Thursday, October 7, 2010

Love the Valley Avocet!

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.

Read what Gnarlydognews in Australia has to say about problems with Valley seats and how he "fixes" them.
DIY: Replacement carbon-fiber seat in Valley kayak - August 7, 2012

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!

Read other Valley Avocet reviews on

How many boats do you love paddling? It's always nice to find another.

Happy boat trials!
The BaffinPaddler


  1. We have 15 kayaks; maybe only 10 different kinds. One of my thoughts for winter blogs is a tribute to why I love each of those boats. (Well, most of them, there's a small sit on top the boys used to use, that I've never really cared for)

  2. We own 2 kayaks - a tandem Mainstream Escapade and Aquafusion Liberty 13. I like the Escapade because it is VERY stable and the Liberty because it is VERY responsive! I'm also scratching my head on posts for winter blogs... maybe more favorite paddlng photos or some kayaking books or magazine reviews?

  3. Hi Mike,

    I'm working on a bigger project over the fall and winter for the BaffinPaddler. I'm working on DAMS! Paddling with dams is damned!

    BaffinPaddler is researching dams in Canada, and the U.S., and contacting organizations and government bodies, and looking for someone or several people to interview about dams. I'm hoping to post a video interview and story that I produce in collaboration with others later.

    It hit me at the Comerford Reservoir on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire, launching from a boat launch and "park-like atmosphere" with picnic tables and a parking lot for the public, right next to the dam and giant danger signs and people swimming in the water. I've looked at numerous dams and weirs while paddling, and heard a few dam stories.

    We need a good resource on the Web for the public and paddlers with info about dams in Canada and the U.S. to make it easier for us to plan safe trips. Easier to find maps of where the dams are located in places we like to paddle, dam flow rates (mostly they are estimates with no guarantees, and do you understand what the flow rates are?), and recommendations for the public and paddlers in Canada and the U.S. Dams are a pain, and we're stuck with them!

    Researching a paddle where there are dams (and there are so many of them on rivers)is so much work!

    A few paddlers have told me about hitting some scarey or difficult water in between dams on rivers on lazy summer and fall days.

    Just one of my ideas. I think I bit off more than I can chew though. But I'll be posting more on dams.

    Happy idea shopping for your blog!
    The BaffinPaddler

  4. I love the seat. I can see people not caring for the back band. but the seat pan? its great. I took off the pad because that did cause discomfort but I dont want the pad on it anyway. I have a tempest also. I adjusted the tempest seat and changed the back band in it in an attempt to make it more like the valley. I prefer the knees upward position as opposed to completely straight out. The valley seat is wonderful for that