Valley Avocet LV advice- newer paddler

I just got an 82" GP and it seems ok
Length. My last finger joint just curls over the end when it is upright and planted on the floor, but Superior suggested 84"- 86" when I talked to them on the phone.

I’m 5’6".

At least as much power per stroke as my Euro paddles, but the stroke is smoother.

what celia said
She had this boat and she’s your size. Yes, it’s a playful boat but I wouldn’t call it a playboat because I have a friend who takes trips with his. Check the keel first, but I’m not sure that’s the issue.

Make sure your stroke is correct - use your torso, compact strokes - don’t overextend at the finish (paddle out of the water as it passes your hip), and make sure you have good body contact with the boat.

Play with skeg extension.

You may have a longer learning curve with this boat than what you paddled previously but once you get familiar with it it’ll probably be much more comfortable in rough water.

OK - I was wrong but
You don’t like it as a regular use boat. That is not true for everybody.

I have paddled with folks who used the Avocet LV as their regular use all day longer tripping boat. Whether they have moved to another boat by now I can’t say, it was a few years ago now and there have been many boats out since then. But at least one of them was still using it for that purpose three years after she switched to it from another sea kayak.

Some of us end up having the slower but more maneuverable boat as our go-to boat, because that is the kind of paddling that most interests. The OPer is just now getting to the point of being able to progress that way that it really takes having your own boat to do. The Avocet LV is a great boat for that, and if she wants a faster less maneuverable hull at the end of the season she can decide to do that.

But others have found the boat to be more generally useful than apparently works for you. And a single paddle where she is still getting accustomed to the basic balance of the thing - everyone who goes for a better boat goes thru that - is just not a good gauge.

Time in the saddle
Once in awhile you will run into a boat that just doesn’t feel right for you, but most of the time, that goes away pretty quickly. So I would give the boat a chance.

I don’t think you mentioned whether the boat is composite, or poly. Without looking it up, I do believe that Valley makes a plastic version of the Avocet, though. If the boat is polyethylene there is a chance that it might have gotten bent, but not very likely if it is composite.

By all means, use the skeg and don’t feel that you are cheating. It’s not a crutch; it’s put there for a reason–use it.

You mentioned paddling on the Columbia. Would that be the lower Columbia (below Portland)? If that also means that you live in the general area, we might cross paths one of these days. I spend a lot of time on the Columbia.

Not familiar with that boat but…
One of My 3 boats is turny and it’s most notable when I stop paddling to take a photo. The boat will not track straight for photos. Otherwise it takes a bit more focus to travel straight but not too big a deal. I like a boat that travels straighter though.

Resist the skeg for that purpose, of tracking. Understanding how the shallow “V” works is helpful and how it is helpful in future paddling is desirable. I like the shallow V. You really want to save the skeg for when it is needed. To start out with some skeg to get used to the boat should be ok though.

If You are never going to “play” in the boat, then perhaps a straighter traveling boat would be more desirable. Sounds like it could be a great all purpose boat though and if You ordinarily would not “play” but this boat leans You in that direction, that could all be good.

I bought a small body guitar years ago and realized afterwards it doesn’t sound as good as I thought while strumming with a flatpick. So I started fingerpicking and now I love fingerpicking and would never go back to flatpicking.

Finally, around the Columbia, You could always sell the boat and get different, in that location.

I have an 85 GP at 5’8"

– Last Updated: May-19-15 11:45 AM EST –

Iam 5'8" and use a Superior carbon fiber at 85 inch GP. I also use a 210 euro paddle and also have a Valley Avocet but the plastic RM version. Not sure about the glass version of the Avocet but the RM tracs only so so. Its not meant too its a turny kinda boat which makes it a great play boat in the big waves 4 to 6 footers. Drop the skeg just a touch and she stays straight quite well. Its the easiest rolling boat I have ever rolled and I have rolled many different brand boats. I find it great in big waves and that's comparing it to a NDK Romany too. BUT this is the RM version not the glass one. My sister also loves my Avocet but also sometimes has trouble keeping it straight and she is a rank beginner. So most likely the OP of this thread just needs more seat time and drop the skeg a little when possible.
Edit: Yes when taking pictures you NEED to have the skeg down or it will turn without a doubt.


