Paddled a Capella 166 today

Well, I went back to the shop to look at a few boats again today… those that I had mentioned here before… Aquanaut RM, Tempest 170, and Capella 166. Based solely on what I had read, I had been leaning toward either the Tempest, or an Aquanaut, but after checking them out more thoroughly, I find that I don’t care for the fit or outfitting of the Aquanauts or the tight cockpit of the Tempest. I’m 6’-1" and 205#, and not as flexible as I used to be and the Tempest is just too difficult for me to get in and out of. The Capella, however, feels very comfortable. I’m also impressed with it’s apparent quality… it’s very fair and smooth and seems very solid compared to other poly boats. After checking it out on the shop floor for quite some time, the guy at the shop took pity on me and offered to close the shop and take me and the Capella to the local lake for a quick test paddle!

Compared to my current (and first and only) kayak, a Cayuga 146, I was at first set back by the Capella’s apparent lack of initial stability. I didn’t experiment with secondary stability much due to the foul nature of the lake… it wasn’t a place I wanted to swim in! I’m told that I will get more comfortable with the reduced initial stability in a short period of time, and I realize that what I’m looking for… a more efficient and better handling boat that I can advance in, will have some trade-offs. Some other observations… it seems more responsive to turning strokes than my Cayuga (sweep, stern rudder, low brace turn, etc), but also turns up into the wind more (with the skeg up).

Any thoughts on this boat, particularly it’s suitability for day trips and short overnites, primarily on larger inland lakes would be appreciated.

Capella’s a very nice boat. When I first paddled a Capella (forget which one) I too thought it was tippy, now it’s super comfy. You do indeed get used to the feel, may take a year but eventually you’ll prefer this to something wider.

Now days I find this boat actually very fat feeling, as I said before, it’s what you get used to paddling :slight_smile:

Bill H.

No Capella
but I have paddled a Sirius for years and I will say that P&H’s quality is second to none in my book. You can grow into tippy. I did and if I am doing some serious paddling tippy will usually translate into performance as you acclimate. If I want mess around I take the CD Kestrel.

Capella 166
was my first kayak about 6 years ago, I still have it for family/friends who want to go out. It is a very well made boat. It definitely wants to cock but the skeg will help that. You should not have any trouble packing for several days camping, the bonus will be less cocking when loaded. I don’t remember what my first impressions were about its stability but I can tell you now that I think it is solid as a rock. As was mentioned you will get used to it, probably pretty quick. It is a very nice, well built boat but not as playful as some other newer plastic models, the Scorpio for example. Is your dealer a p&h guy? If so see if you can try out the Scorpio. About as stable as the 166 but faster and more playful. Anyway, the Capella is a very good boat that will help you grow as a paddler for years to come. Good luck.

Trouble getting in and out of
You are definitely way out of shape ! Get moving.

Good boat
I find that ergonomics in plastic PH boats are very personal - some people of your size love Capella 166, others prefer the larger Scorpio. The best thing you could do is paddle them side by side for a couple of hours. The seats are identical, but the space within cockpit is a little different.

Built quality is quite nice. I can’t really discuss how that boat would handle for your weight. In general, if the boat weathercocks like crazy sitting still, trim can be adjusted by moving the seat back a bit.

At my weight of 150 it turns and surfs quite well.

out of shape?
Actually I think I’m in pretty good shape for 63! However, with my long legs, I cannot bring my legs up while in the Tempest because of the relatively short cockpit length. Where I paddle is Bull Shoals Lake, where there are very few places to get out of the boat, so I like to raise my legs occasionally on longer paddles to help with some lower back and hip issues. In the Cayuga I can even stick my feet in the water… probably can’t do that in a boat with limited initial stability.

Oh, and that test paddle I mentioned was a 460 mile round trip on the motorcycle… even including almost 4 hours at the paddle shop, I was home well before supper. I got up this morning and paddled the Cayuga 9 miles on the lake… 3.4mph overall average, including a few stops for snacks and drinks and some “drift” time to admire my surroundings.

