surfing following seas

Well, I place a thread here a couple of weeks ago regarding the behavior of my P+H CETUS. Have had several outings since then with stout winds and waves, this kayak is too much in a followinf sea, it is a handful, I’ve been paddling for 25 years now and owned a lot of boats, sorry to say the CETUS is a PIG in windy conditions.I am trading for a BAHIYA, much more in line with what I’m used to.

Thanks for all of the replies.

did you try the bahiya first
it might paddle about the same?

Why a Bahiya?
Curious if you’ve tried a number of boats in the conditions you describe and found the Bahiya the most to your liking?

gotta agree
you better try the B in the wind before you call the Cetus a ‘pig’ in the wind.


Hmmm… Quest LV too?
I’ve paddled a Quest LV, and think it had a strong tendency to broach in following seas, of even 2 feet…

Skeg or no skeg, it took a lot of ruddering to keep it straight…

That bow just digs right in…

Ive paddled, from the P&H line
the Capella in the 16’6" x 22" in a rotomolded, the Bahiya and the Sirius all in surf.

The Sirius, of course, was my preferred boat, followed by the Bahiya, and then the Capella. I stand at five foot six inches tall, and weigh only one hundred thirty five pounds.

Im actually surprised to hear you say that the Cetus is a ‘pig’ in the wind. Care to elaborate?

Bahiya review
The SK review (Dec 2004) mentioned the bow tending to submerge, which probably isn’t ideal for what you are wanting.

A nice-looking boat, does have that going for it. Assuming your trade-in options are limited(?)


Have you considered a surf ski?
Are you running down wind a lot in big swells or choppy crap?

Do you have to stay with P&H?
I was just reading your earlier posts and you noted that friends did much better in their Explorers. Do you have to stick with P&H or might you be able to trade in the Cetus for another brand?

Most I know like the way the Explorer surfs for a 17.5’ boat. Of course a shorter boat, such as a Romany is even more fun in such stuff.

I happen to like my Aquanaut in following seas and wind - though my Romany surfs better.

There are some confident paddlers who quite like the Nordkapp LV in surf and following seas.

The Rockpool and Tiderace boats are also reputed to be very good in such conditions.

Bahiya Review

– Last Updated: Mar-31-09 3:34 PM EST –

I am sorry to hear that the Cetus is not treating you right. It has been a huge success for P&H, and the team paddlers that I have talked with have loved the boat. Your comments are the first negative feedback that I have heard about the Cetus in conditions, following seas or otherwise.

I don't have much personal experience with the Cetus, but I have paddled the Bahiya extensively as a team boat. I have posted a review of the boat on my website: with a link from the P&H Team page. I hope that you find it useful.

The Bahiya is a fast boat with light initial stability that is best matched to a advanced (or advancing) paddler. The boat handles well in a following sea, but will broach quickly in the right conditions.

Bottom line is it comes down to the given boat and given paddler on an individual day. The key is finding a boat that is well matched to your own personal strengths, habits and preferences. It sounds like the Cetus may not be that boat for you. Maybe the Bahiya is.


Brian Day
P&H Midwest Team Guy

Details, please
Brian- your post implies there are techniques that are being employed successfully such that the Cetus will run straight surfing on a following sea. While the other attributes of the Cetus very much overcome this issue in my case, perhaps you could explain what these paddlers do exactly to accomplish this. I find it a real pleasure to catch small waves, as it is easy to do and the boat seems to want to ride them, but I often need a stern rudder to keep it straight, and then lose speed and fall off the wave. On large steep waves, I have to work very hard on a stern rudder to just keep it from going into a complete broach. Any specific advice for me on techniques to improve handling gratefully and humbly accepted.


Following Sea Techniques
Hi Peter-

Sorry about the length of this post. I want to hit a bunch of topics.

I guess that I made my response open ended because there are so many variables at work. And, as I said I do not have a lot of time in the cockpit with the Cetus, so I cannot speak directly to the performance of that boat. I can say a few things about paddling following seas that have been helpful to me in all kayaks.

All sea kayaks broach in a following sea. They do this when the bow digs into the trough of the wave, and the motion of the wave carries the stern forward. But–not all kayaks do it on waves of the same steepness or wavelength. That is one reason that on a given day, one paddler might be having a great time in his kayak, while another guy might be cussing.

Boats with short waterlines and tons of rocker, or with lots of volume in the bow may do a little better on short, steep waves. But, they might have other drawbacks, like lower hull speed or greater tendency to weathercock.

Once a sea kayak starts broaching, the force seems to intensify as the boat gets closer to parallel with the wave. So, it pays to counteract a broaching motion as it is starting, rather than later on.

I use a stern rudder all the time. Sometimes I really hang off the thing. The stern rudder is your most powerful tool for controlling a broach as the kayak is surfing. I like a high-angle stern rudder for maximum efficiency and minimal drag. You can find my Sea Kayaker article about the high stern rudder online if you want to check out the technique.

As a previous poster mentioned (I looked for the thread but couldn’t find it) the stern draw is the best corrective stroke to use when you are moving forward. Drawing the stern of the boat sideways is much more effective than trying to correct with a sweep stroke. Sweeps just speed you up and make the broach worse.

