2010.13.182 - Victoria MEC Paddlefest

This time last year, a record-smashing heat-wave had just broken; this year, we've been waiting for Spring to start. We're into our third month of unseasonable cool temperatures. Yes, there's been the odd day when temperatures have climbed into high double digits and a mysterious burning yellow ball has been spotted in the sky, but the last few days, like many before them, ain't been anything special.
But today turned into a bright sunny and warm day. Often in this part of the world it seems like Spring only lasts a couple of weeks and we jump straight from Winter into Summer. This year, we seem to have skipped even that meager portion of Spring altogether, as today -- finally! -- felt like a summer's day. And that made it perfect for Louise and I to go to Cadboro Bay to check out the 2010 edition of the MEC Victoria Paddlefest.
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After we checked out some of the information tents, including the fine folks at Ocean River, Straitwatch, SISKA, and Wavelength Magazine, we pulled on the neoprene and climbed into some demo boats.
After my rolling lesson last week, I couldn't help but notice that my instructor (as well as some of the instructors with SISKA who were sharing the pool with us) were using Valley kayaks. Hey, if they're good enough for the pros, they must be good enough for us pudknockers, eh? I headed out in an Aquanaut HV...
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...while Louise tried a Nordkapp LV.
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We found these boats to pretty well made and a decent ride. We both noticed that they had less initial stability then our much stabler (and wider) Deltas, something which Louise wasn't fond of but I didn't mind too much. I found it to be a bit of a tight fit, but I certainly wouldn't mind giving these boats another try. Louise, not so much.

Next, Louise tried the Delta Sixteen.
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She currently paddles a Delta Seventeen which she really likes, but often feels a twinge of buyer's remorse and wishes she had waited until the Sixteen was available, often saying the the Seventeen is just slightly too big, while the Sixteen fits her like a glove.
Yeah, I know. How often do you hear of a kayaker who wants to trade down?

Then Louise gave the Necky Chatham 16 a whirl.
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She liked it a lot and had it out on the water for a good while. She found it a little snug to get in, "...but once you're in, you're in." She liked it so much she almost flipped it. It's definitely been added to her wish list.

Next we tried the Seaward Infinti. I went out in the 175TX, Louise tried the shorter 155TX.
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No question, this is a fun boat. It carves edges like a knife through low-fat margarine with no Trans Fats. There's no question you could get a lot of play out of this boat.
We tried a few more Seaward boats but with a little less success. I tried to get in to an Ascenté but I got stuck and then my legs started cramping. That wasn't any fun! And too bad, because it's a sweet looking ride.
Louise got into a Legend...
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...and after about 10 seconds on the beach said, "No. I need to get out." Sometimes you just know right away.
But Seaward redeemed itself when Louise and I took out the Passat G3 tandem for a spin.
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This kayak can motor! And fairly responsive for a boat of its size as well. I've never really given much thought to tandems, but this one certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities. Now if I could just stop Louise from splashing me in the face all the time....

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Trip Length: 1.42 km
YTD: 81.28 km
More pictures are here.

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