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Four years ago, I was drawn by the beauty of the Hurricane Phoenix 160. I was able to pick mine up at the Salt Lake Outdoor Retailers Show for a super deal.
What I like: Very dry ride. I can load my 220 pounds and 75 pounds of gear and never see any water come up through the scupper holes. It has cavernous storage in the front hatch and reasonable well storage in the back. Oh, and did I mention it is a very attractive boat? It gets lots of approving looks. The Trylon material is super tough and maintains its glossy finish well. For quickness, it seems to hold its own against my Tarpons; I can paddle this boat for 8 hours on the ocean without tiring me excessively.
What I don't like: Initial stability leaves a bit to be desired. This is a very high ride and sudden movements, river currents, or waves give a feeling of instability. I never felt that in my Tarpons. However, in four years I've only been flipped once. The rudder is almost useless. The boat rides so high that even with my weight and 75 pounds of gear, the rudder only extends 3 or 4 inches into the water.
Would I buy this kayak again? NO! But I'm also not quite willing to part with it, especially since I still have my trusty old Tarpon.
I purchased the 160 about two years ago. I'd like to second the observations of the poster below; The Phoenix paddles well and is a dry ride, not a speedy yak but decent. I was also pleased by the finish and weight. Coming from an X-Factor to the 160 made it feel like a feather.
Now the bad news.
It's surprisingly easy to turtle. (First time I did it just by reaching into the tank well behind my back for a tackle bag) It's also sits rather high and is made of such slick plastic that deep water entry is a pain and it drifts VERY fast. If you capsize this thing in a decent wind it's going to leave you behind very quickly. This is the first kayak I've ever tied myself to with a leash. I would suggest new owners add deck lines for re-entry and safety.
I really do not understand the need Hurricane had for recessing all the pad eyes and such, many popular seat or equipment clips will not fit easily and the carry handles are pretty much unusable. The hatches are worthless unless you get out of the boat and since there are no bulkheads your gear isn't going to be anywhere near where you put it. It's a great fit for tall people, (I'm 6'3") and would make a great day paddler or exercise yak. I will NOT take this thing offshore. For fishing it's a very poor choice. It's a LOT of work to turn around, esp in a wind. In a nasty cross chop the boat gets VERY tender to handle.
Honestly, if someone would trade me a Tarpon 140 or even a Tarpon 120 it would be gone in a heartbeat, which is a shame, it's a beautiful boat.
The 16 comes bare, not even a seat pad, but the ergonomics of the buttbucket are such that for an hour and a half, you may not need one nor a backband. I did go for the OK backband and Yakpad gel seat bottom for longer trips and a 230 paddle is plenty even for a boat as wide as this one.
The 16 ships no water across the deck nor up from the scuppers into 2 foot chop and 22 mph winds gusting to 28 and the boat tracks true enough I did not regret ordering it w/o a rudder. I'm a purist, and this boat will track as well as you can paddle. I made 2 correcting strokes in that weather in a 2 klick paddle against, abeam and running with the wind. The 16 is apparently intended to lay a straight wake and it will do that to the extent it took 10, TEN, side strokes to turn it 180.
Its sleekness is deceptive. It is not much faster, if at all, that a poly boat the same length and not nearly as wide, but it glides well. Don't get off it without a tether. There are 2 completely useless hatches. One day screwtype, behind the buttbucket, and one oval snapfit on the foredeck. Both open into the maw of the entire hull. No bulkheads to stop the trip to the center of the boat where the item either hangs in the plumbing, or hooks onto one of the exposed bolt threads to secure itself until you get ashore to fish said item out with a fully extended coathanger.
The boat cannot be carried efficiently by one person. The gunwale straps are not attached at the centerline and the boat tips dangerously astern to seriously ding the pristine finish of the keel, or to pull the carrier off his/her balance. You'll need a friend to carry one end or a cart to go any distance to and from the water.
The Phoenix 16 is a day paddling SOT. It is not easily rigged to fish from, unless you are satisfied with strapping a milk crate astern, nor was it intended to be rigged to fish from. There is no way to get into the hull to secure the assorted attachments you'll need to comfortably fish; rodholders et. al. The boat does ride at anchor well and is easy to cast from, but even as wide as it is, be careful sitting sidesaddle. The initial stability is excellent, but the secondary is nonexistent and once the 16 goes past the tipping point, there is no recovery. This boat can be capsized surprisingly easily for an SOT.
In summary, the Phoenix 16 is a generally well designed beauty with careless afterthoughts throwing eggs on it and a much less attractive but more utilitarian fishing 'yak can be had with a rudder for several hundred dollars less. But, if fishing is not your thing in a SOT and all you want is a suave, slick daytripper guaranteed to steal the show, the 16 may be your boat.
As an after word, the customer service at Hurricane is less than satisfactory. They have yet to answer my emails regarding issues with my order. Be advised.
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