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Topic: New boat on the rack, New boat on the rack< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Scupper Pro Frank Offline
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Posted: April 18 2008,17:33

NEW BOAT ON THE RACK

Been a while since I've posted anything here -heck, it's been a while since just about anybody's posted anything new here...!

At any rate, I finally got my "retirement present" -only about a year and a half after I retired...   ???  

I'd been casting about for a slimmer, hopefully faster, but absolutely lighter SINK than my good ole Perception Eclipse.  The "E"'s a good boat, but it really is a big ole barrel of a boat at 22-3/8" wide X 13-3/4" deep.  The E's a ruddered boat, and my skill set, small and deficient as it may be, had improved to the point that I was looking for a skegged boat.  Finally, in plastic, it weighs in around 70+ pounds.  This last spec is a real killer -you really can use any & all help available to hoist that thing on top of even a smaller hauler like our Mazda6 SportWagon.  I can do it myself, but it's a struggle, and on a windy day?  Forget it -not worth the potential for twisting an old guy's back, knees, or anything else trying to wrestle it up or down.  You really ought to have help loading and unloading that massive yak...

I'd looked around, paddled about a dozen or so boats of varying stripes and makes and models, liked quite a few, but almost all had at least one fatal flaw -be it tenderness beyond my ability or willingness to conquer, a sluggish feel on the water, too hard a tracker and too tough a turner (or vice-versa), heavy weight, or a bad fit between me and the boat.  I sought recs from many paddlers far more experienced and skilled than myself, and finally, I narrowed the search down to the Impex Currituck and a Valley Aquanaut.  

I'd tried the Impex at Kayak Jeff's demo day about a year or so ago, right around my retirement in 2006, and I really liked it -it felt fast on the lake, it was super comfortable, and it ran a skeg, and not a rudder like the E.

I'd made a run over to St. Pete and Russel's Sweetwater Kayaks shop with Foghorn and Brazilbrasil and tried out a famous Valley design, the Nordkapp -in both plastic & Kevlar models, and liked almost everything about it save for the tenderness, which I wouldn't want as I like to take pics, and generally let my mind wander and not strictly concentrate on paddling.  Folks recommended an Aquanaut as a possible choice.  

Well, our friend Foghorn told me that FBO (Florida Bay Outfitters), known to most of us, on Key largo, were now carrying Valley products, and I finally made it down last Thanksgiving to test one out under the guise (disguise?) of taking my sister & bro-in-law, down visiting from Iowa, for a "trip to the Keys"...

We dripped by on the way down, I took it out on Blackwater Sound, and I really, really liked it -especially the 2nd time I took it out on the way back from Indian Key & Robbie's Marina, where we'd taken Duane & Medora to see the tarpon.  This time, I adjusted the footpegs even better, and the seat and backband much more to my liking.

So it moved to the top of the list along with the Currituck.

I gave Kayak Jeff a call, and we went over to a park on the ICW for a test run.  Ironically, he himself was demoing a Hurricane Tracer -Sally's boat! -for his first go-round in one.  I took the Impex out into the channel, played about in several boat wakes, ran with & across & against the wind, all the usual stuff, and was dismayed to find it wasn't quite the sprightly performer I'd recalled from Jeff's demo day.  And adding to my dismay was that this was a used boat with a leaking skeg box; upon return, I unfortunately had to sponge out more than a bit of water from the aft compartment.  Finally, it was the only one he had, and it would be an order and a wait if I wanted one.

I must salute Jeff, however on this: he refused to sell me the thing, anyway, because of the defect.  He'd order me one, he'd help me look for another, but he wasn't about to sell a poor product -even one with a known deficiency to a paddler!

So I'm thinking and thinking, and every which way to Sunday, the answer's the same: I could wait around and try all sorts of boats I might remotely think had a shot -if I could get my hands on them in my lifetime -or I could spit & get off the pot.

I returned to FBO and bought the Aquanaut.

I've had it out several times since -not nearly often enough, of course! -but every time I'm more and more pleased to have gotten this boat.  At 17'7" and 21" it's a nice fit, even tho' the 13-1/2" depth is about an inch more than I thought I wanted.  Turns out, that extra inch is a big help getting my increasingly bum knees in & out of the cockpit...

And I've been in fairly squirrelly conditions twice in it -once, a cross wind and 1-2' rear quartering seas off Key Largo heading out to Rodriguez, and once, at the end of a 9-mile paddle, the last 4 miles of which were against a 10-15 mph steady wind and a 2-1/2 mph current, into a 15 mph wind and a 2-3'  bobbing chop crossing the bay from the Turner River to the Chokoloski Causeway.  While I indeed paid attention on this one, I found the ride to be downright exhilarating!  I felt comfortable and confident in the Aquanaut.

Haven't yet tried fishing from it, don't know, really, if I ever will, but that's OK -I've got the tried & true Old Pro for that.

Did I mention I like this boat...?  

If anyone would like to give it a try, contact me -retired, there's a lot of time I'm not scheduled, and who knows, maybe we can meet up!  You, too, might enjoy the Valley Aquanaut.

