Submitted: 04-06-2011 by PHILIPJEDLICKA
After a 5 year absence from sea kayaking, I recently purchased a Aquanaut Club in triple layer poly. I had considered a WS Tempest 170 as my last sea kayak was a WS Cape Horn 17 (w/rudder)was damn near perfect. After watching too many youtube videos, I was seduced with the notion of being "hard core" and decided on a British style sea kayak with skeg.
However, when I went into my local kayak and canoe retailer (The Complete Paddler in Toronto), they had the Valley Aquanaut Club on sale for $1,059 Cdn plus tax. The Tempest was $1,700 plus tax. Except for the Tempest's day hatch and a much more comfortable seat, there did not seem to be much of a difference. So I went for the cheaper option. For $1,500 WITH TAX, I had a new sea kayak, a touring spray skirt, a paddle leash and a carbon touring paddle! Talk about a great deal!
As the snow and ice have just recently melted, I've only had two opportunities to take it out on Lake Ontario, without being having to be hard-core. First off, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seat is still quite comfortable after a couple hours. It took me a bit of time to find the right setting for the back-band. The kayak was also very stable for a 22" width and at no time did it feel tippy.
I was also very surprised how well it tracked with the skeg up. Even with cross winds and waves, I prefered to have the skeg up. Coming from a surf rudder kayaker this is quite a compliment. Speaking about the skeg, I'm surprised how far down it goes...almost 90 degrees. On my second time out, I brought my GPS and averaged 7.5 km/hr....without much effort...so quite good speed.
I also want to mention that triple layer poly construction of the hull is super strong...with almost no flex.
Now the no so bad.
The skeg rope block has a pointed end placed at the front-right side of the cockpit. My neoprene glove caught on this while doing a stroke and ripped apart my glove. I had to drill and fasten the block farther back down the side when I got back home. That solved that problem.
The other issue I had was that the deck rigging bungee cords were not very tight and the pattern was awkward. Another easy fix...I just undid the knot, stretched the cord and re-patterned it to my liking...using the existing hardware in place.
Once it warms up more and my skills come back to me I will try some more challenging conditions. I also plan to do some island camping in Georgian Bay, this should give me an opportunity to rate storage and full-load handling.
In the end it's two thumbs up...given the modest investment.