2 kayaks I may buy

I have an opportunity to buy 2 kayaks to get into the hands of 2 more friends here in Wyoming, but details are a bit sparse. Anyone out there own or have knowledge of either one (or both) of these?

#1 is a P&H Capella 17 foot and the other is a Perception Chinook 16-1/2 foot.

Both are discontinued and I am wondering about what size paddlers each is made for.

So…what can you all tell me?

Avoid the Chinook…those were tolerable in 1980s (when that was about the only kayak easily available), but too many other good kayaks have been made since that era. There were upgraded features such as bulkheads on some later models, however lots of lesser known kayaks perform better, are safer, and are easier to paddle.

Is the Capella a rotomold or composite? I loved my Capella 160 RM (wish I had never sold it) and never got comfortable paddling the 166 RM (which actually fit me better). I have not paddled the fiberglass models.

The P&H is a roto-molded one. It’s an older model with the square hatch covers. Called the 166 so it’s like your old one.
I am wondering about the size paddler it will fit. 2 friends of mine are wanting me to find touring kayaks for them (I do the leg work for them because their jobs prevent them from doing it themselves)
Clay is 6 feet tall and 180 pounds
Rich is 5’ 8" and 155.

One thought I had was that if either didn’t fit those kayaks I was wondering if I would.

I am only 5’ 6" tall but I am 187 pounds. Thick thighs but most of my bulk is upper body, so I can sometimes fit kayaks made for “smaller paddlers” pretty well. If my thighs will fit and I can get along well with the Capella, I may sell my Sea Lion Shadow to Clay or to Rich and keep the P&H. Both of them have paddles my Sea Lion and both likes it a lot.

But I am pretty much blind to both Kayaks. I have not seen either one and have not found much written on them, especially about what size paddler they fit.

Some kayaks made for “small paddler” are for light and thin paddlers Others are simply made for short legs and small back sides.
My backside is not larger or small Kind-da mid size. 34" waist. But I have a 47" chest so I am not “small” or skinny but the part that has the bulk is on the outside of the kayak so some of those I have bought and resold were said to be for small paddlers but I fit them ok.

Because I am not well versed on all the details and the differences, I worry about a 7 to 14 hour round trip only to find I or my friend could not fit it

Many on this site have learned and forgotten more about different kayaks then I’ll likely every know, so I think it’s wise to simply ask.,

Beware he older Capella with the square hatch covers UNLESS you can find a source for new square hatch covers. They may exist, however I’ve never found one.

Thanks Hank.
Yes, I found a page that recommends against this old style. It’s a well known fact that you can’t buy a new one. I had an idea however. I am unsure it it had merit yet.
I can make a fiberglass cover myself and if I can find a good source of some kind of rubber to make a gasket from I could make a hatch cover that I hope is better then what P&H made from the kayak when I was new. I much prefer the newer “tupperware” style, but a cover with weather strips as a gasket was a common way of making hatches for many years.

I am well able to do good quality fabrication, but my weak spot is access to supplies because I don’t know where to start looking. I am not someone with years of building experience in boat building and associated work.

The ridged hatch cover is easily made if you don’t get in a huge hurry.

Forming a lip that surrounds the rim of the compartment opening is easy to do with steamed wood and fiberglass stripping. Then I can make a form (mold) over it’s top with aluminum sheeting. I’d laminate it up with glass cloth until it was about 1/8’ thick and then remove the
aluminum. When done I join it to the rim made earlier and I have a dish shaped cover that fits the contour perfectly. Install pressure cleats, sand and smooth it up and it’s ready for paint.
HOWEVER before finish time I need to install a bead or sheet of some kind of rubbery seal to make it water tight. I was thinking about automotive weather stripping, or even a tick ribbon of rubber like what is used on tire innertubes. If I find something that is workable and long lasting I can glue it into the inside rim and then glue it in. some low cleats to give pressure point around the edges of the lid when strapped down are made on the top around the edging so the straps press down the seal to the top edge of the hatch rims. Last I’d install the strap-eyes on the deck and the straps and buckles. When done I can have a set of covers that are made in the same way you make covers for strip built wood kayaks. Easy, but time consuming.

