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Valley's Discontinuing A Lot of Boats

2

Comments

  • Actually its the plastic
    boats that are total crap and they have thrown their smaller dealerships under the bus. For the good of planet, Confluence needs to die!
  • Interprettion of "Gold Standard"
    That was your phrase. What that means to me is that somehow British designed and built boats are the best and that other designers and builders strive to achieve that standard in both areas. My only point is that while British designed boats have certainly been enormously influential (and deservedly so) they are not in fact a gold standard. There are designs just as good and by some criteria clearly better. And when it comes to quality of build British craftspeople have been both excellent and and not so good. Again, not necessarily a gold standard. But more important, I think it is important to recognize other quality designs (which were not derived from Brit designs) and innovations in building quality boats in other places. For example, what Brit builder is producing innovative thermoformed kayaks like Eddyline? Just asking for balance, recognition of various contributions, and not distorting history based on personal preference and limited personal experience.
  • Options
    I've heard both, but more the composites
  • Options
    A salute to Valley Canoe
    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.
  • Options
    Valley does deserve a ton of credit...
    ...and it's extremely hard to argue otherwise.

  • that's complete rubbish
    Regulations in this country are not contributing to the inconsistent QC at confluence. This is political grandstanding.
  • But I thought
    D.H. did all that... ;-)
  • Options
    Confluence boat manufacture
    only manufacture of the composite boats for WS and Dagger (Tempest, Zephyr, a Dagger model or two) moved over to China a few years ago (for the 2009 iirc). At that time (Jan 2009) Confluence released a statement saying the move was for a better price point, although privately there were comments (here and other places) that the move was QC based as well.

    The rotomoulded boats (Alchemies, Tsunamis, Pungos, etc, and plastic versions of Tempests and Zephyrs were all and are all made in North Carolina.

    So as the discussion continues re workmanship keep in mind which models are made in which country.
  • Options
    Good guess
    "I'm guessing it's confusing enough to have multitude of manufacturers to choose from then to have several products to choose from after that."

    Good guess.

    Confused buyers are likely to go elsewhere.
  • wilderness glass
    FWIW, I have never seen a pre- china made glass tempest but have seen an 09 and paddled 2 other 09's and own a '10. I have found no flaws in any of those boats in the glasswork. That is not to compare it to anything else, just saying that these 4 boats came out good, and I have only seen 4 of them.
  • Maalstrom and Boreal Design
    Sadly Boreal Design went bankrupt this year.

    Maalstrom makes awesome kayaks (for skilled kayakers in dynamic water), even so so far they only have 2 models.

    The quality of Seaward Kayaks is exceptional, some of there designs are great, if not as playful and responsive as some brit designs.

    Atlantis Kayaks makes great quality kayaks too - they tend to feel more stable than typical brit kayaks.

    Delta makes great thermoform kayaks for comfortable cruising.

    Nimbus and Impex are a couple others.

    All of the above are canadian (not sure about Impex).

    Epic has some great designs - not built to be as durable as most brit boats, but lighter.
  • Continuation of an era....
    Brit boats haven't been supplanted in design - but there are more design options out there. Sleek fast boats like QCC and Epic, wide stable boats, and on and on...

    But lots of kayakers still buy and love brit boats. Brit boats are also evolving: witness Tiderace, Rockpool, recent P&H additions (Delphin, Cetus), Valley Etain and Gemini....

    The quality of Tiderace and Rockpool are considered to be among the top. NDK hasn't cared enough about quality control and it's hurt the reputation of all brit boats, but the quality of most is exceptional.

    It seems brit boats are made to withstand more abuse - thicker gel coat, heavier, more reinforcing in key areas, made to withstand a rough surf landing.
  • NDK quality problems are ancient history
    I've owned two NDK boats, a 2009 Pilgrim Expedition and a 2011 Pilgrim, and the quality is as good as anything I've seen. I also paddle with quite a few people who own NDK kayaks, and the common QC problems (chopped strand construction, poor fit & finish) have long been resolved.

    Of all the American composite kayaks I've had experience with, I would say Boreals are most comparable to Brit boats in their design, strength, and fit & finish.
  • Thanks for the update :)
  • Options
    Maelstrom kayaks...
    "Maalstrom makes awesome kayaks (for skilled kayakers in dynamic water), even so so far they only have 2 models."

    They've just introduced 2 new models, so technically they've had 4 models total.

