What really makes this boat great fun to paddle is its maneuverabilly. Just edge it slightly in flat water, and it will lock into a tight turn until you stop it with a paddle stroke. Leaning into the turn with a paddle brace, you can turn well in excess of a 90°. Drop the skeg and it tracks straight even in beam and quartering wind and waves. In surfs beautifully in 2 ft. waves, without the tendency to dive.
Despite the considerable tail rocker, the speed is on par with my Nordkapp Jubilee, most likely because the hard chines form quite a flat bottom extending far to the back. Compared to the N'kapp it lies a bit deeper in the water, and has a little less storage space, on account of its flatter rear deck. Rolling is effortless, laybacks are very easy. As a bottom line: Very similar in performance to the N'kapp, turns and surfs a bit better, gets thrown around a bit more in short waves. It is a very close comparison, however. Both are great boats. On the water, I even prefer the looks of the Q-boat on account of its elegant, strong sheer.
This Quajariaq is one of the first models from 2005. It has the rope skeg which is something I need to get used to. Lowering the skeg is fairly easy by loosening the rope although I don't really have a good feel on how much it dropped as I would have from a wire skeg. Raising the skeg is actually a hard pull - that is something I don't like. I don't like yanking on things too much. For that I take away one point.
Before I even considered test paddling this boat I've done a lot of research on it. From my findings I concluded that this boat is ideal for a paddler way over 200 lbs. The boat has a fairly high rocker and if you're not heavy enough to sink the two ends into the water it will spin like a dreidel. This makes it a great rockgarden playboat for a larger paddler. When I sit in the boat it still feels playful but it does track well and maintains respectable speed. If I drop the skeg 1/3 of the way down it's almost perfect for touring.
The deck is low and should be great for Greenland rolling to help ease your torso on the back deck. I love the feel of the hard chines. Even though the boat is narrow and tippy the hard chines stop it from going over - this results in a stable feeling while you're in the waves.
My layup seems to be extra thick. I haven't weighed the boat but it is definitely my heaviest boat. I would say between 50 and 60 lbs.
FYI: The name of this boat has been discontinued. First they called it Qajariaq, then Q-Boat and now it is called Anas Acuta HV.
A beginner feels not so uncomfortable in the Q. A forgiving boat for its beam. A rough stuff boat indeed, but yet a good one on flat waters.
Stability - The boat is quite stable, both with respect to initial and secondary stability. One can easily sit in small seas with hands off the paddle, and drink water, relax, etc.. Not at all an intimidating boat, in my experience. In comparing this to my Chatham 18, I find it to be very similar.
Construction, Fit and Finish - Very well made, with very robust layups, yet not overly heavy. Not a boat requiring delicate treatment. Feels about 5-8 pounds heavier than the fiberglass Chatham 18, and is very solid.
Speed - Decent speed, and exhibits very quick acceleration. Haven't compared speeds with a GPS, but the Q "feels" just a bit slower than the Chatham 18, yet is definitely faster than the Chatham 17.
Chines - Absolutely love 'em. I am a hard-chine guy. My experience has shown me that the hard chines cause essentially no detriment over softer chines as in the Chathams, in confused water, etc. No problems...
Maneuverability - This, in my opinion, is the strongest trait of the Q-boat. This is a HIGHLY maneuverable kayak! I have owned a 14.4' Necky Looksha Sport for years, and this boat responds VERY similarly. With the cockpit rim submerged, you can nearly spin it on a dime. Further, once a hard turn is initiated, the boat will take a 'set', and increase the rate of turn from that point onward, even decreasing the radius of curvature of the turn, with no further input from the paddler. Unreal, for an 18' boat! Highly recommended for paddling amongst rocks.
Maneuverability - The trade-off this all this maneuverability is that the boat will tend to wander with the skeg up, especially when unloaded. Here again, the extent of this trait feels very reminiscent of the Looksha Sport. It will track hard with the skeg fully down, but will task your quiver of corrective strokes on a crossing with the skeg fully up. If you paddle open water, expect to see the skeg deployed about midway, much of the time. The Q tracks about the same with 1/3 skeg as my Chatham with the skeg fully up. The upside here is that there doesn't feel like there is much drag with partial skeg deployment on the Q, unlike the Chathams, which will hum loudly with more than about 3/4 skeg deployment.
Seat - Neither good or bad. Definitely prefer it to the newer plastic/foam seat, but does sit a bit high off the floor of the cockpit, and has just a wee bit too much upward curvature at it's forward lip, for my sciatic nerves. With a bit of pre-paddle stretching, I can go for about 3-4 hours without tingling legs and feet. All in all not bad, but then again, not as comfy as the new, grey foam Necky seat pad.
Thigh Braces - Note that these are true THIGH braces, and not knee braces, as so many boats have. Very different from the feel of the braces in the Chatham boats, for example. Not better, not worse, just different.
Gel-coat - My boat exhibits a few spots of gelcoat delamination in the bow, midway between the keel and shear, each about the size of a half-dollar. The gelcoat also exhibits a few spider-cracks on the sides near the chines. My overall impression is that the gelcoat used is rather brittle, unlike my Necky boats.
Back-band - kind of cheesy; too wide, hard to adjust, and tends to tuck down into the fiberglass seat.
