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Thread: P & H Kayaks and College Fiord

  1. #1

    Question P & H Kayaks and College Fiord

    I would like to buy a Kayak (it will be my first) and I've heard some good things about the P&H Capella RM 169. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this Kayak (or the P&H Brand) or if someone experienced would have an opinion of a good Sea Kayak that I should look into? Also, are there any places in Anchorage that will let you try the Kayaks before you buy? Lastly, after I buy a Kayak, I was planning a few days trip from Whittier up the College Fiord to the glacier and back in Prince William Sound. But, I've never even seen this area and was wondering about the sea conditions here. I'm not really an Ocean water kinda person and I only just moved to AK. I've canoed in lakes and stuff but I don't want to get myself in over my water...or die, haha. Thanks in advance for any advice.

    By the way, I'm male, 5'9" and 195 lbs if anyone wants to recommend a certain Kayak

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    My name is George and I am just getting into kayaking as well. Have many hours in a power boat as my signature should explain. I have been doing research for two years and have decided on sit on top (SOT) kayaks as the way to go. Here are a couple of sites for great kayak conversations. The first is and the forum owners are full of info and do reviews so defiantly hit that site. The next is a group that work out of Anchorage and do some classes in the pools around town so I wish I was in Anchorage to take advantage Hope this helps.

    Merry Christmas


  3. #3
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Kayak types

    I tried the sit on top kayaks for the first time back on the East coast this last week while visity in Delaware.
    I have mixed emotions on these for Alaska waters. I got pretty wet, and although the Ambient temps were 70 degrees the day I went out on the ocean bay, the water was much colder. I got wet from splash and spray.
    I guess if you have the proper clothes on , Dry suit or what ever, or you don't mind getting wet, then the style I tried would be ok.
    Myself, I have always tried to stay dry when In Alaska ocean waters.
    I will stay with a cockpit style with spray skirt for now.
    When I visit Hawaii in the end of january, I plan on doing some research on what they are using in that corner of the world. take some pictures and talk to some of the operators.
    You know it just depends on what kind of experience you are after.
    I have noticed with the current trends of so many polyethelyne molded Kayaks, that lots of variety out there. Some hull designs are not tested or proven before production, as some companies are just after the market with a price point, and not really making the product work as well as it should. We bought a couple of years ago a couple of Kayaks to add to our rental fleet, that looked ok at first view. They had a small keel rudder that was not adjustable. after a veiw weeks, we noticed the rudders were no longer straight, but bent. they were made of rigid plastic, and althoug we were able to straighten them out some, they were not cheap and bent again and again. you could really tell when you paddled that the design of the whole craft was pretty poor also. We unloaded them pronto as they just were not up to standards.
    it looks like you are doing yoru home work guys.
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Default sit on top kayaks are generally not what you want here in Alaska

    I wanted to caution you about your upcoming plans to use a sit on top kayak for a PWS trip from Whittier to College Fiord. I am a professional sea kayak ranger and have worked in PWS as such for 8 years and have seen some interesting craft out there! Generally you want to have a closed cockpit for Alaska touring. The main thing is when it is wet and nasty, which it can be frequently in PWS you will appreciate having the option of sealing your spray skirt around your cockpit and maintaining a relatively dry interior space with lots of air flow and the ability to change your clothing system to match conditions. It is true that you could use a drysuit with an open sit on top and accomplish a high degree of safety but I think you will find that relying on a drysuit is not at all ideal. There are times when the weather is good and then temps rather warm but the sea is fiesty. On these days you would be taking a big risk paddling an open boat without a drysuit on but you would also become quite hot and uncomfortable in a drysuit. A closed cockpit kayak allows much more flexibility with how you can dress for the conditions to remain comfortable and safe. I would recommend taking a skills course and finding a closed cockpit boat that suits your paddling needs and save the sit on top option for warmer climates.
    Hope you find this helpful. Good luck.

  5. #5
    New member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default SOT out of Whittier

    Took my SOT Hobie Outback kayak out to Pigot Point, PWS in August this year. Rained the entire weekend but I stayed perfectly dry. Xtratuffs on my feet and Grundens on my legs worked just fine for two days. Winds were pretty light all weekend so that by far the most dangerous water was just getting out of the Whittier Harbor (boats,cruiseship WAKES). Poe bay was a beautiful place to camp and the fly fishing for pinks was every cast. I was hoping for some silvers but it was a bit early. Anyway, my SOT couldnt have performed better and personally I feel much more safe on it than in a sea kayak (experience only being with a cheap rental out of Homer). Its almost December and I've still got the boat on the rivers. Frozen rudders are the only problem now if you know how to dress.

  6. #6
    New member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default college fjord

    I recommend getting a charter out of Whittier into Port Wells if you are not experienced. The entrance area to port wells where the currents mix up can get VERY nasty. With care and attention to tides it's not a huge thing but getting out of Whittier and into Port Wells isn't so exciting anyway. I agree that a sit on top would be a real pain and potentially quite cold. Even on a hot summer day it can get chilly back in college fjord and harriman fjord. Care must be taken in both areas to ensure you don't get boxed in by bergy bits. I've had one very nasty time when I let friends beg me to take them further back. Serious wave action on the beach from calving also is an issue. No way could I wear a dry suit in the summer and not over heat. You simply cannot wear enough clothing to stay warm if you go in, so that's an issue to be sure. Go early or late in the season (early is dryer) to avoid bugs. Be sure to have plenty of bug dope and be prepared to deal with bears here and there (not a big problem though). There are some nasty shoals down Port Wells to be aware of. Be sure to have nautical maps, not just topos.

  7. #7


    A kayaker that is not prepared to self rescue is operating on the ragged edge of disaster in cold Alaskan salt water.
    A wet entry combined with some sunny day afternoon wind can start things snowballing downhill quick.

    I think it's telling that no Native culture in the high latitudes ever developed a SOT kayak. These people depended on fishing and hunting from their
    The original kayakers spoke of their craft in the same tense as they did of living things. Indeed, they named them.

    The Greenland, Aleut, Koniag, Yupik, Inupiat skin-on-frame kayaks were alive on the water and responsive to the slightest cue from the paddler. This is the essence of their seaworthyness. The ability to be a bar of Ivory.

    A Native kayak is meant to be rolled to take a breaking sea, braced into one hissing comber after another, as a matter of every day existence.

    To sacrifice that ability for some initial stability, then take the top off and expose the paddler to dunking before the ultimate stability of the craft is exceeded seems a recipe for disaster in cold water.

    Amas would certainly help, and serve to extend the LWL to make a faster craft (like a catamaran does), but if sea conditions are exceeded, outriggers become deadly if not handled properly. It's easier to learn to roll a conventional kayak.

    To consider a 20-30 mile trip in 45 degree water in a little SOT that can't handle a boat wake without a little trauma seems a little sketchy.

    The P&H seems like a nice bird for Alaska. Although I've never paddled one, I like the look.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Missoula, MT


    I would avoid a SOT for AK. After a very uncomfortable and dangerous dunking, I will stay with my Prijon and Klepper. You do what you chose; my mind is definately made up. Good luck. J.


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