advice on current designs models

-- Last Updated: Feb-15-04 12:05 PM EST --

As spring comes near, I am looking to buy a new kayak from current designs. I have read quite a bit of reviews and have come down to two choices. The solstice gts and the andromeda. Im aware a test ride of the two would determine whats best,but I am curious to experienced paddelers suggestions. I myself have a sea eagle 330 and have had it on ponds,lakes with 3-5 ft. swells and class 3 rivers and am looking to upgrade. Like most people, I want speed,tracking and good turning. I will use my new purchase on any water i can find but am looking aggressive water play with big waves. Any advice would greatly be appreciated. I also would like some input on skegs vs. rudders. By the way, I am 5'11" , 205lbs.

make sure you
paddle before you buy. You will find the andromeda somewhat tippy I bet. It is not that easy to turn either.

If someone told me they would give me a CD boat I’d want a Caribou, but that is just me.

on the Caribou-reasonably fast, lively, and a sheer joy to paddle-turns well. If you want tracking-the Solstice boats track like freight trains.

and third
I paddled the Andromeda and Caribou back-to-back at a demo session, and found the same as Peter_K.

The Caribou was a joy.

Many different CD models
I have a friend with a Caribou and he loves it. He also has a Storm which is like a Solstice. They are very different from each other in volume and characteristics. I would also suggest trying out a Gulfstream which is bigger than the Andromeda, but a British style boat with a skeg. The Solstice is a rudder boat of greater volume.

Give each choice a good amount of paddling time. You don’t discover the personality of a boat in a 10 minute paddle.

Enjoy the journey

Really liked the Caribou - and we’re same weight.

Only had one out for about 1/2 hour on calm waters though, but the way it leaned and was so steady I’m sure it would be fine in rougher stuff.

'bou might be my boat if I hadn’t gone QCC. My QCC Q700XL is the only thing I’ve paddled in similar size rnge that felt as secure as the Caribou. Q700 is 3/4" narrower, only 2" longer, and considerably faster. Also has slightly lower deck height.

Both are very well made.

QCC has a fantastic 30 day return policy (any reason) at their expense. You could get one (custom made), and if not “all that” return and get the Caribou (or other CD). Can’t do that with anyone else I’m aware of.

CD Kayaks
I’ve paddled the Solstice and the Caribou. the Caribou I LOVED! The Solstice? Well…not for me. Felt pretty slugish and unresponsive. The Andromeda would be interesting too I think although it is likely on the tippier side as are many of the Hutchinson Designs. Likely a nice boat though.

Try a Caribou, it is really nice!

Cheers…Joe O’

Big Difference b/t Solstice & GTS
The Solstice and the Solstice GTS are different boats.

GTS is very fast.

agressive water play, big waves??
are you sure you’re looking for a “sea kayak”?

You might be snug in the Caribou but I’d pick it over the other two. The Solstice is oriented towards comfort but it’s not exactly the best design for conflicted waves as the relatively high primary stability and thin ends make for abrupt changes in support, on the other hand the bow of the caribou will bury a bit in waves.

I suppose the Andromeda would be the “best” in waves but it’s not a quick boat and on flat water its hull shape isn’t optimum.

Isn’t 205 lbs pushing it for the GTS?
I paddle the plastic analog of the GTS (a Squall–which is not identical to the GTS but CD says it’s similar), and I can’t imagine a 205-lber finding it comfortable. It’s too big on me (but very stable, both primary and secondary) but my 180-lb friend who tried it had to shoehorn himself in. Two friends (150 lbs and 160 lbs) call it “tippy” though they find the Storm (analogous to the Solstice) very stable. Both Squall and Storm track well and have good speed but are not fast turners.

My limited impressions -
Based on a demo day last september, when I paddled a CD Phoenix, Carribou, and Andromeda a number of times. This was on flatwater, and my kayaking experience consisted of two other demo days the previous week, a two hour course and a two hour rental 7 years ago.

Although none of these boats were very wide, I did not feel especially insecure in them, although it would take some hours in the boat to feel OK in waves, I’m sure. All of them were pretty fast compared to the other boats I had demoed. I liked the caribou a lot, but on flatwater, I thought it may have worked better for someone lighter than myself at 210 lbs. It throws a bit of a curl in the bow wave at speed, I don’t know if it is supposed to do that with the proper weight paddler or not. Probably doesn’t make any difference in waves, but it seems to me that it slows it down a bit.

The Andromeda, I liked better than anything else I had tried, except maybe the Chatham 18 prototype I paddled the previous week. I found the Andromeda to be no harder to turn than the others (I was learning to edge a kayak that day) but easier to paddle, and faster.

Solstice GT
I love it on big lakes, where I don’t need to make quick turns but appreciate the tracking, as there is always a wind. I don’t think it is the right boat for class III whitewater though!!

A suggestion
The andromeda in my opinion is a second best substitute for the P&H sirius. I would think about paddling one and looking at the differences in quality & layup before buying an andromeda. The P&H feels faster, more responsive than the andromeda. But that could be my perception. The sirius does have a nicer seat, glassed in bulkheads, and P&H attention to detail, all fittings are glassed inside and out. Essentially a really really nice andromeda for the same price. I think there are a few used ones around too!

If you are looking for a boat in the 17’ 20.5" beam range there are lots of boats to choose from too.

VCP nordkapp( new one is really nice) or an Aquanaut:

Eddyline Falcon S18

Betsie Bay valkyrie

Impex Currituck: this one is really nice, and very affordable too!

My personal opinion of current designs is that they have some ok designs and ok manufacturing, but nothing really exciting.

The caribou is ok, but if you were going to go for something traditional and give up a day hatch why not a betsie bay? Otherwise a hard chined anas acuta, or a foster boat could be fun too.

I agree
if you want an Andromeda check out the P&H Sirius better all around imho. The andromeda is a copy of the Sirius try to test paddle one.

Always a matter of personal preference
I tried many of the CDs, and some others. The Caribou was my choice for good speed and the ability to really carve on a lean. But, it depends on your style.

Class III rivers?
Class III is nothing to mess with. I would never go down class III in anything but a true white water boat. You are asking for disaster otherwise. Class III can include serious stuff like undercuts and sticky holes and fast water and pinning rocks. Maybe that was a typo?

Paddling an inflatable like the Sea Eagle 330 on whitewater is not anything like paddling a hardshelled kayak on the same water.

Yes I agree
Class 3 in a sea kayak is pretty nuts. Even in a pintail!