P&H Cetus - Any info

Supposedly a new boat that is comparable to the Nordkapp LV. Trying to find more info on it. Any info would be appreciated.


Not comparable

I too have been trying to find out more about the P&H Cetus, I was originally hopeing to see/try one at the SW kayak Show (UK) but even though P&H was there, no Cetus was present. This sent me off on a mission to find out what was happening. From talking to several people, both online and in person, this is what I found out:

The only ones currently out and about seem to be in the US. These are pre-production/prototype versions based on a cut and shunt job of the smaller Capella. Official comment from Pyranha/P&H on the 20th of November was that no production version yet exists and that some changes will be made before it goes into production, this comment was direct from the factory. No exact date has been given for production to start but the “official line” is still spring, most in the trade seem a little sceptical about this given the lead time taken from pattern, to mould, to finished product! I have seen some pictures, emailed to me by someone who’d seen it at the OR show back in August and to be honest it was not what I had been led to believe it would be, very definitely a cut and shunt capella, therefore more Explorer than Nordkapp LV and seeing as the Quest and Quest LV’s are longer boats based on the Capella I don’t see how it will be much different to these. But as I say official line is “still changes to be made” so we will see what finally arrives!

Sorry if some of the above seems a little negative, but as many who have seen my previous posts will know, I have followed the whole Valley/P&H tussle with interest since P&H’s head honcho and chief designer Peter Orton left 2 years ago and went over to Valley. Since then Valley seems to have stolen a march with a host of innovative products. Whilst P&H has done a series of cut and shunt releases of Peter’s original designs. I was really hopping the launch of the Cetus was going to show us the first true Pyranha designed P&H sea kayak, giving us some mark of future intent. Alas from what I have seen and heard they seem happy to keep bastardising Peter’s legacy!

long live google

– Last Updated: Dec-06-06 9:00 AM EST –

I found this a while back, did not preserve the url. Review by Ben Lawry

Just remembered, there will be "LV" Cetus as well.

I took the Cetus to the beach the other day and dragged two friends along. What a beautiful day, cool -- well relatively -- a light wind and there in lies the problem small waves. The trio not to be deterred got paddling anyway.

"Turns nicely from the bow", "appears to catch a wave easily", "they seam to have some thing here" and "turns as if it was a much shorter" where just some of the comments that came out at the end of the afternoon.

So the Cetus -- 17' 9" long by 22" wide -- the new a expedition sea kayak from P&H. We paddled a prototype but the hull appears to have met most of it's goals, Fast, Stable, Floats on the surface, Turns easily and Enjoys the waves.

The Hull is a shallow vee. The Stem is much plummer that traditional P&H boats as is the stern. The chine is fairly hard as it leads into the softish edge, giving great secondary stability. ( I like to split up the description of the edge and the chine -- Edge, the line where the side turns into the bottom, Chine, the shape of the side of the boat -- Vela has hard edge, hard chine.) The deck gives the appearance of a Swede from boat, but the chines have a subtle flare in the stern that means that the hull has a more symmetrical shape at the water line. The rocker of the hull is a constant curve. It is less rockered than the old Capella 169, but more that a Quest. The Boat relies on the lift of the flatter bottom, to stop the bow and stern from pearling in surf conditions -- this feature also allows the boat to feel "light on the wave"

The deck is where most people will notice the main departure from traditional P&H kayaks and most other designs. Firstly a large cockpit with adjustable thighhooks, foredeck hatch, foredeck is lower and cut away to allow a more effecient forward stroke, new outfitting hardware and soon a new skeg. Other features that people will notice are a lower stern deck and an ergonomic thigh placement. All with the quality of the P&H build! Well enough about the boat how does it paddle?

In a nutshell faster than a Quest LV and almost as playful as a Capella 161. Unfortunately we only had small waves to play in but they when big enough to tell us a couple of things. The boat back surfs and front surfs very well. It is nicely balanced bow to stern and showed no tendencies to what to pearl or broach. In the soup it side surfed smoothly and without a tendency to want to catch at the bow or stern. The easy of maneuverability of the boat meant that turning between waves was easy and the good speed made getting out a breeze.

