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Submitted: 08-24-2006 by bruce
I purchased my plastic low volume Aquanaut in April 2006. I have used it often in various conditions. In general, the pros far outweigh the cons. I am 5'9" and 150 lbs. and have been paddling for 2.5 years.
It is extremely maneuverable. It turns very easily with a slight lean. It is suitable for both big water and narrow rivers. Both primary and secondary stability are excellent. It is very quick and gets up to speed very rapidly. The plastic is very firm (triple-layer) and the boat is well-constructed and thought out (deck rigging, hatches, etc.). It is reasonably well-balanced when carried (although I believe it weighs more than the catalogue listed weight of 55 lbs.) It excels in waves- I have used it in waves up to 3'-4'. The hatch covers are outstanding and the bulkheads are solid. The skeg is easy to use although I choose not to use it much.
Although Valley claims they have improved the backband, I found the backband uncomfortable and the straps and velcro shift when I paddle. I will change it out for a new backband this year. I found the thigh pads uncomfortable and restrictive (even though they are adjustable) and could not find a suitable position. This may just be my build but I removed the thigh pads.
One of the positives may also be a negative. The boat is very sensitive to even the slightest of movements or wind so at times I have to make small adjustments to keep the boat tracking straight. The dealer indicated that you have to actively work a Brit boat which is the tradeoff for maneuverability and stability. Incidentally, the tracking seems much better in textured than in flat water. I'd much rather have a highly maneuverable boat than one that always tracks dead straight but is difficult to turn except with an extreme lean.
All things considered, I am very pleased with the performance of the Aquanaut and purchased it realizing that I could make the sundry comfort modifications.
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