A Tempest, a Cetus, and a Capella!

Wow – I went to Canoecopia in Madison WI last weekend – what a great show. As usual, Rutabaga did a spectacular job with the show! I went with the sole intent of sitting in about 6 boats to do narrowing of the field by dry land fitting. Well, the boats I thought would come out on top came out on the bottom and the boats I thought I would be simply ruling out and crossing off the list seemed to fit the best.

I have pared my choices down to two, possibly three boats and have the intent of test paddling them as soon as I can, but thought some of you may have experience or comments that may be helpful to me, as you usually do.

A little about me – 5’-8”, about 170#, muscular thighs, paddle a Prijon Seayak for the last couple of years and had a glass Prijon Seagull prior to that. I am looking for one glass boat to do it all. Realistically, 98% of my paddling is day paddles in the Milwaukee area, larger lakes, Lake Michigan, Fox River, etc. I would like to be able to stretch this boat to do a weekend or long weekend trip, which shouldn’t be a problem, because I am a lightweight backpacker, so have small light gear and a minimalist logic.

On to the boats! I stopped at the Wilderness Systems booth and ended up talking to Flatpick’s wife, who was EXTREMELY helpful and had insight into what I was coming from as she paddled a Seayak for a couple years. I sat in the new Zephyr Pro 16.0 – great fit, but ruled it out as less universal than the Tempest. Sat in the Tempest 17.0 Pro and fell in love with the adjustability and comfort of the cockpit, the low rear deck, and the height in the foot area that would allow winter footwear. I like the fact that it seems to do it all – track well and fast, maneuver when on edge, and it a boat I can grow with. My concerns would be QC of the new boats coming out of the new factory in China. I would pursue looking for a couple year old used model, but know that WS has recently addressed leaky hatch covers (changed supplier) and it seems like the seat system is a little more refined in the current models than in say a 2004.

The other boats that I fit really well in were both by P&H. One was the standard volume Cetus and the other was the Capella 163. I liked both. The Cetus may be a bit more new and more difficult to find demo’d, discounted, or used. It is longer than I think I was looking for, but understand that it turns well and tracks well, so maybe that is not as much of an issue as I think. I heard that a guy that has both a Romany and a Cetus claims it turns as well as the Romany.

The Capella 163 fit well, I think it has a little less room in the cockpit than the Tempest. That concerns me a little in that I like to paddle into December, with a drysuit and fleece pants, but I think it would still be do-able. I think there is a little less room in the foot box of the Capella than the Tempest. I like the look and the lines of the Capella. That is a sexy boat. There is a demo for sale for $2100 that has my interest piqued. I like the idea that the P&H isn’t as ‘mass-produced’ as the tempest if that makes any sense.

The more and more I think of the Tempest fitting the more I like it. If I could just find a newish boat only a couple years old for $2500 or less!

With all that being said, does anyone have any comments or thoughts on the choice between these boats?

Did you
take a look at the Cetus MV (medium volume)? I’m roughly the same weight and I paddle a Capella 163. Absolutely love the boat. Then when the Cetus was released, I was truly impressed with the design but it was a tad large for me.

That was until the release of both the LV and MV versions. My wife just received her custom LV and loves it. She paddled a LV most of the season last year and wanted a boat that would maneuver well for playboating and teaching. She found the hull design of the Cetus would offer her the same handling and even allow her comparable loading/gear storage as her P&H Sirius she’s been paddling on trips the last 4 years. We also found the Cetus LV to be just as maneuverable as the Capella’s 161/163 and Romany. I will be test paddling the Cetus MV very soon.

I think P&H really nailed the design with offering the LV and MV versions. The fourth hatch is very cool and the new P&H skeg system is hard to beat.



Cetus MV

I did try the Cetus LV and the MV. I was at the upper end of the LV and the P&H rep said that at my weight, the boat would sit lower and track more and lose the maneuverability aspect. He thought the MV for me would keep both traits. It is great to hear you say that you think it is as maneuverability as a Romany. It almost seems too good to be true to have all the traits that the Cetus does. It is a gorgeous boat as well!!



I’d say…
Tempest. :wink: It fits and it paddles well! BUT…you need to make that decision.

Cindy says HI and good luck in deciding!


