Scupper Pro Frank
Moderator - Events
Joined: Feb. 2004
||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
Scupper Pro Frank