New here & looking for guidance

Well, new in the sense that this is my first post, but I’ve been lurking here for well over a year. After years of canoeing, I had been considering getting into kayaking and about a year ago bought an Old Town Cayuga 146 that I had found on sale for $700.

While I have no complaints about the boat, I’ve recently been bitten by the “speed/efficiency” bug. After considerable research and looking (no actual test paddles yet), I’m thinking about moving up. A few months ago we bought my wife a Tsunami 120, which she loves. It got me to thinking that maybe I would like a Tsunami 160 or 165, but while it has some nicer features than my Cayuga, it seems like it might be a move sideways instead of up. So, off to the nearest well-stocked paddle shop (200 miles away!) to look and compare. Based on the type of paddling we do (larger inland lakes like our home lake Bull Shoals… up to a mile or so wide in some places and 85 miles long), I’m considering several boats, including a Tempest 170, Capella 166, and Valley Aquanaut HV, all in stock at the moment, on sale, and available for a test paddle in a small lake near the shop. Before I make that 400-mile round trip, I’d appreciate any suggestions, keeping in mind the following… I’m 63 this month and in pretty good health, although not as flexible as I used to be… I have no desire, and maybe little ability, to be upside down in a kayak (I can do a paddle float rescue)… ultimately I’d like to do some longer overnight trips… and last but not least, Bull Shoals can get quite choppy with the winds that we frequently ahve around here.

All comments and suggestions would be appreciated…thanks.

Do you need an HV anything?

– Last Updated: Jun-17-10 12:49 PM EST –

You have to be quite tall and/or heavy to need an HV Aquanaut, and the Tempest 170 isn't planned for a smaller person either. You may need to spend some time researching the volume and performance considerations of a sea kayak. Bigger per se is not faster or more efficient, since the boat volume can be over sized for the paddler.

Being upside down or not is more about the paddler than the boat.

What is your size, height and weight?

Height and weight
Thanks for the reply. I meant to include height and weight… 6’1"/205#. Based on what I see in the Valley brochure, I’m about right for the poly HV… at or above the upper limit with overnight gear on the LV.

As to being upside down, I know it will happen sometime and no problem, but don’t know if I can or want to learn to roll.

P&H Scorpio?
I haven’t had an opportunity to paddle the Scorpio yet but it is tops on my list to try.

Artisan Millenium…
if you can find one! I love mine. Great long distance boat and handles rougher stuff nicely. Got mine used for $1600. and in mint condition about 4 years ago and it still looks great.


Don’t sell yourself short!
Being upside down in a kayak actually requires very little ability! :wink:

My dad is a few years your senior, and roughly your size. He enjoys his Tempest 170. He recently sold his Artisan Millenium because it felt a little tippier to him. Both are good boats for someone your size, though I’d say the Tempest is a little more beginner-friendly, and also a more well-rounded boat, whereas the Artisan is a faster, better tracking, and easier to edge, because of it’s lower primary stability.

Within the ‘standard" range of size
Your size is within the usual range for which ‘standard’ volume boats are intended. At 185 and 6’ I feel fine in my standard Aquanaut (composite), Nordkapp LV, and Romany. A standard Explorer feels too big to me.

BTW, rolling is fun and has many uses. Little is more refreshing than roto-cooling on a day when the sun and air are hot. Unless you have a physical disability which would prevent it, rolling is possible and beneficial for any paddler.

similar size 205 and 6’
I own a WS Zephyr 16, a Tempest fits well and seems familiar when I test paddled one last weekend.

The only kayak that ever felt huge to me was the Aquanaut HV - my take is one would need to be a really big boy to settle into one of those properly. Worth paddling just to get a feel for it, if ytou have the opportunity.

the standard Aquanaut
would be a nice kayak for you - right for your height & weight, tracks well at good speed (assuming your stroke is good & you got the motor), great stability, plenty of room for trips, yet not so big it handles like a barge when you are daytripping.

The hatches are very well sized to slide drybags through. And you have Valley quality to boot.

It’s available in both plastic and fiberglass. My good friend Bill (moparharn) who posts here, loves his 'Naut. Feel free to find one of his posts here and email him.

As for rolling, another good friend Ray up near Michigan’s thumb, is nigh about 72 and taught himself to roll a few years ago. He has quite an elegant roll and rolls with both a Euro blade and a Greenland stick. Never too late!

"Standard Aquanaut"
From what I see in the Valley brochure that I just picked up, in poly there is an LV, an HV, and the “Club”, which appears to have the same ideal load range as the composite “standard” Aquanaut. It isn’t as well fitted out, however.

