it is a very different boat. I think the GT is the boat for just going somewhere but if you like stopping off and snooping into every cave and looking round every rock, in case you can get round the far side of it, then I think the Cetus is the one!

    I can't wait to get back out on the water!

    :o)

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  4. Hello Doug, great, helpful review thanks.

    Like Tony I love my Alaw Bach and am looking for something with a bit more room to partner it for camping trips. I demoed a GT at one of Kariteks demo days. It was a beautiful looking fast kayak but it just seemed dead in the water after my Bach! I had thought all expedition kayaks would feel like that, I tried an NDK the same day, but now I feel I should demo a Cetus.

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  5. Thanks Douglas, excellent thorough review as always. I wish all magazine reviews were like this.

    I realize this is not quite on topic, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on how the Cetus compares to the P&H Scorpio. I know they are designed as siblings in the product line, but I'm curious if you have any real world experience with the Cetus' plastic kin. Is it almost the same in performance? Differences?

    KP

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  6. Thank you both :o)

    KP I can't really comment, I did spend an afternoon with a Scorpio and a Cetus but the Scorpio had its seat fitted really high and I could hardly squeeze myself in. As a result it felt much more unstable than the Cetus. I understand that P&H are now fitting the seats in all their kayaks much lower. It would be worth your while to try and arrange a back to back demo.

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  7. Excellent write up Douglas, thank you. This might well be the boat to tempt me out of my plastic Capella!

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  8. Thanks Tom, I think you would be amazed by the difference between the Cetus and a poly Capella. Happy saving!!!

    :o)

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  9. Really interesting review Douglas.

    Would like to see a review/comparison of the NDK Pilgrim Expedition to the Valley Nordkapp LV.

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  10. Douglas, thank you for an honest review of the Cetus.
    It's refreshing that you did mention the problems that you experienced with the skeg and the broaching feeling that you had with following seas.
    While there are many magazines reviewing sea kayaks so often those reviews are so bias (reek of commission, paid advertising) that a reader really gets no valuable info.
    I see that you removed the seat and lowered it in the first Cetus... I tried to fit a "non modified" Cetus and could not squeeze into the cockpit (coz of my chunky legs).
    Thank you for mentioning the Rockpool GT being soft on the rear deck! I regard the GT very light in the lay-up and poorly finished.
    Again, thank you for a "real" review, not just some manufacturer pleasing blurb.

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  11. Thank you Anon! I would love to write up a test the Pilgrim Expedition but I have only paddled one for part of an afternoon at a demo day. As you will notice from the tests I have published in Ocean Paddler magazine and here, I only write about a kayak once I have spent some considerable time with it.

    Greetings Gnarly and thank you! Yes I have read those types of reviews as well. I think that P&H were very receptive to the points I raised and the Cetus now comes with the seat fitted much lower. The company were also very keen to learn what was causing the problem with the skeg and they sent me 3 different kayaks during the Cetus/Cetus LV test period then disassembled the skeg system to see where the problem lay.

    With regard to Rockpool, the Alaw/Alaw Bach day kayaks are made with a really thick strong layup. I was surprised how light the Menai 18 and GT were for their size. I guess it's horses for courses and Rockpool reckon that a camping kayak will have an easier time than a day kayak.

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  12. Great review Douglas. I have been paddling a Cetus for over 2 years now, just when they came out. The handling of the Cetus is supirior to many other kayaks, especially boats in that size. I have been using it for bigger expeditions and usually have enough space left to get some more kit from team members into my Cetus. The achilis is most certainly the skeg as the string gets stuck every now and again. But then I can fix the skeg in the field easily with just a few bits. I have had some trouble in the past fixing cables from a wire skeg.
    Sum it up I would buy a Cetus any time again or even the plastic version.

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  13. Thank you Andreas, I have only had the briefest of paddles in the plastic Scorpio but it felt very good.

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  14. Hi Douglas,

    Firstly, I'd like to say a big thanks to you for all the great writing (and photos) you do on sea kayaking both on your blog and in Oceam Paddler. Your reviews and articles are always very well written and the 'too late to call' one brought a lump to my throat - rare in a sea kayaking magazine..

    Secondly, I'd like to ask you about your recent review on the Cetus LV. The boat came out very well and I'm interested in how you think it compares to the Quest LV and Nordkapp LV which you'd also rated highly a few years back. I'm guessing that the Quest has now been superceded by the Cetus?

    I'm especially interested in your opinion of it versus the Nordkapp LV as I'm thinking of buying one. I currently own a Easky 15 LV which is narrow at 57cm but suits my light build (5' 9" but only 73 kgs). I'd tried an RM Nordkapp which I loved and a Scorpio which left me cold (strangely it ticked all the boxes of fast, stable and manouverable yet just didn't feel as much fun as the Nordkapp). Last week I had the chance to take a glass Nordkapp LV on a 3 hour tour and again loved it - yes, its slightly tippy but the speed, response and easy rolling put a huge smile on my face! So I'm thinking of getting one of these - possibly in carbon - and wondered whether you thought this is a suitable boat for an intermediate or whether the Cetus LV has now replaced the Nordkapp LV as your kayak of choice?