Things could be better, I suppose, but they could also be much worse!!!

Capella 166
By coincidence my friend (6 ft, 195#, excellent skier, dedicated rollerblader) went out on a local lake w. me Monday to do his first paddle as the proud owner of a minty 2008 Capella 166 bought from a kayak outfitter/instructor.

He loves the boat: stable but spirited, tracks as well as my Suka (and is more stable). The V hull in front cruises quietly thru the water. He likes the large cockpit and has already abandoned the paddle-to-the-side brace entry taught to so many newbies. There is room for him to seat himself first, then fold his legs in.

We were out in calm water and some wind waves (30 mph or so)and he never missed a beat. He was doing some fine edging and sweeps, a wet exit (not planned) after which he cowboy’d back in (I’d shown him how earlier, along w. some T rescues).

The boat seems very confidence-inspiring and friendly to skill building. P&H quality is unquestioned. The seat in particular is a great blend of performance and ergonomic comfort, along w. the thigh braces.

Great choice for weekend tripping and could certainly do 5-7 days unsupported as well.

If you like it I’d say pull the trigger.

Can’t go wrong with P&H
One of the best kayak lines being made today. The quality is outstanding and they put a lot of thought into their designs. I would second the suggestion that you try the Scorpio before you make a decision about buying the Capella 166.

have to question the playful
I have an original plastic Capella design and a carbon/kevlar 169. They are definitely well on the playful side of sea kayaks. I have only demo’d the Scorpio once. My impression was playful for an expedition-minded design, but not really in the same category as a Capella. I suppose I would really have to jump into the 166 version and the Scorpio one after the other, but I would bet on the Capella being more easily and quickly maneouvered with pretty high confidence.

Not a preference thing. It would be great if the OP got a Scorpio and liked it more than a Capella. Just questioning the characterization of the Scorpio as being the more playful of the two?

Just my impression
hundreds of hours playing in the Capella and a few hours playing recently in a Scorpio in surf and rocks and I think the Scorpio rolls, edges, surfs and turns all more easily than the 166, so yeah, more playful. YMMV

I guess I would have to agree based on my very limited time in the boat. It was definitely easier to turn than my Cayuga… more responsive. I was somewhat surprised that it didn’t track as straight as I thought a “sea kayak” would, though.

On my paddle in the Cayuga this morning, I tried to imagine how much better and/or different it would have been in the Capella, but I just don’t know enough about any of this at this point. I do feel that I’m missing out on something with the Cayuga, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to give up the confidence-inspiring stability that it has.

different perceptions
I too thought the Scorpio and the Scorpio lv that I paddles were more straight ahead expedition boats than the Plastic Capella I tried some time back and the Capella 169 carbon/kev I tried recently.

The Capella turns more easily and tracking straight was more of an issue. It needed some corrective strokes and edging to go straight but turned on a dime. It even turned on a flat hull.

The Scorpio tracked straight in waves and wind but you needed to lean it to turn.

Scorpio = plastic Cetus
in both standard and LV siblings.

The Scorpios have all the good things about the Cetii - stability, huge gear sponges, high decks for long leg clearance or for those w. less mobility - & some of their less shining attributes, which have been covered elsewhere.

Briefly - some performance drop in surf or following seas. Undersized skegs (corrected now by P&H)The pinch type skeg has its fans and frustrated users. A P&H team member made an excellent YouTube vid on how to use one correctly.

There has been some undue flex noted in the back decks in a pretty well rounded review of an early model (the reviewer really liked the Cetus).

Folks love their Cetii and Scorpii for tripping and straight ahead tracking. They are big, long boats, exp. the full size versions, meant for an unsupported trip of, oh, two weeks plus. And nothing wrong w. that at all.

