Pimping out the Q700x
As mentioned earlier on this site, I picked up a used QCC Q700x in preparation for an upcoming trip along the west coast of Vancouver Island. I had a lot of very specific needs as a result of my upcoming Vancouver Island trip and I found the Q700x a willing subject for some lightweight customization. Here’s a list of minor modifications I did to my Q700x that made it better fit my needs.
I’ll be blunt: The stock seat had to go. Loose fabric and a tall seat back made it a non-starter for proper paddling form and layback rolls. An embarrassment!
I replaced the stock QCC seat with a Skwoosh gel seat pad and a simple Necky backband: Just enough comfort without sacrificing good leg drive, torso rotation, layback, and hip pivot while paddling. Much better!
Astute viewers will notice that I purposefully installed my backband upside down. Fits me better that way!
I ensure that all of my boats have a lateral bungee to hold down the far ends of my two-piece spare paddle. The QCC has deck fittings for one, but no bungee that ran perpendicular to the kayak’s centerline near the bow. Many people thread their bungees through something to raise it off the deck so it’s easier to slip paddles underneath it. This is something of a personal flair item: I’ve seen corks, beads, wooden forms, even rubber superballs.
For this boat I used old wine corks, but I’ve started to wrap whatever I use in self-fusing silicone tape. This stuff is amazing: It holds better the tighter it’s wound. I like it because it’s very grippy, and if my precious custom carbon-fiber Greenland paddle is being stored up there, you’d better believe I don’t want it to go anywhere! It will also help keep the corks from breaking or flaking prematurely.
After I added the bow bungee, though, I was shocked to find that here were no other bungees close enough to secure the spare paddle blades on the other end, near the cockpit! Being an advocate for clear rear decks for swimmer rescues and scramble recoveries, I had to find a foredeck paddle storage solution.
Having always been jealous of the bungee nets that Prijon touring kayaks always have, I bought a mini cargo net intended to secure helmets to motorcycle seats. I removed its hooks and used a combination of knots to secure it to the existing bungees and deck lines. Under tension, it perfectly covers the rest of my foredeck in bungees without hampering access to the bow hatch. Handy!
I decided to add one behind the cockpit, too, to effectively act as a day hatch: I’ll put a tethered 2L or 5L drybag beneath it for access to food and other on-the-water essentials.
Under-Deck Cockpit Storage
Bless those fine people over at North Water. They make what are, in my opinion, the best tow ropes on the planet, as well as some of the most innovative and handy under-deck cockpit storage accessories around. I installed the North Water Under-Deck Bag for items like gloves, skullcaps, spare hats, flares, and other items that I might need infrequently and don’t mind popping my sprayskirt to access.
My paddle float fits perfectly wedged between the top of the under-deck bag and the underside of my deck. This frees up another 10-15L of storage space behind my seat, where these other items might otherwise go. Even in the Q700x’s tight cockpit, the under-deck bag doesn’t impede re-entry.
Since it’s hard to see the black zipper pulls against the black bag in heavy shadows with sunglasses on, I replaced the stock zipper pulls with gutted orange paracord.
I also installed some vinyl tiedown accessories on the bottom of my cockpit in order to secure loads in front of my footpegs, like my MSR Dromedary water bags.
Exterior-Mounted Interior Bag (Huh?)
I also ordered a pair of North Water’s Interior Mount Cockpit Bags. However, I wasn’t really sure they’d be comfortable against my legs when full in the Q700x’s snug cockpit. As I looked the bags over, I noticed that they had a lengthwise Velcro flap along the back… intriguing! I’m not sure what they’re really for, but it made for a secure and perfect channel through which a bungee could be placed. So I strapped one around my foredeck bungee, secured the clip-in straps with some extra velcro I had laying around, and voila: I had an ultra-low-profile deck bag!
It’s better than almost any other deck bag out there because it lays quite flat, and it is wider than long: No leaning far forward to extract things buried within. It’s now the perfect spot for my on-water snacks, sunscreen, and anything else I might need to access without opening my sprayskirt. I even have the other one left over if I opt to put it inside my boat someday, or to rig it up similarly on a different boat.
They’re so low profile that putting one on the bottom of the cockpit, right in front of the seat and perpendicular to the centerline of the boat, one’s thighs would ride right over them. Good solution in case your cockpit is super narrow, like mine!
As stated in my first article about the Q700x, QCC definitely favors light weight over burly construction. While that’s great for acceleration during racing and toting it around before and after paddles, I am going to use this as a camping boat, so armoring the hull seemed like a good idea.
I went over to California Canoe and Kayak, my favorite local retailer, with the intent to ask them to do some proper fiberglass keel strippage. I was quite surprised – and impressed – when they said that Keel Eazy was every bit as good. Folks in my kayaking club seem to use it a fair amount, and it had a great rep, but if a pro kayak outfitter loves it, that was good enough for me.
Applying Keel Eazy isn’t as easy as its name implies: I did my boat first and there were gaps/bubbles, but after some more research, we did a perfect layup on the second boat.
Buy the longest length you can, splitting the cost with others if you have to. Convenience ain’t cheap!
Reflective Seam Line
I wanted my boat to be as visible as possible without, y’know, bein’ all gaudy. So I covered the 1″ fiberglass seam between the deck and hull with black 3M Scotchlite tape. It looks glossy black (matching my deck rigging) but lights up like a beacon when hit with a flashlight or searchlight. Time will tell how well it adheres, but here’s a tip: There’s a covering you need to remove for the stuff to reflect properly. Don’t overlap the tape before removing that covering!
For wilderness trips, I like to have a bow painter on my kayak: This is a line used to tie off the boat to an object on shore. Weighs little, takes up no deck space, and is good piece of mind…it’s also easy enough to deploy that I’ll actually use it, compared to forcing a tow belt into this role. I threw one together using some extra reflective deck line and two stainless steel eyed spring clips.
My boat didn’t come with a molded-in compass recess, so I got a Ritchie XP-99 compass and K-TD.2 tiedown. The XP-99’s print is so large that I can read it well even positioned well ahead of my bow hatch. The K-TD.2 is a thick plastic plate with holes for threading bungees and a thick foam donut you can sculpt for a nice fit.
I found two issues with mounting it as instructed: My deck was plenty flat, so I just used a thin sheet of closed-cell foam to prevent abrasion and dispensed with the foam donut, but the Q700x is really narrow fore of the bow hatch. I wound up using two of the four provided clips behind the front deck fittings, then I just made prusik-like knots with the other end of the bungees. This made for a tighter rigging with less fore and aft slippage along the deck lines. The ferrules of my two-piece spare paddles will sit well on each side of the compass, helping to hold it in place.
Finally, besides scratches and gouges, what makes a kayak more personal than stickers?
Stay tuned later this summer for a report on how this boat handled on an extended trip. More soon!