I’d say I’m a tad biased toward P&H…! :wink:


Tempest, Cetus and Capella
All great boats and I suspect that you would be pleased with either of them. You state that you will be paddling in lakes mostly.

I owned one of the first Tempests available and it really changed my thinking on what a kayak can be. It was designed to be neutral on the water(what I like to call a stupid boat) as it does not do anything until I tell it to. This is a huge benefit in wind,waves and textured water. I have never owned either a Cetus or Capella, but have paddled both and would not hesitate to take them anywhere I want to go.

For me the decision would come do to fit. Best of luck to you in your decision process.

Tempest 165?
Did you try the 165? I’m 6’ tall and 180 pounds, and I find the 170 to be a little big for my liking, and not as responsive as the 165. I much prefer the 165, even though it’s a bit of a squeeze for me. I’d guess it might fit you nicely. Give it a try.

Tempest 165

– Last Updated: Mar-20-10 4:59 AM EST –

Don't get the 170. Seriously... you can modify that 165 seat and move it back 2 inches. It makes a big difference. Take out the hip pads if you need to. I'm a pretty serious road cyclist... all leg and no torso so I understand about fit.

Tempest 165
No way my thighs fit in the 165. It is crazy. Based on just my height and weight, I should be able to fit in a lot of things, but cannot. For example, I cannot even get my thighs under the hooks in a standard volume Romany!

try them all out on the water
Those three boats vary enough in handling that narrowing choices down by dry land sitting is just as likely to eliminate boats that handle the way you prefer on the water.

Seriously consider Kudzus recomendation if that’s possible with a glass boat. Just out of curiosity is your intention to try new boats then look for a used one?

It’s obvious
All are good boats, try on the water before you buy, it’s the paddler not the boat, blah, blah, blah.

Let me make it easy for you: You long for the Tempest. It makes you smile and you won’t go wrong with it. Go out and buy a new one because you will have it for a long time and your wallet has a short memory for pain.

Case closed.

Canoecopia - P&H Aries???
I was wondering if anyone at Canoecopia saw the new P&H Aries? Rutabaga pictured it in their newsletter hinting that it might be there. Thanks

I would be sure to paddle anything you
might buy before you buy it. A real paddle in less than placid conditions. If you paddle the Cetus in rear quartering wind and waves, and give it a surf or two, and like it…BUY IT. Buy it because besides thesee two things it does everything else really well. The knee tube takes up some of your foot room, so if you have bigger feet you will have to go minimal on the foot wear. The new Cetus has a stiffer skeg than the one that caused me to bring up these issues. I still own my Cetus and will give it another chance after some seat mods and a new skeg. I would also remove the seat bottom pad as it lowers your COG and facilitates rotation. I paddled the Capella before I bought the Cetus and did not find it nearly as interesting. I have never looked at a Tempest, but they get rave reviews on this forum (I do not like the mfg move to China). Delay your purchase until you have paddled in wind and waves, your harbor cruiser can turn into a real POS once beyond the breakwall. Bill

Just curious…
What is causing your skeg to be stiff?

Reason I ask is because a lot of people don’t understand the operation fully. They attempt to pinch the slider release to move the skeg up and down, when all you have to do is push the skeg slider forward, releasing the lock and allowing you to deploy the skeg to whatever setting.

You can also adjust the tension on the skeg with the Cetus very easily at the skeg box by adjusting the barrel adjustment on the bungee cord.

And the P&H Aries was not at Canoecopia.



Damon, when I refer to a stiffer skeg
I mean the material used in it and not its operation. P&H changed the skeg material to one with less flex after owners complained of poor offwind and offwave performance. The old skeg would flex and allow the boat to lose its tracking requiring more corrective strokes and or broaching issues. At my size, the moment exerted on the skeg is even greater. I moved my seat forward to provide more clearance from the rear of the coaming on laybacks. This change adversely effected the tracking of the boat and needs to be reversed. I have every expectation that the Cetus will be for me the winner it is for everyone else once these two changes are made.

How is your knee? hope you are well and back on the water soon. Bill

Didn’t know that was you!

My knee is about the same. Amazing how long the pain lasts!

Met with surgeon yesterday and he said I should be ok for spring ww season by late april, so I shouldn’t miss that much.

Talk to you soon.