P and H Cetus

has anyone bought one of these? no reviews yet on the site. they are only available as special order in Canada, so very rare here, i assume all production is going to the US. are they around where you live? i’d love to try one.

I saw a couple at
Seattle Raft and Kayak.

They have one in the showroom and another in the rental/demo fleet. I was gonna try it out last week, but I ended up needing the time to pack for a 5 day trip to Vancouver BC.

I paddled the Cetus in Charleston
Ben Lawry of P&H fame was kind enough to let several of our club members take their “one and only” Cetus out for a spin on the Bay one morning…very nice of him. The boat is pretty fast, turns well and is about as stable as one of my buddy’s Cape Horn. It was VERY stable. I am not a very good skeg guy and I was able to turn it well and keep it on edge. It was bomb proof. I thought it was a British boat for the 21 Century; less overhangs, soft chines and a swede form. I thought the forward cockpit day hatch was cool too. It would make a great camping boat, good volume. I understand they are very popular and there is quite a waiting list for the boat. The fit and finish was great.

I hope this is helpful.


Here is another…
discussion regarding the Cetus:


Not the kayak we were led to believe
I’m starting to believe in the story of the emperor’s new clothes; you know the story, the emperor’s tailor’s bang on about how fantastic his new robes are even though they don’t really exist. The Cetus has all the hallmarks of this story.

A rare commodity: certainly here in the UK there have been very few in the hands of dealers for people to try. All the talk is of demand being very high, waiting lists being very long and fulfilling export order that were made last autumn being a priority. Many were evidently ordered before people had paddled it

Hype: This could almost be the most hyped launch of any sea kayak, the first of many press releases being released before the first kayaks hit the water, in fact the first review was published on line before and public had seemingly paddled it, the review coming from a P&H staff member in the US. Since its launch it has been rapidly thrust into the hands of anyone willing to write a review. In the early press release stuff it was hyped as an NDK Explorer or Nordkapp type kayak. i.e. a load carrier that excels in the rough

I have been lucky enough to paddle this kayak twice, once at Anglesey and then again in Skye. Now I might be shot down in flames but I am categorically stating it is not what its makers have been claiming. It is not a bad boat by any means, it is relatively fast, stable and will carry a load but in the rough and wind it is lacking, to be honest it feels like the cockpit is to far forward, making it very wet and giving an unbalanced feel. There are other “Wet” kayaks but on the Cetus it comes as a surprise because of its large volume, certainly it is wet without the redemption of having low windage because the overly ample flanks make an good target for the wind.

The same characteristics that lead to the comments above also leads to poor downwind performance because it tends to surf quickly down the face, straight into the back of the wave in front where it either burys its bow, resulting in lost momentum, else it veers off line. Trying to lean back to prevent this has no effect because so much volume is behind the paddler. I’m sure many paddlers might never encounter this because it will only manifest itself as wave height grows but certainly anyone aspiring to 4 star type paddling will become aware of these tendencies.

In conclusion for me at 85 kg (about 190 lbs) it is a good, stable, cruiser but not one I would recommend for those who like rough conditions. Is it better than a NDK Explorer, better made yes, better in the rough no way. Is it better than a Nordkapp, for the less experienced possibly but as experience grows the Nordkapp (especially in LV form) is far more rewarding and enjoyable to paddle.

My final prediction we won’t be seeing the Cetus making a star turn in the tidal races on one of Justine’s dvd’s

Unfortunately for me the Cetus was a new product that didn’t measure up to it’s hype

wearing the flame proof jammies, are we?

if the p&H promo police track you through your ip address you had better skee-daddle!

claims for the cetus are legion…

a really long boat that turns on a dime (so…what? the stern just won’t stay behind you?)

tons of volume (and attendant leecocking problems with that loose stern?)

faster than an ndk explorer (hardly a feat, wouldn’t you say? love my explorer but it’s a “sports tractor” at best)

the only opinion i’ve heard that i’d put much stock in is that mr maynard seems to like it…that carries a bit of weight as he is a pretty experienced and thoughtful gent. nevertheless, til i had my butt in one and had beat it up in some bumpy, moving water, it’s all just heresay, hype and rumor.

Thanks Mike.
I find all the UK reviews fascinating. Boats being used in conditions that they were designed to be paddled.

I will rarely if ever see your conditions but it nice to know how a boat would handle them.

To their credit
While others seem to be hyping it, P&H describes the Cetus as a fast cruising load carrier/stable large expedition boat as opposed to a fun day boat or do everything boat or better than sliced bread boat.

