The newest boat from P&H Custom Sea Kayaks is a good blend of sleek Brit sea kayak and serious load-carrying expedition workhorse. The P&H Cetus is a very attractive kayak with an upswept bow and stern, full perimeter lines, three bulkheads, a drop skeg and four rubber Kajak-Sport hatches. That’s right: four hatches!

P&H Cetus Specs
Length: 17’10”
Width: 21.5”
Depth: 12.2”
Cockpit: 34.25” × 20”, 100 U.S. gal
64 lbs (fiberglass/Diolin)
57 lbs (Kevlar/carbon)
$3,399 USD (fiberglass)
$3,899 USD (Kevlar/carbon)
$4,199 USD (Ultralight clear hull)

The P&H Cetus is ready to haul

Build quality looks good on the P&H Cetus and fit and finish is clean inside and outside the kayak. In the excellent seat, the fit is roomy enough for bigger paddlers to be comfortable, but not so big that smaller folks feel lost. The fore deck is surprisingly low considering the inclusion of that fourth hatch. P&H has done a great job divvying up the available space of the Cetus so that the hatches don’t cramp the seating area. One weaker aspect is the almost vestigial thigh hooks, which left me longing for a better grip on the boat.

Cetus sits on edge

Official specs put the P&H Cetus at 17 feet, 10 inches long (correct) and 21.5 inches wide (incorrect). In actual fact the boat is closer to 22 and 3/8 inches wide, but this is neither here nor there as the kayak feels both efficient through the water and easy to place on edge. Primary stability is very solid as is secondary, with the P&H Cetus happily sitting on edge and yielding very tight turns for such a long kayak.

Man demonstrates paddling in a P&H Cetus kayak
Feature Photo: Alex Matthews

Unloaded and with a light paddler, the Cetus exhibits very light tracking and easily wanders off course. Dropping the skeg a little solves this problem and with heavier cargo tracking improves. Of course everything is a compromise, so when surfing, the rockered hull and light tracking are pluses, making controlling the boat and milking longer rides that much easier.

Extra expedition-ready

Although the P&H Cetus doesn’t really feel like a big kayak, there’s a ton of room below deck. This is really where the Cetus stands out. There are quite a few “British style” sea kayaks that are fun to paddle and that handle very well in wind and waves, but not many can swallow gear like the Cetus.

Details of the P&H Cetus kayakIn addition to the usual oval stern hatch and round day and front hatches, the P&H Cetus has an extra day hatch in front of the cockpit. This is a great feature that we’ll likely see more of. A brilliant little hatch on the fore deck provides access to a small but handy storage compartment for items like sunscreen or snacks.

Rather than a cable, the Cetus relies on an unconventional shock cord to hold the skeg in the down position and a string to pull it up. The slider rides on a notched track and moves when you squeeze a trigger.

P&H has the seat dialed; it’s both supportive and super comfy. The corrosion-prone rachets previously used to adjust the backband have been replaced with new buckles that look bombproof.

Set out in the P&H Cetus kayak

The P&H Cetus is set to make friends with serious expedition paddlers who need a kayak with large capacity and an efficient hull. Or indeed with anyone who wants a Brit boat but doesn’t fancy scrimping in the packing department. Try out those four hatches for yourself.

This article was first published in the Fall 2008 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.



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