On flat water most will be pleasantly surprised -- fast, good primary stability, great secondary stability and a boat that turns great from the bow on tilt turns. Like most P&H boats with enough tilt you can skid the stern out to allow a very sharp turn or with a little less edge carve though the whole turn. Rolling and Hand rolling where easy and only going to get easier when the new cockpit / thighbraces goes in. (Prototype has make shift cockpit area) The foredeck hatch great for rough water / easy access for food, camera and allows seeing a chart easier, as it tilts the chart to the paddler. Also the bigger cockpit makes getting in and out of the boat a breeze, the new toggles are small and yet comfortable to hold.

Review by a P&H rep
Good review but remember Ben is a P&H rep, i’ll be a little more interested when sea kayaker or someone else independent gets a review done.

Something else i forgot to add in my other post was that the Cetus was benchmarked on the explorer, as this was the boat they were targeting, again this came direct from a P&H source. In a way this makes sense with the design approach i.e. Explorer is a stretched Romany, Cetus is a stretched Capella

You seem to know a thing or two about PH kayak line.

Any comments regarding Sirius or Bahiya?

Sirius, Orion, Baidarka explorer etc
Most of P&H’s older designs have Derek Hutchinsons hand in them, or so I beleive.

Actually the Bahiya,

– Last Updated: Dec-06-06 7:34 PM EST –

is largely a stretched out and more recent version of the Vela, which I have and is credited to Peter Orton. One hard chine that is continued front and back a bit in an upsweep, mildly rounded bottom kinda like the Ellesmere. In the Vela, it also has a stern section that rises away markedly from the water. The Bahiya I saw at the Bar Harbor Symposium this last September had the same general rake in the stern but not as extremely executed. As with any hard-chined boat the Vela has a very clear hang point, and OK primary but it still dumps me in the water entering or getting out once a year.

Not sure if the Sirius is a Hutchinson design - I'm pretty sure that their big expedition boat the Quest is. And I think the Orion is all Hutchinson. The Sirius is an entirely rounded hull with a kinda vague attitude as you take it over. There is a hang point somewhere down there but it will not announce itself the way it does in many other boats. You gotta guess, at least that's the way it felt a couple of years ago to me. Really nice feeling boat though to paddle.

Here is the P&H design linage,

– Last Updated: Dec-07-06 4:46 AM EST –

Here is the P&H design linage,

Baidarka, Orion, Dawn Treader, Iona etc. were all Derek Hutchinson designs. The Sirius, done in 1992 was P&H’s first in house project and my first sea kayak project. This came about because we felt the market was moving on and Derek wasn’t showing a desire to do anything new. After consultations with our dealers and a survey of UK paddlers we decided we needed a new 17ft performance sea kayak around 20-21inches wide, a Nordkapp competitor if you like! Following discussions with Derek it was decided to use the Baidarka hull as a basis although this was changed extensively to improve the stability characteristics, windage and balance, in the end no profile was left unchanged. Profile wise we adopted a more classic Greenland style than the Hutchinson kayaks. Other improvements were made to ergonomic of seating and layout and aesthetics of the deck. Therefore most would consider this the first true P&H design although P&H classify it as designed in conjunction with Derek, an agreement that was reached prior to it going in to production. All future kayaks were designed in house, to eliminate any future copyright arguments over the kayaks that followed the Sirius, all were designed with no reference to the Sirius or other Hutchinson designs.

The family tree really has three true lines


Outlander – Capella RM – Capella 169 – Quest - Bahiya

Islander – Vela – Easky (original triple layer three hatch) – Venture Easky 15/13/Sky

The final caviats i would add are; the new smaller Capellas are based off the Outlander not the 169 as we felt it had lost "something" on its transitions down the line so whent back to basics.

Finally the last boats i did were the Capella 163 composite and 160 RM and The Venture Easky 15, although to my knoledge the Quest LV and Capella 161 are cut downs of bigger versions and the Sky and Easky 13 are based of the 15.