FWIW ($.02) People I have talked to that have paddled it as a day boat have been impressed, but everyone has their likes and dislikes let alone favorite paddling venues. It looks huge to me and a bit odd, but at least it shows some innovative thought and is not another cookie cutter brit boat.

not about good or bad
I did state “in their early” press releases it was hyped as a load carrier that excels in the rough. To be fair in more recent stuff they do seem to have come back a little from this stance. I felt they had created an expectation in peoples, certainly my, minds and this wasn’t met by what emerged. Still a good boat though, just wanted to ensure jbv had the right expectation of it.

Sometimes it’s not about good or bad just whether it is the right or wrong for you. I was looking for a boat that was very good in the rough, the Cetus wasn’t that kayak for me

Mike, so what did you end up
choosing or does your search continue?



What Woud Jesus Paddle? The Cetus…

You’ve tested the boat and found it’s not the boat for you. There’s no boat out there that can be all things for all people, but the Cetus has been very well received by many of those who’ve paddled it here in the US.

Obviously, reviews are what they are…simply the single experience of one paddler to one boat. A different paddler, with different skills, in different conditions, might have a very different experience.

I paddled the prototype Cetus in a 5* training, and have had the production Cetus since May. At 150 lbs I’m definitely on the light end for this boat, which obviously will result in different handling characteristics. So, it’s not surprising that my experience is a little different than yours.

For instance, I’ve had no trouble with pearling the bow and have found the boat to handle nicely in waves, responding quickly to edged turns and allowing me to change direction on waves and stay in the pocket when surfing.

My “fun” boat is still my Capella 161, but the Cetus definitely manuevers exceptionally well for a 17’10" kayak…and I think that’s the point of what P&H was trying to do with this kayak. It’s an expedition boat that can handle a load, but it’s still fun to paddle.

I’m personally very excited about the LV version due out, which will be a better fit for me. I guess it’s time to start “hyping” that one, eh? :wink:

–Mark Pecot

P&H Team Paddler

Cetus - From P&H
Many people like - it - however - not everyone will. It is different and offers some features and performance that are not yet available within the same parameters - which some folks have enjoyed. Boats within the same category, Explorer, Quest, Force, etc, - are fantastic as well - and consider those Manufacturers our friends. Paddle the boats and take what suits you best - they are different - and appeal to differnt paddlers.

Because the Cetus is not a plastic boat - and we cannot make heaps of them at a time - it is going to take a while to catch up (1 at a time) - and because the world is a big place - and the cetus has been in production since Spring - it will be a while before they are readily available everywhere (mathmatics!).

Factually there has been a lot of Demand for the Cetus as many that have paddled it - have liked it - and some have place orders for them. THis has pushed leadtimes into the Spring of 2008. However - remember that many of those orders are for Dealers so they will have them in stock. So the lead times represent new Custom orders. There are dealers that have them (not many) and currently selling.

Enjoy the boat you are paddling!

Team at P&H -

Currently I have an Explorer

– Last Updated: Jul-25-07 8:13 AM EST –

In answer to the question, what did I choose. Currently I have a very used Explorer that I got second hand about five years ago. Was originally torn between buying a new one of these or a P&H Quest. Decided I’d try everything I could in the 17ft to 18ft range before putting my money down.

These were my personal findings

Cetus – As I have already said, balance wasn’t there for me and thus disappointed in the rough:

In-uit (Alad Williams new boat) – Good in the rough, quality looked good, availability sketchy. If anything the one thing that put me off was it felt like it had good acceleration but hit a speed plateau when pushed

Quest LV – My favourite of the P&H boats, good all rounder but didn’t sparkle at anything

Rock Pool – Ironically I preferred the Alaw bach slightly more than the new In-uit boat, I think being slightly smaller it was just easier to throw around and its speed didn’t seem to plateau as early

Explorer – Good all round workhorse but to be fair the quality is unreliable and its speed isn’t great

North Shore – Really liked the Polar, handled the rough very well but not convinced by the whole hard chine thing, certainly feel it affected its speed, like the In-uit it seemed to hit a plateau relatively early

Valley Aquanaut – felt surprisingly quick and handled the rough well, better than my explorer in almost every way but didn’t provide the spark I was looking for. Would have chosen this if not for my choice below

Nordkapp LV – Tried this and the standard size, Very quick in a following see, fantastic in the rough, the only small compromise for me was the amount of space for gear as the boat is quite narrow towards the ends. The LV gave me a kayaks I could use on longer trips, that great fun in the rough but didn’t feel like a cork when used for day paddling.

