Capella 173

I’m a big guy (6’4" x 250 x size 13) looking for some first hand information on this kayak. The reviews section has one response and very favorable. Anyone else? Thanks in advance!

I demo’d the Capella 173 before I bought
my Eddyline. The Capella has much better edging and generally is more responsive than the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5 that I bought. The Capella has a better seat and hatches. I did not feel that the Capella was as fast or as stable as the Eddyline. The Eddyline was also bigger, and this for me was an important consideration. I wanted to buy the Capella as I thought it was a nicer looking boat and was made of glass, but the performance difference, durabilty, and size of the Eddyline was too much to get beyond. If stability and beam (hips) are not a big issue, I would also look at the Quest HV and the Eddyline Fathom HV as well. I would never buy a boat that I had not paddled myself,nor would I buy before I had a chance to paddle the boats that compete with what I am looking at. Good luck!

You might try a Cetus. It is a very impressive boat with a big cockpit - too big for me.

all most all of the reviews here
for any boat are positive.

Delivery of P&H boats
Delivery of orders for the Cetus and some other P&H boats is now 2009. Apparently P&H doesn’t want to expand production too much with the fear that quality might suffer. I applaud their decision, but it could certainly impact sales. On the other hand demand should remain high ($$$$).

Capella 173
I wouldn’t buy without trying…been there done that…looking for direct feedback from users. I sat in a 173 in a showroom a couple of years ago…the memory sticks since it was a comfortable fit. I agree that most all boat reviews are positive…some seem genuine, some are dazzled by their pretty purchase. I’m just looking to narrow the field with first hand information from other big guys. Most of the recomendations I’ve seen under the heading kayaks for big guys are too big in my opinion. Unfortunately most of the dealers in my area are into rec boats, plus winter is closing in (Michigan) so it’s not really time to try new boats, besides…a paddle in a protected harbor doesn’t tell you much, maybe a feel for primary and secondary, and fit. That’s why…as much fact finding as possible before putting miles on the vehicle. Thanks again to all!

Availability on P&H boats

Availability on P&H boats depends on what you are looking for…

If you want a P&H composite boat - you can call your local dealer and purchase one that they have on order for delivery …or currently in stock.

However - if you place a new order for a custom boat - that order will not be started until January 2009 - as we are filling all the orders that they have already placed for dealers stock or customers…ie next in line would be January …

I hope this explains whats going on - as there is a limit (which we’ve hit) to how many boats we’ll actually make in a year - but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a boat -

PLease feel free to email us or call if you need any help located a boat in your area - we’d be happy to help.


P&H office - Asheville, NC

828 254 1101

Surprisingly successful?
Not that many years ago there were VERY few P&H dealers in the USA. We demoed boats 225 miles away from home.

In recent years there are many more P&H dealers.

In recent years there are a number of prominent and respected coaches in the USA paddling P&H boats.

This past summer when I arranged for two days of work with John Carmody on Muscongus Bay for 4 of us, he brought a trailer of P&H boats for us to try - the 4 of us had Valley and NDK boats. We spent two days in John’s boats and were pretty impressed - the Cetus was the big hit.

As a result of these recent events, there is a notably increased interest in P&H boats among dedicated paddlers with whom I have contact.

My experience with custom ordering Valley and NDK boats has been 4-8 month promise time depending on time of year, vagaries of manufacture, shipping, etc…

A well over 1 year promise time for a new P&H boat is pretty impressive.

It seems that recent changes have been effective… maybe beyond P&H’s expectations?

Which part of Michigan?

If not too far away from Cleveland,

has cap 173 in stock ( and Cetus, though that is being used)

I’ve tried the 173
I’m 6’1", 260 lbs, 32 inseam, size 11 shoes. I paddled one for a weekend in June. It fit me just fine. My recollection is that the secondary stability wasn’t as good as I liked. The deck seemed pretty high. I couldn’t roll it. I bought a Nigel Foster Shadow instead.

appreciate your post - we have a great Team at P&H which extends from the paddlers, coaches, team paddlers, all the way thru to design…

The introduction of the Cetus combined with the strength of the Capella Range (especially after the re-design) has definitely ramped things up a bit faster than we expected. Its also why we are working really hard on getting the plastic version of the Cetus “the Scorpio” out this winter/spring. And…anxiously awaiting the LV Cetus - but that is a bit further off in the future…


P&H - Asheville

nice to see the few responses from
owners/paddlers (sssss and marporhan). As for availability comments from Mfg. I know where I can get the boat. That wasn’t what I was asking, although it’s good to know lead time on a “custom” boat is over one year. Being a Plant Manager myself, I can’t imagine having that luxury…must be nice. But this post wasn’t about any of that. I am greatful for the comments by those who have specific first hand knowledge and experince with the boat and have made the financial commitment through purchase. Sorry if they had to settle on a color they didn’t want, but if they did, considering all the other brand choices available…that also speaks highly of the boat. I’m also looking at Impex and Foster, but was most curious about the Cap173. Having only one review of the 173 on prompted the post.

