On to the Quest: The initial stability and the secondary stability blend together smoothly and it certainly requires you to pa attention what you are doing; meaning that it doesn't take care of you the way that the Explorer does. If you blow it on an edge you'll get wet; however, it's responsive to braces and roll in a way that makes up for it's tender nature.
Some of the reviews claim the Quest tends to ride a bit high unloaded, but it is a boat designed to carry gear. I found that it ride no higher that any other boat unloaded and that it remain responsive to corrective strokes. Even in high winds it tracks rather well, though it may tend to pearl a bit.
I haven't had the opportunity to try it loaded for a trip yet and will add to this at that time. At this point however, I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up wit the caveat that for some the twitchy nature of this boat will inspire nightmares for the unprepared/inexperienced.
On to the boat. Construction is very good with no glass issues. I did get a boat with a very leaky forward hatch at the ring/deck interface. One call to the importers sorted this. THey were very helpful and are sending me the sealant so I can take care of it. THey are sending it at my request as I live some distance away from a dealer. The seat is good for me comfort-wise though I may tilt it slightly forward from the stock position. THis is easy to do. I would like to see the backband altered a bit to allow it to be tightened a bit more. The existing method limits when the strap comes away from the combing at 90 degrees. Could move the backstrap mounting screws If needed but should really have to. None the less with the seatback as tight as I can get it I'm OK. As for performance I'm very happy. Stability is a bit tippy initially and I would not call the secondary stability a wall. I do find that the stability is fine for me and I'm a loading worst case and a relative beginner as well. The skep control is a non issue as it just works and that is enough said. I would like to see a bit more area on the skeg though. With the skeg up boat weathercocks or wanders bow into the wind. As the skeg is lowered this tendancy is reduced until the tracking is pretty solid. If the skeg was bigger you could drop it until the boat wandered bow downwind. THis would be useful at times. As is we me paddling and no cargo in a 30 know sidewind the skeg needs to be 90 to 100% down to hold course. Speedwise I find that a good cruising speed is easy. I would not call the boat fast so much as quick to accelerate.
All in all I love the boat and would recommend it to others. Good quality, quick acceleration and good importer support. I would like to see the backband adjustability altered and a bit more skeg but that is all.
I am 5'7' about 165lbs so the boat is a bit big for me but so was the explorer, and I've fixed that with some padding. The finish on the boat is excellent, I have not seen a better finish on a boat. The seat and backband is one of the most comfortable I have tried.
Now on to how the boat handles. The boat has a nice blend of initial and secondary stability, easy to edge without being tippy and a very solid edge to lay over on. It carves turns very well for such a big boat, it feels like a much smaller boat. Tracking is very good but will weathercock a little when empty, a little bit of skeg fixes that. With a load aboard it tracks very well.
Seems to be a fast boat, has a nice glide and handles big water very well. Handles well in Surf for such a long boat, and following seas are a blast. You really need to get this boat in big water to really appreciate it. Oh, and it rolls very well.
Anything I don't like? The Kajak Sport hatches, I prefer the VCP hatches, but I am getting used to them and the appear to be completly watertight.The layup seems a little lighter than my Valley Pintail but most people will like that as most vcp boats are very heavy. I'm hard on boats so I tend to favor a heavier lay up though, well I guess I will see how well it holds up.
I will have to say I am very pleased with this boat. The day after I bought it I was wondering if maybe it was a bit of an impulse buy, as I had pretty much made up my mind on an explorer untill seeing and paddling the Quest. Anyway after a lot of paddling the last month or so I think I have found the boat for me. For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, P&H is trying to have more reresentation out here. I got this one from the guys at Gig Harbor Kayak Center and I think they are the reps out here so hopefully they will be better availability here in WA. Anyway a solid 9 at least.
The seat is very comfortable and I paddled many long hours along the coast of Lake Michigan and never had my legs or rump fall asleep on me. The backband provides excellent support in the right spot. The initial stability is a little tricky at first, but the secondary stability is quite solid. There is a solid feeling when doing high braces and side sculls. Rolling the boat is predictably easy. The hatches are also very watertight and I never noticed any leakage in any of the compartments.
I ordered and bought my own in kevlar from Lee's in Kalamazoo with the custom mounted bulkhead and footpump. Now with the bulkhead set at my inseam the cockpit is a perfect fit for me. One thing this boat is missing that I think kajak sport and P&H should remedy is a front hatch size a few inches wider. The hatch works the way it is, but a 10-12 inch hatch might work a little better when loading loads of gear. Also the color choices are ok, but still not as cool as some other manufacturers e.g.: seaward kayaks, current designs, or now even NDK has the sparkly/metallic gel-coat option. I realize that these are cosmetic items, but they do add up to something for overall customer satisfaction.