    But they are discontinuing the 2 older boats (Vaag and Vital), so they'll only have 2 'active' models in their lineup.

  • I wonder why...
    I've only heard good things about the Vaag
  • Options
    we can only speculate...
    My guess? It's probably a marketing thing... perhaps the Vaag & Vital didn't sell great, the designers updated/improved them, and wanted to basically say, "Hey, check it out... NEW and IMPROVED boats! Give us another look!".

    Thing is, if that was the reason, it wasn't a great one IMO.

    In the high-end sea kayak world, seems like ppl don't often throw themselves at something just because it's 'new', but rather because it's 'tried and true', i.e. the accolades and good reviews have piled up, a particular boat has a great reputation, you start to see a few ppl out on the water paddling them, etc. etc.

    NDK and Valley seem to get this. They fiddle with and refine boats they've had around for many years, but they don't change the name. Everyone knows what an Explorer or a Nordkapp is, and that they're good boats. By discontinuing the Vaag and Vital, Maelstrom also got rid of whatever nascent reputation/cache those boats were starting to develop.

    Two other odd things about Maelstrom: Their boats have strange-sounding Scandinavian names (yep, the new ones too) even though they're from Quebec, and they love to center their day hatches, which largely defeats the purpose of *having* a day hatch (i.e. significant storage that you can actually GET TO while on the water).

    In any case, my experience lines up with yours, the few ppl I've run into who've paddled Maelstrom boats seem to like them quite a bit.

    I wouldn't mind checking one out, but I have no idea where I would... there's not even a 'Dealers' link on Maelstrom's website. Kayak Academy in Seattle is the only dealer of theirs' I've ever heard of on the West Coast, and that's about 800 miles away.


  • Options
    Impex builds in Canada & U.S. nfm
  • day hatch etc
    "they love to center their day hatches, which largely defeats the purpose of *having* a day hatch"

    That's exactly what I meant by those "copy and change" designs. When a change is just for the sake of changing, it's garbage, not innovation!

    The whole idea of day hatch being off-set to the side is so it's EASIER to get at by the paddler while on the water! Moving it to the center would make it harder, with what benefit?

    While we're on the theme of hatches, I've seen a few boats having a "deck hatch". That might be a bit more meaningful "innovation", especially for people who aren't flexible enough to get at a regular day hatch...

  • Options
    for once...
    ...we're in total agreement, abc. ;]

  • Ecomarine in Vancouver
    carries them.

    I'm paddled the Vaag twice at paddlefests here and was quite impressed.

    I have a feeling their new designs will have a bit more stability and appeal to a broader range of paddlers. (that's mostly a guess). I wish they would at least briefly compare and contrast there new designs to their old ones on the website.
  • Maelstrom does have
    a deck hatch. So maybe their thinking was the day hatch wouldn't need to be accessed as much on the water - could be accessed by another paddler while rafting up.
  • day hatch OR deck hatch, not both!
    If there's already a deck hatch, AND the expectation is the paddler doesn't access the day hatch on water, then there's no need for the day hatch. Just keep the whole rear section as one compartment! 80% of the boats out there don't have day hatch after all.

    If it takes another paddler to access it, might as well be just a regular rear hatch. More room for storage without that extra wall and hatch hardware.
  • Keep telling yourself that...
    -- Last Updated: Sep-07-12 6:43 AM EST --

    ...and maybe one day it will come true. Their quality is spotty at best and they're still built with the cheapest materials available using antiquated construction methods. They only thing that keeps the company afloat (pun intended) is that their designs are excellent, so people are willing to put up with their flaws.

    Lumping NDK in with Valley and P&H in terms of quality is an insult to the latter two, which DO build consistently high-quality boats.

  • Options
    Trying to see this in a positive light..
    -- Last Updated: Sep-07-12 9:28 AM EST --

    Thinking on it more, it may be that Valley was simply clearing out the 'dead brush'/duplicative/poor-seller boats out of the lineup, in order to make room for some new blood.

    The Pintail has its fans, but the new Gemini SP playboat (whenever it finally shows up) may be more 'generally acceptable' as a playboat for larger-than-Avocet ppl, i.e. less squirrelly.

    The Aquanaut was largely duplicated by the Etain, and additionally, the Gemini ST is coming. If the 'Naut had remained, Valley would've had quite the glut of 'newbie-friendly' touring boats.

    And the Q-Boat? Did anyone actually buy those? I've never even seen one.

