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Submitted: 09-14-2013 by N.S.

I recently had the opportunity to do a five day trip with a buddy that had a Skerray which he planned on selling after the trip. He was planning on going into a Kevlar boat. We both have similar physiques so we traded boats while on the trip. He used my Seaward Quest (which is Kevlar and I was planning on selling) and I used his Valley Skerray Excel FG.

The first thing I can say about the Skerray was it didn't take me long to figure this boat is a lot more maneuverable than my Quest. I also own a Nordkapp H2O and was expecting a similar feel to this kayak because they are both built similar from that Greenland design. It actually had more initial stability so it didn't take long for me to be relaxed. I got a chance to test the secondary stability as we got into bigger seas and was quite comfortable in the boat. My buddy didn't fair as well in the Quest and took longer to adjust to the kayak.

I did notice I needed the skeg down in a following sea or wind. It is too rockerred to hold a course without it unless I was going into the wind or swell. It wasn't a problem once I learned how much skeg I needed to use. As the other reviewer mentioned the lever is easy to reach in front of the cockpit and easily adjusts to how much skeg you need.

The Seaward Quest is considered a fast kayak but the Skerray had no problem keeping up to it. My buddy had done some work on the back band in the Skerray and I had to fool around a bit to get it right for myself because of the long hours we were spending in the kayaks. Fortunately I came prepared for these problems and had brought some blue foam material with me. By the end of the 2nd day I had the seat dialed in.

My buddy told me the dimensions of the kayak are 17 ft 9" by 24 " I am not sure of the depth but I had no problem getting in and out of the Keyhole cockpit and there was lots of room for my size 10.5 feet. I did not find this kayak much different in weight to my Nordkapp which is around 56 lbs. The other reviewer said it was 57 lbs. I am medium built at 5'10" and got more comfortable in this kayak as the trip progressed. The trouble is we hit some westcoast westerly winds and tides the 4th day and my buddy wasn't as comfortable in the Quest. He wanted the Skerray back so we switched. I finished the trip in my Quest and he was back in his Skerray.

After three 8-hour days in the Skerray, I would give it very high marks for seaworthiness and comfort. Something also I will mention is the Skerray is of high quality construction and the detail is impressive (the same as my Nordkapp). I prefer the Valley hatch system over other kayaks I own because they are so easy to get in and out of and don't leak. The Skerray had the same three hatches as my Nordkapp but held a lot more gear.

Because it handled open ocean and weather I would recommend this kayak to anyone wanting an incredibly stable touring kayak. I told my buddy if I could sell a couple of my kayaks I would be interested in buying the Skerray. I think after the trip he is having 2nd thoughts about selling it.

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