Finally back to the Cetus, yes i have seen it and yes it is clearly based on one of the smaller Capella's but this is no bad thing remenber the Explorer is a stretched out Romany. The ones i have seen clearly had a way to go before being ready for production, mostly conmetic and adding Symmetry. Talking with those still at P&H/Pyranha it was the Explore market they were targeting. This puts it more in comperrtition with our Aquanaut models than the Nordkapp LV.

But hey the paddeling public will decide.

why only Sirius
In the Sirius Line? Was it felt that model fully satisfied consumer market by presenting a superior hull design, or was there not enough interest (why? )

Also, Sirius does not have LV version and it’s deck looks a bit high on paper.

Really appreciated your comments.

three versions avaialble

– Last Updated: Dec-07-06 9:14 AM EST –

There was at various times, different versions. After the original version was launched. a high free board version was released (having approx 3/4 inch extra in the gunnel in the cockpit area, Then a large cockpit HF (more volume again around the cockpit plus a larger cockpit)

After a while these were re-named small medium and large to avoid confusion.

Additionally for a short period of time ocean cockpit versions were available for the two smaller sizes

Medium is the only one currently in production, best of the lot was the original (later called small) version

Quest - Bahiya?

– Last Updated: Dec-07-06 11:51 AM EST –

I've been thinking of the Bahiya as a stretched Vela. Do I understand that it is more a hard chine Quest?

Bahiya and Quest
Without getting into the techincal details, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in these two boats, and they have a very different feel. As a hard chine boat, the Bahiya feels much more like the Foster boats–it likes being on its chine–whereas the Quest, with its rounder chine, feels more like, say, your Aquanaut.

Same question

– Last Updated: Dec-07-06 3:33 PM EST –

I haven't seen an Outlander, at least as far as I know, but the similarity between my Vela and the Bahiya was visually quite marked. Including the somewhat deep bow.

Which Foster boat?
Which Foster boat would say the Bahiya is closest to in terms of feel/performance? In NE, a Bahiya would be much easier to find than a Foster boat except the CD Rumor and I think I might like a Foster like boat if it means the adventure of an Anas combined with speed. I’ve heard the Bahiya is a hard tracking boat. TIA

hard tracking
Yes, that’s true, the Bahiya is harder tracking that the Foster boats, especially the Shadow. I don’t have a lot of experience with Foster boats though I have paddled a Silhouette a bit and have tried them all except the Rumor at various festivals. My experience is that the Bahiya, like the Foster boats, requires more attention because it likes to lay over a bit. Seems to me that folks who like Nigel’s craft would like the Bahiya, but thems that don’t wouldn’t.

Cetus – from someone who’s paddled it!
There seem to be some strong opinions registered here, which is surprising considering none of them comes from someone who’s actually paddled the Cetus!

I did get an opportunity to test paddle the Cetus over the course of several days while participating in a BCU 5-Star Training course at Sea Kayak Georgia in late October. This gave me an opportunity to see how the boat handled in surf, swells, and big wind (Force 4 to 5). My reaction…P&H has designed a rock solid boat with the Cetus.

Here a are a few of my thoughts based on my experience:

  • Stability. The Cetus has a very solid feel in the water. I normally paddle an Explorer and found the Cetus comparable. In short, the boat responded to my input without doing anything unpredictable, even when screaming down the face of a wave.

  • Edging. The Cetus responded very well to edged turns, turning the boat 180 on a bow rudder was not a problem.

  • Weather-cocking. Even with a beam wind blowing 20-25 knots, the Cetus did not weathercock excessively. The boat was easily trimmed by edging or dropping the skeg slightly…although this was hardly necessary.

  • Surfing. I’ve always considered the Explorer to be a great boat in the surf and the Cetus is comparable. Fast enough to catch waves easily, and very manueverable (in comparison to other sea kayaks) on a wave, carving turns nicely. The bow tended to lift, rather than plunging/pearling on steep wave faces. A very comfortable boat in rough water, for sure.

  • Outfitting and Finish.