    So one possibility is that in '013, or soon thereafter, Valley will want to bring out some new boats, beyond the Geminis. Candidates?

    Perhaps a new Greenland-style boat for larger-than-Anas-Acuta ppl, and also, a 'fast expedition boat' in the vein of the Epic 18X/Rockpool Taran (the Rapier seems to be 'too much ski, not enough sea kayak'/not stable enough).

    Both those boats would probably come in multiple sizes and in multiple materials, as is common for Valley.

    So, to avoid making a zillion different boats, some of the old ones had to go. Sayonora Pintail, Aquanaut, and the rest, you'll be missed.

    (Just doin' my Nostradamus impression.)

  • Options
    Too many models
    What happens in manufacturing is if you have too many models, you are actually competing with yourself. You force dealers to have to stock too many models which turns off dealers and is costly for them, and it produces indecisiveness in the consumer and could possibly make them look elsewhere. It's best to just have the winners because it makes life easy for the dealers and consumers as well. Plus you are not carrying excessive inventory and maintaining tooling (molds) that don't get used or rarely.

    One thing Valley learned from NDK is that people want initial stability. Valley's old line up demanded more skills whereas an Explorer could actually be used by someone who never paddled in their life and they would feel comfortable.
  • Very True
    -- Last Updated: Sep-07-12 11:21 AM EST --

    One of my kayak buddies is considering selling his QCC700. Besides wanting to switch from a rudder to a skeg, he wants something with more initial stability. This is after at least five or six years of owning the thing.

  • OTOH it's nice to have options
    ...and many of us can reach the day hatch, even in marginal conditions. Anything worse and you won't be using much of anything but the paddle.

    The day hatch also adds a structural element in a composite boat.

    Lots of people like convenience and hate paddling with the deck cluttered. I'd like that foredeck day hatch but it's not that big.
  • yep
    Same thing happens to auto manufacturers. But they keep repeating the mistake.

    FWIW though, I thought the aquanaut and pintail were relatively stable?
  • Options
    re: stable
    I understand that the Pintail's stable enough, but it apparently doesn't track well unless you're experienced/very smooth, i.e. it's 'squirrelly'.

    I agree with the point further above that Valley in general might be moving towards boats that are lower down on the learning curve/are more 'newbie friendly'. Pintail got cut, Nordkapp Classic got cut.

    Aquanaut is newb-friendly, but seems to have been more a victim of duplication (Etain and Gemini ST).

    My guesses, anyway... Valley doesn't talk much about why they do stuff. Heck, they can't even update their website.
  • Options
    Jay's onto something...
    "What happens in manufacturing is if you have too many models, you are actually competing with yourself. You force dealers to have to stock too many models which turns off dealers and is costly for them, and it produces indecisiveness in the consumer and could possibly make them look elsewhere. It's best to just have the winners because it makes life easy for the dealers and consumers as well."

    Good points, and interestingly, I just read an article in a psychology magazine that largely echoes them.

    Basically, they performed studies where groups of consumers were given either 4 choices, 24 choices, or 64 choices.

    The larger the number of choices, the more indecisive consumers were, and the less satisfied they were with whatever they eventually picked.

    While the study didn't explicitly say so, the gist I got was that a 'grass is always greener' effect occurred, where if there were a TON of choices, consumers started to prioritize finding/making the 'perfect' choice (which may not even exist) over just getting the shopping over and done with and enjoying the item.

    When the selection process becomes more important than the having/using/enjoying, something's amiss.

  • Options
    yes,
    I agree. Especially in a market where most customers just need to pick ONE boat for their needs and their life will depend on this choice.
  • I disagree
    Thick gel-coat is not structural, and you are buying into the "heavy must be stronger" notion that has been pushed on you buy builders who make heavy boats with lower gradw materials. Now I'm not dissing the Valley stuff. It's good, solid work and good old fiberglass is tough stuff. Diolene btw is a polyester and is used to add strength. It bonds well in the lay-up. Kevlar 49 not as well but with the right processes is fine.

    Boats like NDK's will take abuse but not necessarily any more than lighter boats built better with better materials and resins. Again, gel-coat is NON-STRUCTURAL, and I would rather have an extra layer of glass, carbon etc, and thin gel-coat or surface coat.

