Avocet or Aquanaut?


A rainy Sunday afternoon, good for paper work, bike repair and asking a few (more) questions:

I am thinking of getting a glass boat. I am 5’11" about 165 lbs. I am really confused about a couple of things. I tried the Avocet and really liked it. I just fit in it with the pegs all the way forward (pegs do not click in place) I am comfortable. I can put my legs down flat and touch the bulkhead with my toes if I try. Seems like I am using all of the cockpit which I think good.

I want a boat that will handle rough conditions (even though I am not ready yet) and be able to camp with a few times a year.

I did some searches on these boats and stumbled on a table that showed various boats, their wetted surface area, and a bunch of other data. Its main focus was to show the force needed to make the boat go from 2 to 7 knots. What was clear was that the shorter boats were as efficient or more efficient than the longer boats to about 4 knots. At 5 knots or better (where I do not paddle for long) the big boats were much better. Not what I had expected.

Everyone tells you a long boat is faster (more efficent) but not according to the table. I do not know if the figures were calculated or actual

test results

The other area of confusion: I thought long boats were supposed to be better in rougher conditions but most of the really good paddlers I am meeting seem to show up in 16 foot boats. These are the boats they paddle in open water.

If the Aquanaut was not 19 inches longer than the Avocet I would not be so concerned. But that seems to be a pretty big difference. Any thoughts, comments would be welcome

my aquanaut is a plastic sot

– Last Updated: Jul-19-04 12:15 PM EST –

I get the feeling it isn't the same boat, mine's a tank of sots and takes effort to get it going but amazily handles rough water well. yours is glass?
Looked yours up, definately an animal of a different color,

I know that…
this is not you were asking for…but…I would definitely suggest your taking the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 out for a spin. I just purchased the RM Tempest 170 and love it…has fine initial stability yet I have been told by many that it will handle anything I want it to in terms of conditions when I progress with my skills…in other words…a magnificent boat to “grow into” that will not need to be upgraded…plus…their new cockpit setup is incredibly comfortable and adaptable…



Lees, the boats I am looking at are
made by VCP (Valley Canoe Products). I don’t think they make a SOT, but I could be wrong.

I just went thru the same thing
I demoed alot of boats, Avocet, Aquanaut, Argonaut, Jubilee h20, Romany, Explorer. I had been paddling a P&H Capella for the last year and was looking for a boat that fit me a little better, and handled a little better. I enjoy the playful side of kayaking. I am pretty much the same size as you, i’m 5’11" 170 lbs, and mt foot pegs are 3 clicks from the bottom, so I don’t understand why yours were so different. It really doesn’t matter, you could just remove the foot pegs and pad out the foward bulkhead. Out of all the boats I tried the Avocet was the best for me. Not only did it fit right, but it handles so predicitably. I bought my Pro-lite Avocet 3 weeks ago now, and couldn’t be happier. My confidence on the edge of this boat is so much better. My rolls are more reliable, and I’ve almost got my immersed side scull down pat. The rough water capabilities of the Avocet are amazing, no longer do I feel at all unstable in heavy seas. My brother who also bought an Avocet after trying mine does alot of 3-5 day solo camping trips was so surprised at the amount of storage that he is now selling his P&H Quest that he thought he would keep for camping. My advice would be to go for the Avocet for a really fun boat with sufficient room for moderate camping. If you are really sure that you will be doing expedition camping and you need the extra space, get the Aquanaut.

No Q, seems like we have much in
common. I am currently paddling a '04 RM Capella. I have a 34 inch inseam and a short torso. Thats why my feet hit the bulkhead. Appreciate your feed back. I was thinking that the Avocet may suffice for camping but I tend to overstuff a backpack. Imagine what I could bring if I didnt have to carry it all! Good to know that someone is camping with it. At this point I think 5 days will be about all we will do. My wife is looking at an Avocet, Vela or similar for her boat. I would just like to be able to take more of the load than her. Guess I could take the heavier stuff and leave her with the bulky items. Just want to be sure that I have enough room and freeboard while tripping.