    Hatches. The 4-hatch configuration (there is a knee tube accessible with a small hatch on the foredeck) was a great addition. Beyond making use of otherwise wasted space, the knee tube adds structural strength to the deck. It’s definitely not a gimmick…I’d expect to see other boat manufacturers going this route in the near future…much as American boat makers have caught on that day hatches are a good idea! The fore and aft hatches were both full size, oval Kajaksport hatches. Both stayed bone dry. The two-oval hatches make sense on an expedition boat…much more so than the two round hatches on my NDK. There as a little overhang on the edges of the bow hatch…I guess that bothered me aethestically, but didn’t seem to pose a problem.

    Coaming. One feature I appreciated was that the front deck was angled down from the coaming, which made putting the spray skirt on much easier. This may seem an insignificant matter, but when your getting pounded by waves after a rescue, its nice to be able to get that skirt back on pronto.

    Security Cleat. Another nice addition was a security cleat just behind the seat, which makes it easy to secure your boat to your rack. I’d like to see it modified slightly to serve double duty as stay for running a deck mounted tow line through.

    Thigh Braces. The boat I was paddling was a prototype, so it lacked thigh braces. The word is that the boat will ultimately be outfitted with whitewater-style thigh braces (ala Pyranha kayaks) as well whitewater style adjustable backband. Again, here’s an idea that is well past its time, with P&H making good use of its relationship with Pyranha kayaks.

    Footpegs. The footpegs in the boat were a new system that can be adjusted without reaching all the way into the boat. They were solid and stayed in place during multiple rescues and reentries in rough water.

    Finish. The rest of the boat had the expected attention to detail most paddlers associate with P&H. The Kevlar lay-up was flawless. And, although I’m not a fan of metal flake, the boat looked great.


    The Cetus is billed as a “playful expedition boat.” With its predictable handling in a variety of conditions, ample storage space, excellent tracking, and speed, I’d say it’d make a great boat for multi-day trips. But unlike some big expedition boats, this kayak is great in the surf, edges and carves turns, rolls easily, and is fun to paddle. Mission accomplished.

    My only complaint about the Cetus was that it felt a bit straight-leggy (is that a technical term?). But since the prototype didn’t have thighbraces, I did have to lift my knees higher than normal to maintain solid contact with the kayak. I’m also a small paddler (5’9", 150lbs). P&H will be producing a smaller version and I think a lower deck + the whitewater thigh braces will resolve that problem. As an aside, I didn’t feel uncomfortable in the full size Cetus, and while it was at Sea Kayak Georgia a number of people sat in the boat and all found it comfortable, including my buddy who is 6’4" and 200lbs.

    As you can tell, I’m excited about this new boat. I think for those who are frustrated with NDK’s quality control problems (and there are pages and pages of posts on here about fixing NDK boats!), this boat represents a real alternative to the Explorer.

Sounds very interesting
How do you feel the Cetus’ performance/personality compares to an Aquanaut?

At 5’9" a male is at average size. Hopefully the smaller version will be something that’ll work for an average sized woman.

Strong yes but the Cetus is no Nord LV

– Last Updated: Dec-08-06 9:15 AM EST –

Strong yes, negative no, well not with the boat.

kayak41north I think you misinterpret the intent of my post. I have no problem with it being based on the Capella, as this is a good boat.

True I’ve not paddled it yet, and this frustrates me that a British sea kayak company couldn’t point me towards anywhere in Britain where I could!

The main thrust of my post was answering the original question “New Cetus is it comparable with the Nordkapp LV” and the answer to that is clearly no! As your post confirms, as does Peter’s, it is more comparable to the Explorer

My other comments were based on conversations had with P&H dealers, team paddlers, reps and staff all of which led me to believe they were launching the first “new generation boat” since Peter left and this was going to be ground-up-new, showing a clear new vision for where the company was heading. To quote a direct source “we are starting with a clear sheet and constructing an entirely new wood-strip model for the initial prototype” What is frustrating is that clearly this was hype/marketing/rubbish call it what you will! Everyone who has seen it, including Peter, who would know better than most, confirms it is a stretched and modified capella

Again nothing wrong with that as an approach and if it results in an OK boat, some would say “so what” but others would prefer a more honest no spin response to questions directed directly to the companies agents

found ‘action pictures’

– Last Updated: Dec-08-06 9:47 AM EST –

would love to see more!!!!
that black on black capella 161 is sexy lookin too!!!!