    I helped establish Necky's production in Thailand with Cobra Int. Those boats are epoxy post cured and will take abuse!! Amazingly strong and really over-the-top strong. Excellent materials, excellent craftspeople,epoxy post cured, superb adhesives etc. They are done right, dont leak, no issues etc. I suspect Tiderace boats made in the same factory are likewise superb and if they are made the same way dont fool yourself they are way stronger than anything I've seen out of Britain.

    That is NOT to say I dont like and respect Brit boats. They are fine, especially Valley and P&H, but folks this stuff is just all about materials and process and cost. The boats Necky made in Thailand are world class. THey sure as hell couldnt make anything good at Old Town, which is why it was outsourced. If it were my company it would all be done in the USA the same way the Thailand boats are made and I'd employ good people who cared. Id charge more, make less margin, sell direct, and probably go broke.......
  • Tiderace layups
    The Tiderace layups are designed by and unique to them and not shared across the other manufacturers based at Cobra.

    Some processes are shared, such as the interlocking 'biscuit-tin' deck/hull joint, curing and so on, but there are many differences, too.

    What is clear is that the factory in Thailand can produce specification far better than could be found in the UK or Europe. That particularly includes the Tiderace models built in Finland, which were nice looking but nowhere near the quality or technology now found from Thailand.

  • Cool
    Actually that speaks to Cobra's integrity. They probably didn't divulge the other guy's matrix, rather employ the same talent, resin, processes etc to varying layups. The deck to hull seam is insanely strong. They are by FAR the finest composite shop I've dealt with. The CEO is half Thai, half German and the operation seems to reflect the best of both cultures. Yes, simply superb construction regardless of the varying emotions around producing in Thailand.
  • Options
    Dang...
    ...this makes me want to buy a Tiderace. =]

  • Good List; Chimp Pump, Q-boat trivia
    Jay,

    I agree with your list with the exception of one very minor nitpick. My '98 Anas Acuta is still fitted with an original Chimp pump. The original hose supplied is long enough that you can easily remove it from underneath the seat and use it to pump out another kayak. I have done this many times. The only modification that I did was to add a strum box (which should have been supplied as original equipment) .

    At some point did VCP shorten the intake hose? While many owners did this as a modification, I always liked having the ability to pump out another kayak.

    As a bit of trivia to this thread, I was responsible for giving the "Q-boat" its name. Stan Chladek approached me and asked for a Greenlandic name for the design. I gave him the name "Qajariaq" which is what modern Greenlanders call a glass kayak. It means "like a (SOF Greenlandlic) kayak". This eventually got shortened to "Q-boat" as first Valley spelled the name wrong, and then they realized that no one could pronounce it :)

    When VCP asked me for my advice on designing the Qajariaq I strongly urged them to consider making an even lower volume version of the Anas Acuta (something like a Tahe Greenland that didn't exist at the time), arguing that the Anas Actua was already too big (for the Greenland rolling crowd, anyway).

    Greg Stamer
  • Cobra
    Cobra are insanely protective of their customer's need for privacy. If they don't adhere to that principle, their use as an OEM manufacturer is highly diminished.

    The layups in Tiderace boats vary from boat to boat and are very specific. For example, the Xtreme is designed for very big conditions and requires real stiffness and strength, so uses a thicker core material in the hull than other models in the range. The Pace 18 at the other end has a greater need for lightness, so the matrix for that boat is very very different.

    In some ways it's a shame that many composite boat buyers are not as open to understanding the technology as they might be, because the quality of what's coming out of that factory as a product is amazing.

    By comparison, the layups produced by Valley and P&H are agricultural. That's not to say they're bad product, just that you are not getting the same thing in terms of advanced product as you might. It's a bit like having two BMWs that look like the latest model on the outside, except one of them IS the latest model and the other one is built on mechanicals from the 1997 model.
  • Options
    Yup...
    "Lots of people like convenience and hate paddling with the deck cluttered. I'd like that foredeck day hatch but it's not that big."

    And it really *can't* be even approaching big, because then it starts to intrude into your leg space. Some ppl really complain about the design of the Cetus in that way.

  • Who else?
    Who else is having boats made by cobra?

    I had heard that the newer WS boats made in Asia are not as good as expected so i assume no cobra or bad info.
  • Options
    furthermore...
    I assume Cobra builds to whatever quality level the customer wants/asks for, so not all boats coming out of Cobra are built to, say, the same level of standard as the Tideraces coming out of there?
  • not bad
    -- Last Updated: Sep-15-12 9:53 AM EST --

    Having paddled hundreds of miles in both a Pintail and an Aquanaut, I'd say they have decent stability, but less primary than most. Certainly less than something like a Romany, Explorer, Cetus, Tempest, etc. They have a very slight v-bottom, so there's a slight wiggle when sitting flat. This is only really a concern for a newer paddler though, IMO, and quickly becomes an asset in the form of more intuitive edging and control.

