Moved seat back, freed up stern??

I have a Capella 166RM, which I have been paddling for 18 months or so. At the time I bought it, I was looking for a more stable platform for a particular trip and also to do some teaching out of. Long, story short the Capella bores me - I don’t find it maneuverable enough for most of the paddling that I do. This is true of most seakayaks - I test paddled a Cetus last weekend and wanted it to be more responsive to turning strokes.

Deciding not to buy the Cetus, I decided to remedy a complaint I had with the Capella - I’ve always felt the seat is too far forward in the large cockpit requiring a long reach behind to hook the sprayskirt, which has bitten me a few times in surf. I had not previously moved the seat because I was afraid it would further lock in the stern and make the boat even less maneuverable.

I just got back from a test paddle with the seat temporarily about 2" further back than stock - eliminating most of the room between the seat and the rear coaming. The surprising thing was, the boat felt more responsive, particularly when underway. Static turning moves - i.e. alternating sweeps and reverse sweeps seemed about the same, but when moving the boat seemed to turn better and hold a steadier edge.

Any thoughts as to why this would be? It seems counter intuitive. Could the bow have been plowing more with the seat forward causing a more sluggish response.

Could it have just been wishful thinking and a placebo effect, perhaps but looking to Salty and others for any explanations of why the feel may have changed.

Thanks - Jamie

Not quite
but, if you want to experience a really responsive to turns boat, sit on the back deck, bring your feet up, and paddle :slight_smile:

Just to suggest of few thoughts - what would track better - something that you push or pull?

It couldn’t have freed the stern…

– Last Updated: Aug-20-10 3:07 PM EST – shifting your weight back would have the opposite effect. The bow may be freer, but you may also find that the boat leecocks now, which is a really undesirable trait.

It's been a while since I paddled a Capella, but I recall that it was a very maneuverable boat, so perhaps you need to work on your edging, sweeps and rudder strokes. If you have the opportunity, try a Pintail, as there's no more maneuverable sea kayak on the market. In fact, it's hard to stop it from "maneuvering" without dropping the skeg. If you have trouble turning a Pintail, it's definitely you, not the boat. ;-)

Cetus not maneuverable??
Have to question you on the Cetus not being maneuverable. What is your size? weight? I can’t imagine not finding the Cetus maneuverable - most people find it too maneuverable.

Perhaps you mean the Cetus LV?


PS - moving the seat back would lock the stern in, not free it up. I second Bryan on his post.

Wrong Way
You need to move the seat forward to free up your stearn.

Sounds like you need to practice turning skills,if you feel the Cetus also isn’t manuverable.

Let me clarify a little
The Capella turns adequately, the Cetus turned more than adequately; neither are quite as “turny” as I’m looking for. I started off paddling two very maneuverable boats - the IK Expedition and before that a Liquid Logic Pisgah. I’ve developed an affinity for boats that you control through subtle weight shifts and turn when you just think about it. The good news is I can make any regular kayak track really well. You are right though, my deep edging and sweeps on a strong edge are not as strong as they could be.

I moved away from that style of boat for some good reasons, but now just playing with the Capella as its what I’ve got.

I’m 6’0 and 200lbs - the Capella is a good fit although the cockpit has always felt long. Just curious about what I felt during the short test paddle today - I’ll keep playing with it. Good point about leecocking. The Capella has a tendancy to weathercock in a good breeze but can be made neutral with some skeg. Don’t want to go too far the other way.

Thanks for the input, and anymore to come.

hey .i did the same thing to my tempest 165. i moved the seat a bit more to the rear…the kayak became more alive in waves…easier to roll i feel…and the not so nice tendencie to have the nose blow downwind…i did try it in a good gale at my local lake, where the waves are not so bad…i love to paddle in strong wind…

might have to adjust the seat a bit forward…

im kind of light 70kg i guess…now i paddle the zephyr 155 and the lindisfarne a bit while im waiting for my pintail to be finished and sent to norwegen.

the zephyrs responsiveness, circlemaking abilities are awesome…

a looser bow
Seems to me a looser bow can help manuverability in much the same way as a loose stern can. Especially if you have some forward speed going, the initial resistance to turning is up at the bow.