Clipper Bow - It feels like the large bow gets pinned by the water, especially in cross-currents or moving water, and I think this tends to cause a lot of the wandering effect, with the skeg up. I haven't surfed the boat, but have heard that the vlipper bow can also tend to get pinned by the wave. makes sense.
All in all, a neat boat. If you want a long boat, and you want a highly maneuverable boat, to me, this is the only boat to have. MUCH more maneuverable than the Impex's, Chathams, Explorers, Aquanaut, etc.. Just understand that the skeg adjustment knob is there for a reason.
If you've followed any of my posts here at p.net you might know that we (my daughters and I) have a few kayaks on the rack, the Q makes number 17... the Q-boat will sit beside Necky boats, Perception boats, another Valley boat, and boats from Lincoln, Folbot, Feathercraft, Wilderness Systems and others that range from Swifties to Brit boats and folders to skin-on-frame.... how the Q will compare only time will tell. What I know now is a good first impression after spending 6-8 hours a day in the boat for 5 days.
Most importanly for someone reading this and thinking of purchasing a Valley boat know that their QA is top notch. In the QA department I think Valley and Feathercraft are the creme of the crop. The boat was delivered not only in pristine condition but exactly as I ordered it....and of special note is that I ordered specific bulkhead placement and it was as specified! I'm not a fan of footpegs, know that this boat is for me and me alone, and the specific bulkhead placement allows me to forego footpegs in lieu of mini-cell foam against the bulkhead. For those interested in the specifics of my order it specified white over white with blue strip between and blue seat/coming, a knee tube and reinforced keel strip. I ordered the kayak in the 'ultra kevlar' layup to save every once, and ordered the drop down skeg.
OK some impressions:
Seating- Valley has come a long way in this department. In my Nordkapp the first thing I did was rip out the back rest and replace it...that won't be necessary with the Q, the back rest is fine as is. The seat pan itself is another improvement and it will remain as is too. both were comfortable after hours in the kayak.
Volume- much has been said about the volume of the foreboat, i.e. the cockpit. In comparing it to many other boats at the symposium I was not overwhelmed with thoughts that the foredeck towers above any other, granted it might be higher but its not something that jumps out at me...what does jump out is the very very low afterdeck and for me that is a very good thing because a low back deck was one of the things I sought in a composite touring kayak.
Tracking/Turning- take a look at the 'clipper' bow and you'll know this boat tracks well but as so many have noticed, it turns (I should say edges) with an ease that is incredible for an 18 foot long kayak and I can say it out turns the QCC700, the Nordkapp Jubilee, the Arctic Hawk Pro...in fact when comparing with these boats there is no comparison in turning ability. The only boats we have that will out turn this kayak are much shorter with the exception of the venerable Sea Lion (which tracts poorly). If you edge this boat to a 1 or 2, apply a moderate sweep, the Q will almost do 270, never have I seen/paddled a boat at any length excepting my Jackson Rocker that turns with such ease.
Weathercocking- it does, drop the skeg, end of story.
Rolling- OK its not a cheater skin-on-frame but this boats rolls, not effortlessly but probably as close as you can get in a composite..the key is the low backdeck and that was a key feature that I was looking for. Sculling and bracing are also a given for this boat. If you are considering a composite boat but dont want to limit your Greenland rolling then this is def. a boat to consider (along with an OI I am told). I hit 3 different rolls in this boat after having been in it only 30mins.....
Orpheus phenomenon- that's when people say wow or when something has 'star' potential...at the symposium too many came up to ask about the Q, some said it would be their next kayak.
The knee tube- I have installed a knee tube in the QCC and installed a small kajaksport hatch on the foredeck to access it without opening the spraydeck....I dont plan on doing that with the Q but do plan on installing a hatch on the knee tube as Valley supplied it (and Valley supplied the tube with an opening that faces you when seating in the cockpit)..the knee tube again as supplied might force some (including me) to alter their entry into the kayak to an almost straigh legged entry...if this is a problem the knee tube can be shortened with a dremel tool-one inch should do it and with the size of the tube you will still have plenty of storage space.
Hatches- gone is the ability to 'double' seal the hatch as in the Nordkapp but after 5 days of rescues,rolling,etc. all were bone dry, as expected from Valley.
Car topping- as mentioned above, I ordered this boat in 'ultra kevlar' to save every ounce, this knowing that humping boats to and fro is a reality..I have not weighed the boat but best guess is 42-44 pounds (yes I realized a weight penalty with the knee tube and the reinforced keel strip). Overall impression- I wanted a cruiser that would foment rolls, at the same time I wanted a boat that would be fast and capable of extended paddle trips. Granted this boat will never hold what a Sea Lion will or even a Nordkapp for that matter, it will still easily carry a weeks supply of food/gear. Speed- in the jaunts required/requested in the 3 star this boat was always first but there were no QCC 700s to compete with, that said I'm sure it will be fast enough for me...though 18 feet long the actual water line length is probably closer to 17 feet so you know it will compare if not beat a Nordkapp....obviously speed is paddler/condition/motivation dependent.
Challenge- I'm a big believer in the Rapid Runner electric Bilge Pump (and yes you should still carry a hand pump)..in three boats I've installed this system in there as room between the bulkhead behind the cockpit and the coming rim for the ejection port...not so in the Q-boat (this is a good thing when emptying water from the boat)..so where to install the ejection port?