We picked up our papaya colored Tandem Island yesterday from Backyard Boats, in Woodbridge, Virginia. We had hoped to get her out on the water yesterday, but the complexity of our transaction (trading in our old yaks, buying two new ones, a bunch of work on the trailer, and all the extra stuff we needed) ate up more time than we expected. If you want an *excellent*
Hobie buying experience - in person or online - call Backyard Boats and ask for Jay. I've dealt with them since 1986, have always been treated well and this experience was the best by far. Highly recommended!
We were on the road to Little Seneca Lake - the local fresh water reservoir - before 8:00 am this morning and on the water by 9:00 am. We sailed, peddled, paddled and drifted for a total of 5 hours before severe weather drove us off the lake (raging thunderstorms and a tornado watch, actually!).
Here are my subjective observations:Putting in
- Using the Hobie Trailex Double/Double trailer to splash the TI for the first time was a piece of cake and much easier than the Sport and Outback we've used previously. The extra length meant the TI was already floating by the time I backed to the level I usually do and getting it clear of the trailer was just a matter of seconds. Getting in and out of the ramp area with my pickup literally took about 60 seconds.Final setup
- Prior to putting in, we had prepped everything on the trailer so we took as little time at the ramp as possible. The only things left were the paddles, mast with furled sail, and the trampoline. By the time I got back to the TI from parking the truck and trailer, Cindy already had the mast stepped, paddles in place, amas extended and was ready for me to hop aboard. We then paddled over to a beach close by so we could put on the trampoline. We had to re-read the trampoline instructions 4 or 5 times - no *way* it could be that simple! - but it was, and we had the tramps installed inside of 5 minutes. We had to reorganize the roller furling because we did it wrong the first time, but that was our fault.First impressions
- Man, is it stable! Like aircraft-carrier-stable! We tried it with the amas both open and closed and were amazed. We haven't yet tried it without the mast or amas, but were agog at how easy it was to move around without feeling like we were going to be tossed in the drink. Lots of mass and inertia, as well - at least compared to the Sport and Outback; more like a boat rather than a feather-weight kayak. We also felt like we were right *on* the water; the decking around the Mirage Drive appears to be the same as the exterior waterline, so it's very intimate with the environment. And the space! Each seat position is very roomy compared to what we had on the Sport and Outback. In fact, I used position 6 on the Mirage drives with my Outback and found I need to use position 5 with the TI.Deck storage
- This is one of the few areas where there is a disadvantage over what we had with the Sport and Outback. The storage behind the seat in the Outback could stow 3 boat cushions, a big PFD, my sandals, 4 large bottles of water and still have some space to spare. With the TI, I can only put 1 boat cushion, a small PFD, barely squeeze in my sandals and 4 bottles of water. It was even less for Cindy, as she had nothing behind her seat except my feet and Mirage Drive.The new seats
- Home run; the new seats are simply outstanding. With the older seats, we had to constantly re-insert the seat pins into the wells after they popped out a couple times per hour or more. However, these seats have the new jam pins that effectively lock them into place; we didn't have the new ones pop out once during our 5 hour shakedown cruise. The higher and wider seat back that is stiffer and with the lumbar cushion is also a welcome improvement; no back pain this time either.Mirage Drives
- For some reason, we had some initial difficulty putting the new drives in; dunno if the well design has been tweaked or what, but they really felt different. Also noticed the lack of the spray skirts on the drives; at times we had 1-1/2 to 3 inch rooster tails coming up the rear of the drives when we were sailing at a fast pace.
I plan to install the skirts before our next outing. Note: the TI *needs*
the Turbo drives; I found even the Turbo's to be lacking when I was peddling by myself while going into a decent headwind with Cindy on the tramp looking for critters. I also found that the TI really responded anytime when Cindy would begin to peddle her Mirage Drive. Paddles
- The new fiberglass paddles are really nice; lightweight, stiff and not as hot in the sun as the old black metals ones were. They were able to drive the TI easily and were very much appreciated when we used them. However, the paddles need a different mounting point when the tramps are in place; while Cindy was alternating onto the tramps when I was tacking, the paddles kept getting in the way - I think a mounting point on the outside of the akas would really help and I plan to test that location with bungee cords next time.Sailing
- This is where the TI comes into its own.
