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Submitted: 06-23-2010 by BLD
I've owned my AI for 2.5 years now and have traversed several Texas lakes, a few still rivers and two, 1 week stays at the beach in the FL panhandle. I couldn't decide between a fishing/recreational kayak and a sailboat, so I was delighted to find the AI. It was a little pricey for me, but after some fun on the lake I've decided it was worth it.
Never having sailed before, I found the in-store lesson and an afternoon playing at the lake to be adequate to learn to sail. The square top sail is very versatile and even works very well when partially furled in heavier winds. The mirage drive makes it a snap to come about when tacking into the wind. Just a few quick leg pumps and you are back under sail in a second. There is no boom to knock you in the head but that also means it is a little difficult to head straight down wind under sail. I just lean on the rope a little to hold the sail out or zig zag a bit (worth it not to have a sail boom on a kayak).
My most memorable outing was in Florida. With a south wind filling the sail, I made a few half hour passes parallel to the beach. Each time a pod of dolphins followed me, only inches from the amas! Wow!
The amas (outriggers) make the kayak extremely stable in heavy chop at the lake or in 2+ foot surf at the beach. (Search for online AI videos). You can even stretch the optional trampoline across the akas and take your favorite pooch along. These fold in for beaching or docking. For the timid, non-kayaker they make outings possible.
For those beach trips, the entire rig will car top if done properly. The sail can be shock corded to the rack as well, if put in the storage sleeve bottom first and bottom pointed forward. Or the mast and sail can be broken down easily to be more manageable. Requires a bit of brawn and brains to load onto a truck or large SUV.
On the lazy river, this kayak is just as fun without the amas and sail. Lots of storage with a big hatch in front to stuff a bulky bedroll in. It is a bit hard to turn around in tight areas and some portages are difficult due to the weight. Could be quite fun for fishing or even bowfishing with one ama.
Hobie warranty is absolutely top notch. I am very grateful for the free rudder design improvements I've received for my older boat. I've not managed to break anything yet though.
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