Submitted: 01-21-2008 by pwa
I purchased my Valley Argonaut used last year and previously paddled a Nigel Foster Legend without a skeg. I was looking for a boat with the same capacity, tight handling, and more user friendly in rough following seas. I could never relax in the Nigel Foster Legend.
I have found the Argonaut to be a very responsive but stable boat, with a great tolerance for rough water conditions. I am 6' 1" , 180 pounds with long legs and appreciate the if it and a very adequate leg room. When I relax my legs, I can comfortably rest my feet on the bulkhead and stretch out. The boat is stable enough to relax and not pay attention, and could work reasonably well as a platform for photography, with the use of the day hatch.
With regards to construction, this boat is a very solid fiberglass layup, with well crafted bulkheads, and extremely dry snug fitting Hatch covers which Valley constructs is amongst the finest available.
I can edge this boat nearly to its side, and it is a relatively easy kayak to roll. With regards to stability, I have used to this boat with a Pacific Action 1.1 m sail, and it has adequate stability to handle sailing for myself in winds up to 20-25 kts. You do not need a rudder to make a kayak sail work, as variation in depth of the skeg, and the use a paddle provide turning and stability. In light wins, this sail can be configured to reach (sail across the wind) very effectively.
I have heard complaints regarding the skeg on Valley kayaks, but have had no problems with mind, other than periodic jamming of debris which can occur on shore, and forces and need to check the skeg for function before venturing in rough water.
We took a family kayaking trip to Desolation sound, BC last summer and my teenage daughters all felt comfortable in the Argonaut, while I spent my paddling time in the more challenging Legend. I am looking forward to many future trips in this boat, as for me it is an excellent compromise between performance, stability, and load carrying capacity.