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Submitted: 05-16-2005 by Thunderhaven
Before purchasing this boat, I was using two SOTís to fulfill my two primary kayaking missions: fishing and exploration day trips. I had been looking for a new fishing kayak and if it had not been for Paddling.net and their T16.0 contest, I probably would have bought either a Malibu Kayak X-Factor or a WS Tarpon 14. However, after reviewing the Enlightened Kayaks website, corresponding directly with Enlightened Kayaks and after acknowledging that this kayak offers the ultimate in flexibility, I took the plunge and ordered one. The T16.0 I purchased included the outriggers, the fishing kit, thigh braces, and the pivoting foot pedals. Iíve been kayaking over three years on oceans and marshes with winds up to 25 knots and have never seen a need for a rudder so I felt this was unnecessary. Iím 5í 11Ē and weigh about 210 pounds.
The big day arrived when the kayak arrived in a huge box. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the main boat. The thermoform plastic results in a gloss finish that looks great. Enlightened Kayaks boasts a 49 lb basic weight and while I didnít get out the scales it was clearly a noticeable difference from my couple of 60-65 lb SOTís. During my initial walk around of the boat, I was not as impressed with the outrigger assembly, which is comprised of two pontoons connected together with three outer tubes and two inner splicing tubes. The tube cuts on the original assembly were poorly aligned and the push pin holes were elongated resulting in a sloppy / loose feel. To Enlightened Kayaks credit, I made note of this to them and they immediately sent out a replacement tube assembly that met my expectations.
My boat arrived just before I was leaving on a trip and wanted to take the kayak for a paddle before departing so despite some rather foul weather, I took the new boat out to try out the various ďoptionsĒ. First launch was with the outriggers in place and sitting in the cockpit. As advertised, the stability with the outriggers is outstanding. Even with the outriggers on, this kayak gets up to speed quickly and is fast. The next attempt was using the SOT seat and sitting on deck behind the cockpit. This mode is the ďfishingĒ mode with the ability to sit high or stand for casting. The wind was extremely strong and I found in this configuration the bow of the boat was riding out of the water and acting like a weather vane. I literally could not get the boat to change direction and broad sweeps of the paddle could not be used because of the outriggers. I ultimately had to climb in the cockpit to regain control. In these kinds of conditions, my conclusion is that ballast in the bow is required. Since this initial run, Iíve found that a 2.5 gallon container of water works great in the forward hatch and Iíve not had control problems since. The final run of the day was with the outriggers off and sitting back in the cockpit. I was immediately impressed with how stable this boat is even without the outriggers. Its large cockpit allowed me to straddle the boat and then plop down in the seat. Then I brought in one leg at a time without even coming close to tipping. While this is not a conventional way to get in it works great here in Savannah where most of my launches are from concrete ramps so being able to saddle up in 1-2 ft water is great. Again the boat accelerated nicely, tracking was a breeze even with the wind and current. After my trip I made another short run in the T16.0 with the outriggers in place and sitting in the cockpit. This trip was to try out a new sail. The T16.0 and sail combination work great with no issues.
Feeling comfortable with the boat, I then decided to try a trip of 17.5 miles. This was the first chance to get a real sense of speed of the boat. I was able to average 4.4 mph in this boat (this was going with and then against the current). A similar trip in my WS Freedom would not likely exceed 3.5 mph average at best so it was a noticeable speed difference. I did not stop to get out throughout this trip and found as advertised the seat in the T16.0 to be outstanding. I did not have any back ache or other problems which a trip of this length would normally entail for me with the SOTs. I felt so good after this trip I went out the next day and completed another 7.5 miles on rough water. Iíve installed a GPS on the forward deck to track my speed and every time I take the boat out I am amazed at how fast the boat moves.
As noted above, I originally bought this kayak for fishing. Iíve had the opportunity to go fishing four times now and the configuration works great. The ability to sit on the back deck just aft of the cockpit works perfect for fishing (now that I use my 2.5 gallon water ballast). My water bottles, cooler, tackle box and other stuff all fit nicely in the forward portion of the cockpit and are easily accessible. For fishing I remove the main seat and use a different SOT seat which was provided as part of the fishing package. While sitting on the rear deck, the rear hatch is also accessible. Iíve found a good place for the stringer, holding all those fish of course, is around the outrigger tubing and an aft perimeter line. It took a little while to get used to standing but now that Iíve done it a few times itís not so bad.
The T16.0 truly has delivered the flexibility I was looking for in a kayak. The fact that itís a great looking boat, built tough, has great speed, and well thought out features doesnít hurt either.
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