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Submitted: 11-01-1999 by Bob Cowan
By way of introduction, after being exposed to sea kayaking early this past summer, my wife and I took a kayaking course, attended several kayak demos and took a couple of local half-day tours. We spent quite a bit of time in Current Design and Necky rotomolded boats during the course and tours. We also tested Dagger and Wilderness Systems. When I finally had the opportunity to test the Cape Horn in Annapolis harbor it was almost a religious experience. The boat was, in my limited experience, incredibly stable, quite maneuverable, and confidence inspiring. It was the first boat I could easily put up on edge and feel completely comfortable. I had come to the end of my search for a first boat -- this was it, hands down!
We had agreed that for first boats we would be better off buying rotomolded kayaks, despite their higher weight, because of their durability and lower cost. We now own and love a Cape Horn and a Wilderness Systems Epic, and are completely satisfied and very impressed with their capabilities.
Thus far the Cape Horn has spent roughly four months in the tidal waters of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, and the deep, open waters of Moosehead Lake, Maine. In both environs, it has earned my complete respect. During two weeks on Moosehead Lake (179,000 surface acres of water), the Cape Horn carried my 200 lb frame plus a lot of camping gear all over the lake without a single problem or shortcoming. Although not as fast as the Epic, it moves right along without a great deal of effort and, handles rough water with aplomb. Our first encounter with rough water came on our six to seven mile return leg of a camping trip. Before we had reached the mouth of the cove we had camped in, waves were over a foot and the wind was building. By the time we reached open water we were facing three to four foot swells with breakers and a 15 to 20 knot wind. Despite our lack of experience in rough water, the boats handled extremely well and before long, although still cautious, we were much more confident. From abeam, or from the bow or stern, the Cape Horn took the swells and breakers amazingly well, and with my cooperation and quickly increasing skills, kept us upright all the way home. I actually reached the point that I would intentionally surf some of the bigger swells just for fun.
The only (minor) complaint I have concerning the boat is that both the front and aft deck profiles are sufficiently low that waves splash over them and the hatches will take in a little water. Overall, it's a rock solid and capable mid size boat.
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