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Submitted: 10-15-2012 by gnarlydog
The Aquanaut is my 7th composite sea kayak. I am 6'1" and 240# with 7 years experience of sea kayaking in the ocean with occasional surfing sessions. The primary goal with this kayak is playboating and day trip since I am too heavy to use it for extended camping trips. I dislike ruddered kayaks and all of my other 4 sea kayaks have skegs.
I find the Aquanaut a very stable hull with solid initial and secondary stability (compared to more rounded/narrower hulls). Initially this kayak was hard to manage in breeze conditions and would lee cock (point downwind) on beam winds. I removed the seat and fabricated a composite one to then place it more forward to adjust the trim and make it more neutral. I only use the skeg in following seas with decent waves, otherwise it tracks solidly enough to not need any skeg.
The rear deck is not low enough to allow me full laybacks to the deck for rolling (I am not very flexible) and the thigh braces are just high enough to fit my rather thick legs. Myself and others find the stock plastic VCP seat not suitable for paddles of more than an hour: dead legs are a common complaint.
I find the cockpit one of the best, second only to Tide Race, for my body shape. Others have a bit more wiggle room then me but still engage the legs perfectly under the deck for solid contact with the boat. The layup is a carbon/Kevlar hull and deck making this boat substantially lighter than standard Valley composites. I found no defects on this kayak but several others paddling buddies have experienced lay-up faults with Valley boats.
I believe the Aquanaut is a very capable rough water handling craft and probably less suited for just mild water cruising; it doesn’t seem to glide as effortlessly as some other kayaks of mine when the seas are calm. The initial stability allows me to take easy photographs even when the water is textured. Turning by edging ad sweeping strokes is reasonable while I find tracking still acceptable with corrections needed only in following seas.
I would recommend this kayak to a beginner that wants a performance boat but doesn’t risk stability or to the advance paddler that wants a solid craft when the going gets rough.
Unfortunately I found the kayak, as set up from factory, not well-balanced and I and other paddlers experienced substantial lee cocking. Adding about 10-l5 lbs. to the bow compartment helps to correct that.
For a video of surfing in small waves watch:
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