Avocet, Capella, Romany

Hi folks,

First post, I’m new to kayaking but have been around and in boats, canoes and water for most of my life. I’ve got it bad and want to get my own kayak! I live in central Canada (Sask) a bit south of the shield. There are several lifetimes of beautiful paddling near by. Kayak wise it’s a different story, local dealers are into rec boats and rudders.

I’ve paddled;

WS Sea II (solo)

CD Kestrel 140 (huge cockpit, slug like, not for me)

Necky Manitou 14 (ok little boat, feet don’t fit)

Delta 15.5 (ok fit once in, doesn’t track well in tail and quartering seas and winds. I didn’t use the rudder)

CD Storm GT (nice fit, edges well, best speed and glide of the group, good into wind and waves not so good the other way.)

I didn’t find any of these at all tender or tippy.

I’m 6’1", 165 lbs, size 10 shoe, 34" inseam.

I’m looking for a great all round boat. Mostly day/weekend touring on large lakes and skill development. Currently three boats on the short list. VCP Avocet RM, P&H Capella RM and the NDK Romany S RM. I expect these are all great boats so what’s the problem? They are far away, I’d probably have to spend near half the cost of any one to actually paddle it.

NDK’s quality control makes me nervous with no local support. I found all kinds of accolades for the Romany but little on the RM. It’s interesting the Atlantic Kayak Tours sells all three brands but don’t carry or mention the Romany RM. Comox Valley Kayak’s promised but didn’t return my call about a Romany RM they have in stock. Third Place!

Avocet hatches and deck rigging best the Capella. Seems to be a very high quality plastic boat, perhaps second only to the Capella in that regard. Cockpit at 29.5" long is just long enough for butt first entry.

The Capella RM is apparently the finest plastic hull made. Rear deck rigging is poor. From photo’s it appears to have less rocker then the Avocet FWIW. Cockpit opening is 1" longer. They have the closest dealer, MEC, a good company.

Price wise not enough difference to matter at all.

Finally my questions :slight_smile:

Given my size and stated goals am I looking at the right group of boats?

Which has the most foot room?

Any comments on differences between these boats that are apparent from actually paddling them?

Any thing I missed that I should consider?

apparently the finest plastic hull made
Many award that accolade to Valley, though I don’t know that there is any real quality difference between Valley and P&H poly boats :wink:

You are the target size paddler for most sea kayaks. Both the Avocet and the Capella are good boats with many partisans.

The RM Romany is based on the Romany Surf and there have been some issues noted here about its quality of manufacture.

More paddlers I know use poly Avocets than any other plastic boat. It is a well liked boat.

"Any thing I missed that I should

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 5:27 PM EST –


Yes, the P&H Scorpio or Scorpio LV, which ever fits you best.

I happen to own an Avocet RM, but the new P&H Scorpio will give it a run for the money.


– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 8:05 AM EST –

Which Capella are you considering? I like the 161 the best of the lot, it has a nicely tweaked hull, but I am 5'4" and suspect you are thinking about one of the others like the 173.

Are you more interested in going-straight-fast or will you want to mess around in surf, or try some Greenland stuff? Some of the boats you mention may be better at parts of that.

Original poster

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 7:45 PM EST –

I own the Avocet RM 2006, and Nordkapp RM 2007.

I am 5 foot 8.5467 inches, and 165 lbs. I personally think you are a tad tall for the Avocet.

Please read my Paddling Net reviews of both the Avocet RM and the Nordkapp RM in the reviews section. I tried hard to give accurate descriptons of both.

No experience with P and H, and would never buy NDK for the reason you have cited.

G'luck, friend. cooldoctor1

more …
Thanks for your comments!

wilsoj2, excellent to learn the VCP and P&H RMs are equals in manufacturing quality and that fit wise I’m good to go. That’s a big help! I’m going to scratch the Romany RM.

tvcrider, I’ve looked at the Scorpio and Scorpio LV as well as the Aquanaut RM. My concern given the conditions I face, steep faced short period waves is that the extra length might be a liability? This is probably the heart of my problem, picking the right balance of tracking and maneuverability without paddling the boat. My home lake can kick up six footers anywhere on the lake and 8 to 10 footers near one peninsula. Can you tell me more about on the differences between the Avocet and Scorpio?

Celia, I’m looking at the Capella 160 or 166 RM. Going fast straight is not my prime goal. I want this boat to do light touring, play in the rough stuff and award my ever increasing skills. ;^) I want a boat that is maneuverable but tracks well in following/quartering seas. I won’t rest until I can roll the boat pretty consistently. I’m thinking that if capsizing is a big deal all skills will suffer due to lack of commitment.

