A salute to Valley Canoe
Posted by: jaybabina on Sep-05-12 7:47 AM (EST)
There are many design standards that we take for granted or expect in quality kayaks and the greater percentage of them came from Valley Canoe which was founded in 1970 by Frank Goodman who was the first to paddle the Cape of Good Horn.
1. Fiberglass (glassed in) bulkheads. This is a great attention to detail and a commitment to a unionized structure.
2. Recessed cockpit coaming. This was not done for rolling but because it was a better design to not raise the cockpit lip any higher than necessary. Another commitment to design detail and concern about reentering a kayak.
3. Recessed deck fittings. To keep anything from interfering with a paddlers trying to reenter their boat, the fittings were recessed. This is not just design but a knowledge about advanced kayaking skills and reentries.
4. Deck lines. Many kayaks during those early times only had bungees to carry things and a disregard for a paddler who might be in the water. BTW – the bungees were simple parallel lines (no criss cross) so chart reading would be easy.
5. The Day Hatch. This mandated an additional bulkhead and allows a paddler to open it up at sea without jeopardizing the integrity of the internal bulkhead design kayak.
6. Deck mounted pump. Although this is debatable or subject to personal preference, the advanced safety thinking and commitment were there. You could pump your boat out with the spray skirt on. You could not pump another boat out however, at that time in England, everyone had a Valley boat.
7. Molded in seats. Many kayaks of that early era flopped in a piece of foam and gave the seat a haphazard priority. The molded in seat also caused the birth of the seat struts that act like hip bracing. In hanging a seat off the bottom, they actually created hip stops in the process.
8. The Retractable Skeg. All manufactured fiberglass kayaks now have them.
9. The Compass Recess.
10. Last and far from least is the famous VCP hatch. Hatches that didn’t leak. Hatches that you could open and close easily and hatch covers that float and require no additional hardware. There were a few British kayaks that had hatches like the screw on cap on a jar of tomato sauce but Valley set the standard which in my opinion has been copied but never equaled.