Tuesday, October 7, 2008

P&H Cetus versus...

Hello, Happy Paddlers! I paddled the P&H Cetus for a few minutes at the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival in April 2008. On the lake at the James Island County Park. As you can imagine, I was a bit preoccupied as Sea Kayak Carolina was making its public debut that weekend. My initial reactions were "fast" and "maneuverable." That was all; I literally paddled the kayak for less than 15 minutes.

The first two Cetus arrived at the shop last week. From England, via Asheville, North Carolina, then on to Charleston, South Carolina delivered from our friend and P&H rep, Scott Sullivan. Scott and I unloaded a bunch of nice new kayaks, and put the shops new grey over white demo Cetus, and his plastic Scorpio, on my car. We went to Folly Beach for some surfing. The wind was onshore, 15 knots gusting to about 18 knots. Two foot waves, sloppy and choppy. An occasional 3 footer.

Well, I was in a pickle! Not the kayak, but an emotional dilemma. I have been paddling a NDK Explorer for a number of years, in all kinds of waters. I wanted to give the Cetus a fair shake; but all I could think of was how the boat compared to the Explorer. I had a long relationship with the Explorer, and felt a bit guilty about even paddling another boat. On the other hand, P&H has been supporting Sea Kayak Carolina tremendously; and we have been impressed with their line, especially the Capellas. I wanted to love the Cetus as part of our support for P&H. But again, I wanted to give the boat a fair evaluation.

The waves were choppy and sloppy. Scott Sullivan was having a blast in his Scorpio. At some point I decided to forget about the Cetus vs. Explorer dilemma; and enjoy being in a sea kayak on the ocean. I was, however, and bit loose in the cockpit. I need about an inch of foam on either side of my hips. This modification will be similar to how I have padded out my Explorer. So, not fitting too well in the cockpit, and being in an unfamiliar boat, my surfing was not up to par. My impressions from the day: "need to pad out the cockpit to fit me," "fast," "maneuverable."

The bow and stern compartments were bone dry after an hour of surfing, punching thru waves, and a few rolls. The fourth hatch was completely dry as well. There was a few tablespoons of water in the dayhatch. I will replace the "snap top" hatchcover with a standard hatchcover. While the snap top hatchcover is easy to put on and off, it is reported to leak a bit.

Sunday (October 5, 2008) I paddled the Cetus on Lake Moultrie, thru the locks, and in the tiderace canal. The shop led this trip as part of the Berkeley Blueways Paddlefest. 5 shop staff, 14 participants of various levels of experience. I was like a sheepdog herding sheep. I was able to race from the back of the Pod, to the front, circle it. Smiling a big smile, tongue lolling out occasionally like the aforementioned sheepdog. Fast! Maneuverable!

Today Sue Kershaw and I launched from Fort Moultrie into Charleston Harbor. Recorded wind speed was close to my approximation: 16 knots gusting to 19 knots. Winds were out of the east. This caused some whitewater over the breakwater, and some interesting clapotis on the way out to the breakwater. Sue was evaluating the P&H Scorpio LV. (Look for her review soon.) My impressions of the Cetus were the same. Fast, maneuverable and I need to pad out the sides of the seat to keep my skinny little behind from sliding side to side. Once I do that, I just may paddle the Cetus next week in Tybee. BCU Week. 4 star training with... you guessed it... Nigel Dennis! Stay tuned!

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