As for me, at 6'-0" & 200#, long torso, short, relatively decently muscled legs, the Aquanaut's a fine fit and a great boat to


Edited by Scupper Pro Frank on April 28 2008,19:40

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joebh Offline
Jack




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Joined: April 2007
Posted: April 19 2008,03:53

To help loading some of my heavier kayaks on my roof racks as I get older, especially my tall Honda Element, I have used the kayak roller loader. It is overpriced but works well. See the post of my Epic 18 , roller loader , and my Element .
  Frank  glad you like your Aquanaut but how much does it actually weigh with hatches?? Some of the British kayaks I've looked at quote weights without hatch covers and the Valley hatch covers  for a 3 hatch kayak can add up to 4 or 5 lbs.On some of my British kayaks the VCP hatches lasted 5 years and on some they lasted 1 year even though they were garaged when not in use. A set of 3 VCP hatches is not cheap so I recommend using 303 on them (I just replaced VCP hatches on my Artic Hawk a year ago). Even using 303,  one of my VCP  hatches crumbled into bits after 1 year. The Kayaksport hatches are lighter and seem to last longer.I now order new VCP hatches direct from Great Northern to insure getting new hatch covers.
 Frank post some photos of you in your new toy for the rest of us.
 I finally got to meet Capt Jimbo and try out his Skua which I liked enough to order a new one from Bruce Gibson. After my demo Jim stuck a fishing rod in his life vest and paddled off looking for fish.  I wish I had brought my camera. Thanks Jim.  Paddling in Ft Lauderdale is the first time I have come across a weed line in a inland canal and not 20 miles off shore.

" target="_blank">http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums.....8 kayak
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amhirsc0 Offline
Cuda




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Posted: April 20 2008,11:42

Going from 70+ to about 50 pounds is sure an advantage out of the water.  For my own curiosity however, did you consider a Kevlar or fiberglass hull? Did you evaluate other brands (e.g. QCC, Epic, Current Designs), or were the ones you considered the ones available for testing?

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KayakAl
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Scupper Pro Frank Offline
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Posted: April 21 2008,21:08

HI, GUYS -HERE'S SOME MORE BACKGROUND ON MY A-NAUT BUY

I wrote "I'd looked around, paddled about a dozen or so boats of varying stripes and makes and models, liked quite a few, but almost all had at least one fatal flaw -be it tenderness beyond my ability or willingness to conquer, a sluggish feel on the water, too hard a tracker and too tough a turner (or vice-versa), heavy weight, or a bad fit between me and the boat.  I sought recs from many paddlers far more experienced and skilled than myself, and finally, I narrowed the search down to the Impex Currituck and a Valley Aquanaut."

I not only considered both Kevlar & glass, I bought the glass...!

I'd paddled both a glass and Kevlar Q700, and liked them, but both were ruddered, and I wanted a skeg this go-round.  And I was attracted to Brit-style boats, as opposed to the nouveau profiles of the Qs, Epics, et al.   Epic has a rep for delightful design and sometimes crumby construction, probably because they're so relatively light, and they, and indeed any Kevlar boat, are rather expensive, plus in some respects may not be as long-term hardy as glass, so I didn't want to spend a lot on a boat I might all too easily "hurt".

The VCP hatches will be watched and 303'd at regular intervals, doubly important here in South Florida.

As far as the weight goes... Well, we kayakers consider things like primary vs. secondary, tenderness/playfulness and 'feel' -both dynamic & at rest, kayaker-to-boat fit, fittings & finish, speed and paddling effort, hatch sealing, storage capacity, all that stuff, right?

Well, around here, that stuff's important, of course, but growing almost as fast as the price of gas is the weight parameter.

It's called "The Old Man Boat Tote, AKA "No Cart For THIS Old Fart" Test.

And, I might add, the Aquanaut passed with flying colors.  I've loaded it solo twice so far.

At any rate, yeah, I looked at and paddled a bunch of boats, I "considered" Kevlar & carbon-Kevlar composites (but not for too long -they're just too danm expensive), and bought glass.  I now have what I think is a quite handsome boat that I'm growing even more fond of each time I go out in it, and I look forward to each & every time I have an opportunity to use it to


Edited by Scupper Pro Frank on April 28 2008,19:43

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amhirsc0 Offline
Cuda




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Posted: April 22 2008,15:16

I'm with you on weight.  I just celebrated my 71st, and weight was the primary criterion when I was looking for a replacement of the P-13 (55 lbs) and ended up with the 39 lb Kestrel 140 SOT.

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KayakAl
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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: April 26 2008,08:19

Frank... congrats, sounds like a winner for you.  As long as it doesn't "vibrate" on the water, lol....

Cheers!

:capn:


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Tight lines,
Capn Jimbo

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Scupper Pro Frank Offline
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Posted: April 28 2008,19:52

HEY, JIM, VIE GEHTS?  HOPE ALL'S WELL WITH U & SUE

Yeah, I have a real winner in the Aquanaut -it's a pretty quick, lotta fun, very comfortable paddle.

We're off to Orlando, then North Carolina, then Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie this summer.  Sure would like to take the boats along, but YIKES!!!
the price of gas is a killer -especially for us fixed-income retirees, y'know -and Sally said the talking heads prognosticate a rise of some 40-50 cents over the next 2-3 months as well!  I'll probably end up taking the rack off the roof to improve drag coefficient at hiway speeds, so I probably won't see how well the new Aquanaut paddles in other places...

Oh well.

Now what's that remark about vibratin', there, friend Jimbo... eh?

Don't think it has nothin ta do with just how well my new boat can


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Tanner Offline
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Posted: May 26 2008,04:59

Congrats Frank!
Sounds like you did your homework and I know you'll enjoy it for years. Won't be long and you'll be fishing out of it too.


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"A good rule of angling philosophy is not to interfere with any fisherman’s ways of being happy, unless you want to be hated." -Zane Grey, Tales of Fishes, 1919
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