I bought this nearly new at a truly bargain price from a guy selling it as his wife was 'done paddling' for good. On Craigslist it looked like a Kelly Green and yellow trim deck over clear coat hull. OK, I can do that. When I pulled up next to it, gleaming in 103ºF sun on top of a slick SUV, I was surprised and a bit mortified to see that it was layed up in deluxe Green SPARKLY finish. OMG, really? What were those Brits smoking? Thought I am more of an Olive Drab kinda guy, this boat was priced right so I wasn't going to let looks get in the way. I mean, I've dated women with bleached hair and makeup, so... hey. As I paddled it around Puget Sound, people seemed to love the flash of it and actually , it looks great in POV photos as I document my days on the waters. Looks like a St Patrick's Day hat. I call it the Disco TreeFrog.
At 5'7" and 144#, I feel I am at the top of it's fit range. If I wear my size 10 men's mukluks, its a very tight fit. For Tevas, my usual footwear, it's an easier fit. The thigh bracing is very snug, so I feel good in moderately playful seas. With a low deck, I have taken on water doing turns ion seas, but that's what tight skirts are for! (no, don't go there bud...).
As others have said, the build quality is excellent stem to stern. Bulkheads have a breather plug so they won't dome the hatches in hot weather. Speaking of hatches, don't expect to throw the iron kettles into this svelte watercraft. It's for light, careful packing like a backpack and just as wonderful. The lightweight hatch covers snap on securely with little effort, a very welcome shift from my former craft's heavy rubber ones.
The Seattle is fairly comfortable, though for some reason the dividing ridge digs in a bit at rear of Seat so I may carve it down a bit.
The Skeg is extremely easy to deploy with a flick of the hand, so stroke rhythm maintained. It also has a pull string in case fouled by gravel.
My only complaint is the fragility of the finish— the CAR/KEV hull is clear-coated so very easy to scrape up so this is a boat NOT to drive up onto the beach as one may do on ROTOs or heavier layups.
As others have noted, she's not a speed demon, and why should she be with an unloaded LOA under 15'. But playful she is and you'll still keep up with all but the faster touring longer boats. I can keep her at 5kts without strain. I paddle with a vintage Lightening flat blade cut down to 205cm.
Replace the carry toggles. For some reason they get sticky with age in the sun. Decklines are beautifully thought out and minimalist.
Overall, if you can scoop one of these up in FG or KC, do it. Can't speak for the RM versions but I trust P&H builds them just as well.
This boat doesn't feel like 21.5" width at all, it has excellent primary stability and excellent secondary stability, the only draw back is lack of speed. It feels like a dead weight when you want to paddle fast, maybe all 16 footer are like that, that I just cannot say.
Overall, I am very impressed with this boat. If you don't do expedition, you definitely should demo the Capella 161
We have NDK Explorers which we would not trade for anything! But this boat is fun! Both found the outfitting to be good. Some friends who tried our boats did not like the rise in the seat bottom.
I found the outfitting to be extremely comfortable and can paddle it "off the rack" without any additional outfitting at all. Because of its maneuverability, it definitely needs the skeg that comes standard. The only time I used the skeg was in following quartering seas on a 1 mile crossing and it made life much, much easier. With the skeg retracted in those conditions, I needed to do an asymmetric stroke (sweep downwind, power forward upwind) to stay on course and that gets tiring.
The carbon/kevlar layup is light, but if I were to buy one, I'd go for the more durable glass layup as I don't treat my glass boats any different than a plastic boat and the extra durability is worth a few extra pounds to a boat abuser like me.