    I'll be sorry to see the Aquanaut discontinued. I think it's a really great boat. Fast enough, but easily maneuverable on edge, and in rough conditions. Carries a ton of stuff, but never feels high-volume. I expect I'll keep mine for a very long time.

    The Pintail is mostly an interesting piece of paddling history these days, IMO. I spent years in one, and enjoyed it, but there are now boats that fill that niche far better. Modern ocean-play boats are faster, more forgiving, more maneuverable, and carry a load better. The Delphin, for example, does everything that the Pintail could do, but better.

  • Options
    Really?!
    i wouldn't have thought the discontinuation of a few models by Valley would've generated this much discussion. Other manufacturers discontinue models all the time with barely a peep.

    I love the Valley line and am innately skeptical of the boats that are coming out of Asia as I have seen some interesting quirks, although they could also be driven by the manufacturers. My favorite was when a wave slammed into the coaming of a Tidrace (I don't recall which model) and later I noticed, much to my friends dismay, that the coaming was covered with cracks radiating out from the inside of the coaming to the outside of the lip.

    I've never had any problems with Valley boats. I find their build to be top notch and that it really sucks up the abuse - I have the extra heavy layup on my Anas Acuta and I've crashed it HARD! I'm more intrigued by the trend to lighter and lighter boats. Perhaps the Brit makers consider that their home audience waters are brutal with many pointy rocks and are home to one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the Coryvreckan. I've found with many of the lighter boats - Tiderace, Sterling and such - that it's much easier for me to damage them through normal use...my normal use anyway.
  • I agree with your words
    Same with Necky boats. Lay-ups vary per boat, need etc. Even process varies based on materials etc. As you apparently know these epoxy post cured laminates can take insane abuse far in excess of most other brands. This is due to materials, type of resins, and superb build and engineering. Every boat layup is documented in a cad spec sheet with precise dimensions etc. I miss my time over there and look back with the utmost respect for Cobra and their workers. Folk need to understand that they are the polar OPPOSITE of the China gig!

    And again neither of us are knocking the Brit made boats, which have stood the test of time and clearly are fine. Folk should buy what they enjoy paddling.
  • No
    Cobra won't build bad stuff! They will work with a customer but there's too much pride there to produce something that isn't excellent. That's my experience with them. CEO is a very high integrity man.
  • interesting to hear
    ...comparisons between Valley and other boats with lighter layups. I'd like to hear more on this.

    I think the reason for the numerous responses is based on the heritage of the manufacturer and the particular models.
  • Options
    re: no
    I'm not saying they'll build bad stuff, just varying degrees of 'good/great'. I do assume cost is a factor for some boat makers they work with.

    If others in the thread are to believed, Tiderace does some proprietary stuff with Cobra that other boat makers who work with Cobra are not privy to. That alone woud make Tideraces better (or at least different) than other boats coming out of Cobra.

  • Options
    That's strange...
    "I love the Valley line and am innately skeptical of the boats that are coming out of Asia as I have seen some interesting quirks, although they could also be driven by the manufacturers. My favorite was when a wave slammed into the coaming of a Tidrace (I don't recall which model) and later I noticed, much to my friends dismay, that the coaming was covered with cracks radiating out from the inside of the coaming to the outside of the lip.

    I've never had any problems with Valley boats. I find their build to be top notch and that it really sucks up the abuse - I have the extra heavy layup on my Anas Acuta and I've crashed it HARD! I'm more intrigued by the trend to lighter and lighter boats.

    Perhaps the Brit makers consider that their home audience waters are brutal with many pointy rocks and are home to one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the Coryvreckan. I've found with many of the lighter boats - Tiderace, Sterling and such - that it's much easier for me to damage them through normal use...my normal use anyway."


    That's odd... while I don't know what it was like in their earliest days, the Tideraces being built now or recently have a reputation for being some of the most bombproof boats out there.

    And they're not light either (Xplore-L is 60 lbs, for example... 9 lbs heavier than what Valley claims for a Nordkapp). TR almosts seems to take pride in that. =\

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