Changing of the Guard
This weekend marks a significant point in my kayaking life. I sold my QCC600X and purchased a P&H Cetus MV; an emotional event on both accounts.
First, saying goodbye to my QCC. This was the first glass kayak I owned and thus will always a have a special place in my heart. The QCC600x has a great many positive attributes. It’s fast and efficient, had amazing secondary stability, rolled easy, it was easy to load with huge hatches and could carry lots of gear, and felt comfortable in most conditions. Where it lacked is a shorter list: average initial stability, no day hatch, not very nimble, and not great in surf (although did handle large swells without issue).
For my weekend trips on inland lakes in the Adirondacks, the QCC was near perfect. But I don’t always paddle relatively flat inland lakes and there are my aspirations of doing month-long expedition kayak trips in Greenland, Ireland, Wales (etc.) to consider. Thus it was time to upgrade my game and get a boat more akin to managing rougher seas, tidal races, and surf while still being a great tripping kayak.
My needs were simple. I wanted an expedition-capable boat that is nimble and capable of handling rough conditions (because any boat worth its salt with handle flat water flawlessly). After doing my homework and reading review and review, my short list was narrowed down to a few boats: the NDK Explorer, Valley Etain, and the P&H Cetus (while keeping my options open to other used boats in the same vein as these, like a Nordkapp, Rockpool, etc.)
So I visited my friend Jeff at Bay Creek Paddle Center in Rochester. He linked me in with the owner, Dave, who spent a full day working with me to test out about six boats. As I predicted, the top contenders were the Cetus, Etain, and the Explorer. All great boats with great build quality. But in the end I chose the Cetus because it just felt right.
My maiden voyage with the Cetus was in Irondequoit Bay where I did just under 4-miles at an average speed of 4.2mph (3.6 kts). Based on the shape of the bay and the direction of the prevailing winds, it was one of those paddles where you’re going into the wind both ways. The boat felt very capable and eased my conscience into making such a large purchase.
Then when I got out on Sunday to play with it in 2-4’ swells and surf on Lake Ontario, I truly appreciated the boat. Its initial and secondary stability is amazing. At one point I was paddling out at about 45 degrees from the direction of the incoming waves when I caught one just as it was breaking. It grabbed the bow and the next thing I knew I was surfing broached. The last clip of the video shows this. I can’t believe it didn’t roll, but the secondary stability is that good.