Submitted: 08-17-2005 by fffri
My wife and I both bought rotomolded Cape Horns last year: hers a second-hand 140 and mine a new 150. Both boats have rudders and the Wilderness 3-Way Seat. I am 5'10" and around 185 lbs. My wife is 5'2' and less than 120 lbs.
These are our first kayaks, but before buying them, we had taken a basic paddling course and tried a few designs as rentals. So far, we both like the design and performance of our Cape Horns. One shortcoming, as already mentioned, is the boats could use more deck bungees.
Another shortcoming, but this affects me more than wife, is that the boat tends to weathercock in a following sea and wind. Maybe I need to improve my paddling skills more?
The kayaks track well into the wind and in most conditions we've been in. My wife never uses her rudder, and I only use mine when I'm lazy and don't feel like dealing with wind and/or tides and currents. The boats are relatively fast, and I've had no problem keeping up with other boats on a short haul.
As for the hatches leaking, I've only experienced this when I neglected to batten them down properly. We've practiced wet exits, self- and assisted rescues, had waves break over the boats, and have found barely a drop of water in the storage compartments. Even when water has leaked in, it is usually less than a cupful and almost always in the stern storage compartment. I suspect, as other do, that it's probably linked to leakage through the rudder cables than through the hatch cover.
Our paddling has been primarily in some coves, salt marshes, and along parts of Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River, as well as the state's largest salt pond, so we haven't exposed ourselves yet to any really challenging conditions, save boat and ship wakes. The worst we've dealt with so far has been paddling into 1-2' chop against an outgoing tide and a 20-25 knot headwind, which we handled well.
The boats are stable--so stable that my wife actually had difficulty capsizing hers the first time she tried a wet exit in it! The only time I've capsized unexpectedly was when we paddled in chop close to shore without our sprayskirts. A large wave broke over the stern, flooded the cockpit, and flipped me faster than you can say "flip." Had I been wearing a sprayskirt, I wouldn't have gone over.
Since we bought the boats, we've taken another kayak course to improve our paddling and other skills. The more we use these boats and improve our skills the more confident we are with their seaworthiness.
I haven't learned to roll successfully yet, but I know a more experienced CH owner who says the CH rolls and recovers well. I can't wait to learn!
In short, I think the Cape Horn is a great sea kayak and buy for the money.