Submitted: 04-29-2009 by martin
The composite version of the Aquanaut LV...
Having paddled about 40 miles in cold water temps and one pool session with this new acquisition, I can not write a review but will offer some first impressions. It seems that very few of the composite version of this boat are out there; most posts are for the RM version with different measurements, perhaps with different behavior. I've paddled with several folks that participate here and we were all pondering with the LV's shorter 17-1 length, if the rocker and turning maneuverability are proportionately the same as the regular Aquanaut or if the boat is less tracky, with a higher percentage of rocker. While I could really edge this boat way over on its side and roll it easily in one pool session, local 45 degree water had me being too overcautious and conservative on edging it well on several outings (personal worries of cold shock perhaps). I could get over easily for a sculling brace but thus far, not a static brace as I can now do in my OI.
As often mentioned, the Valley fit, finish, and construction are fantastic. The gelcoat finish overwhelmed an NDK Romany along side it in the store. As obtained, the skeg, cockpit coaming, foot pegs, deck lines, and bungees, fittings, and bulkheads were perfect.
For my 5-7 158 pound size, the cockpit fit and thigh brace locations are perfect. Good contact but not tight. Better for me than an Avocet composite I tried which was more roomy.
Paddling in some returning wind and chop on Lake George, the LV seems to offer the same great confidence that posters here mention about the regular-sized Aquanaut. Plenty of primary and secondary stability without a need for much bracing in the conditions I paddled in thus far. The boat seems to offer all the desired speed I could want. I did not feel any disappointment compared to my Impex OI speed per equal paddling effort. The Avocet felt way slower than an OI.
It seems that smaller people who end up in full-sized Aquanauts, Explorers, and Caribous may be much happier in LV sized boats like this one. When not doing extended camping trips, it is less boat to propel, lower windage impact, and less to put on the car racks. I am thinking that this LV will fulfill my needs as a day boat and a boat for weekend trips, with more than adequate storage when going like a backpacker and leaving the kitchen sink at home.
An internet check found plenty of Aquanaut LV RMs out in the retail market. I just don't know how easy it is to find and purchase this composite version. If that is the case, too bad because I believe the composite LV may be the perfect compromise between well rockered dayboats like the Avocet and longer boats. It all depends where you paddle of course. I do not paddle rock gardens and twisty coastlines where loose boats are desired; mainly larger inland lakes and rivers. At 17-1, it seems to be a great length where maneuverability, speed, and storage are desired for my objectives. Other boats in this category seem limited. The Explorer LV I tried had too tight a cockpit for me. Likewise the Force 3 which may be more tracky and is longer, Maybe the Tempest 165 is within this category.
In summary, pleased with very initial paddling in this boat. One of the more important questions on this boat might be, what is the looseness rating, between an Avocet and regular Aquanaut? Looks like I need the water to warm up to feel totally at ease playing with the boat and seeing.