Sea Kayak Advice

Hi all, I am looking to get into sea kayaking and am trying to figure out what kind of boat to get. I am 5’7" and will be kayaking in and around Charleston, SC so some ocean, some marshes, some blackwater creeks, a little bit of everything. I am looking for a touring kayak that I can take on day trips and overnight trips, about 16 or so feet long, and I want polyethylene since I will likely be bumping into stuff in swamps etc. I have been looking pretty closely at the WS tempest 165 but a local dealer where I live now has a Venture Capella 166 on sale for about $1000. Seems like a good deal given the popularity of the capella when it was made by P+H. That said, I cant find much info on the Venture version and am wondering if it is a good buy at that price or if I should look around some more. Specifically how does it compare to the tempest I mentioned earlier? Thanks for any help!

Getin and paddle
My strong suggestion for anyone looking to buy a boat is get in and paddle them. You need to find the one that fits you.

Both are good boats and likely decent options for what you are considering - if they fit you and you are comfortable in them.

That said, venture Kayaks is a part of the P&H family, so the Capella should be the same as before.

what peter said
Also consider taking some classes if you are just starting out. Especially with a skeg boat you need some steering stroke skills.

capella’s a nice boat
…but I’d third the advice here. Get out and demo paddle. You’re in a great area to do so, plenty of vendors your way. Why? Because you might think you like the capella enough to buy it - right until you try another boat.

I’d also get that first boat used. Because more likely than not, your preferences will evolve and you’ll be buying again.

used boat
I will definitely give the boats a try, but as to the point about getting a used boat, I had intended to but honestly it is hard to find a used 16’ sea kayak in good condition for less than that capella is selling for, which is why I asked in the first place. Thanks for the tips though!

Peter’s advice to “paddle em’” is always sound. Ask yourself, how atheletic you are & intend to be, how far do you expect to advance in the next year or two? My understanding is the Capella is a great beginner’s boat and a good stable tourer. The Tempest,(among other boats), are not quite so beginner friendly but a bit sportier while still good as touring flat water. Research and paddle; a couple of hundred bucks difference is worth it on the front IMO.


Hard to comment usefully
It appears that you are just starting out… have you gotten any seat time in a sea kayak thru either guided tours or lessons?

Comparing these two boats well will be difficult if you don’t have seat time to understand well what you are hearing. Tracking straight to someone with time in a boat is a whole different discussion for a newbie than for a more experienced paddler, as are thing like your personal tolerance for weather cocking which might be different between these two boats. Fine tuned discussions about fit often make no sense to new paddlers, until they take their first all day lesson or rolling class. Until then, they often feel best in boats that are too big for them.

If you are desperate to get a boat now, and I am correct about your experience so far, either of these would do. The Tempest is a totally reliable all-around boat, it’ll do anything you need it to, the Venture will also get you started OK and if is cheaper it’ll leave you more room for all the other stuff you will need like good clothing and a decent paddle.

I wouldn’t fall in love with any first boat though… if you really like the sport you’ll find yourself being pretty fickle within months.
Has really good instructors, I would recommend getting in touch. If getting instruction is not your thing, they will, at least, put you in different boats.

Venture 166 used to be known as PH Capella 166.

Height is not they only number of importance when looking for a boat - weight is a factor as well. A person of 5.7 @ 130lb would find Cap 166 too large for unloaded boat paddling, while 5.7 @ 180lb would be amazed how well that hull handles.

it’s not a bad price
I’ve always liked the capella, poly construction is good. Should your preferences change you will be able to find a buyer, and regardless the capella will always make a decent day or weekend boat if/when you add to the fleet.