How about this, if you were blindfold in a Avocet RM or Capella 160 RM could you tell the difference and if so how?

Avocet RM vs Capella 160 RM vs Scorpio

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 11:19 AM EST –

You really need to get in these boats and give them a spin. You have about 10 pounds in weight and 4 inches in height on me. Personally I swim in the cockpit of both the Capella 160 and 166 RM. They are just to darn big on me. I am not sure why P&H ever billed the 160 RM as being for a 'smaller' paddler, it ain't!

In choosing between the Avocet RM and the Scorpio (the LV happens to work for me) it comes down to usage. If the Scorpio LV had been available last year I would probably now own one. When shopping for a new boat in 2007 I found that Avocet RM filled my needs at the time and I don't regret the purchase. It is great for teaching, rock gardening and shorter day trips.

Simply put, after a recent multi-day demo in the Scorpio LV I feel that it is a better 'all-round' kayak than the Avocet RM, but YMMV.

Eddyline has several kayaks which fit you requirements. Great quality, and service.

which boat??
As far as which boat, I can only give advise on the one I own, the plastic Capella. Mine is an older version of the ones being produced today. Mine has the square-ish rubber hatches instead of the round-ish ones. Quality wise, my boat is in fantastic shape. No sharp edges inside, no leaks from the hatches. This was my first boat, bought used and it has been an excellent boat to learn with. Two summers ago a friend that owns a FG Capella wanted to try mine out to see how they compared. He’s about your size, pretty tall and skinny!!! He had no problems rolling and tracking and returned the boat to me and said it was “quite nice”. This year I had to replace the hatch covers, they dry rotted. No problems have occured with the skeg or cable. I paddle in rivers w/current and intercoastal waterway, sometimes using a skirt. I’ve found this boat to be very stable but also easy to roll over if you wanted to. Plastic has held up very well considering I’ve scraped over plenty of “things” in the water that I couldn’t see. Water here is tanin colored. My capella is actually to big for me but still a great boat for me to paddle.

Valley & P&H
I do not have experience with the Avocet RM, but I own a Valley Aquanaut LV RM and my wife owns a Capella 160 RM. I would expect the Aquanaut LV RM to have similar build characteristics to the Avocet. Between the Aquanaut LV RM and the Capella 160 RM, they are both excellent boats, and will likely come down to your personal preference. The cockpit is larger on the Capella than on the Aquanaut. I personally prefer Valley’s plastic to P&H - I think it is stiffer, but the Capella seems lighter than the Aquanaut LV. Valley hatches are better hands down. The Capella seems to weathercock more than the Aquanaut, but is easily corrected by deploying the skeg.

Again, it will probably come down to personal preference. I preferred the Valley, and my wife preferred the P&H. Either way they are both excellent boats and are considered among the best for poly boats.

Between Avocet and Capella

– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 9:00 AM EST –

Yeah, I think I could as long as knew one of them was a Capella 161 (composite, closest to the 160). I find the regular RM Avocet to have a very characteristic response to waves and to feel and inch too wide on each side of my hips with a really froggy leg position. The Capella 161 has a straighter and more erect run to the thigh braces, is also quicker to accelerate. But I am 5'4" - I doubt my experience in these boats matches yours.

What manufacture of boat is available to you with local dealer support? Usually the WS Tempest series comes up on lists like this.

Also, have you considered the Chatham series by Necky, either the more playful Chatham 16 or the expedition all-around Chatham 17? These are different but quite good boats.

was about plastic versions of both Avocet and Capella.

OP is also 6.1@160, not 5.4@130 or so. To remind you, plastic Capella comes is 160 and 166.

I am 5.9@150 and paddle Avocet RM. I like looseness of the cockpit. Then, again, I find Capella 160 too confining; and really hate PH seat. Perhaps, Cap 166 RM would be something else to try.

Asked if there were other boats they should consider. And I said the same thing about my size.


– Last Updated: Oct-21-08 11:17 AM EST –

I have paddled the P&H Capella 166 and NDK Romany S RM, but not the Avocet. I also have paddled a P&H Scorpio.

I wouldn't rule out the Romany RM. I spent a day paddling one with an outfitter on the NC coast and was very impressed with it. The outfitter (Barrier Island Kayaks) had about a half-dozen Romany RMs in stock, and quality control seemed to be fine on all of them. My only complaint was that the foot pegs were very hard to adjust. The kayak tracked and handled great, and it is designed to fit larger paddlers.

The outfitter also told me that Romany RMs are made by the same plant that makes Valley's RM kayaks -- in other words, they have the same plastic and construction. I liked the Romany better than the P&H Capellas I have paddled because it tracked better and fit me better. I always feel like I am sitting too high up in Capellas. However, I also have paddled a P&H Scorpio, and liked it much better than the Capella. The Scorpio is noticeable faster than the Capella yet just as stable. It also has a 4th day hatch in front of the cockpit, which is a great feature. The Scorpio fit me better than the Capella, and I didn't feel like I was sitting too high.