It’s all in the “thinking stage” now however.

The kayak would need to be priced at a point I can justify the expenditure of the time to up-grade it. If I can get it for $250 or so I may go ahead. From what I have been able to gather, the kayak itself was well reviewed. It’s bad point is simply the lack of good replacement hatch covers.

Your thoughts?

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I believe P&H had put out a notice a couple of years ago about the older plastic Capellas with square hatches - that the hatches were no longer available and that the boats should not be put to strenuous use because of the age of the plastic. Otherwise the Capella is a great boat, but buyer beware on the older ones.

That’s not good news.

You have the technical skills to fabricate something that might work as a replacement hatch cover, however I would recommend spending your time and effort finding a used kayak that can still be supported (or at least recently supported with some access to replacement hatches/parts.)

PS - Over the years I have bought a couple “good deal” kayaks that I knew were out of production and before buying them, I sourced availability of odd size/shape replacement hatch covers. Then the same day that I bought those odd ball kayaks, I ordered the spare hatches so that I could resell a useable kayak at a later date.

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I have been mulling this over and I am leaning towards agreeing with you Hank.
I am quite busy in my shop and I have about 3 years of back log. So yes, I can make new hatch covers and I think I can make them better then the new ones, but at the expense of time which I actually owe to people.
So I may pass on this kayak unless I can get it so cheap that I don’t mind setting it aside for a few years to wait it’s turn for some of my time, (after the customers are satisficed and no longer waiting on me to do the work for them.)

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I briefly had a very old Chinook, back when Perception was selling their touring kayaks (as opposed to their whitewater boats) under the Aquaterra brand. I did learn that the model was designed to be a “big guy” boat. Perception has deep archives of their old catalogs which I have bookmarked and I’ll see if I can find a spec page for it for you. The one I got (for $75 from somebody who found it under the deck of a trailer they were renting) was in rough shape with oilcanning and had no stern bulkhead, but another p-commer generously sent me a bulkhead for that model that he had on hand but no use for and wedging that inside popped most of the dent out. It was way too big for me (5’ 5" 145 # then) or my partner at the time (5’ 8", 180 #) but we kept it in his barn as a loaner and found it was okay for paddlers over 6’ and 200#. Can’t say how it performed since I never paddled it myself nor queried the friends who borrowed it. Since it had a rather impressive home-made rudder system retrofit (with stainless steel pedals and blade) I presume an earlier owner felt it needed that. I briefly owned another Aquaterra of that vintage (Scimitar) and it weathercocked terribly without the rudder.

Topkayaker often has pretty good stock in vintage Perception parts – I snagged a pair of unique inner hatch caps for the 2004 Avatar barn rescue I picked up two summers ago from them. Since they only made that model for 2 years, finding those caps was pretty remarkable. They keep good stock records on their website so if you can get the serial number off the seller of the Capella you might be able to see if hatch replacements are reasonable obtainium. I’m presently dealing with sketchy vintage square hard caps on another barn rescue, a well-worn 18’ Northwest Discover that was retired from a Puget Sound outfitter’s fleet, so I’d suggest caution if there are not replacement options.

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Links to first Perception catalog to list the Chinook under that brand (it was in the Aquaterra line in the earlier catalogs). Since the Chinook you are looking at is branded Perception, this 1996 catalog has the specs on it, which means that one you are considering does have dual bulkheads, But you can see what a freighter it is, with over 10,000 cubic inches of cargo volume. I think it was the largest volume solo SINK Perception made.

There are a few forum strings on the model if you use the “search” field where owners weigh in on the boat.


Thank you Willowliaf.
Yup, that’s the one.
Hank doesn’t recommend it, but for a cargo freighter and for camping trips that capacity may be handy.
My guess is that it may seem a bit sluggish once someone is used to a longer slimmer kayak, but for Clay who is more interested in camping and multiday trips, maybe it would be worth a 2nd look.

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