Submitted: 07-11-2005 by jmden
I've only had this boat for about 6 weeks and do not consider myself an expert paddler so take this review in that context. I ordered this boat with custom front bulkhead position and installed a Henderson footpump. I made foam footrests as it was ordered without the Yakima footrests. I had the skeg control put on the right side as I use a left hand control paddle (Lendal- 210cm, MCS, G1F, CF Kinetic Touring).
I've also got a '95 Aleut Sea II. I've been pleased with the designs, details and general "toughness" of both these Valley boats. Some decry their construction and I can see their points, but on the flip side, Valley boats do travel the world in fine form in some of the most difficult of kayaking conditions. I've spent a fair amount of time in Pacific surf in both boats and they seem solidly built.
The H2O does seem to weathercock more than I thought it would and I find myself using more skeg that I thought I would...but this may be an evolution in process dealing with trim and my own course corrections. It's taken a beating in Pacific surf and has been great fun surfing (no expert again) and just negotiating the surf zone. It's still a bit squirrelly to me when taking steep swell (also rebounding from cliffs) from the beam and rear quarters. It seems at home in the steep breaking 3' to 4' wind waves I've been in. Probably just me getting used to a new boat.
Overall, I'm very happy with the boat and think that it will be a great boat to learn with over the years.