Submitted: 11-08-2006 by medicineman
Of course it gets a 10, for what I spent on it no other rating would do...this is acknowledging the fact that people/paddlers will justify their outlay of cash! On the serious side I can say that Valley did their job and delivered a beautiful kayak. The kayak as inspected by me was flawless upon pickup.
If you've followed any of my posts here at p.net you might know that we (my daughters and I) have a few kayaks on the rack, the Q makes number 17... the Q-boat will sit beside Necky boats, Perception boats, another Valley boat, and boats from Lincoln, Folbot, Feathercraft, Wilderness Systems and others that range from Swifties to Brit boats and folders to skin-on-frame.... how the Q will compare only time will tell. What I know now is a good first impression after spending 6-8 hours a day in the boat for 5 days.
Most importanly for someone reading this and thinking of purchasing a Valley boat know that their QA is top notch. In the QA department I think Valley and Feathercraft are the creme of the crop. The boat was delivered not only in pristine condition but exactly as I ordered it....and of special note is that I ordered specific bulkhead placement and it was as specified! I'm not a fan of footpegs, know that this boat is for me and me alone, and the specific bulkhead placement allows me to forego footpegs in lieu of mini-cell foam against the bulkhead. For those interested in the specifics of my order it specified white over white with blue strip between and blue seat/coming, a knee tube and reinforced keel strip. I ordered the kayak in the 'ultra kevlar' layup to save every once, and ordered the drop down skeg.
OK some impressions:
Seating- Valley has come a long way in this department. In my Nordkapp the first thing I did was rip out the back rest and replace it...that won't be necessary with the Q, the back rest is fine as is. The seat pan itself is another improvement and it will remain as is too. both were comfortable after hours in the kayak.
Volume- much has been said about the volume of the foreboat, i.e. the cockpit. In comparing it to many other boats at the symposium I was not overwhelmed with thoughts that the foredeck towers above any other, granted it might be higher but its not something that jumps out at me...what does jump out is the very very low afterdeck and for me that is a very good thing because a low back deck was one of the things I sought in a composite touring kayak.
Tracking/Turning- take a look at the 'clipper' bow and you'll know this boat tracks well but as so many have noticed, it turns (I should say edges) with an ease that is incredible for an 18 foot long kayak and I can say it out turns the QCC700, the Nordkapp Jubilee, the Arctic Hawk Pro...in fact when comparing with these boats there is no comparison in turning ability. The only boats we have that will out turn this kayak are much shorter with the exception of the venerable Sea Lion (which tracts poorly). If you edge this boat to a 1 or 2, apply a moderate sweep, the Q will almost do 270, never have I seen/paddled a boat at any length excepting my Jackson Rocker that turns with such ease.
Weathercocking- it does, drop the skeg, end of story.
Rolling- OK its not a cheater skin-on-frame but this boats rolls, not effortlessly but probably as close as you can get in a composite..the key is the low backdeck and that was a key feature that I was looking for. Sculling and bracing are also a given for this boat. If you are considering a composite boat but dont want to limit your Greenland rolling then this is def. a boat to consider (along with an OI I am told). I hit 3 different rolls in this boat after having been in it only 30mins.....
Orpheus phenomenon- that's when people say wow or when something has 'star' potential...at the symposium too many came up to ask about the Q, some said it would be their next kayak.
The knee tube- I have installed a knee tube in the QCC and installed a small kajaksport hatch on the foredeck to access it without opening the spraydeck....I dont plan on doing that with the Q but do plan on installing a hatch on the knee tube as Valley supplied it (and Valley supplied the tube with an opening that faces you when seating in the cockpit)..the knee tube again as supplied might force some (including me) to alter their entry into the kayak to an almost straigh legged entry...if this is a problem the knee tube can be shortened with a dremel tool-one inch should do it and with the size of the tube you will still have plenty of storage space.
Hatches- gone is the ability to 'double' seal the hatch as in the Nordkapp but after 5 days of rescues,rolling,etc. all were bone dry, as expected from Valley.
Car topping- as mentioned above, I ordered this boat in 'ultra kevlar' to save every ounce, this knowing that humping boats to and fro is a reality..I have not weighed the boat but best guess is 42-44 pounds (yes I realized a weight penalty with the knee tube and the reinforced keel strip).
Overall impression- I wanted a cruiser that would foment rolls, at the same time I wanted a boat that would be fast and capable of extended paddle trips. Granted this boat will never hold what a Sea Lion will or even a Nordkapp for that matter, it will still easily carry a weeks supply of food/gear.
Speed- in the jaunts required/requested in the 3 star this boat was always first but there were no QCC 700s to compete with, that said I'm sure it will be fast enough for me...though 18 feet long the actual water line length is probably closer to 17 feet so you know it will compare if not beat a Nordkapp....obviously speed is paddler/condition/motivation dependent.
Challenge- I'm a big believer in the Rapid Runner electric Bilge Pump (and yes you should still carry a hand pump)..in three boats I've installed this system in there as room between the bulkhead behind the cockpit and the coming rim for the ejection port...not so in the Q-boat (this is a good thing when emptying water from the boat)..so where to install the ejection port?