Submitted: 07-17-2007 by Jazzmcs
Over the last month I have tested a lot of boats. But first everyone is a different size and wants something different out of a kayak. So I am 6ft tall, 210lbs, size 12 shoes, long legs and arms and was looking for an all around touring kayak that could handle the protected coastal waters even when things got a bit choppy.
Here are some of the boats I tried. The Wilderness Systems Pungo 12 (cockpit was way too big), Boreal Designs Sedna (didn't track well for me except with rudder down), Necky Manitou 13 (uncomfortable cockpit with a strange buckle system mounted to the cockpit rim), Necky Manitou 14 (felt a bit barge like but roomy), Old Town Cayuga 13 (fast with great glide but too tight on my size 12 feet), Venture Kayaks Easky 13 and 15 which both felt very slow but roomy and stable, and the Old Town Cayuga 146 which I bought without actually testing based on the performance of the 13. Other boats I would have liked to test were the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 but lots of people said it is very slow. Also, the Necky Chatham 16 or 17 but they were a bit out of my price range and probably not as well rounded or comfortable as the Cayuga 146. I might look into those when I get more experienced.
So pretty much every boat that I initially tried had some problem that I didn't like as stated above. But the Cayuga 130 was by far the best overall for me and also for my wife. It fit her perfect and she easily cruised by me while I was testing other boats. But like said for me the foot room was very cramped. But the seat was super comfortable and adjustable. I also really liked the built in thigh pads. They really held me in the boat tight. But what really sold me on the Cayuga was the hull design. It is relatively flat directly under the seat but it sharply turns into the bow and stern so it cuts through the water really well rather than pushing it. A quick look at the hull really shows why it works so well for beginners and more advanced paddlers. True definitely not as stable as a wide boat like the Pungo but more stable than most sea kayaks. Too be honest it was probably the least stable (initial stability) of all the longer (13'+) kayaks I tried but after about 10 minutes in the boat you get used to it. But at the same time you quickly realize that the secondary stability is really good. Attempting a couple rudder turns with the paddle tipped me a bit more than I expected but it didn't feel like it was going to capsize. I also want to mention the tracking. Man this boat really tracks well. The only other boat that came close was the Manitou 14 which was one foot longer and didn't have as much glide. Other features that I liked about the 13 was two bulkheads for tons of storage room and great flotation in case of a capsize. It also has a neat little screw on hatch on the dash that one could keep a waterproof GPS or camera.
Now onto the Cayuga 146. Fortunately I got to try out all of those boats above in one day so I pretty much knew what I was looking for and had them fresh in my mind. Of course a lot of researching on this site and others prior to trying out the boats was needed. I was convinced prior that the Necky Manitou 14 would be the boat for me due to the reviews, size, and speed but I guess not. My goal was to now find the larger Cayuga 146 because if it had more foot room it would be perfect for my build and ability. Luckily I ended up tracking down a red and yellow one on Cape Cod at an Eastern Mountain Sports. Their regular price of 1200 each was a bit more than I wanted to spend but each boat also came with a rudder. I didn't really think I needed it but that's all that was offered anywhere near me. So I drove down the next day and dry fitted them with my wife. Immediately there was noticeably more foot and leg room. That extra 1.5 ft of boat made for more cockpit room down by my feet as I hoped. The boat is 1/2 narrower (24.5") than the Cayuga 130 but I couldn't feel the difference. Also I should note that the cockpit entry is also slightly smaller which I also couldn't really feel. But for comparison much tighter than a pure recreational kayak like the Pungo but just right once you are in. Again, I am 210 lbs so I'm not a small guy and I am still easily able to get into this cockpit which is similar in size to most all longer touring kayaks and a lot of sea kayaks. Surprisingly the boat also fit my wife who is 5'6" and of medium build. For comparison the Necky Manitou 14 would have been too big for her tastes but this even longer Cayuga fit her great. Probably due to the great adjustability of the seats and large thigh pads. So knowing that the Cayuga had great speed, incredible glide, and rather stable for a day touring boat I decided to buy both of them. Luckily the boats were 20 percent off so I saved a ton of money. I got a couple Aquabound Sting Ray Carbon Fiber shaft paddles also. The light weight is great and I have had no problems with them. I keep them feathered at 90 degrees because it is rather windy up here. I also velcroed my Garmin GPS 60 series with marine charts onto the dash and safety loop it to the paddle leash. Just some industrial velcro strips and it has never come off even in 2-4' seas (storm I got stuck in).
It's been about a month now since I have bought the boats and they still perform excellent. They make the coastal kayaking so easy and comfortable that I wonder if I should have tried to find the 16ft version or tried some 17ft boats by other brands (true sea kayak lengths rather than touring). It seems the coastal/sea is what I enjoy the most. But again I realize the Cayuga 146 at 14'6" long is more versatile and stable enough for a beginner/intermediate paddler.
To sum it all up after 2-3 trips a week for the last month I give the boat a 10 for aspiring beginners or intermediate level paddlers because it is long enough to handle moderate seas, tracks incredibly well with its pronounced keel even without the rudder, great primary stability due to the rather flat bottom directly under the seat only, great secondary stability due to the rest of the hull design (soft chined and very steep at hull and stern), incredible glide and speed for a boat of this length, large hatch openings for overnight trips, convenient dashboard hatch for light, knife, phone, etc. and even a rudder when needed.
Hope this helps as much as the reviews of all the boats have helped me. Feel free to email me if anyone has any questions.