I recently took delivery of a new 2015 model Hobie Adventure Island. I’d never really been attracted to the earlier version of the AI, the ride looked too wet, the seating too low and it lacked a little buoyancy if I wanted to take a passenger with ease. I’m sure some people will disagree with this, just my personal opinion.
However, the latest model from Hobie seemed to address all of my misgivings and it became a highly attractive proposition overnight!. I decided to treat myself and placed an order last August, though problems with supply and shipping delayed its arrival considerably. That said, it arrived a couple of weeks ago and quite simply, it looked the dogs danglies!..
It’s been sat gathering dust since it arrived due to work and family commitments, though after a little frantic preparation I managed to get it afloat. I’d been busy the night before fitting my Lowrance HDS7 GPS/FF combo to the AI. I really wanted to be able to know what depth I was operating in as well as the speed of the kayak. Depth probably more than anything else as I really didn’t want to inadvertently remove the centre board, etc!
The first trip was all about finding out how well my new trailer system was going to work as well as getting comfortable with rigging the kayak and operating it whilst afloat. I decided to launch at Daedalus slipway in Lee-on-Solent, it’s local to work and is a relatively clean launch area (though busy at weekends!).
I was a little concerned about parking due to the trailer, though I was fortunate as there were two spots back to back, so I drove straight in and parked without fuss. I don’t have the new trailer cradles yet so the main hull is sitting on two 110mm waste pipes with the amas supported on foam pieces. The hull is fully rigged on the trailer to minimise rigging time as well as making loading/unloading as simple as possible. The latter is aided by having the trailer bed low, to the point that I can pull the AI back a metre, slip the cart into the scupper holes and roll it straight onto the road. That was the theory and the reality was pretty good!. All that was left to do was to fit the seat, sail, battery and electronics unit and I was good to go. It probably took longer to get dressed!.
Trolleying the AI down to the waters edge was simple enough, reversing it into the water until it floated. It was simply then a case of wading alongside and pulling out the trolley. I was concerned that fitting/removing the trolley in the water was going to be a real pain. With the ‘heavy duty’ wheels it’s absolutely no problem at all, though I’d certainly not like to to attempt the same evolution with the much larger flotation tyres!. With the trolley removed it was just a case of extending the amas and locking them into position, hopping aboard, dropping in the Mirage Drive and heading out to sea.
Conditions were perfect, no doubt it’d be a little more challenging some wind and swell. Talking of wind, there was almost none!. The original forecast had been for 10-16mph wind, the reality was 2-3mph, gusting to 5mph. Ok, so I wasn’t going to be setting any speed records, though the first trip was not really about that. With the sail unfurled I manoeuvred to catch a little wind and headed off seawards. Furling and unfurling is a simple enough procedure, no different to sailing my Outback. The rudder control is excellent and I really like the optional vertical extension on the rudder handle, it feels far more natural being able to wrap your fingers around the handle as opposed to holding the top of it.
Deploying and raising the rudder is a simple affair, pulling on a control line and cleating it into the raised/lowered position as required. It’s just like any other Hobie kayak to be honest, just a lot bigger in all respects!. There was no real need to use the deployable centreboard, something that is raised and lowered with the trough of a lever. Though it was all very smooth and efficient, nothing further to mention there.
Despite the almost total lack of wind I was still pushing along at a steady 3.8-4.2mph, on a couple of runs I managed 5mph. What was impressive it that I was achieving this in such little wind, it was certainly demonstrating a good wind to speed conversion ratio. Rudder control and tracking was excellent. With the sail furled, standing up and moving around posed no issue, stability as you’d expect is huge.
I was making leisurely progress and this provided me with some time to fine tune my Lowrance HDS7. The Navionics Gold works extremely well on this unit, options such as tides and currents are accessed with a couple of touches to the screen. Clarity and brightness are very good with no reflection from the screen. I was also recording a sonar log so I could upload the data to Insight Genesis later.
I’ve still to fit the Structure Scan to the AI as I was a little concerned as to whether it’d be usable at higher speeds. Though Lowrance quote a useable speed on up to 10mph so it should be ok in that respect. The kayak will lean when underway so this would impact the coverage either side of the kayak, though I wont know by how much until I try it I guess. I’d like to make a more sturdy mount for the Structure Scan transducer, I’m not fully convinced by the effective of the RAM transducer arm that I recently purchased. Watch this space.
I spent a couple of hours soaking up the suns rays (yup, I forgot to apply sun block!) whilst tacking along the bay. I eventually headed back towards the slipway with a view to calling it a day. I really needed to think about beaching as the last thing I needed was a costly mistake at the end of the trip. It’s going to be important to get myself into the routine of retracting the centre board, raising the rudder, etc. More so that the Outback, everything is much bigger, therefore more expensive to replace or repair!.
When I was in 50cm of water I hopped out adjacent to the submerged slipway. Inserting the trolley was extremely quick and simple. Despite being about 150m from shore I could see the submerged slipway so I pulled the AI onto it and started walking to shore.
It must have been a James bond moment for those folks watching from the beach. A floating Hobie AI leaves the water and continues to roll up the slipway, how did that happen!.
The trolley system works well. I certainly noticed the weight on the AI when I hit the slipway incline, partly covered in places by shingle, which didn’t exactly help matters.
With the sail removed I just positioned the nose of the trolley on the rear on the trailer, pushed it onto the trailer from the rear of the yak, pausing for a moment to remove the trolley. It worked really well, no complaints!. Once home the AI was freshwater rinsed on the trailer and allowed to dry before being stored in the garage.
I’m hoping to hit the water again in a couple of days as the wind is due to pick up. It’ll also allow me to try a couple of evolutions that I forgot. One being retracting an ama with the sailed furled to check the stability, a configuration that I envisage using for fishing.
I really enjoyed myself and I can see the AI getting a lot of use during all four seasons. Yup, I really like it, some may say a little smug!, what does my face say ?