-- Last Updated: Dec-06-12 11:46 AM EST --
I agree that you should get over to Sea Kayak Carolina, try a few on, and then try a few out. I have a composite Capella (no need to go plastic for your purposes other than price, and if you beat the heck out of your boat landing - not on sandy beaches, on gravel and concrete landings - and getting it from shore to vehicle, vehicle to storage).
Years ago, when I bought the Capella, it wasn't the kayak I had my eye on initially. When I jumped in, it was looser in initial stability, but still pretty solid in secondary, vs. the many others I tried at the time. I got the impression that it felt stable compared to P&H's Sirius, but it certainly didn't feel less lively than a Valley Pintail or Necky Chatham, etc. It actually felt sportier to me than much of it's competition. Not to say better, I just liked the feel. Many years later, it's still a favorite for play time.
But different folks of different sizes can have different impressions. And even more so, different skill levels have incredibly different impressions.
Here's an example. In the reviews section on here of the Nigel Foster Legend, there is a review that compares the Legend's maneuverability favorably compared to a Capella. I own, enjoy and am impressed with the handling of my Legend, but if you skill up, I guarantee you will not maneuver as quickly in the Legend as you can in the Capella. Not good or bad, it's simply a different design. Precise maneuvering requires use of the paddle. Simply edging won't give it to you in any terrifically meaningful way, not even in the Legend. The Legend has fair maneuverability, and good speed. Same with P&H's newer expedition boats, the Cetus. The Cetus has nice maneuverability, but not as loose as my Capella. I first demoed a Cetus in Charleston at the ECCKF, and I have a friend that let me demo his once in some waves in an inlet here. A very nice kayak. But I definitely noted that it was maneuverable for an expedition kayak, but it wasn't, and really shouldn't be expected to be, maneuverable compared to my Capella. So just a couple of examples of what you can hear and read, and hear and read repeated, that may not necessarily reflect reality. But I suspect that someone not very comfortable edging, and not very comfortable with planting turning strokes, may in fact have decidedly different impressions. It's just a matter of understanding that they are not experiencing limitations of the kayak. So this points to the importance of personal limitations and how it will effect your experience. Only paddling a kayak can tell you that. I'm like anybody else. In many cases, I'm simply not aware of the things I'm not currently capable of, so I can declare with conviction characteristics of a kayak because I just don't realize I haven't discovered further potential.
P&H did do some modifications from the version I have quite a few years back, but I was told by some folks in Charleston that they were positive modifications. Who can really say? If you like the Capella, assuming this is the same design, you don't have to worry that it's somehow less capable than some other design.
Here's a few photos of me in the Capella. The first two were taken by a person zooming in from the beach. The first is punching over/through a wave. The last was a go pro mounted on my bow, getting pretty verticle in front of a steep wave starting to break.
I have little doubt that I would be having some of the same fun in the Tempest.
Rescue / Throw Bags
Canoe Pack Liner
Classic Freestanding Rack
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