    Many Thanks,

    Mark.

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  15. Hello Mark and thank you for your kind words.

    First of all the Quest LV and the Cetus LV would make an ideal expedition kayak and day kayak for someone of your weight. They have slightly different handling characteristics as The Quest LV is less manoeuvrable but easier to paddle downwind in wind and waves than the Cetus LV which is much more manoeuvrable. At your weight the Cetus LV could be used for touring but I would recommend you got a custom bulkhead to give more space as it is the smallest kayak you mention (more volume is just to make it easier to pack, it wont increase the weight carrying capacity of the kayak).

    You might also consider the Cetus MV which might be a good compromise as a single do it all kayak though I have not yet paddled it.

    The Scorpio at your weight is a bit big for a day boat. I like the RM Norkapp very much, especially with the seat lowered. I am a lot heavier than you at about 90kg so I suspect you would find the Nordkapp RM a bit of a handful unloaded in a strong wind.

    The Cetus LV is a much smaller kayak than the Nordkapp LV so you should not really be comparing them on like for like use. The Nordkapp LV is 330l the Cetus LV is 292l so roughly has a 38kg less buoyancy which is more than half your body weight! If you were looking for an expedition kayak I would say go for the Nordkapp LV or test that together with the Cetus MV.

    The Nordkapp LV is not very stable at rest but is really controllable in rough water. The Cetus LV is much more stable at rest than a Nordkapp LV and this can be important for photos, fishing, phoning home etc. If your prime use is as a day boat with just a couple of camping trips per year I would say at your weight the Cetus LV would be better than the Nordkapp LV. Both are fast, Cetus LV is a little more manoeuvrable and at your weight Cetus LV is less affected by strong wind. I have no intention of selling my Nordkapp LV as a day boat, weekend camping boat but I am 90kg. For me the Cetus LV made a nice day boat but would be overloaded on a weekend trip.

    Hope that helps,
    :o)

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  16. i have been reading your blog, and respect your opinion and honest accounts of sea kayaking and the various elements of knowledge to go with this.

    i wish to purchase a kayak for very-long expeditions; that can cope with very rough conditions, as well as calm seas: mainly, directed around sea and ocean-crossings. although i am a beginner, i would prefer purchasing a kayak that will stay me throughout my life as a kayaker, thus; a steep learning curve and some scares during this curve are welcomed - in other words, i do not wish a kayak that is designed for ease of use/beginner's.

    my explorations of knowledge on the internet have put forward two options that look apt. these are the p&h cetus[normal size]and the valley seas nordkapp{normal size}, i have hit something of a wall; in judgig where to buy one of these kayaks, once i have made my decision. would you be able to lend some of your experience, and that of those around you into my decision-making? also, could you take the time to consider my thoughts and point out your gut feelings in regards to evaluation?
    i am 5' 11 and a half'' and weigh between 77-88kg, aged 23 and in good shape. spanish inquisition? haha : ]

    kind regards, and thank you for your epic blog, martin beards

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  17. Hello Martin, thank you for your kind words, I have posted a fuller reply on your facebook page but in summary I think the Cetus would be better for you as both a kayak to learn in and to grow into. The Nordkapp is a great expedition kayak but I think it would be more of a handful to learn in when unloaded in windy or bumpy conditions.

    :o)

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  18. Hi Douglas, I am a former dighy racer and have a Capella 166 RM which I have fitted a Flat Earth sail. I have enjoyed kayak sailing very much. I am thinking of selling the Capella to by a Cetus and wondered what you thought of the Cetus as a sailing platform? I have demoed a Cetus and liked how stable and manouverableit was despite my weight of 90kg but I did notice it broaching with the wind and waves from behind. Would this make it difficullt to use with a sail? I noticed your review of the Valley Etain, would it be better for sailing? Thanks Johnny.

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  19. Hello Johhny, I have not tried the Cetus with a sail. However I think it would make a great platform for sailing. I say this for three reasons. Firstly the Cetus is a very stable platform. Secondly it is probably the most manoeuvrable big kayak on the market so you will be able to sail on a wave and edge at the same time to make small adjustments to your direction. Thirdly, manoeuvrable kayaks do have a tendency to broach, it is a trade off. My Nordkapp LV broaches more easily than my Quest LV but I have noticed that with the sail up, the tendency to broach is much reduced. I expect the Cetus with a sail will be the same. For 2011, the Cetus has now been fine tuned as the Cetus HV. I have not paddled it but I think the seat has been moved back a little, which will reduce the tendency to broach anyway.
    I have only paddled the Etain one day on flat water but yes I think it too would sail well. I think what makes a kayak good to sail is how responsive it is to its skeg in a wind and both the Cetus and Etain respond well to the skeg.