The boat that I took delivery of is flawless in its layup and manufacture and is everything I wanted from a sea kayak. Fast, light, loads of room for gear, stable and easy to steer in wind and waves. Definitely something I would recommend to the serious paddler wanting a boat to go long distances on the Great Lakes or the sea.
I've been Sea kayaking for longer than I care to remember. In fact I bought my first sea kayak 26 years ago. I have been involved with the sport both professionally and for fun (is there a difference) ever since. For many years I paddled the same design, which being long and slim with an attractive clipper bow not only looked the part but also seemed to do everything that I wanted, that is except let me take good action photographs. I was able to take lots of pictures on flat water but as soon as I raised the viewfinder to my eyes in a rough sea I felt more than a little uncomfortable. Fearing that this affliction might get worse with age I searched in vain for a suitable alternative.
Over the years I eagerly tried a number of new designs, some of which were more stable, but none of which really suited me. I then received a request from P&H asking if I would try out two of their new designs and comment on them both. I readily agreed and excitedly took delivery of a very attractive looking Kevlar Carbon kayak codenamed Project X. The seat was incredibly comfortable, the boat was fast but appeared to have all the stability of a razor blade.
Whilst project X was great for fast trips and for frightening inexperienced paddlers it did nothing to improve my camera wobble. Whilst I enjoyed its speed and got used to its handling characteristics, I disappointedly came to the conclusion that my quest for the ideal Sea kayak was no nearer resolving. I had already heard favourable whispers about Project Y and now eagerly and hopefully turned my attention to testing the second of the two new designs. I quickly realised that Project Y was everything that I wanted from a sea kayak. It had the same extremely comfortable seat as project X, seemed just as quick through the water, had very attractive lines, and most importantly seemed to have cured my camera wobble.
I've now paddled project Y now renamed the "Quest" in a wide range of sea and wind conditions, and over an extended time period. Its been used lightly laden for day trips, taken for play sessions in surf, brought me safely through large overfalls, and been paddled fully laden for week long expeditions. The kayak handles well, and the easily adjustable retractable skeg is effective in dealing with varying wind and sea conditions. I weigh about 13 stone and the kayak is happy with me, and with all the excess kit that I can squeeze into its ample storage areas. All the hatches have remained totally dry throughout and the kajaksport hatch covers are both light and effective. At 17'7" long and 22" wide the Quest is an ideal expedition kayak for the serious sea kayaker or for those wanting to become one. Its lines are attractive and its standard features include a deck-mounted compass, retractable skeg, adjustable seat and backrest, and third waterproof hatch (day compartment). It can be fitted with a rudder if required although in my experience this would be an unnecessary extra. Looking at it dispassionately the only concern I might have is that P&H might one day want their boat back.
Dave Evans. (Dave is a level 5 Sea kayak Coach and runs the Cwm Pennant Mountain Centre in North Wales)
However, following the arrival on the scene of P & H's QUEST, I will have to change my tune. This is a boat that changes all the rules. The impossible dream is here, NOW.
The Quest is long at 17 foot 9" and fast but the overwhelming impression is its quite INCREDIBLY STABILITY for a boat of only 22" beam. My first impression was that P & H had somehow managed to fit an invisible giro stabiliser and / or an equally invisible yacht type keel. The stability was unbelievable. Nothing seemed to worry the boat and I felt very comfortable in conditions that might have worried me a bit in other boats of similar or greater beam.
I have paddled a prototype and one of the first production Quests on several trips in various parts of the West Coast of Scotland in a wide variety of conditions including a trip through the Corryvrechan whirlpool where things got a bit 'interesting'. The more I paddled it, the more impressed I was. This is a boat that a beginner would feel at home in and could keep all their paddling days.
The Quest hull has a soft chine running from the cockpit area almost all the way to the stern. P & H have carried the width of the boat further forward than on the Orion giving the Quest broad buoyant 'shoulders' and the bows are slightly flared out at deck level. This combination greatly reduces the amount that the boat pitches and it planes through rough seas like an aircraft carrier, keeping the foredeck much dryer. It has as much storage space as the Orion despite being 2" narrower and is more stable.
The Quest comes fitted as standard with a deck mounted Silva P70 compass. P & H's excellent retractable skeg system, comfortable adjustable seat, a tow line or security fixing point and a cross deck recess for paddle float self rescues.
An astonishing design, in a class of it's own, and the answer to that 'impossible' dream of a fast but stable expedition sea kayak.