Submitted: 01-09-2008 by Tighthams
I bought my plastic Tsunami from OutdoorPlay in July 2007. I waited until now to post a review, because I wanted to really get to know the boat under lots of paddling conditions.
In six months of ownership, I have paddled 869 GPS-measured miles. My paddles have ranged from day trips on my hometown Potomac River and nearby Chesapeake Bay; the rivers, sounds, and ocean of coastal North Carolina; rivers and Gulf Coast of Florida; and a week-long 140 mile paddle down the Des Moines and Mississipi River.
Conditions included up to Class II on rivers, swells up to three feet on the ocean, and chop from 20 knot winds that had the bow submerged from time to time. Currents ranged from 3 knots against to 5 knots with. Nothing severe, but I mention all this to let you know that I have tested my boat and I believe I know it fairly well. Loads ranged up to 50 lbs, with a 20 lb Pelican Case full of camera gear strapped to the deck. I am 5'6" and 140 lbs.
The Tsunami is a very comfortable and friendly boat. The adjustable Phase3 seat can be set with back low and upright, and thigh rests raised for power paddling. And when it's time to relax, raise the seat back and lean it to stern for a floating laz-e-boy. There are a couple of drawbacks to the seat that I will mention later.
The Tsunami tracks well, primarily due, I think, to the molded keel that extends from the cockpit to the stern. It is not quick to turn, but it can be edged with confidence. It has very good primary and excellent secondary stability. It is not a speedboat, but I have little trouble keeping pace with guys in longer boats. Sustained cruising speed in flat water with no wind or current is 3.5 - 4.0 knots.
I did not get a rudder and initially thought I would not want one. I was surprised at how well it tracks, even in quartering winds. However, I often do long days on open water with a decent load and recently I decided that edging for 20 miles to counteract a strong quartering wind was not a lot of fun. So...I installed a SmartTrack rudder kit. I will save that for a separate review, except to say that the installation was fast and easy due to the Tsunami deck and hull being already prepped for a rudder.
Easily adjusted pegs, reflective deck lines, lots of bungees and (so far) completely watertight bulkheads fore and aft round out the package. The day hatch is something I would not want to do without, particularly when paddling with a spray skirt.
At 55 lbs, the Tsunami is not a lightweight, but I'm a small guy and I can toss it up on the Thule J-rack, or carry it a few hundred feet to a launch with ease. Although lusting for a glass or kevlar boat, I have come to appreciate the merits of plastic. How many times would you want to scape an expensive boat over an oyster bar while paddling at four knots? The scraping sounds horrible, but the oysters merely shave long curlicues of plastic off the bottom of the hull.
The only negative I have concerns the Phase3 seat. While supremely comfortable, the seat back fabric began to shred recently. This is a high friction area and needs heavier ripstop nylon. Wilderness Systems was very quick to send me a new seatback under warranty, but I suspect the new one will be shredding in another six months. Because the seatback top is several inches above the coaming, it interferes a bit with a smooth wet entry by folding forward. This is not catastrophic under controlled conditions, but in an emergency you don't want anything to get in your way. Additionally, the seat back could interfere with some eskimo rolls, although I have not yet attempted to roll this boat.
That sums up the negatives and is why I give the Tsunami a 9 out of 10. I have paddled many other plastic boats, none of which I would give higher than a 7 based on very limited experience. I think that the Tsunami is tops in its class. The 140 is great for smaller paddlers. Big folks should try out the 145. I recommend this boat without hesitation. We just bought another one for my wife...