I'm planning to invest in a kayak, which i would use with my family; that is my wife and a nine-year-old boy. I found myself in a big dilemma here. I'm stuck with these two possible vessels and now I cannot decide. They both seem to fulfill my safety requirements just beautifully. I would like to hear from you about that, especially if you've kayaked before with kids.
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:17 pm Posts: 536 Location: Auckland NZ
If you are planning to "invest" as you say, does your budget extend to a tandem mirage drive kayak (either new or second hand)?
1. First reason I ask is that my experience of trying to get either of my SWMBOs (one is ~21 years old, the other 9) to paddle a paddleyak for any distance was that it was like pushing you know what up a hill. Paddling a single is bad enough, paddling a double with 2 occupants would IMO be a nightmare. Pedalling a 2-up Hobie Mirage Drive Tandem is not particularly tough once you have "match fitness" in your legs (I have just been doing it this weekend - 2 blokes, one drive, slightly slower but similar range to a single). You are into kayaking to enjoy it, as is your crew, and a mirage drive boat will probably prove a much more enjoyable experience all round.
2. Second reason is that (as a result of 1) you will probably get far and away fewer sea miles under your keel in a tandem paddleyak than you could with a mirage drive yak - so a paddleyak might be cheaper up front, but in terms of cost per mile and enjoyment per dollar the mirage drive boat will probably win hands down.
3. Have you tried/thought about kayak sailing yet? This is one of the aspects of the Hobie boats that I like the best. my friend and I sailed for miles 2 up on a Mirage tandem perfectly well and in total comfort and safety at the weekend.
4. Have you thought about resale value? (Hobie Mirage drive boats are well sought after on the second hand market and so hold their values pretty well so, if you can afford the cost of entry, it is not likely to prove a total dog of an investment: you will go further, faster, have more fun, possibly enjoy sailing too and when you decide to move on you should recoup a decent part of your initial investment.)
5. You mention safety. On a mirage tandem you have 4 possible means of getting back to shore: two drives; one drive; sail; paddle - or a combination of these. Mirage drive boats are relatively unaffected by headwinds but have you ever tried paddling a loaded kayak into a strong headwind? (IMO not fun!)
Have a think... perhaps try an Oasis if you can before you make your mind up!
I can only add that comfort can be an issue (which also correlates to Stobbo's reference of multiple propulsion methods). I went the lesser route with my initial kayak purchase and found that seating can be quite a limiting factor. Comparatively speaking, the hard plastic bottom in the other yak will reduce your time on the water and it may not be your bottom which tires first. The stock Hobie seats provide a great deal more comfort hence, more time on the water. Hobie also offers an optional inflatable seat pad for even greater comfort which I can attest can provide for a full day's enjoyment on the water. The last thing one would want when the fish are hitting is for a companion's bottom to tire before the daily creel limit is reached or the bite turns off.
I'm not an experienced kayak (years of experience & owner of multiple boats), but as the owner of an Oasis, I am thoroughly stoked with my boat (Blew Maru). The versatility (pedal, paddle, sail) of her gives me the confidence to go anywhere. Living in Southern California, my wife and I have experienced multiple lakes, two bays, one estuary, and one section of the Colorado River. The San Diego North County Coastline and adventure kayaking is next on the list.
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:18 am Posts: 1373 Location: Sarasota,Key West FL
If you are looking for a family boat that you can do pretty much anything on then the Hobie Tandem Island is the boat dreams are made from, it can do pretty much anything you task it to do and is well built and will last many years. We are former powerboaters and simply couldn't afford the cost of powerboats and fuel any longer (ie...$60k for boat, $300/mo storage, and $2k-$3k per yr for maint, and this doesn't include gas which is now $4.50/gal at marinas).
The TI is also the ultimate fishing platform, gets you to and from your fishing area quickly and easily.
Don't be intimidated by the sail rig, it is extremely simple to use, and is extremely safe, most figure it all out on their first outing, most dealers help you on your maiden voyage, and make sure you know how to operate the boat.
If you haven't discovered the mirage pedal drive system yet you are in for a treat, it is the best thing for boats out there today.
Here is a video of a family on the TI, it is a great video.
We started out kayaking with paddle kayaks similar to the ones you show, we were very uncomfortable going any further that a mile or so from launch and no more than a few hundred feet from shore, plus with the paddles you use a lot of energy paddling the boat so you can't really go very far without getting tired (basically your not going to go out paddling for 8 hrs unless your in great shape (which we are not). Once we discovered the Hobie pedal boats with the mirage drives, this opened up a whole new world to us. Even though we are not in the greatest physical shape we found that the amount of energy required to pedal the boat is much less than paddling and we found we could easily travel 4 times the distance we could travel with our paddle kayaks using much less energy, and not get all tired out. Now both my wife can pedal for ten hours, then get up and do it again the next day (we are still not in great physical shape), it's just so much less effort it's crazy. Another thing that we discovered quickly is that all the fun things to do can sometimes be some distance from where you launch from, if you can only go a mile or so and can only feel comfortable a few hundred feet from shore it gets boring very quickly. We also discovered that pretty much any body of water can be quite large, especially the intercoastal waterways in Florida (where we live), with our TI we can go into 95% of the waterways in Florida (you only need a few inches of water) where with our powerboat we had to stay in the channels and deep water so we could only get to 10% of the waterways in Florida with the powerboat. You will find if you just want to explore a river the TI as a kayak alone (without the big sailing rig and AMA's) is probably the best tandem kayak on the market today (just leave the AMA's and sails at home). We often go to places like the Santa FE river and visit the natural springs (looks very similar to the river in the video). You will find the TI kayak to be much faster than any other kayak on the market today, and pedals with very little effort (very fast), plus you can load it down with more gear (coolers, snorkeling gear, fishing gear, etc) than almost any other kayak (600 lbs capacity), plus it has great storage. If the TI is not your cup of tea, then my second choice would be the Hobie Oasis, we started out on the Oasis back in 2007, and just loved it, with two pedal drives you can travel much further than you could ever imagine or dare with a paddle kayak. Yes they are expensive, but well worth the investment, plus all Hobies are extremely well made and will last for many years. Another thing to consider is Hobie kayaks are a tremendous value because of their quality, and retain there value very well. If you bought one and kept it a couple years, you can re-sell it for almost as much as you paid for it (used Hobies are very rare), of course if you take care of it, whereas used two yr old Wilderness, Pelican, or Ocean paddle kayaks down here in Florida can be purchased for around $50 bucks (there is one in almost every yard rotting away)
Three Hobie Mirage drivers, and use the catamaran trick I described in the post about "new here and have a question about the Sport". It doesnt take long for everyone to want to have their own direction/freedom. You can keep the youngster hooked up and safe with the catamaran method until your confidence is assured. You can also teach them to sail, this way.
And if someone finds it just "isnt their sport" you have a kayak to sell and still have a pair to continue.
PS: I've said it before...here it is again. If you travel a lot (out of state), I am a big fan of Sports. They are under the length requirements for registration or invasive species permit fees...just about everywhere you go. And they stack together really nicely. Kids and wives love them because they are really stable and very dry (including dry hands in pretty rough conditions). Dry matters to the small bodies....they get colder sooner than us grown-up "growing" guys. My wife has tried them all, and wouldnt go out in big waves in anything but a Sport....in that boat she is fearless.