Length: 16' 6" - Width: 23.75" - Starting at: $1685.00See More Details about this Kayak
It's a very easy unpacking and set up. My first 'Uh-oh' came when I sat in the seat: the seat is fine; however, the back rest is useless; and the leg length was maxxed out. Luckily, the seat can be unbolted and moved back a couple inches. It really doesn't need to be bolted in, which allows the paddler to adjust the seat location easily. The back rest is another story. For my first paddle, I abandoned the back rest and used a good ol' foam seat cushion )i.e., throwable pfd). That worked great for flat water paddling, although it won't work with a spray skirt.
Then it was on to the water. This is my first sit-in kayak, but the large cockpit opening made getting in and out no problem whatsoever(!). Paddling effort was noticeably less than my sots (12' and 16' Tarpon). I paddled 4 miles without a break, easily. The glide between strokes was nice. This model comes with a rudder and it really helps maneuvering in smaller waters. I could glide and steer, hands free to take pics or whatever. Without the rudder, steering takes some effort and I'll admit that I'm learning. Nice boat on the water, and looks good too.
Overall, I have to wonder what WS was thinking with the back rest and the leg length. My feet (34" inseam) can reach the bulkhead, which positions the actual footrest/rudder controls back a couple of inches (i.e., too short). And that's after unbolting the seat and moving it back as far as possible.
All in all, I like the paddling, handling, everything except the backrest and less than adequate leg length. I can see some modifications coming....
After doing some research, I found a great deal on a second-hand Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165. The boat is about 5 years old but has been garage-kept and is in mint condition.
My first impression on picking up the boat is that it's HEAVY. But that wasn't really a surprise. I knew it weighed around 65lbs, and knew that's just a characteristic of large plastic boats.
This particular year model (a 2008 or 2009) doesn't have a backband, but does have the Phase 3 seating (with the seat back that can be raised a good 6 inches). I kept the seat back all the way down and tightened the back strap considerably to cant the seatback forward, giving me plenty of lower back support. Between the Phase 3 seat and the adjustable padded knee braces, I found the cockpit to be very comfortable for someone my size: 5'11" and around 225lbs.
After dropping the kayak in the water for the first time, my next impression is that it is---as advertised---an extremely stable boat. I'm accustomed to tippier boats, and I could take a nap in this one, LOL. The multi-chined hull is rock-stable when leaned up on edge.
On my first paddle---on a flat, wide river with a slow current---I was able to easily get the boat up to a cruising speed of 4.7-5.0mph (according to my GPS). Paddling harder, I could get my speed up to 5.5mph without killing myself... but that's where the "speed curve" flattened out. I'm a strong paddler in good shape, and I found it *very* difficult to get the boat up to 6mph. So I'd say 4.5mph is an accurate "easy cruising speed" for this boat, with 5.0-5.5mph being the "pushing hard" max speed one could reasonably sustain over time. I'm not sure how this compares to other touring kayaks, but it's fine with me.
I should also add that I'm an aggressive, high-angle paddler. I tend to lean forward in the cockpit and smoothly link strokes, with a higher paddle angle than most.
Though my boat has a rudder, I literally haven't used it yet...mainly because the boat tracks pretty well and I haven't felt the need for the rudder. It does tend to pull to the right a bit (even in no wind)...but I'm starting to think that this is more a result of my paddling: being a lifelong canoeist who paddles on the left, my left side is obviously stronger than my right. So I think the rightward pull I've noticed will diminish as my right side catches up to my left!
As far as turning goes, this kayak is like most others: it won't turn on a dime (no long touring kayak will), but its excellent stability makes it easy to lean it up on edge, where it will carve a nice turn with multiple strokes on one side (and sweep strokes will turn it more quickly).
Regarding fit and finish, it seems fine. The thick rubber hatch covers go on and come off easily---I had no trouble with them. All the other hardware, safety lines, etc. seems well-crafted and solid. There's nothing shoddy about the construction I've noticed.
I haven't paddled the boat loaded with gear yet, no have I paddled it in rough water or open ocean. I do intend to do that eventually, so will add to my review then!
Overall, I'm very happy with this boat---and it certainly makes an excellent first sea kayak for my purposes.
I give this boat the rating 8 of 10 due to weight.
I did not order a rudder, and the boat tracked like it was on rails, edging and paddling pointed it with very little effort. I un-balasted the boat with just me (210lbs) and went out again, still very little wind cocking in this high volume boat. Overall very controllable.
It does not turn on a dime but is pretty nimble for a mid length boat. Its speed was pretty average for a boat of this length, with a decent glide. I decided to throw caution to the winds and see if I could self rescue and did a wet exit, I was able to easily do a cowboy rescue (due to the large hatch), it is a wide boat, and very stable, I did not attempt a roll as I was without a skirt.
The back band style seat may not suit some people as you cannot rely on it to rest back on during a restful paddle, you do have to maintain your own posture, but it does allow full rotation and movement and is very adjustable for comfort.
Not a boat for a 3 hour trip, but a good boat for an 8 hour trip with a lot of stuff.
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