Submitted: 04-27-2012 by CWard
I am 6'1', 230 lbs and fairly athletic. I am new to the sport of sea kayaking and so the review will be limited. I had paddled a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 14.5 a few months before deciding to purchase a sea kayak.
Like others, I have read every review about every sea kayak that would be appropriate for my size. After nearly a month of reading, and considering what type of paddling I would be doing most of the time, I narrowed the selection down to three kayaks. I decided that I would in fact test paddle them. If for some reason I was still uncomfortable I would reassess the list and broaden my search. I narrowed the list down to the Capella 173, the Cetus HV and the NDK Explorer HV. I visited Sea Kayak Carolina and sat in the boats on land. The first time I went by, I just happened to be in the area but was not ready or dressed for a paddle. William spent a couple hours going over the boats with me. I was able to rule out the NDK simply due to comfort and fit. It was a beautiful boat but it just did not feel right sitting in it. I decided that if for some reason I did not like the Capella or the Cetus then I would at least give the NDK a test paddle. From there it was down to the Cetus HV and the Capella 173. I made an appointment to come back in 3 weeks. During that time, having contemplated the remaining two boats, I had mentally already committed to the Capella. I think this was because the cockpit was pretty roomy similar to the Tsunami. I went back 3 weeks later. William took me out for a couple of hours. I first tried the Cetus HV mainly just to get it out of the way so I could spend the remaining time in the Capella. William was very careful not to prejudice me toward either.
As soon as I got into the Cetus HV I was already reevaluating my initial decision. It felt so solid. I was expecting something a little twitchy. It sat low, and the seat placement seemed to really lower my center of gravity into the boat. Compared to Tsunami it felt like a fighter jet. I paddled out into fairly flat water, but the wind was really gusting. It was like silk. I paddled it for quite a while. It was stable beyond what I had imagined. Maybe the best description would be secure and predictable. It edged over very comfortably.
I returned and got into the Capella, the boat I had actually come to buy. I paddled it for about the same amount of time. I must say, these two boats felt nothing alike to me. The Capella sat slightly higher in the water, and it was a much looser fit. In the wind, I quickly found that I missed the close fitting feel of the Cetus and its lower profile. I came back in from paddling and wanted back in the Cetus. William all the while not pushing me one way or the other. After another 30 minutes, it was clear. I had changed my mind. I was not even iffy about it. I was more comfortable and in control of the Cetus. I got back to shore and William finally said to me "It's the Cetus right"? I asked how he knew. He said He could tell by watching me paddle it. He said I looked more comfortable and relaxed in it.
I bought the Cetus. That has been 3 months ago. I am still a rookie, but I don't intend on being one forever. I now have a boat that I can really develop with. I have had it out in some very rough chaotic chop (1 - 2 ft). I realize that this nothing to most readers, but for me I was initially a bit nervous. I had not been in that kind of water before. Within a matter of minutes I was quite calm and confident. No capsizes, not even close. It is very predictable.
While I highly recommend the Cetus, my biggest learning experience to anyone new like myself, is don't makeup your mind until you paddle a few. Being new to the sport I was amazed at just how different the boats feel and behave. I probably should have at least paddled the NDK just to have completed my due diligence, but after falling in love with the Cetus, I was just too taken.