…while not compromising P&H quality.
John Carmody noted that P&H was committed to maintaining the build quality of its boats.

I heard some concern when Pyranha took over P&H that such care and craft might not continue to be valued.

The most recent boats I’ve seen are still very beautifully made.

It is wonderful that rather than be greedy and hasten the production of boats, P&H is maintaining its QC even in the face of long waiting lists.

By that time…
…the Us to Euro should make a Cetus about four grand in the US. Hope not!

Capella and Shadow

– Last Updated: Nov-28-07 6:11 PM EST –

I can give you some feedback since I paddle a Foster Shadow and my (growing like a weed with size 14 shoes) son paddles a Capella 173. They are both excellent boats IMO.

I am not an advanced paddler, but I paddle with advanced paddlers who confirm my impressions.

I use my son's boat when the conditions could be dicey, and am fairly familiar with it - my impressions.

They are similar in a lot of respects, so no need to discuss too many similarities.

In general, I think that the Capella is a more forgiving boat and the Shadow is a bit less forgiving, but capable of a bit higher performance.

You would notice the most difference between the boats IMO if you demo in a steep chop with waves of higher frequency in beam seas. The Shadow is more of a handful here - you can adapt to it, but the design will tend to pitch you about quite a bit more, and you don't feel much secondary helping until you are on edge quite a bit. If I am going out without my son in this type of condition, I will borrow my son's Capella - much less work.

In flatter water, or just swells, I prefer the Shadow a bit more. It tracks a bit better, but is very quick to turn once you get it on the edge with its hard chine. The Shadow likes to be edged, and if you don't like edging, you would probably prefer the Capella.

The Capella has, to me, more secondary and primary stability, with a more progressive edge. The Shadow is easier to get on edge, and the secondary firms up very quickly once on edge. The cockpit on the Capella is quite a bit bigger, and the opening uses a large skirt, the Shadow a medium. The Shadow feels more secure and faster downwind. The Shadow responds more quickly, very quickly, to edging. It is a bit longer, and feels longer except when turning with the edge.

Both boats are extremely well built, the Shadow being quite a bit heavier (both my boats are kevlar construction). They are both excellent boats with first rate construction built by first rate builders.

If you are paddling in lake conditions (Michigan) where you can encounter steeper waves, you might prefer the Capella unless you are an advanced paddler.

The main thing is the demo - get into some good chop from the beam. If that doesn't bother you, you will probably love the Shadow. You will see a big difference in the way the boats handle in that sort of condition.

One thing to check out…
I can’t swear to it, but I think that a dealer told me that P&H plans to tweak the 173 hull a little along the lines of things they found out from the 161. If you don’t mind waiting anyway, you may want to check in with dealers and find out if there are any changes planned.

If there are, I am sure they are to the good. The 161, which is the one sized for me, is a solid all around boat. I spent two days in it for some training this last summer. Conditions were pretty mild and I stayed away from getting up close and personal with rocky shorelines because I didn’t want to be taking gelcoat out of someone else’s pristine boat they wanted to sell, but it handled quite nicely.

The only issue I have with P&H is their seats. They tend to tip up as they go forward and are quite shaped around your butt compared to my other sea kayak, and I found that the 161 did the same thing as my Vela. I was super comfortable for a few hours, then suddenly turned around and my low back and hams were stressed and aching.

Apparently this is a good design for many people, but it doesn’t work well for me. It’s likely easily fixed though. A P&H rep I spoke with sugested that I trim down the foam towards the front of the seat to flatten the angle which I suspect will work. (haven’t had much Vela time since I got that suggestion)

you might also check out a MarinerMax

– Last Updated: Nov-29-07 2:09 PM EST –

similar volume as the 173. Might have a smidge more primary stability.

they are built in the UK - based on the Pound.

you can also
take the seat pad out completely - this will give you a bit more room all around - then pad where you want it. The new (2004 fwd) seats are anchored both sids and do not rotate like the older fiberglass seats.

FYI - the new 167 is based off the 161 and offers and in between step 161…163…167…173.

P&H 173.
I John C let me demo his P&H 173 for three days at kayak camp in SC last year. I was very impressed with the boat it’s a great soft chined boat.

If I had no boat today I would go out and purchase a P&H 173. That said I am waiting for P&H to release a Cetus HV to decide what my 2nd boat will be. (I am hoping to see a Cetus HV in 2009 but I am not going to hold my breath)

I currently paddle a Nigel Foster Shadow which is a great boat just not for rocks as the hard chines don’t have a great time with the Rocks.

The 173 was a much different boat to paddle it went over the waves instead of though them and was easy to roll. As for fit I am 6’5" 275 with a size 13 foot. One of the nicest things is that I could get out of the boat like a normal person knees first. Every other boat I have paddled I have had to use as if they were setup with ocean combings.

I hope that helps.