Capella is a fun kayak

– Last Updated: Dec-06-12 11:46 AM EST –

I agree that you should get over to Sea Kayak Carolina, try a few on, and then try a few out. I have a composite Capella (no need to go plastic for your purposes other than price, and if you beat the heck out of your boat landing - not on sandy beaches, on gravel and concrete landings - and getting it from shore to vehicle, vehicle to storage).
Years ago, when I bought the Capella, it wasn't the kayak I had my eye on initially. When I jumped in, it was looser in initial stability, but still pretty solid in secondary, vs. the many others I tried at the time. I got the impression that it felt stable compared to P&H's Sirius, but it certainly didn't feel less lively than a Valley Pintail or Necky Chatham, etc. It actually felt sportier to me than much of it's competition. Not to say better, I just liked the feel. Many years later, it's still a favorite for play time.
But different folks of different sizes can have different impressions. And even more so, different skill levels have incredibly different impressions.
Here's an example. In the reviews section on here of the Nigel Foster Legend, there is a review that compares the Legend's maneuverability favorably compared to a Capella. I own, enjoy and am impressed with the handling of my Legend, but if you skill up, I guarantee you will not maneuver as quickly in the Legend as you can in the Capella. Not good or bad, it's simply a different design. Precise maneuvering requires use of the paddle. Simply edging won't give it to you in any terrifically meaningful way, not even in the Legend. The Legend has fair maneuverability, and good speed. Same with P&H's newer expedition boats, the Cetus. The Cetus has nice maneuverability, but not as loose as my Capella. I first demoed a Cetus in Charleston at the ECCKF, and I have a friend that let me demo his once in some waves in an inlet here. A very nice kayak. But I definitely noted that it was maneuverable for an expedition kayak, but it wasn't, and really shouldn't be expected to be, maneuverable compared to my Capella. So just a couple of examples of what you can hear and read, and hear and read repeated, that may not necessarily reflect reality. But I suspect that someone not very comfortable edging, and not very comfortable with planting turning strokes, may in fact have decidedly different impressions. It's just a matter of understanding that they are not experiencing limitations of the kayak. So this points to the importance of personal limitations and how it will effect your experience. Only paddling a kayak can tell you that. I'm like anybody else. In many cases, I'm simply not aware of the things I'm not currently capable of, so I can declare with conviction characteristics of a kayak because I just don't realize I haven't discovered further potential.
P&H did do some modifications from the version I have quite a few years back, but I was told by some folks in Charleston that they were positive modifications. Who can really say? If you like the Capella, assuming this is the same design, you don't have to worry that it's somehow less capable than some other design.
Here's a few photos of me in the Capella. The first two were taken by a person zooming in from the beach. The first is punching over/through a wave. The last was a go pro mounted on my bow, getting pretty verticle in front of a steep wave starting to break.
I have little doubt that I would be having some of the same fun in the Tempest.

trying photos again
see if it works this time

T 165
check your “local dealer”

I think they also have a used (consignment) T 165 for the same price.

Capella too big?
Paddle both and check for fit. The P&H Capella 166 I had for a while was pretty high volume - perhaps too big for your size. My friend who is 6’4" and 275# paddled it more than I did.

It was a very well made boat and a nice performing hull. That said, the fit was awful for me (6’3" and 180#). The seat was too narrow for me and I had to replace it with a foam seat. The thigh grips were terrible.


Venture diff. than original Capella
The new Venture Capella is a different layout than the old P&H Capella. The seat is broader, thigh braces allow more vertical height for the legs, more pronounced vee keel for tracking, single layer plastic which is quite rigid (and $1500 rather than $1800 for the 3 layer Corelite). A lot of the same features too such as Kajaksport hatches, security bar, P&H up haul cord foil skeg, formed seat pan, etc.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Just visited the venture site,
From the Venture site, the Capella 166 & 160 look to be vey different boats. The 160 in the alt. view show defined rocker as the WS tempest 165 does,(making these much more manuverable I’d expect). The C-166 looks almost rail straight, good for tracking, but I’d not expect much in the way of responsiveness. On their site you can click the “units” to get inches and pounds, worth looking at, the 166 looks to be a fairly large boat & might be barge like without enough weight.