Submitted: 08-04-2007 by dpcdivr
Intermediate paddler, 6', 215#. I own a Q with the fiberglass seat, and have put about 50 hours on it thus far, in conditions ranging from glass calm to 3' wind waves and heavy boat traffic. I also several other boats, and so can do my own comparisons, to some degree.
Stability - The boat is quite stable, both with respect to initial and secondary stability. One can easily sit in small seas with hands off the paddle, and drink water, relax, etc.. Not at all an intimidating boat, in my experience. In comparing this to my Chatham 18, I find it to be very similar.
Construction, Fit and Finish - Very well made, with very robust layups, yet not overly heavy. Not a boat requiring delicate treatment. Feels about 5-8 pounds heavier than the fiberglass Chatham 18, and is very solid.
Speed - Decent speed, and exhibits very quick acceleration. Haven't compared speeds with a GPS, but the Q "feels" just a bit slower than the Chatham 18, yet is definitely faster than the Chatham 17.
Chines - Absolutely love 'em. I am a hard-chine guy. My experience has shown me that the hard chines cause essentially no detriment over softer chines as in the Chathams, in confused water, etc. No problems...
Maneuverability - This, in my opinion, is the strongest trait of the Q-boat. This is a HIGHLY maneuverable kayak! I have owned a 14.4' Necky Looksha Sport for years, and this boat responds VERY similarly. With the cockpit rim submerged, you can nearly spin it on a dime. Further, once a hard turn is initiated, the boat will take a 'set', and increase the rate of turn from that point onward, even decreasing the radius of curvature of the turn, with no further input from the paddler. Unreal, for an 18' boat! Highly recommended for paddling amongst rocks.
Maneuverability - The trade-off this all this maneuverability is that the boat will tend to wander with the skeg up, especially when unloaded. Here again, the extent of this trait feels very reminiscent of the Looksha Sport. It will track hard with the skeg fully down, but will task your quiver of corrective strokes on a crossing with the skeg fully up. If you paddle open water, expect to see the skeg deployed about midway, much of the time. The Q tracks about the same with 1/3 skeg as my Chatham with the skeg fully up. The upside here is that there doesn't feel like there is much drag with partial skeg deployment on the Q, unlike the Chathams, which will hum loudly with more than about 3/4 skeg deployment.
Seat - Neither good or bad. Definitely prefer it to the newer plastic/foam seat, but does sit a bit high off the floor of the cockpit, and has just a wee bit too much upward curvature at it's forward lip, for my sciatic nerves. With a bit of pre-paddle stretching, I can go for about 3-4 hours without tingling legs and feet. All in all not bad, but then again, not as comfy as the new, grey foam Necky seat pad.
Thigh Braces - Note that these are true THIGH braces, and not knee braces, as so many boats have. Very different from the feel of the braces in the Chatham boats, for example. Not better, not worse, just different.
Gel-coat - My boat exhibits a few spots of gelcoat delamination in the bow, midway between the keel and shear, each about the size of a half-dollar. The gelcoat also exhibits a few spider-cracks on the sides near the chines. My overall impression is that the gelcoat used is rather brittle, unlike my Necky boats.
Back-band - kind of cheesy; too wide, hard to adjust, and tends to tuck down into the fiberglass seat.
Clipper Bow - It feels like the large bow gets pinned by the water, especially in cross-currents or moving water, and I think this tends to cause a lot of the wandering effect, with the skeg up. I haven't surfed the boat, but have heard that the vlipper bow can also tend to get pinned by the wave. makes sense.
All in all, a neat boat. If you want a long boat, and you want a highly maneuverable boat, to me, this is the only boat to have. MUCH more maneuverable than the Impex's, Chathams, Explorers, Aquanaut, etc.. Just understand that the skeg adjustment knob is there for a reason.