    With respect to which would suit you best, you will need to try each and judge for yourself but the Etain and the Cetus are very different kayaks. The Etain is a big expedition style kayak and as such would be a perfect partner to my Nordkapp LV which I use as a day kayak. I note you are considering selling your Capella and so assume you will only have one kayak to use as both a day and expedition kayak. If this is the case, I think you might prefer the Cetus due to its greater manoeuvrability than the Etain. My friend Tony bought a Cetus as an expedition kayak to partner his Rockpool Alaw Bach as a day kayak. The last few times we have been out on day paddles he has brought his Cetus!
    Have fun choosing, paddling and sailing!

    :o)

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  20. Have you tested the Impex force line.....Cat 3-4 & 5 ?????

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    1. Hello Paul no I have not tested any Impex kayaks I have heard good things about them but they are not available here. Just looking at their spec and design on paper they are quite different to the Cetus line so if you are considering Impex Force Line or Cetus I would make sure you spend as much time as you can in each before buying.

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  21. Thanks for posting,
    very, very helpful for me. Gaby

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  22. I currently have an Impex cat-4 and was hoping to hear your opinion on this line of sea kayaks. Maybe in time you will have the opportunity.
    Thanks so much for the excellent reviews.

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    1. Hello Anon, as I mentioned above, I have not tried any Impex kayaks as they do not have a UK importer. I have owned/tried a wide variety of other kayaks and I think the Cetus line are among the best. The Cetus MV is my current favourite kayak and is the only one I would consider swapping my Nordkapp LV for. (It is very different to the Nordkapp, however.)

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  23. Thanks Douglas
    I just picked up a Valley Aquanaut LV for my wife, looking at the quality of the glass work on the Valley; it put my Impex to sham. I’m thinking of getting a new kayak? I’m looking at the Aquanaut or the Cetus/Cetus MV I’m 190lbs and am looking for a kayak that I can use as a day boat or for a week long camping. Are the characteristics of these kayaks similar or quite different???
    Paul

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    1. Hello Paul, I have always had a soft spot for the Aquanaut especially in surf. It was a toss up between the Aquanaut and the Nordkapp LV but eventually I bought the Nordkapp LV.

      With regard to the Cetus/ Cetus MV. I am 200lbs and have been using a Cetus MV for day and camping trips. The more I use it the more I like it. I suggest you try the Cetus MV. The Cetus MV is the first kayak I have tried that I would consider swapping my Nordkapp LV for.

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  24. Thanks again Douglas,
    for taking the time to respond.
    Your opinion is much appreciated.
    I look forward to test paddling the Cetus MV.
    Thanks Paul.

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    1. Thank you Paul, I wish you well in choosing your new kayak.

      :o)

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  25. Douglas...I finally found a used (2010 bought in 2011) P&H Cetus MV This is the nicest Kayak I have ever paddled. Thanks so much for suggesting the MV
    Paul

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  26. Hi! This is an amazingly thorough blog post, really great! I've recently tried Kayaking myself, and I'm hooked! I loved all your reviews, as I'm not quite sure which Kayak to buy (or if I should just keep renting)? I was browsing online, and found this cool new website doing market analysis and price reports on used goods online, and they had a blog post http://www.statricks.com/blog/renting-vs-buying-what-makes-the-most-sense-part-1.html about renting vs buying kayaks. This post had a lot of great tips for a new beginner enthusiast like myself, and I also signed up on their site so I can use it to check prices and compare sellers (or to new products). I’m planning on a kayaking trip to Gold Lake, Graeagle CA later this summer with friends who’s been “kayakers” for many years, and the blog post I’m referring to gave me some good pointers on how to finally make a good deal on my kayak.

    Hope this can be useful for others!

    Cheers!

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  27. Douglas,
    I am considering purchasing both the Cetus LV and another. The LV for the Mrs. and the H or MV for myself. How does the Cetus compare to the early model Orion which is one of my current boats?

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    1. Hello Don, a friend has an Orion and you will find the Cetus like chalk and cheese in comparison. I think the MV is a cracking kayak and if you fit it I would go for it. Perhaps order it with a custom bulkhead to give yourself a bit more space for camping.

      I am 200lbs and prefer the MV to the HV.

      :o)

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  28. Hi Douglas
    First very nice and thorough review :-)
    I've fallen for the Cetus, but have a hard time deciding between the MV and HV, my weight is normally between 91-97kg, and primary use will be a day kayak, but with the ability to go on a week trip once in a while.
    What would you suggest ?
    Geir / Norway

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    1. Hi Geir, sorry for delayin replying. I am your wight so the Cetus MV would be fine but if you have long legs and big feet you may find the MV's sloping foredeck does not give enough room for your feet in which case the HV would be the one. A friend who is only 75kg is quite happy paddling the HV as a day boat. I hope that helps. :o)

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