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Why did I choose the Cetus? I did try a number of kayaks. Although a full sized expedition boat it turns easily, edges well, surfs even small waves well and gives no nasty surprises (except perhaps if I have an off day and lose concentration). It is a boat that lets you off when you fail. This means it is a kayak that you can be confident to grow your skills in. It is heavy, as others have said, it is a little slower in light water. But when it counts, in a good swell and choppy conditions it really turns on the thrills. When others are slowing and practicing bracing skills the Cetus gets faster and feels safer at any angle or condition. It is then you can really feel the thrills. I don't find it broaches easily as others have said.
It is a true ocean kayak and will let you make your own choices where you go and how you get there and will not turn on you when it gets rough out there. You will be the rescuer not the rescuee! Unless you push the limits.
To compare: I have recently paddled my wife's Cetus LV (she finally let me have a day out in it) and I now can't wait to try it in the surf. It is quite a different boat for me at least. I still prefer my HV to eat up the miles in rough seas. Do try one if you are looking.
Things I don't like AT ALL within this price range are 1st and foremost the loose fit in the cockpit: I really miss a nice pair of adjustable thigh braces, the key shaped rim is OK but not good enough for rolling or when you just want to lock-in and become ONE with your loved vessel. The other minor thing is that the handy front day hatch leaks a bit. The other hatches are bone dry. The seat is OK but the finish and attention to detail excels.
Handy extras I got are: Kevlar keel strip, aluminum footpegs, wire driven (fin type) skeg and a compass.
I like my Cetus HV a lot, and it has boosted my confidence a lot and I thank its hull designers for this. I've now even come to enjoy cruising in (previously) scary big waves. If God allows, My Cetus, some mini-cell thigh braces & I we'll be enjoying more big seas for years to come.
I love the boat's spaciousness (although I am on the lower side of HV-ness, 5-11 and 188-195ish). But, the initial stability doesn't seem to have compromised its maneuverability. I can edge it far better than the Falcon and make turns more tightly.
My only quibble, and I was spoiled by the Kevlar Falcon, is that it's heavy. Heavy heavy! So much harder to move, load. But the P&H craftsmanship is absolutely top quality. I'm guessing that their fiberglass is a bit thicker than most? Anyway, the execution of the boat is splendid.
Very highly recommended.
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.
Despite its length, it turns very easily and is very fast. Very good quality construction and has the 4th hatch right in front of the cockpit that comes in very handy. I will be taking a surf launching/landing class in a couple of weeks and will give an update.
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