– Last Updated: May-19-15 4:36 PM EST –

What boats have you paddled prior to the Avocet?

I used to help teach a beginning whitewater class. At the beginning of the first session the "experienced" flatwater and sea kayakers could not paddle more than a couple of boat lengths without turning. After a couple of sessions they were all doing much better.

I've had an Avocet RM for many years. I like it because it is far more maneuverable than many other boats of similar size, and that maneuverability is a huge help playing in waves. It's not the best boat for logging lots of miles but that's not why I have it.

As for stability, that comes with time. Relaxing and letting the boat move under you instead of fighting to keep it perfectly upright makes a huge difference. Learning to brace and roll so that you don't fear capsizing is a big step in being able to relax.

A boat that tracks well can compensate for sloppy or uneven paddling. A boat that turns easily will force you to improve your technique.

A paddle that's too long makes paddling straight much more difficult. I'm 5'9", have a 205 as my touring paddle, and sometimes use a 194 whitewater paddle in my Avocet.

High angle, blade close to the boat.

Sit up straight. No slouching.

Reach forward to start the stroke out by your toes, and try not to pull past your hip.

Look forward and make small corrections as soon as the bow moves off course. Waiting just makes it harder to correct. After a while it becomes automatic.

It is possible that the Avocet is not the right boat for you. Mine seems much happier on water with some texture than in a dead calm. If your vision of perfect paddling is miles of mirror-smooth water, look for something else. But if waves make you think "that looks like fun!", the Avocet may be a good match.

Time heals all
Valley boats are very responsive to any input, paddling, the way you are seated and any gear you have onboard. I have an Avocet and when people try it out they find it to be very tippy feeling, I guess I am used to it and have learned to adjust without thinking about it.

Over time you will probably learn to edge the boat without thinking to correct tracking while coasting. While paddling you probably will learn to adjust your strokes also. The entire Avocet line of boats make great rough water play boats and are good day trippers once you learn a little how your boat wants to play.

Give it a little time, In my opinion you will learn to love your Avocet.

You fit into an Avocet LV nicely but you also paddle a perception eclipse? Those boats are opposites as far as paddler sizes.

Agreed - So what !
I also paddle my favorite which is a QCC-700.

I also have sitting up in the rafters a Nigel Foster Silouhette, that I also consider nothing but a play boat.

Would like to own a ski, but can’t see paying the big bucks for something that I would only use for racing

That poor old Eclipse only gets used on rocky down river races

Jack L

I’m just saying you might be too heavy for an avocet LV and maybe that’s why you don’t like it. Being too heavy or too light for a kayak is equally bad. I’ve had small people get into my foster shadow and jump out immediately because it was way too twitchy. Like wise as a tall guy there are some “stable kayaks” that I find twitchy because of the seat height.

I would consider the Silouhette a fast touring kayak, almost a racer, not a playful boat, but you’ said play boat so I’m not sure that’s what you mean. Someone I know demoed one, he said “that boat required my full attention”.

Responses :slight_smile:
Flipped the boat over and checked the bottom, all appears fine…it is indeed a glass boat.

Paddle length - I was using a 230cm paddle, which is sounds like may have contributed to my problem a bit. I’ve been shopping online the past few days for Greenland paddles, think I’m going to try that route.

Boats I’ve paddled previously include a full carbon fiber Chantham 17(this boat handled like a dream, I didn’t even have to try) but was way out of the price range. I have also paddled a wilderness systems sealution (18’), a necky lookshaw (poly~15’) and several other boats that I dont remember the names of off hand.

I’m paddling the Columbia in the Tri-cities area (WA) for those that were asking, hopefully I’ll get a chance to take the boat on a road trip somewhere greener this weekend though :slight_smile:

Im curious if it’s much more common kayak rental boats to be flat bottomed. I think I may have been keeping it too upright on the first trip out… Do hard chines make the boat feel more stable? The other boat I nearly purchased was a current designs Suka, I’m curious if that would have felt less tippy, with its hard chines?

