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Boat Handling

After two weeks away from my own boat, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I can maneuver it.

I paddle a Valley Argonaut, a discontinued model which is essentially a high volume (HV) Aquanaut. It is, plainly, too big for me. When I get around people who know boats and tell them what I paddle, they all state, or ask, “isn’t that a little big for you?”

It is, but I’ve learned to manage it. I can edge that boat very well, and it turns well on an edge – and only on an edge. Turning without an edge makes it a one-boat parade, marching across the water in a long processional arc.

So yesterday I spent some time getting familiar with it anew. It takes effort to hold an edge, especially when stationary, but it does take an edge well. On the move, I was able to make very tight reverse stern rudders, turns in place, and carving turns. Even simple edging with a forward stroke works well.

It’s a bit of a relief, because I’m not nearly as proficient doing this with the boats I paddle at the shop downtown. The Montauk I settled on last year is gone. I do pretty well in a Force Cat 4, but I’ve decided to try making a Tiderace Xcite my go-to boat for teaching and guiding.

I can roll the Argonaut as well. I made easily eight attempts, and got them all. Admittedly in a couple of cases I needed to brace up after my hip snap, but the roll is there – and the Argonaut is a lot of boat to roll.

I’ve considered selling the Argonaut. Having been in better fitting boats it’s really tempting. However, now the urgency is off. It’s not a terrible boat. It’s a camper, it’s a Lincoln Town Car. May be a bit big, but it’s totally manageable.

Published in 2014 Backpaddle Kayaking

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