They are all ridiculously stable given the very w-i-d-e back deck immediately aft of the cockpit. The Capellas have aft width but not to that extent.I may get myself in trouble here, but I found the lowest volume version of all of them (Capellas, Cetii, Scorpii) too stable, thus boring. But that’s just me. YMMV

The Capellas used to be the flagship of the P&H range.Now P&H uses that phrase for the Cetus/Cetus LV - and the imminent midrange model (soon to arrive on this side of the Pond).

Guess it comes down to old school and latest flavor.

What matters most is how it feels when butt hits seat and boat hits water.

I’m going to have to try a Scorpio. The sale ends today, and I’ve decided not to jump on the Capella. I was a little disappointed about it’s tracking and stability, as mentioned earlier. It sounds like the Scorpio may be better in those areas.

Unfortunately, the only shop that has ANY kayak over 12 feet long is 230 miles away… that and the fact that they are not located right on a body of water, makes it difficult to set up a test paddle. They do have a Scorpio… I have checked it out and will see what I can set up in the future.

Stability, Capella

– Last Updated: Jul-01-10 12:14 PM EST –

I was in the Capella 166 so long ago I can't remember the details of things well, but I am going to be the distaff voice here and say that my recall of that as well as the Capella 163 and 161 (and I had two full days in the 161) was that their stability was just fine. Same is true of some other boats mentioned above. Frankly, start talking boats like the Silhouette and the Rumour and I'll agree that initial stability becomes a more fleeting thing, but most of the boats being discussed here have plenty adequate stability.

The one thing is that the Capella line overall has a reputation for weather cocking, the exception maybe being the 161. We had some wind one day but I never felt the urge to drop the skeg in that boat. But the 161 is also the most tweaked hull of the lot. So you learn to love your skeg a little more than some other folks is all - the P&H skeg controls don't tend to break.

The point that I am wandering to the long way is that there is no reason to walk away from the Capella, or probably most other boats you are going to try, due to stability concerns. You'll get used to it and be wondering in 6 weeks what the heck the problem was.

Capella stability
Capellas are stable (esp. the rotos which are fractionally wider than their glass siblings).

They are very stable, actually, which is why so many outfitters and kayak schools use them.

They track brilliantly, too, esp. the longer ones like you demo’d. Be aware when you try a new boat that you may unconsciously be favoring your dominant side when you paddle, w. a consequent effect in tracking.

The moderate V hull (in the forefoot, or the very front) of the Scorpio & Capella are actually very much alike. I’d expect both to be good trackers.

They differ most in the foredecks. Personally I did not like the Scorpio foredeck, it is high and squared off.I prefer the lower traditional rounded & “squashed” look of the Capellas… more than looks, the Capella foredeck does not stand nearly so tall in the wind as will the Scorpio. On a windy day you’ll appreciate this.

The Capella 166 is a honey of a boat and has proven itself over a decade. The Scorpio is relatively new, couple of years old, a rising star in the P&H stable. Try the Scorpio too, this is a good time to try before you buy.

Capella hatch covers?

– Last Updated: Jul-01-10 11:46 AM EST –

I checked out a used Capella 160 yesterday, it was an older model with the more square-ish hatch covers. Just curious whether these have proven watertight, for others who have the older model Capella? Just looking at the design I couldn't imagine them staying dry in a roll, but curious what others have experienced.

bought the Capella
Thanks to all who responded for the help with this decision. I just got off the phone with the paddle shop & it’s a done deal… I pick it up tomorrow!

As nice as the White River chain of lakes are to paddle, I never see anyone, nor do I know anyone who paddles this type of boat… so again, thanks to all for the feedback.

be happy and bond w. your boat… she is worthy :smiley:

as worthy a steed as Shadowfax proved to the White Wizard.

in a half dozen paddles you will be smiling, inside & out…

remember your local paddleshop when you need gear.

get your Xmas, birthday, etc. requests out to your

family now '-)

now go paddle off your a$$ LOL