Submitted: 09-05-2001 by HGG
After looking for a kayak that tracks well and that fits my big feet (size 13) and getting advice on another forum; after test paddles of the Cape Horn 17 and Perception Eclipse in Annapolis; and after reading many of your reviews as well as Sea Kayaker Mag's (Aug. issue), plus visits to 5 kayak stores and talks with sales people, I bought the Cape Horn 17. At the same time, my girlfriend got the Cape Horn 14. (Both are plastic.) Our primary interest was to get boats that tracked well and were not too heavy and that could carry camping gear for multiday trips.
This past w/e we played around two afternoons on Potomac, several hours on the water each time. Let me add that we are "watersporters" (sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and recreational kayaking), but so far have little experience with sea/touring kayaks. In any event, we loved our outings with these 2 Cape Horns. My g/f should add her on review of the 14. She certainly kept up with me w/o any problems. On the 17: it tracks beautifully, one of my first criteria. I found the speed amazing comparing it to my recreational kayak. One of the nice and exceptional features of the Cape Horn is that it has a "keel" (a very shallow one over the length of the boat). And it has only modest rocker. I have not seen other kayaks that have a "keel". I has a long waterline as well (no upswept stern, more like a built-in skeg). These features accounts for its great tracking. Also, the keel adds to the rigidity of the hull (which can be an issue with a plastic boat). I used the rudder just to try it out although I did not really need it and noticed that in windy conditions it does help. Generally, however, you don't need to use it.
The boat felt stable on the water (we are still learning how to lean it properly). We helped a guy who had capsized his wooden sailboat, bail out his boat which had filled up completely (no floatation) and was rolling over every time he tried to right it, by stabilizing him by coming alongside with our kayaks on either side.)
At 62lbs/28.1kg, the Cape Horn 17 is not a super light boat, but for the length it is very good. The glass model is only 3lbs lighter (and $1000 or so more expensive). This is just my first report on this boat. As I gain more experience, I will write more. Anyway, these are the first impressions from a happy owner of a new Cape Horn 17. I would love to hear from others who have this boat too. (I rate it 9 because I don't know enough about the boat yet (in different weather for example, to rate it a 10.)