I would love to have a beautiful composite boat, but around here we have rocks, rocks, and more rocks… sharp edged mean and nasty looking rocks everywhere! So, I’ll be sticking with a poly boat. The HV has an “ideal load suitability” of 160 to 300 pounds and the Club is 130 to 270. I think the paddle shop has both in stock, so I’ll give them a try, along with the Tempest.

Thanks to all for the comments so far.

standard Aquanaut
comes in rotomould as well as composite, and is better outfitted than the Club, which is the economy model.

But definitely demo all the versions you can, plastic and composite. Get a feel for what you like.

Also, for the price of many new plastic seakayaks in the 16-17 foot range - $1400-$1700 before tax -you could have a really nice used composite boat. There are some sweethearts out there, frequently sold by people who leaped before they looked.

Used boats (of any material) are for many paddlers the way to go esp. as the beginning. However, you can frequently sell a quality used composite boat for just about what you paid for it. Not generally so w. plastic.

Just more things to consider… good luck w. the demos.

Composite boats
Well made composite boats are not fragile. Most boats in tide race, rock gardening, and surfing sessions in which I have participated have been composite. My Aquanaut (Pro-lite layup) has been through all of that and more over the past 7 years and has yet to need major repair. I consider the gouges and scratches badges of experience :wink:

I think the standard Aquanaut (composite 17’7" x 21.5") is a fabulous boat.

There are a lot of NDK Explorers about that sometimes sell used for the price of a new poly boat. I know of a composite Tempest 170, in pristine condition, selling for well under $2000. And as Friendlyfire noted you can often resell a composite boat for the price you paid for it used.

Let me interject…
Not to jack the thread, but you can learn to roll and you should learn if you wind up with a rollable kayak. You may not want to, or like to, and you don’t have to, but rolling beats the heck out of the alternative reentry/rescues. Don’t automatically shut the door on the skill. If you paddle a lot, it is very much worth some investigation and effort.

I have the Valley Aquanaut and it is indeed a great boat.

I am 6’ tall and weigh 175 lbs. I have a size 11 foot and at times I feel constricted with my foot position in the boat.

This craft does handle following and beam seas amazingly well.

"best mannered boat"
Some years ago when I swapped boats with a friend for some paddling in notable clapitos, she noted that my Aquanaut was extremely well mannered.

I have adopted that terminology to describe the Aquanaut’s behavior in lumpy water. It is the best mannered boat I have paddled in an array of conditions. There are some times when I prefer my Romany and there are times i prefer my Nordlow. However, for the greatest range of conditions, the Aquanaut is more fluid and confidence inspiring than any other single boat I’ve paddled.

For example from classifieds

(MI) Valley Aquanaut (NOT H.V.), black deck with orange piping, and a white hull. Minor abrasions but otherwise in very good condition. Comes with Immersion Research backband, thigh pads, and a bar skeg. very nice looking and paddling boat. $1500 – Submitted by: McDuffy

best mannered boat
really strikes a chord with me. You all really have me leaning toward the Aquanaut again… this boat was on my short list when I fell into a good deal on the Cayuga last year.

I can get a new Club for $995, HV or LV (RM) for $1400. Neither the shop, the Valley website or the brochure show a “standard” Aquanaut in poly, unless you count the Club, which has an ideal loading of 160-250#… right between the LV and HV.

Lest everyone think I’m agonizing over these choices too much… the shop will let me try any boat I want on the local (somewhat dirty) lake, but any one I don’t buy will incur a $25 cleanup fee. I’m just trying to keep the number of boats that we haul to the lake to a reasonable minimum.

more Aquanauts
actually 5 'Nauts - 2 of one type are in different poly colors.

All are demos and priced accordingly, HV, LV and a standard Aquanaut, all at Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte, MI… and they ship.

BTW RKC holds demos ~3x a year, on soft shore lakes, and puts down carpet to launch them… these are not battered boats.

I am not affiliated w. them or with anyone in the paddle biz… they are the premier paddle shop for seakayaks in the lower Michigan peninsula.

Valley stats
The statistics on the Valley site should be read with understanding that they are rough guides as far as load and that the dimensions given may not be wholly accurate - though the discrepancies may not be critical.

It might be worth noting that for composite Aquanauts the dimensions given are: Aquanaut (standard) 17’7" x 21.5", LV 17’1" x 21.5" and HV (originally named “Argonaut” and preceded the Aquanaut) 17’8" x 22.5". For the poly 'nauts: LV (the first poly Aquanaut) 17’1" x 22", HV 17’7" x 22.5", Club 17’1" x 22".

I don’t want to roll either…
but take a rolling class. Totally worth it. Have somebody take a picture of your face when you nail your first roll because it will be a kodak moment.