230cm is way too long for you and that
Boat. An adjustable of 200-210 or 205-215cm should work fine for a Euro paddle.

Smaller bladed paddles like the Epic Relaxed Tour, Swift Wind Swift or Werner Little le Dipper are also easier for smaller, less strong paddlers to use over longer times than larger bladed paddles.

I can’t advise you on Greenland paddles, since I just got mine, which is 82" and seems good so far.

Good luck.

Boats too big, paddle too long

– Last Updated: May-21-15 11:52 AM EST –

Waaay too big for you. I have been in all of them. (Chatham 17, Sealution and most likely that Looksha)

And yes, 230 cm is a ridiculous paddle length for you. You can go down as low as a 205 with the Avocet LV if you are paddling high angle, longer if low angle. It is likely that you are drawing it too far back and causing extra yaw in your stroke - it'd be hard not to make that error with such a long paddle.

So on your questions about how a boat feels, with that information in hand...

The boats you were in before, because they were so big for you, were unlikely to give you the kind of feedback on how a boat sits in the water that a better fitting one would. All boats will rock on the water when the water is not staying flat, something which only water in quiet ponds or the really flat phase of early morning or dusk on larger bodies of water will provide. The rest of the time the water surface moves and the boat inevitably has to go with it. That is why they say loose hips - let your hips rock with the motion loosely and keep your torso centered.

As to hard chines or rounder or flatter bottom - it is an individual choice. Some people get into a boat with a single hard chine, like the Suka, and find it more unnerving because that shape hull will whack side to side, from chine to chine, in waves. It is a more abrupt feeling than the smoother flow you will get from a rounder hull.

But both hull shapes can have a stopping point, where unless the wave is very big or the paddler tenses up, they will return to a more upright position. Some call it secondary stability, some argue the finer points of physics and say it is all the same curve. Regardless, having that stopping point means that you can let the boat wiggle around under you and not worry about it going over.

As you paddle more you will learn to trust either behavior, but when people are starting out they often find that they feel more comfortable in one than the other. I'd put the Avocet LV somewhere in the middle on that.

If the people you are relying on have suggested that a Chatham 17 and a 230 cm paddle are really good fits for someone you (and my) size, you need to find better people. But my bet is what I said earlier - they were putting you in overly large boats at first to make it easier to focus on learning your balance, and I assume the paddle is something inexpensive that fell into your hands. If you look at EBay, 230 cm paddles are very available. Lengths have gotten shorter.

my guess

– Last Updated: May-21-15 9:52 AM EST –

Once you master your Avocet or at least gain some confidence, get back inside one of those other boats. They'll feel different, perhaps a little tanky and unwieldy. Certainly not as maneuverable.

One other thing I was going to say: Others here have already said the Avocet line is a great design, and they're right. I've had my eye on one for years but haven't found the right used deal. But everyone's different and if you don't warm up to it you shouldn't feel compelled to keep it because people say it's a great boat. Which it is.

Don’t Be Hasty
Give it a little time. The tippy feeling will go away with not that much seat time. Get a proper length paddle. You’ll find out how good that boat really is. On the other hand, my evil half says no, get rid of it! It’s terrible! Will you take a check???

Shorter paddle for the win!!!
I tried a 210 paddle (Werner shuna) the boat handles like a dream now! I honestly cannot believe how much of a difference that has made! It was tracking perfectly and I could control the boat no problem. I started out in a protected cove area before trying some rougher water… even in stronger winds (chop coming up over the front bow at times) I had no problems at all with the smaller paddle. I had to convince myself this was the same boat and switched to the longer 230 paddle for a short time… I will just say I couldn’t get rid of that paddle quick enough. :slight_smile: Problem solved, loving the boat!

Now…to figure out that roll.

You wanna roll? The Greenland paddle is the best tool for that. IMHO.

That’s great news! The right size
paddle does wonders.

You might even prefer a 205cm.

I use a 210 with my Avocent when I use a euro paddle. The avocet is the boat to learn to roll with. Super easy rolling boat, at least the plastic version is. Good luck.