Aggressively use your edges. Getting a boat up on edge can dramatically change the way the hull behaves and can make it possible to force it back on track.

I guess there is one, last thing. Moving the seat in your kayak can make a big difference. Sometimes shifting the seat backwards, even by just an inch, can help performance in a following sea. But–moving the seat too far can cause its own set of problems, like weathervaning in a crosswind.

I hope that this helps. I wish that I had more specific feedback on the Cetus.


Brian Day

P&H Midwest Team Guy

I plan on moving my seat back and look
to make a change to the skeg. I moved my seat forward to help clear the coaming with my degraded spine. Brian, do you know if there is another skeg that can be used in my Cetus. I am hoping to add more surface area and stiffness. I could modify my skeg, but if I screw it up I am out a skeg. Is there someone I can contact at P&H if you are unable to help with this? Thanks for any help you might give me. Bill

P.S. The Cetus is an amazing boat and does many things quite well, but this issue is one I would like to see go away. I hope to improve this and will report back if I can make progress with technique and hardware.

Seats and Skegs
Moving the seat back should definitely improve following sea performance, and will probably reduce the amount that you feel the need to use the skeg. Moving the seat might even make you change your mind about how well the skeg works.

I don’t have any information about new skeg plastics or upgrades. I have not heard any feedback one way or the other on the stiffness of the skeg. But, from the previous thread, it sounds like the guys at P&H are looking into it.

For my part, I have found the new skeg to work well. I like the long blade, field maintainability, and anti-kink features. So far I haven’t found it lacking. If I do, I will be sure to pass my opinions along.


Brian Day

P&H Midwest Team Guy

Great Info
Thanks for taking the time to write that Brian. Good stuff to work on this season. The sweep-stroke comment was in this thread (came from me).

I do really like my new Capella, it’s the first boat I’ve developed some decent edging comfort in. A really good boat for beginners (and a somewhat cautious non-beginner).


The stern rudder often results in net

– Last Updated: Mar-31-09 10:34 PM EST –

drag causing the kayak to top out on the wave if not blended with subtle edge to edge transition. This is especially true when larger than neutral degrees of blade angle are introduced. Although I do use a stern rudder surfing following seas in a sea boat; sometimes surfing river waves; it is especially apparent on a surf kayak. I go up and over much faster with the rudder. I finally learned something from Bill Mattos's book, Kayak Surfing, when he said something to the effect of "trail your blade in as non draggy of a manner". The stern rudder works, as much as it causes other problems. Where have we heard that before? You may want to consider adding the draw stroke to correct broaching, as well as direct pressure from your knees under the foredeck to reduce pearling. The edge to edge transition, very subtly, cannot be underestimated. Oh, and the Capeela 167 is a brilliant boat. (edited note.)


learning curve
The Cetus is a unique boat, like no other in fact , so paddling it also involves a learning curve like no other. It is extremely maneuverable for a boat of its length, a double edged sword. But if a boat broaches , veers off course, which the Cetus can do , it can also be brought back on course with edging, the right strokes etc.

Since the Cetus can be initially perceived as a skeggy boat, I have found: (I was forced to when I paddled two days with no skeg, as it was frozen or gummy ) that with the skeg down, it is then harder to correct, so with skeg up it can correct more easily than initially apparent once you get kind of get intimate with the boat. Maybe like Alexander the Great taming Bucephalus. Going down following seas works with edging, stern rudders, and being especially attentive early in the ride, to keep it from starting to veer or broach in the first place.

There’s much to learn paddling this boat: I’ve enjoyed the process.

Moving your CG
Brian brings up a good point about boat trim. Considering that the paddler is the heaviest single thing on board, moving it even an inch would indeed have a discernible effect.

A more temporary and adjustable method, which can be adapted to daily conditions, is to pack your boat for conditions expected that day. For example, when following winds are predicted, I often load water and food in the stern to shift the CG rearward, similar to moving the seat back, to help keep the bow light in the water, and therefore less likely to broach. The inverse is true for head- and crosswinds: pack the bow a little heavy.

This brings up another point for the OP: is your boated loaded when you’re having trouble? P&H describes the Cetus as a “load carrier … [with] plenty of storage for equipment” and an “expedition platform.” To paddle it empty on daytrips will likely change its on-the-water personality, perhaps not to your liking. Something else to keep in mind when shopping for a new boat.

Good luck!


on some boats
if the bow is sharp without much rocker the amount of weight required to lift the bow makes for real crappy handling other times.

Island Kayaks Expedition
I had the opportunity to paddle a Cetus, but only for one day. My main boat is an Island Kayaks Expedition and I found the boats to be very similar. Long boats with significant volume; but very easy to spin and also very easy to control with weight shift. I find both boats to be harder to keep a still hull, but have gradually started wondering if control through weight shifts (not necessarily focused on keeping a quiet hull) is not an acceptable means of controlling boats with these handling characteristics.

I did not have the Cetus out in following seas but if it behaves like the Expedition in that environment as well; it definitely takes a quick catch of the broach and really torquing the stern rudder or draw to keep it on track . . . but be ready to change the blade angle when it does release and start moving in the other direction.

Good thread and thanks for the input from P&H.