Like I say, I’m not knocking any of these, just providing feedback of how they were for me

Nordkapp LV is currently on order

Sea Cliff Kayak
John Carmody came to where we rent in Maine and did a couple of days of training, and arrived with a full rack of P&H boats for people to use that included a Cetus. (There is a Cetus LV coming, maybe will hit right for an average sized woman paddler but we’ll see, hopefully will begin shipping to the US in August.)

My husband found it to be an altogether very respectable expedition boat. Worth a look for someone getting their first expedition boat. We didn’t have surf or significant conditions. As above, the P&H boats are coming out nicely made and on the light side for their strength. It may be worth contacting Sea Claff Kayak about where there are more of these boats - he/they travel around a bit.

Human nature is funny…
We are all wonderfully diverse and different. I sadly did not have an opportunity to paddle the Cetus in any wave conditions. I wish I had! Nor am I by any means an advanced paddler with qualifying ratings. I don’t even have any great skills in a skeg boat BUT I love riding waves and have been out on the ocean and river on some good days! The first thing I look for in a boat is it’s ability to pick up and ride waves. I understand (I have heard anyway) that with a good paddler on board, a skeg boat can do long linked rides and could even keep up with a rudder boat (I’ve been told this but have never actually seen it done, smile inserted here). I don’t mind a wet ride as it’s part of the fun for me. I wish my QCC 700’s cockpit was moved up slightly and like that Epic builds a boat that allows you to move the seat forward. I would like that the boat had extra volume in the stern to help pick up waves. We as human being are awesome in our diversity and complication. Once again it is clear that different strokes are for different folks. I guess that is why we have so many boat designs. That’s good for them.


cetus in wind
I have paddled a loaded Cetus in 25-30 knot winds on a large lake. It is very easy to get to speed to catch a wave, and feels greasy and quick sliding down. It does seem to veer sometimes, requiring a strong stern rudder to keep from broaching. I did not try strong leaning going down, which may have made a difference. The bow does not pop up on top of waves it hits, but it does not bury down either- it sort of slides straight in and then the whole boat rises up. The wind does catch it to blow it off course a bit, but it is not difficult to correct the heading. It feels stable, capable and fast in all directions.

Seat time in conditions will be the only thing which will really tell the tale. I also think experience with this boat also will make a difference as it is a unique design. It is a very fun boat with exceptional speed, secondary stability and maneuverability. In fact I would prefer a little less maneuverability in exchange for straighter tracking for touring, as without the skeg it takes some attention to keep it straight. Contrary to the stated design intention of the boat, it seems to me to be better as a fun boat to paddle than an expedition workhorse.

These are my personal unqualified impressions only, but hopefully we will get more as the boat is used more in different conditions.


well that is why the skeg is there
too often people buy a boat with a skeg and then for various reasons feel guilty about using it. If I was a manufacturer/designer and I put a skeg in a boat I would figure on its use, I would assume that it would be used and used with impunity!

It takes a lot of effort to put in a skeg, so much in fact price one with and without and you’ll see a premium is paid for it.

I’ve got at least one kayak that is skeg dependent and when I think of the kayak and the skeg I only marvel at what I really have-a boat that is playful/maneuverable AND a boat that tracks when I need it to.

Of course there is the penalty of speed and in most boats you can really feel the drag when the skeg is deployed…how much this cost in effort is dependent on several things but I’m willing to pay that price for the ability to turn the boat where other designs can not.

Sounds like the Cetus has hit the mark right in the middle-a playboat and a giant cruiser, so two boats in one!

most excellent thread
very interesting and informative, look forward to trying this boat.

Hi Peter
Are you the Peter that is a naval architect located in South Florida?

My surf ski’s, Epic 18 and QCC don’t/didn’t bob up and over waves either. They cut right thru them and then may come up slightly. I have been told that approach makes for a faster rough water boat. It also may be wetter, I don’t know. I have not spent much time in boats that go up and over, bobbing. If the Cetus does what you said it does, it is in some pretty fast company. I am not a skeg guy but that was my favorite skeg boat at the Charleston festival; followed by the Kajaksport Vivian, Impex Force 4 and the Point 65 XP.


not that Peter
I think medicineman is right on in describing the Cetus as 2 boats in one.

The skeg on the Cetus is a foil shape, and not much is needed to have it run dead straight, so there is very little drag loss in using it. My only concern with a skeg boat that is a little bit skeg dependent is if it breaks when you are out on a trip. A nice feature of the Cetus is that with a lean, it is very easy to turn even with the skeg down.