The sailing is excellent! In fact, I'm not sure I would call the TI a kayak anymore, as it's really more of a mini-trimaran sailboat at this point. With the amas extended, the tramps in place and the sail completely unfurled, we were the fastest, baddest thing out on the reservoir today. There was a racing Sunfish that could just about keep pace with us in the lower wind speeds, but he was a quickly-dwindling-little-dot behind us anytime the wind picked up. When the breeze strengthened, Cindy would swing out onto the up-wind tramp and the TI would just SCOOT. We had it on a plane several times today and were giddy at the speed it displayed - much more fun than a windsurfer! Going upwind it really needs the centerboard down and benefits from the Mirage Drives being in place as well. Most of the time we could swing through the wind on a new tack without using the drive, but found that tacking was faster if we did so. Anything below a beam reach and the speed really picked up if we raised the centerboard and removed the drives. Also, the TI *requires* both hands while sailing in anything above 12 knots; the main sheet can be difficult to handle and the steering handle requires constant tension. I will be converting the dual sailing control line setup to just one control from the rear seat, as there were times when the sheet required two hands for adjustment and the TI veered because the side load on the rudder would force it to swing.The mast
- Composite is what Hobie calls it - a dark fibrous material with a resin matrix. Looks like an improved version of a windsurfer mast and acts like one, too. Very bendy, light and flexible. Also very tall - we passed *just* under a road bridge that I thought we would clear by many feet.
The pre-production version that I saw had a metal tip for the last several feet at the top; the shipping version is solid composite - no metal anywhere that I can tell. A word of advice on composite masts like this; don't store them in the direct sun long-term - make sure they stay in the mast bag and in as much shade as possible when not using them.The sail
- Square-topped with the biggest batten I've ever seen on a small boat. Works beautifully. The furling system is well thought out and the battens aren't so stiff that the sail can't rotate smoothly when tacking. Very powerful when drawing clean air.Windage
- The TI has a bunch of it. Period. Just accept that and you'll be fine. However, it does make for a lot of solid exercise when keeping it moving while using the drives or the paddles.Standing
- Amazing. Both of us could stand up and not go in the drink. Don't stand close to the hatches, though - the decking around them flexes too much.Trampolines
- Also amazing, both with the ease of installation and using them while under way. Cindy was able to sit on them, extend herself out to the ama, lay on them and pretty much do anything she pleased.
They really made for a much more pleasant time out on the water.Steering
- The new rudder is big! In fact - it's HUGE! But it comes at a price and that price is ease of control. Keep in mind that we are accustomed to using the optional large rudder blades on the Sport and Outback, which resulted in turn-on-a-dime performance with little side load on the rudder itself. Steering the TI with that itty-bitty rudder control lever is a real challenge, especially when sailing in stiff winds. I discovered that having Cindy move onto the tramps resulted in a marked difference in how the TI steered, as the side loads would lessen substantially. I still need to experiment and get used to it, but my gut impression is that the steering handles need to be longer for better fine-control and leverage, and the cable system might be improved with rods or something similar. It's a good system for the smaller yaks, but it's really showing its limitations with the TI.Creeping up on critters
- Looks like it may be the best platform out there, even though it feels big as a house. We were able to creep up on a giant snapping turtle without any effort at all - the same snapper that vanished every time we got close with the Sport or Outback. At one point it looked like it wanted to try crawling aboard!
As far as my final impression goes - it's a keeper! The steering solution isn't ideal, but it's not a deal breaker for me; everything else is stellar. That's about all I can think of at the moment. Sorry about the dearth of photos, but I was driving the whole time and needed both hands for the job.