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Submitted: 07-12-2007 by Oregonpaddler
I took a chance and bought the Cayaga 146 solely on internet reviews. Good choice. If you look at the profile of this kayak, you'll see a very sharp bow and stern profile with a pretty flat bottom right under the seat. Old Town reports that this allows for a fast glide with good stability and I believe it. The 14 1/2 foot Cayuga has very good initial stability and perfect secondary stability.
I've taken this kayak in the slow moving Willamette River in Oregon, the Siletz, Salmon and Nestucca rivers on the Oregon coast and have even played in the surf with it. I will even recommend it as an ocean tourer, with limited cargo area for new, intermediate and advanced paddlers. Tracking is very good, even without a rudder. The sharp shape of the bow and stern help it track better than the following rudderless boats I've paddled: Wilderness Tsunami 125, Perception Carolina 14, Dagger 12. Granted, the Dagger doesn't belong in this category - it plows rather than cuts throught the water, but that's what I had to compare it to. In coastal rivers playing with the tides, I can feel the lack of a drop-down rudder, but the extra cost doesn't outweigh the advantages for me.
This is a fast, durable easy gliding kayak that is as good as products costing much more. The variable density poly was at first a concern. To save weight, the Cayuga plastic is very thin in spots. My paddling companion told me he could see the interior of the forward hatch on a sunny day. I believe him. I carry the Cayuaga with a Thule crade-type carrier, hull down. We cinched it down on a J-style carrier and dented the bottom, which did rebound after a day in the sun, but I'd rather not have to do that again. As for the hatches, no they are not watertight -- I haven't seen any that are 100% and that's what drybags are for. Some slight leakage in both hatches, no big deal, and the buckle closure is so much more convenient than struggling with the old school type found on all other brands. The small cockpit in front of the paddler is not watertight--the gasket is not quite up to snuff, but it's wonderfully convenient and besides, that's what dry bags are for. Two 12 ounce beer cans fit well there and the pronounced shape keeps the surf from rolling into the cockpit, a nice touch The seat is fine, some easy adjustments once you get used to it. The plastic scratches like any other poly boat, but has not presented any problems. Consider the cost against composite kayaks--if the Cayuga flew off my rack at 60mph, I do believe all I'd find would be some asphalt gouges and a kayak that still glides well.
All in all, this is a deal for the money. Old Town has been at it for decades and they've put a lot of work into their recreational kayaks. This series -- "transitional" is something they should be proud of. You owe it to yourself to paddle a Cayuga after demoing other brands. Prepare for a surprise.
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