I love the Valley Avocet . . . for fun. But didn't buy one . . . yet.
I'd like one . . . if they make improvements to some basic design elements!
I'd like Valley to work on making their seats something I'd like to sit in!
So far, I don't know anyone who likes their seats! And it's a well known complaint. Come on Valley! When I buy a new boat, I shouldn't have to redo the seat before I can paddle the boat, although lots of high end paddlers do just that with every boat they buy.
I already have two boats: The Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital. And I'm perfectly happy in the factory installed seats in each one. Although in the Boreal Baffin, I had to add a bit of foam for a tighter fit. The Baffin is a bit big on me. I'm a 5'6", 125 lbs. girl.
I also didn't like the short awkward coaming around the cockpit of the Valley Avocet.
It was next to impossible for me to get my skirt on this thing. Not something I have time to fiddle with in bigger water, or that I care to waste my time on.
The handling of the Valley Avocet is insanely sweet!
You can put the Valley Avocet on insane edges and it's so easy to manoeuvre. Put it on an edge, and you can easily spin it like a top! It feels so light. I like boats that are great at getting sideways and quick to move when you want to. When you don't have bigger or faster water to play in, it's great to have a boat you can easily amuse yourself with in calm water. As of the 2010 paddling season, I still can't roll my Boreal Baffin or new Maelstrom Vital 166, but I'm not tempted to learn rolling in the Valley Avocet. Just play with it.
You can't get me out of the Avocet once I get in and get a skirt on it, except the water is totally running into the cockpit from the ill-fitting skirt and difficult to fit short coaming and keyhole cockpit.
You hardly or don't even need a paddle to keep the Valley Avocet upright on a pretty decent edge.
The good news is: Valley boats are coming back to Ottawa Spring 2011
I'll give the Valley Avocet another try this coming spring when Ottawa Paddle Shack brings them back to Ottawa. Trailhead had them for awhile but didn't keep them.
Valley Sea Kayaks has also set up shop in Rhode Island, U.S.A., so bringing them into our National Capital area of Canada will be a little more affordable. And we'll have the boats in thermoform to try. I'm not at all sold on anything thermoform though. But at 34 lbs, the thermoform Avocet will be a pretty light boat, and at least worth a trial!
And I'm not the only paddler who questions and is leery about thermoform. I don't like all the flex I feel on the hull! I looked at a thermoform boat last year and said, "no way", I don't trust it. But here's a great article on the pros and cons of the material and a video of a guy pounding a thermoform kayak hull with a hammer from H2Ohio. The article is from 2008, so the question to ask in 2011 is how much more have they improved on the material and design of thermoform in the last two years? Or have they?
Here's the thermoform hammer test on a kayak hull
Pretty scarey guy with a hammer! But an impressive test. Try doing this on your fibreglass or plastic boat!
I may have to reconsider thermoform? I had no idea it was so tough.
There will be lots to explore and check out in paddle season 2011! At least for me. New destinations, boats, materials, and gear! I'll be making a list!