Capella RM

I am considering purchasing a used 2006 Capella RM - two to choose from a 160 and a 166. The boats have hardly been used and are in almost perfect condition. May consider both if the price ends up being right.

Wanted to get input on whether the Capella RM (particularly the 166) will be a good fit for my needs. I paddled the boat in flatwater last night and will share my impressions below, but first what I am looking for.

6’0, 190 lbs. Currently paddle an Island Kayaks Expedition (higher volume but very maneuverable boat; subject to weathercocking).

I am a newly minted ACA Coastal instructor and would like to start doing some more teaching so one goal is for a boat that will serve as a good teaching platform. Easy to hold on edge for demonstration purposes, maneuverable enough to get to students quickly and demonstrate gracefullnes. The Expedition is somewhat squirrely on edge and I use a lot of lower body weight shifts to control tracking - effective, but not textbook.

I am planning a solo circumnav of Hatteras Island (NC Outer Banks) this fall. I can expect significant wind to deal with and want a boat that retains some liveliness, but won’t be a continual battle in moderate wind. The Capella does have a skeg.

I want a boat that will surf decent and take some abuse in play sessions. Any input on the Capella RM in a surf environment.

Finally, I think I want to move to a plastic boat. My Expedition has some damage including a crack between the hull and the seat pan (frequent problem on this model) that results in lots of water in the day hatch. Finding the time and energy to learn to and actually do Fg repairs seems to just not be likely to happen. I’m rough on equipment in general and think perhaps I should just go plastic.

My impressions of the Capella. Paddled the 166 for about an hour last night on flat water with no wind. The boat was more responsive than I thought it would be - felt more maneuverable than an Explorer for instance. Seemed to have acceptable speed for my purposes. The boat rolled like a charm - felt really connected. I was able to scull up which is something that I can’t do in the Expedition. Takes and holds an edge well - able to get the coaming in the water and still be comfortable. Seemed to track like a freight train, but in comparison to the Expedition most mainstream boats do. Fit and finish seemed excellent - I tromped hard on the foot pegs and they seemed supportive with little flex. Room for gear seemed adequate for a 7 day trip.

I wedged myself in the 160 - seat moved forward and thighpads back so it was a tight fit. Only paddled it for 10 minutes or so, it seemed like it would make a nice day boat and regular steed for my wife.

Your thoughts on if the Capella seems to be a good fit for my current needs. Other boats that are relatively easy to find used that I might also consider. Finally, these boats appear to be running $1500 - $1700 new - would the 40% off guideline be appropriate?

As always, thanks for the input.

Capella RM
I bought a Capella RM 166 in early June. I wanted a Scorpio, but couldn’t pass up on the Capella for $900 less money. At your size, you definitely would fit better in the 166. I’m 5’11" and 195 lbs, and the 160 would be too small for me.

The Capella sounds ideal for your intended uses. It tracks well, and the skeg is there if you need it in windy conditions. I rarely ever use mine unless there’s a quartering or side wind. It turns easily and handles great in rough water. The foot pegs are solid, as are the hatch covers and riggings. The seat is very comfortable. I paddled my Capella for 6 hours the second day I had it and barely noticed the seat, which means it was doing its job.

My only complaints are that the plastic stains easily when you get in muddy water as well as marks from rack mounts. I haven’t found a way to clean off the stains. My only other complaint is that it’s not the fastest kayak around, not a snail but you won’t set any speed records. To me, it seems that the staining and speed are related as the Corelite plastic is sort of rough and porous to the touch, unlike many RM boats that are smooth and glossy. I demo’d a Valley Avocet, which is made from similar 3-layer plastic with a smoother finish, and it felt much quicker than my Capella. However, the Avocet was too small for me.

don’t look now
The 40% off for used does seem to apply. Right now there’s a used blue capella rotomold listed in the MI p- net classifieds for $900.

impeccable logic
you’ve done your thinking and testing. Can’t add much there.

Yeah, why not get two. Guy’s got to play after work.

As far as price, a roto Capella which is 3 years old in excellent condition has an asking price $800-$1100 out this way (MI) and you can be just about positive they will settle for less bec. (a) the economy and (b) the Capella series is popular, fits a wide range of paddlers, is known to be stable and forgiving, and there are a lot of them out there.

I am assuming this is for boat only. If an excellent brand of skirt is included, with perhaps a good aftermarket backband and cockpit cover, those frequently get thrown in w. the boat for obvious reasons. Unless they fit the seller’s other boat(s) they are useless to the seller. You shouldn’t have to offer more for them.,

40% comes from the typical dealer margin they expect (um, hope) to make when they take delivery of a new kayak (just the boat) About 5% of that is going to the mfgr. rep. This is a rough guide, terms vary.

You are buying from private parties with none of that overhead so… 40% off s/be your very top side of your offer for very mint-y boats.

I know a slew of instructors and they tend to have multiple boats (duh). They use both plastic and trusty used composites for rescue classes, trip leadership, or classes where rescues are likely (bracing, surf, rough water towing, etc)

Any brand new boats they get are generally personal boats, and are composite.

Of course, you might check w. other instructors out your way and see what they like to use.

Congrats by the way!

Agree with Tarwheel.
I’ve paddled one for two years now and have really enjoyed the durability of the boat. I like the Corelite plastic, but it does stain badly.

I’ve, also, had some issues with the skeg cable housing. PM me and I’ll explain. Also, some leakage in the front compartment. Seems PH secured the hatch by attaching it to the bulkhead resulting in a small hole. This hasn’t been an issue…only while practicing rescues. The leak isn’t from the hatch cover. I’ve sealed the hole and no leaks.

Overall, I’m pleased with the boat.


Bought my RM166 used a year ago.
Love the boat. It’s what I take whenever I’m going to be near rocks and other things that will put holes in my FG Foster Shadow.

The boat rolls easily. While my Shadow requires perfect technique to roll, the Capella almost rolls itself. It wants to be upright.

A friend has been borrowing mine for the last month and he wants to buy it from me - I’ve repeatedly told him its not for sale.

Since you are an instructor -
From my experience the Cappella’s would make a great boat for your future students, when I took my second paddling class learning leaned turns and edging I was placed in a RM 160. I found the boat responsive enough that the new techniques were easily seen and felt, yet was stable enough that I didn’t feel worried about going over unexpectedly. The boats good tracking also let me concentrate on the skills we were working on without needing a lot of attention to stay on course.

Thanks everyone
Appreciate the info. Any additional input on performance in surf? What amount of flex should I expect?

I am 5’9" 200#. I’ve had my 166 for 4 years and I use it primarily for rocks and surf. (Disclaimer: These are my observations and they might result from my inadequacies as much as any inherent characteristics of the boat.) It is a well built boat. It holds an edge easily and turns quickly while there. It cruises with average speed, I can keep up with my glass buddies but I often feel like I’m working harder than them. Like most Brit style boats, it seems to become more solid as the conditions get rougher. I have taken it in surf up to 5 feet. For me, it performs best in 1 to 2 foot surf. The bow is somewhat needle-like and relatively low volume; as waves get larger than 2 feet the nose really wants to dive. The bright side is that you can amuse your friends endlessly by doing nose stands and endos.