– Last Updated: Jul-18-04 8:13 PM EST –

One thing to look at is which seat the Avocet you demoed had in it. In the new 2004 models they have gone to to a plastic seat. I was able to get a left over 2003 model that has a fiberglass seat (which I think is better) You can still order a boat from VCP thru your dealer with the fiberglass seat, also you could get the front bulkhead located wherever you wanted so there would be no need for footpegs, and it would give you more space in the front hatch. Of course you will have to wait to get it, and that could be a couple months or more depending on VCP's current build schedule and when the next container is shipping from England.

As for camping, seeing as you are going with two boats, you should have no problem, as alot of stuff you only need one of, ie. Stove, cookset, tent etc. When I go camping with my brother, basically all I have to bring is food, water, sleeping bag and mat.

My brother is a little bigger than me, he's pushing 200lbs, and even with his Avocet completely loaded for 5 days camping (i'm guessing 70-80lbs of gear, 40 of the pounds being fresh water) the boat handles great. As a matter of fact when we were trying things out prior to his first camping trip in it, he had a hard time flipping competely over to attempt a roll (load your heavy stuff low and close to the cockpit). We both recently learned to roll, and with the loaded boat he did like 20 rolls in a row, he couldn't miss, the boat practically righted itself. He's a camping maniac, he only works 3 days a week, and kayak camps the other 4. Right now he's on an Island in Casco Bay Maine.

PS. The Vela is a great small persons boat.

Capella to Avocet comparisons/questions

– Last Updated: Jul-19-04 8:47 AM EST –

What specific differences did you find between your Capella to your Avocet in terms of how they behave on water and in different conditions? Tracking, stability, speed, rolling, manuverability etc.? Would one have an advantage over the other for someone in the 6' 225lbs. range? Thanks.

The Avocet has much less volume
in the cockpit. In the Capella my knees are at a pretty good angle. Much Straighter in the Avocet.

I sit much lower in the water in the Avy too. My elbows hit the water. I test paddled the Avocet for a couple of hours in a small area. It seemed easier to paddle but I did not go far. It was much more manouverable, flat and on edge. It tracked better when I wanted to go straight. My RM Cappella wanders all over the place if the skeg is fully up.

The Avocet just seemed to do everything better. It seemed to roll easily but I am new to rolling so I can’t tell you how it compares to the Capella. I’m still surprised when I break the surface. I also paddled a composite Capella and found it somewhat better than the poly ver. but much more the same, than different.

Getting close to a decision
Sorry for the shameless bump but I would really like to hear the opinions of some of the boat builders out there re the questions I asked at the opening ot this thread… Does anyone own the Aquanaut as a day boat or is it really more for camping / expeditions?? To fit in the Avocet I will have to pad out the bulkhead as the pegs are an inch short of being long enough. How do you do this? Anything good or bad about loosing the foot pegs? Still not sure if the Avocet is big enough for camping if I am loaded down…

I went through the same thing last year and narrowed my choices to the Avocet, Capella and Aquanaut. My wife bought the Avocet in glass and I bought a composite Capella. To answer your question about the bulkhead, the dealer will have to measure you and place the bulkhead position accordingly. It would then be produced without the pegs and you would pad the bulkhead out with closed cell. I did this on the Capella and really like it. My wife stayed with the pegs in her Avocet. As for the two boats they are both in the playboat category which is what we wanted. I come out of the whitewater crowd and both boats are lively enough for me. The Avocet particularly was fun when the area rivers were high this spring. Paddled Class 2+ and had a ball. The Capella in kevlar has been a fun boat as well. An earlier post suggested it wandered too much. Would agree that the Avocet tracks straighter than the Capella but the later turns on a dime. Hence the “wandering” feeling. Just a different hull that I like just as well. As for the Aquanaut. Glad I did not go there. Too much boat for my taste in termss of length. A great tripper I am sure just not what I wanted. A matter of taste I suppose. By the way I have no trouble keeping up with my long boat friends in a “short” boat.



I agree…kinda
I agree with Paul on his comparison of The Avocet and the Capella, but I think alot of it has to do with the fact that he’s only 165lbs. The Avocet is recommended for paddlers up to 190lbs, the Avocet fits him better. The Capella is recommended for a much wider weight range…up to about 260lbs. I found that my Capella paddled much better with and additional 60lbs or so of additional weight, bringing the total weight to 230lbs. So, that being said, I think the Capella is much better suited to paddlers in the over 200lb range. Also I think someone at 225lbs might have a hard time fitting in an Avocet.

