Submitted: 08-16-2007 by P. Flynn
An update for you as I have now had the Cayuga 160 for a few months now and have more than 80 miles under its keel. I have been out in a variety of conditions, from gentle swell to f5/f6 and 5ft following seas and once I learned to trust the boat I have been fine.
The bow is not as raised as other dolphin bow kayaks, so heading into larger waves it can bury the nose into waves which sweep back into the edge of the front hatch. The raised hatch cover then sprays a good amount of water back towards the cockpit. Heading into a F3+ head wind you will get very wet. And the hatches ship a little water when the deck is awash. (Applies to the rear hatch too when washed over with quartering waves).
The Cayuga 160 seems to be a very well balanced boat and unless there are steep waves, and wind conditions are F4 or more I mostly don't need to use the rudder. However, once seas are big enough to stop me putting the kayak up on edge to steer then I would drop the rudder and play it safe (It should be noted I changed the rudder pedals from the sliding arrangement to a "gas-pedal" type as soon as I got the boat, so I cannot comment on the standard footrests).
The Cayuga 160 surfs very well - it really is quite easy to pick up a relatively large wave and ride it for 5-10 seconds at a time. With the rudder down you can pick up rear quartering waves at quite an angle without broaching.
As far as confidence in its stability I am now far more comfortable in choppy conditions than my friend in his more traditional glass 22in wide kayak, but I don't seem to suffer too much in the speed stakes - and can average 3-3.5mph for 3 or 4 hours at a time. I may run into its hull speed eventually, but generally there is enough spare to put in a few power strokes to catch a wave, or to make a sprint around a headland in between wave sets.
I was caught in worsening conditions this last weekend. F4-F5 went up to F6 and waves were 5ft and quartering sets were coming in as we headed for a planned exit point. The waves were frequently breaking and several times I had to lean on the paddle fairly hard as I surfed them. I am fairly confident in the Cayuga's secondary stability now, and while it was not prudent to continue our paddle it gave a great boost to know that the boat was not out of its element in (what was for me) challenging conditions. It was predictable, stable and confidence inspiring.
For an 16ft plastic intermediate sea kayak I now have to give it 10/10. Very very impressed.