Submitted: 06-27-2011 by Patrick D
I was 60 when I bought my polyethylene Tsunami 160 in 2007. My local dealer just happened to be main importers of the Wilderness range at that time. I must confess to buying without testing or much consideration of other makes. Testing would have been pointless since I had no kayaking experience. That lovely seat and the air of competence of the design were enough to tempt.
Since then I have been out (mostly solo) about 200 times and paddled in it some 800 miles! In that time, I have only capsized by design and never by accident.
I use this kayak as a means of transport to visit friends and cross the Milford Haven Estuary to a waterside pub 2 miles distant (but 15miles by road). There are more challenging destinations such as our nearest town - it's fun shopping by water. For such esturine trips, the 160 is almost perfect with its 15ft WLL and well able to stem with ease our frequent 3Kn tidal flow making use of back-eddies near the shore. The effortless glide and tracking stability are bewitching. The hull sits low in the water, there is very little exposed for gusty winds to grab. A nylon spraydeck is important in our usually choppy waters.
Though the kayak weathercocks a little, turning it fully up-wind in F4 or F5 can be a grunt (above that, I tend to stay at home). This reluctance is ameliorated by some knee brace tilting which the design reliably allows. Generally, I am astonished at how seaworthy the kayak is in ugly looking chop and breakers occurring when wind opposes the tide.
The rudder is of great assistance when going downwind; I sometimes use a golf umbrella as a sail in this direction.
In the open sea with waves of greater length the feeling of security is reduced as there is too much buoyancy at each end and insufficient sheer. What is needed here is a British design of kayak.
But, Hey, I live on an estuary where waves of this kind are only formed by the wake of heavy power boats passing. These waves can be managed and even thrilling to surf a bit.
I should mention that the little cleat which secures the backrest set height turned from S/S to a white powder after 3 years use. I was obliged to cut it off and fit a home-made alternative since Wilderness are not interested in the supply of spare parts. I fully expect the kayak to last its allotted 15 years before sunlight makes it brittle (with some care). Being linear single skin PE, it can then be recycled.
I think the name "Tsunami" is a bit silly for a kayak very adept at an estuary type scenario. I am 150lb and 5ft 9in. Large folk should look elsewhere for a kayak. Not at all bad for a US concept.