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Seats are somewhat narrow
Difficult to turn due to length
Wet seats when configured as a double (get scupper plugs)
Heavy dry weight (70+ lbs) and awkward to move by yourself
Easily pushed around by moderate-to-strong winds
Unstable in moderate chop and strong cross currents (due to narrow width)
Stability reduced when carrying near maximum capacity weight load
I have owned my Ocean Kayak Cabo for several years. It is my favorite kayak. Its long length and narrow beam make it especially fast, fun and easy to paddle for a sit-on-top. We use our kayaks for recreational family outings. The Cabo easily accommodates dad, mom and a child in the middle seat, along with chairs, toys and a cooler for the day’s outings. I especially appreciate the Cabo when set up as a single. I am a large size paddler. The Cabo effortlessly handles my big size (6’1’ 250lbs) and the middle (single) seat stays completely dry. As a single the Cabo tracks very well, rides high out of the water and is very fast. It’s a real pleasure.
Under certain conditions, stability can be a concern with the Cabo. Compared with our other tandem (an Ocean Kayak Aegean), the Cabo is noticeably less stable when heavily loaded and used as a tandem. The Cabo is especially unstable when heavily loaded and you paddle into significant chop and cross currents. The boat seems to modulate and become unnervingly “tipsy” under these conditions. This is my only real concern about the Cabo. We address this by loading the boat lighter when we anticipate significant cross currents or chop.
At about 17’ and 75 lbs. dry weight, this can be a difficult kayak to handle by yourself. I solved this by carrying it on a small trailer and launching it from boat ramps. When I have someone with me, the boat can be reasonably carried short distances by two people.
COMPARISONS: Compared to the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two, the Cabo is a much longer and more comfortable boat. It’s easy to bang paddle when two people are in a Malibu Two, something that is pleasantly impossible with the Cabo. The Malibu Two turns more easily. The Cabo rides higher, travel faster and paddles easier than the Malibu Two.
Compared to the Ocean Kayak Aegean, the Cabo is faster and tracks better. The Cabo can carry significantly more gear. The Aegean is wider and significantly more stable when two people are using as a tandem.
GEOGRAPHY: I have spent many hours paddling the Cabo in Florida and Washington State. It was excellent on calm waters in all locations. It paddles well against upstream river currents (because of its narrow beam). It doesn’t like the surf (because of its length). The scuppers let water onto the seats (in warm Florida water was not a problem, cold Puget Sound water sometimes it was.) If you are planning to paddle in the Seattle area, check out Seattle Kayak & Canoe Guide http://www.geocities.com/palmbeachboating/washington-kayak-canoe-information.html .
In South Florida see Palm Beach Kayaking and Canoeing Guide http://kayaking.fateback.com/
BOTTOM LINE: The Ocean Kayak Cabo gets a 9 out of 10 for its on-water performance, outstanding hauling capacity and excellence when configured as a single kayak. Its only flaws are stability (under a limited number of conditions) and handling when dry.
CARE: As with any plastic kayak, avoid storing the boat in direct sunlight. Plastic kayaks will last decades if protected from UV damage. Store indoors, in full shade or cover with a tarp. Hose down the boat and all equipment after each use (especially in a saltwater environment). 1-2 times each year wipe down the entire boat with ArmorAll Protectant (especially if preparing the kayak for winter storage).
~Heavy--pretty tough to load by yourself when you've just finished a good stiff paddle. ~Solid--after five years and much surfing and mis-handling, only minor scratches on hull, hatch gasket seal is torn in a small place and the front handle was yanked out. ~Slow?--I'm not sure. My first boat. I've done the Bay2Bay race in San Diego and have never placed (best was 4th), despite being in great shape (smoked past two guys paddling another Cabo). Many of the competitors are cutting the course, but there were several boats that beat me fair-n-square.
Also got stuck in 35-40-knot winds on my Catalina Crossing and nearly died. That big boat was like an albatross around my neck in cross-wind and 6-foot whitecaps. Not a bad boat for casual paddling, just bring someone to help you carry it.
My concerns about the size were correct as we had to caddy it down to the beach to launch. I put my kayak on my RV and could imagine the difficulty I would have trying to hoist a Cabo 10 feet in the air. At the beach launch I strapped my milkcrate on the back put my son in the front and pushed off. The first thing I noticed was the stability. This was much more tipy than my barge of a kayak. The stabiblity did not bother me as I ski, snow board, (at 39) still go to the skate park with my son; I just noticed the difference. Next, I notice the typical Ocean Kayak wet rear end syndrome that haunts most of their kayaks. I was surprise that at 6'-0" 185 lbs and my 55lb son in the front seat that I would get wet in the back. On my tandem it takes a good breaking wind wave or high boat swell to break over the back before my seat gets wet and the Cabo being a much bigger boat should be drier. I wore my wetsuit so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Paddling was fun as this boat is fast and moves very well. The tracking was excellent and I really appreciated the improved performance of a touring style kayak. We paddled and fished a little over 2.5 miles and the paddle back was straight into and good head wind. The course deviation I experience from the head wind was not bad and control on the paddle back was manageable. I did not have time to test the boat as a solo and was not interested as it did not suit my needs in a tandem format. It would a fun boat for camping/touring as the hull can store all the stuff your wife brings on a three day hotel trip (lol).
Overall the layout of the boat was not for me, there are newer designs on other tandems that are better suited for fishing (which is my main use for kayaks) and better suited for transportation. It's a rugged, high quality touring style kayak and if you don't mind having a wet seat all day, you'll definately have fun.
I bought this large boat so that I could go solo or take my family. So far, I've used it mostly solo and have little trouble moving along and staying straight. Although I'm a big boy (6'1" and 260lbs), I feel very comfortable in this boat.
I made my own cart out of PVC pipe and some small wheels for about $25. Even though I live very close to the water, it is a "must" when trying to carry solo (especially at the END of the day).
It is a large boat so transporting it is an issue. A Primex skate works nicely.........but you almost need a trailer or roof rack other than that. It tracks well, and even was reviewed in the December issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine. They give it all positive comments, including excellent stability. To me, it rode like a Cadillac boat! We usually go out in single kayaks, but occasionally it is fun to go out tandem. A great boat at a great price!
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