Submitted: 08-24-2009 by Kurt S.
I chose the Tsunami 14.5 because I wanted a boat with the capacity to support multi-day trips but could still be used in smaller streams with serious class II (and maybe easy class III) rapids. I am also a larger and older paddler and wanted a roomier cockpit for easier in and out. In my two years with this boat I have paddled tight little streams with rapids, 4 foot surf in the Gulf of Mexico, and in blowing winds on choppy Chesapeake Bay. Now that I just completed a 115 mile 6 day trip fully loaded with gear and food, I am happy to say my Tsunami has lived up to all my expectations.
Of course nothing is perfect and neither is the Tsunami 14.5. The primary issues have already been described in previous posts; that being the rear hatch, boat speed, and occasional shipping of water into the cockpit. Of these, the hatch problem is the most significant. Whether it is the size, shape or design this large hatch is difficult to seal well. Personally I donít think slow speed is an issue; but you have to remember that this boat is designed to haul a bigger paddler with a big load. I have had no problems keeping up with other length Tsunamis, and I think this boat is actually faster with a load. The final issue of shipping water is that if you are paddling in choppy waves over one foot high or in class II whitewater, you need to have a skirt. Hey, but itís a kayak not a canoe!
On the issue with the rudder, if you can afford one buy it. The Tsunami 14.5 tracks perfectly straight in normal conditions, but like any boat, it will try to turn up into the wind if there is a strong breeze or following sea. While this tendency can be overcome with paddling stroke, on a long tour you can waste a bunch of energy trying to keep the boat straight. A rudder gives you that extra control in more extreme conditions and saves those arms for propulsion rather than steering.
In conclusion, unless you are a whitewater wizard or a sea going Viking, the Tsunami 14/14.5 is the perfect boat for the touring enthusiast. It is fully capable of handling any water the average Joe wants to go, and it will get you there safely, comfortably and with all your gear. If you are a skinny wiry dude, go for the 14. If you need a bit more capacity and a few more inches in the cockpit go with the 14.5. Either way, you will never paddle a canoe again.