Bottom line, if I were buying a new kayak, it would come down between a Romany S RM or a Scorpio. If I could buy either of them for the same price, I would pick the Scorpio because it has more storage and the foot pegs are much nicer. However, I might get the Romany to save some money and wouldn't be disappointed at all with that choice.

tracking well
and tracking well in following seas often go hand-in-hand. As an example, I find that the P&H Sirius is excellent in that department, but it is also much harder to turn than the Capella. I’m 6’0" 175 lbs., 10.5 foot size, 32" inseam. I have one of the original square hatched Capellas that has been worn to pretty much the graveyard at this stage (quite old and a lot of use), replaced by a carbon/kevlar version. I consider it my playboat. They’re incredibly maneuverable and a heck of a lot of fun. If my paddle is likely to involve steep following waves that I want to travel with vs just playing in, a step up in that department for me would be a Quest LV or Nigel Foster Legend or something in that department. They both track better and are easier to control in following seas (my experience is free of skeg here - drop the skeg on your Capella and you have a whole new boat, as with the Quest LV or Legend or whatever). They turn not as easily as the Capella, but still quite well, and they allow you an increase in speed should you ever desire to use it. I know these aren’t boats that you’re considering. This is just meant to address the following sea issue. All boats can get squirrelly. Something like the Sirius is probably not what you’re looking for (behaves like nobody’s business in A to B paddles in whatever conditions, but not particularly playful), but it’s an example of how excelling in one department can compromise another. If I’m just going to play in surf and ride some waves,I love the Capella. It isn’t necessarily the same as being well-mannered in a following sea when you’re trying to go somewhere. I’d make the decision on what’s important to me and a good understanding of what type of boat best matches. I know the models you have listed are considered excellent all-around boats, and from what little you’ve said, they very well could be the best fit. I don’t have a Romany, so I would probably filter carefully for an objective opinion on these boats’ behaviors in a following sea vs one another.

RM Romany coaming
Though the deck and hull maybe roto-molded in the same factory as Valley boats, the RM Romany has a composite coaming which is epoxied and riveted in place.

Aside from the foot pegs, problems with the attachment of the coaming is what I’ve heard the most.

Avocet good in those conditions, but…
> … steep faced short period waves is that the extra

length might be a liability? This is probably the heart of my problem,

The Avocet is pretty good in conditions like that, but not as good as, say, an Explorer, Nordkapp LV, Aquanaut, etc – and probably the Cetus/Scorpio, though I have not personally paddled the latter in those conditions. It’s really more a matter of hull shape than raw length. I find the Avocet a little corky in steep chop by comparison with those others.

picking the right balance of tracking

and maneuverability without paddling the boat.

Please do try to paddle the boat before you decide. It’s almost indispensable in picking a boat.


similar experience
I was quite dissatisfied with Avocet RM in the following seas. However, I tried friends copy and was extremely surprised to notice huge difference in handling. Difference? - different year boat, and seat placement. His was ~1 forward from my. Currently I am fiddling with seat placement in my Avocet.

Avocet and Romany
First off, I’ll jump on the “try before you buy” bandwagon. Unless it’s absolutely prohibitive to do so. Yes, you may spend a fair bit of money in the process, but I’d imagine it would be less onerous (both financially and otherwise) than ending up with a boat you don’t like and having to sell it and find another.

As for the three boats you mentioned, I’ve paddled the Romany (both regular and S) and Avocet in composite. The first thing that occurs to me is that a Romany S might be too large for you, unless you have proportionally long legs. I’m just a hair over 6’ and weigh 180, and the Romany S did not come anywhere near to fitting me. In particular, I couldn’t get good contact with the thigh braces due to the height of the deck.

Between the regular Romany and Avocet, I preferred the Romany, mostly for fit issues. Performance-wise, they seem pretty close, although I didn’t paddle the Avocet for very long. I did, however, paddle a Romany in some pretty dynamic water conditions and it performed very well. Quite manueverable and lively, but no slouch in straight-ahead paddling either.

Consider the Riot Brittany
I paddle a lot of boats (including pretty extensively the Avocet)-- and I keep coming back to the Brittany as a great all-around hull. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the others, but probably should. The polyethylene is good quality and the outfitting is excellent. I especially like the thigh hooks and backband. The Brittany handles rough conditions well, is faster and tracks straighter than the Avocet, yet it still turns readily – and is made right there in Canada. It also provides more leg and foot room than most boats in that size range. Check it out.