Tough Decision
My Reccomendation would be to get the Avocet, it’s a great boat. If in time you find that you are doing more camping that day tripping, and you need more space, you could always sell the Avocet, and move to the Aquanaut. You won’t have any problem selling the Avocet, it is a very desireable boat. As I said earlier, the fact that you will be camping with two boats, you shouldn’t have any problem fitting all your gear between the both of them.

I wholeheartedly second the recommendation to try a Tempest. You will find the boat exceptionally well behaved in rough conditions, average conditions and flat water. As pointed out, its outfitting is both comfortable and adjustable.


Not sure this is going to help you much at all, but I am awaiting delivery on a new Aquanaut. My choices were narrowed down to it, the Explorer, Romany and Avocet. Further elimination got me to just the two VCP boats. I ultimately went with the Aquanaut for its extra length for the two reasons you’ve mentioned, speed and as I’m not entirely sure what kind of camping I might do, I wanted to have the extra volume instead of regretting not having it. But it will be my day boat.

I am female, 5’3" about 135#. I had them extend the bulkhead some over standard, but as I was concerned about resale value, didn’t want to have it customized to my height only. So I will be using the pegs. I am hopeful that I will never want to sell this boat, however!

No Q, Where did you see weight ratings
for the Avocet? I would like to know its max capacity and the volume of the compartments. Same for the Aquanaut

Great discussion!

– Last Updated: Jul-22-04 12:16 PM EST –

I've been looking for a bigger rough water boat and this discussion has been just what I've been looking for. Tried the Chatham 16 RM- too small for me at 215/220lbs and 5'9". Tried the Tempest 170 RM and liked it a lot. Rock solid stability all around and the most comfortable outfitting of all the boats mentioned. However it lacked the turn on a dime manoeverability I wanted. The Avocet is a great but once seated I practically have to be cut out of the boat. Just too small for me. Which brings me to the Capella. I demoed a plastic Capella and loved it! It had just the playfulness I want. You do need to pay a little more attention to your strokes to stay your course but I'm used to that. It does have less primary stability than what I am used to but that is something I will grow into quickly I think. As far as weight goes, my 220lbs was no problem and as mentioned, it was a plus in this boat. My problem with the Capella is the seat, backband and skeg handle. The seat is very uncomfortable for me and the backband is just too high. If I buy one I'll have to replace them. The skeg handle also hits me right in the knee. I guess I could pad it out but I wish they had just moved it back 3 inches. The cockpit has plenty of room for a bigger paddler. I have sat in an Aquanaut and it fit OK but I think it is going to be less playful than what I would like. So far the most comfortable boat is the Tempest 170 and I'm sure I would be happy with it, but if I can get the Capella outfitted right it is probably the right boat for me.----Rich

Avocet dimensions
Found some info here http://www.pdcc.club.org.uk/kayakreports.htm

and some here


Try the Glass Capella

– Last Updated: Jul-22-04 2:45 PM EST –

You may find the seat in the glass Capella quite better, I think it's the most comfortable seat ever.
Also I have a One year old Carbon/Kevlar Capella, all white, for sale. Contact me if you are intrested. It is listed on p.net here: http://www.paddling.net/Classifieds/forSale.html?category=kayaksell&state=MA

PS. i have reduced the price to $1999

Avocet - Aquanaut
I’ve paddled both and both are great boats. I bought an Aquanaut for its greater glide, tracking, and volume. It also seemd faster than Avocet (or Explorer).

The new Valley backband is very good, the new Valley seat is not. If you decide to order one of these boats, request the fiberglass seat. Also, spend enough time trying out the boats to decide where you want the bulkhead. Aquanauts come standard with 37" front bulkhead. I had mine moved to 33" and brace against it on an inch of foam (I’m 6’). MIKCo orders nearly all of their Valley boats with 33 or 34" bulkhead. It does not seem to hurt the value.

However, if you choose an Avocet and get tired of it in a year or two, contact me. I’m thinking of picking up a 16’ boat (at 17’7" the Aquanaut is a lot of boat) for easy short paddles.

BTW I am very happy with the Prolite layup and the overall build quality.