Two things to consider
First, you’re paddling sea kayaks, which are not going to be as maneuverable as shorter boats. There’s really no getting away from that and you need to work on your technique to optimize it for the boats you’re paddling now.

Second, your weight is toward the upper end for a Capella, so it’s going to sit deeper in the water and feels somewhat less maneuverable than it would for a lighter paddler like me (170#) or Suz (there’s no way I’m going to guess any woman’s weight!).

Second to try a Pintail
They are somewhat niche boats so usually don’t go way high used. As above, your only issue will be making it go straight. It sounds like you are just wandering around the edges of what you really want with a general use sea kayak.

Cetus and Capella are very maneuverable
I don’t know how different the 166 is from the 161, but I recently paddled both a Cetus LV (for 6 days) and a Capella 161 (for 8 days). Both are very maneuverable boats, and especially the 161, which I used for surfing, among other things. I would guess that the entire Capella line is plenty maneuverable. After a little bit of practice, I was able to do a tight U-turn in the 161 with one edged sweep followed by a bow rudder. No other strokes needed to complete 180 degrees.

As with other sea kayaks, edging will boost turning effect by a huge amount. If you’re used to short boats, you may have come to rely only on the paddle to make the turn, or only a tiny bit of edge combined with lots of paddle torque. Doesn’t work well in a sea kayak that way. Try adding more edge–but get enough forward speed and look where you want to turn before you edge, then sweep.

Putting more of your weight towards the rear will tend to anchor the stern end. What you did should reduce weathercocking (tendency to turn into the wind) but might cause leecocking (turning downwind) since now the front part is lighter.

Subtle weight shift

– Last Updated: Aug-21-10 7:06 PM EST –

Again, I can't speak for the 166, but the 161 was maneuverable enough that if I merely stopped paddling forward and weighted one butt cheek slightly, it would turn. If I held that position it would actually keep turning quite a bit.

The only kayak that's outdone that tendency is my Jackson Side Kick--which is a kid's WW kayak. That boat not only turns when one butt cheek is weighted, it will noticeably SPEED UP the turn at one point.

My weight is at the bottom of the 161's recommended range but near the top of the Side Kick's range.

EDITED LATER: Whoa! I thought that the 161 was recommended for paddlers about 100 lbs or so at the low end of weight range. It's not--the P&H website says 88 lbs for the lightweight end! Frankly, I'm thinking that an 88-pounder would be swimming in the was pretty big on me though definitely edge-able (and rollable).

The boat felt more responsive perhaps because you trimmed it stern heavy to the point where the stern was a pivot, loosening up the bow.

I recommend returning the seat to the original position; or at most, 1/2" back. And as stated, then work on skills… leaning/edging, sweep strokes, draw strokes, bracing etc. It will take at least a year, paddling often, in all conditions to get the idea. A real eye opener can be paddling a narrow twisty creek and learn to turn the corners using the above techniques.

Turning a sea kayak is more than just the boat spinning on a center axis (similar to short rec kayaks and WW boats). The kayak must form a C ark though use of leaning and most of the time assist the turn using special paddle strokes. You will thank yourself for learning these skills on some future day when the wind is howling in your face, and the boat 2" seat back suddenly becomes unmanageable; to the point where you cannot get the bow into the wind.

after paddling the tempest 165 with the seat moved back, today i redid it. Moved the seat to the original position. Now it behaves as supposed to again, that is , it will turnm its nose into the wind. I find that very important for my favourite paddling…WIND.

I also gett a better position in the cockpit since the

thigh braces now can be positioned more to the center of the boat, causing less tension in the lower back.

it was nice to get him back to normal…