Comparing Avocet, Tempest 165 and ...


I’m looking to get a rock-garden/playboat. That designation to me means it’ll be plastic, it won’t need to carry much gear, it won’t be used to cover long distances, is maneuverable and surfs well (doesn’t tend to pearl easily). With those characteristics in mind I’d be very interested to hear from people that have spent a good amount of time in any two (or three) of these kayaks and can make comparisons.

Yes, I’ve read the reviews here at but would like to hear direct comparisons between the models. Also important, I would like to hear any negatives that you encountered. For instance I was at a store looking at a new Avocet and found that the skeg (when deployed) had a lot of lateral movement. I was able to move it back and forth probably an inch. I’m wondering if perhaps there was a bushing missing from that particular skeg setup.

BTW, I’m less then 5’7" and weigh about 155 lbs.

Any and all comparisons of these models would be appreciated.


a few words
Since you are looking for rock/play boat, skeg is not likely to be used :wink:

Squamish will give you nice tight fit, if that is what you like. It is definitely shortest of them all. Legs might be almost straight out.

Avocet has more rocker that Tempest, it is more playful of the two.

Every Valley I’ve paddled
w/the skeg down results in skeg ‘flap’ as the skeg knocks side-to-side in the skeg box as paddled forward. Poly or composite made no difference. My Pintail does it, my friends glass Avocet does also. Poly Avocets and Skerreys did it also. Kinda obnoxtious after a while, though the skeg usually isn’t all the way down except when surfing, at which point between wind noise and all I don’t notice it except for the knocking I feel through the seat. It does flap a lot less while surfing than it does on flat water, where my laziness might deploy it. I live with it as I love the Pintail, though it’d be nice IF it didn’t do it!

Valley Skeg Slap…
Good to know it’s not a problem and expected. I noticed the Nord LV skeg slightly slaps at full deployment. I have not paddled many other Valley boats but decided that the skeg works so easily that I didn’t want to mess with it.

Not being shimmed firmly probably means it is less prone to jamming from small debris, OK by me.

Avocet RM vs. Tempest 165 RM

– Last Updated: Nov-05-07 11:31 AM EST –

First, I cannot comment on the Squamish, I have never paddled one.

I can comment on the Tempest 165 (composite), which I owned for two years, and the Avocet RM, which I recently purchased.

I really like the Tempest’s hull design. It is one of my favorite ‘all-rounder” type boats. It has excellent outfitting and would work nicely as a play boat with these caveats. The Tempest was originally designed to accept Wildy’s propriety hatch system, apparently as a cost saving measure. In other words they did not use the more costly and reliable Kajaksport or VCP lids. In my humble opinion, and that of many other Tempest owners/users, the Wildy hatches just suck! They are prone to leakage, and particularly on the 165, are very easy to dislodge if you are performing rescues over your aft deck. It happened to me on more than one occasion.

Confluence apparently made note of the negative feedback they were receiving in regard to the hatches and in August of 2006 they started equipping their composite Tempests with Kajacksport hatches. Regrettably, they did not do the same with their poly models and reports from poly Tempest users are even more scathing in regard to hatch leakage. The Wildy hatches eventually lead me to sell my Tempest. However, if I found a favorable price on a composite 165 equipped with Kajaksport hatches I would pick it up in an instant.

Another detracting trait of the poly Tempest model is that it is of single-ply polyethylene construction. The single ply is softer than and not nearly as stiff as the tri-laminated poly found on comparable Valley and P&H boats.

Now I was recently shopping for the same type of boat as you, a play boat for rock gardening, rough stuff and surfing. I already have Valley Aquanaut LV in composite. Yeah, I could in a pinch use it for rock gardening, but I would like to limit the amount of time I spend on hull repair and maintenance. ; - )

I am close to you in size at 5’ 8” and 155. I quickly shortened the list of boats to consider/demo:
Avocet RM
Capella RM 160
Tempest 165 RM

I immediately eliminated the Tempest even though it is an excellent fit both for the intended usage and my body. I actually tried one in a pool session, I carefully sealed all the hatches, but it still took on beaucoup water after a dozen rolls and rescue drills. It was pretty much what I expected and the Tempest RM did not disappoint! ; - )

The Capella RM 160 is a sharp looking boat. It has nice Kajaksport hatches and a robust tri-laminate construction. The seat was comfortable, but the cockpit is immense! I demoed one for several hours and I really wanted to like it, but I slid all over in this boat when sculling, bracing or rolling. I also found the aft coaming a bit high, particularly when doing lay-back rolls. Despite P&H’s marketing I did not find the 160 RM to be a small to medium sized person’s boat.

Lastly, I tried an Avocet RM. What a great little kayak! The RM version actually has a slightly smaller and snugger fitting cockpit than its composite brethren and it fit me like a glove. I demoed it for a bit over 3 hours in winds up to 20 knots and 2’ chop. It handled like a champ. You can spin it like a top, but for a 16’ it still tracks pretty well even without the skeg, though not a strongly as the Tempest (more on a skeg below). Were there things I did not like?
I have had trouble getting my existing spray skirts to firmly stay on the Avocet's rather 'slippery' and shallow coaming. I hope to rectify that today when my new Randed Seals spray deck arrives. I have been told that the rubber rand will do the trick. BTW, do not try this on your composite boat if you want to safely wet exit!

