Submitted: 02-16-2010 by Jon Tobiassen
Take home message… I would recommend the Jackson Journey 13 and 14 over the Tsunami line for two primary reasons:
In my experience, the Tsunami line does not enable advanced skill development to the same degree that the Journey line does.
The Journey cockpit outfitting is simpler and more robust than that of the Tsunami.
I am a big guy… 6'3", 240lbs, 34" inseam and size 13 shoes. I have the Journey 14 prototype and find it to be an excellent roughwater playboat that responds extremely well to edging and advanced paddle technique. The boat spins very quickly when leaned and is a joy to paddle. The Tsunami 145 stalls badly, for me, when edging and I find it hinders advanced skill development. Jackson's Journey 14 is fairly quick for its beam but won't win any races… but that is not what touring boats are built for.
The Journey 14 is surprisingly stable. No seriously… I was actually surprised. I have paddled hundreds of different boats (not an exaggeration). The degree to which this boat supports you as you lean it hard over actually caught me off guard. I can easily stand up and paddle the boat around. At a recent pool session, one of my buddies was standing on the back deck of the Journey and kept trying to jump and land standing on the front deck. He couldn't quite stick the landing, though he came close several times. He thinking he had a shot at doing this trick speaks volumes about the confidence the Journey inspires.
The Journey14 prototype that I have does not have the final deck rigging but the placement of its fittings offers great flexibility for customization. I do lots of rough water paddling / fishing from my kayaks and have modified my decklines significantly. I am very happy with the utility and number of options this arrangement offers. The prototype is only a couple months old but it has seen significant rescue practice and none of the fittings have failed yet.
The Smart Track rudder system is the best I've seen. There are no sharp edges to scratch yourself on during rescues and the system provides for rock solid footpegs with gas pedal style steering. That said, at my weight (I can't speak for someone who only weighs 140lbs) the boat requires no rudder. Even in extreme conditions, the Journey handles very neutrally. I see rudders as a potential liability, and extra weight. I have removed the rudder system from the prototype and when I get my first production boat it will not have a rudder.
I frequently paddle roughwater here in New England and elsewhere, I tend to like rugged, high volume, responsive boats. I have had several NDK, Valley and Nigel Foster boats over the years. They were all faster… but none of them were tougher, more comfortable or more fun to paddle. I have only owned one boat that was as much fun to paddle in ocean rough water as the Journey 14. That boat was a P&H Orca 14 (now made by Venture Kayak). It is still a great boat… but its deck rigging leaves a lot to be desires and it is a light touring boat with only one bulkhead, which makes rescues more challenging. Due to its superior utility and safety, the Journey 14 has displaced the Orca 14 as my roughwater boat of choice.
I'm not a salesman for Jackson Kayak. I am just a paddler looking for the most fun, safe and functional boat to play in that I can find. When I saw the early renditions of the Journey go up on Jackson's website I reached out to the company to see what they had to offer. I'm impressed with what I've found.