The Valley deck outfitting is a bit sparse and unlike the composite Avocet model the VCP hatches are not tethered. Thankfully these are issues that the owner can address. I redid the deck lines, tethered the hatches, and added some reflective tape.

I should note that Valley started using tri-laminated poly on their boats in 2006, so if you find pre-2006 Avocet RM for sale it will be of single ply construction. You can check the Valley serial number to make sure. I believe that Valley is one of the last makers of poly sea kayaks that is stilling welding its bulkheads. I believe P&H ceased this practice on its 2007 RM models.

I have to disagree with one commenter who stated that a skeg would “not likely be used” on a play boat. What if you have to do a decent crossing in winds to make it to your rock garden? I recently completed a nearly 14 mile crossing (7 miles each way) in my Avocet, while having a 15+ knot beam wind to content with. Yeah, I could have done it without the skeg, but I was dam glad I had one.


i have gone through that same dilemma…

but i ended up with a rockhopper…rh340…

it is 12’…and great for surfing…and rocks…

if you like the tempest series tehn wait a few months and pick up the new zephyr from wildy…a 15 or 15’5" version…more playful than a tempest…

you can hit up the search function here to find more on it…

i would love to get a zephyr if i can…shall see…jsut got a new squirt baot tho :wink:


Excellent tvcrider! This is exactly…
the type of answer I was looking for.


can you test paddle them?
i have an avocet that i love, but have removed the foot pedals, and the bulkhead foward, so that it is custom fitted to me, and i am 5’5", or i would be happy to let you test paddle mine. who is selling these boats in ca. now that riptides and rapids has closed shop?

"Penguin Paddlers"
In Redding and Rocklin (Sacramento area) carry them. Did you modify or order your Avocet custom?


Spot on, Joe
… and almost verbatim to an email I sent to wheels78, although you provided more detail. BTW, I recently picked up a previously enjoyed RM Tempest 170. It’s a 2007 model and a quick test in pretty good whitecaps and spray with some rolls thrown in at the conclusion of the trip left all three hatches bone dry.


can’t find pictures of the zephyr
anyone know where I/one can?

Thanks, but I’ll wait a bit
I’ve got a personal policy against rushing out to buy the first of anything. There’s always bugs to work out. Wait a couple of years, stand back and read about the problems.

Yes, I’m still using the Windows XP operating system :slight_smile:


if you like the tempest series tehn wait a few months and pick >up the new zephyr from wildy…a 15 or 15’5" version…more >playful than a tempest…

Tempest hatch clarification

– Last Updated: Nov-02-07 7:00 PM EST –

Wetzool, I'm very happy you are one of the lucky ones! ; - )
I have heard others report that they have used Wildy's propriety hatch system with no ill effects (i.e. 'bone dry' compartments). God bless them! Dry compartments with the Wildy's hatches has not been my experience. If you read the Tempest reviews on and anecdotal comments in these forums you will see it as a common complaint.

I have never seen an original set of Wildy hatches that did not leak, on my boat, fellow paddler's Tempests or rental Tempests. The poly Tempests are the worse offenders.

Again, YMMV.

It was only one test thus far …
with a few rolls, but a lot of good splash. Someone said the problem is the rims and not the hatch covers. Differential shrinkage as boats cool from the mold, so the rims aren’t all the same size. If so, maybe certain colors are worse than others. Valley uses what looks like an ABS plastic rim that is glued or welded in to their plastic boats. Maybe this material is more stable and doesn’t shrink like the poly does. Or maybe Wildy is controlling the cool down process better so shrinkage is not a problem. Or I just got lucky.


riptides and rapids
worked with me to build up the angle of the seat and do the other modifications. i didn’t do it, but it doesn’t seem that complicated

Jackson Riccochet?

a plastic slalom boat, fast, super maneuverable, awesome rock garden potential…

Prijon Athelete?

Skeg Slap
To alleviate the skeg slap on my boats I went to a renovation center and bought some of the felt pads that are used for furniture legs, ($2.00/dozen I think) and I glue them into the skeg box on both sides of the skeg about half way back. Takes care of the problem permanently…

fix it
through Annapolis Performance Sailing or other sailing supplies you can find an adhesive backed tape with stiff 1/8" fibers on one side, it’s used for daggerboard slots. About 1 1/4" wide.

Outstanding tcvrider.
You really ought to cut, paste and submit that to Pnet reviews under the category for Tempest 165 and the Valley Avocet RM I think I’m the only one to review the RM Avocet on Pnet) No need to retype. Many will use your info as they compare the two boats.

Good luck with the sprayskirt. My Snapdragon seems to stay on my Av RM, but I ro get water in 'pit on rolls, and I think t’s from around the abdominal band where it goes over my pooch.