A lot of people have posted reviews of their boats after using them for a while, and I've found those reviews to be extremely helpful in giving me the types of information that I'm looking for. I'm not an expert reviewer, so if you want great, in depth reviews, check out Roadrunner's reviews as I have found them to be some of the most complete and accurate on this entire site.
So here's my little attempt to share my views on the Adventure IslandWhy did I buy the Adventure Island?
We had a Revolution, and I had a traditional kayak. I loved the simplicity of my wife's Revolution. The sit on top design is so simple, we have wheels for our boats, and she was always able to wheel the boat to the water and be out much faster then I was. I always had to take off my wheels by unstrapping them, then take the wheels apart to put them in the hatches, then I would put on a spray skirt as any waves that would come over the boat would stay in the boat. Then if I got hungry or thirsty, I'd have to dig in my boat while removing the spray skirt, it was all just a bit of a pain for short trips out on the lake, so there was always a bit of envy as I looked at her launching so simply.
In the end, I wanted a boat that was a bit more fun, and a bit less work. What could be more fun then sailing?
At first, I thought that I really wanted the Tandem Island. My wife and I could kayak together, but we could also sail together. A few things kept me from going in that direction. #1) It was too heavy and too long to car top on our Civic, meaning we'd need to buy a trailer. #2) I wasn't sure how easy it would be to roll around on the wheels as I pulled it out of the water and up the beach.
We wanted a boat that could occasionally take two people, and more importantly, as I prepare to start a family and have kids, I had memories of my dad taking us out on his Mirror Dingy, and I wanted to have the same kinds of memories with my kids.
In the end, the AI
with trampolines fit the bill. I weigh about 160, and my wife weighs 130, so we were well within the 350 pound weight limit of the boat when out together, and as a solo boat, it was perfectly manoeuvrable on my own.The Sailing Experience
As a person who had never really sailed on my own, I wanted a boat that was both easy, and safe. The AI
was the only boat that allowed me to treat it like a kayak. By that I mean it was the only boat that allowed me to do all of the things that kayakers enjoy, circle islands, go from inlet to inlet, get out on the big waves, but still head up the smaller rivers and pull the boat ashore on beaches and other spots. No other sailboat did that, and it allowed me to get out sailing, while still keep the kayaking lifestyle that I preferred.
As a pure sailing boat, I love it. It's as stable as can be, it inspires confidence, and it's very simple to master the basics. As a kayaker, I always took safety precautions. I'm not one to shy away from big waves, or challenging conditions, but I never went beyond my capabilities. The easiest way to remain safe is to be prepared with the equipment for any conditions that may arise, and also have the knowledge of what to do in those conditions. The AI
is the kind of boat that meets my equipment requirements.
The very first time that I sailed in larger winds, I had not installed my trampolines. The gusts increased to steady winds, and then became even more strong, and I realized that I was out beyond my capabilities. My first reaction was to furl the sail. If you are considering any other sailboat, don't underestimate the safety factor of a furling sail! Before I bought the boat, I thought this feature was nice to have, after having it, I can't imagine this boat without it. The furling sail has allowed me to teach myself how to sail at my own pace. Today I'd have no problems going out in those bigger winds with the sail all the way out, but I would have never been able to learn in those winds without the furling system. Even expert sailors can make use of it.
I bought the trampolines with the boat with the intention of taking passengers. I had heard that they help when sailing, but now I think I've become the biggest advocate of sailing with tramps on these boards. I almost always have them on the boat, and in any kind of stronger wind, I sit out on them and with my feet in the cockpit of the boat and sail the boat like a normal sailboat. Leaning out when the wind picks up to keep the boat level. They have dramatically increased the fun factor of the boat, and I find it very easy to sit on the opposite side of the tiller and lean in and steer the boat with my hand. When winds really pick up, I use my toes, which is much easier then you'd think, once you get the hang of it.
Overall, the sailing experience is more then I had hoped for. Some say it's a little slow for a sailboat, but I've been out with other sailboats and had no trouble keeping up. Coming from a kayaking background, it's not slow at all, it's lightening fast for a kayak, and I love covering large distances with so little effort.Using the AI in Kayak mode
I have to admit, I was shocked at how much fun this boat is as a kayak. I'm a kayaker, and moving from my sleek traditional kayak to this boat, I knew that I'd be gaining some fun in sailing, but losing some fun in kayaking. I was shocked to find out that I was wrong. My experience with Hobie's Mirage Drive came exclusively from my wife's Revolution. I called that boat a barge. It's not that it's so boring, but it's very stable, and safe. All of those are good things for my wife, but I loved how lively my traditional kayak was. The ability to lean it to one side or the other with ease created a unique experience that makes kayaking fun. I was shocked to see how lively the Adventure is! It's still very stable, and safe still, but unlike the Revolution, it's got that lively feel of a true sea kayak. The first time that I went out in pure kayak mode, I wanted to test the speed of the kayak compared to when it was fully rigged. I knew it felt fast rigged, but loved the speed in kayak mode. I still didn't expect it to be lively, so at full speed, I cranked the rudder to the left and just about fell out! Compared to the Revolution, the slightly greater speed, combined with the larger rudder, and the more lively hull, made the boat lean like a motorboat into the turn. I expected the boat to remain flat, and turn slowly, but it grabbed a hold of the water and turned sharp and aggressively. Lots of fun!!
If you're a true kayaker, you've always been told that Sit on top boats are not true sea kayaks because they are not suited for touring, and you can't brace in them. The Hobie Mirage Drive changes that thinking. Bracing in a sea kayak allows you to use your knees and hips to tilt the boat into the waves and water in a way that keeps things safe. A sit on top has nowhere for you to push your knees and thighs against, so the theory is that you can't brace. On a Hobie, your hands are free to hang on to the boat, allowing you to brace much more accurately with your hands as opposed to your thighs. The combination of holding on with your hands, a somewhat lively hull, and a self bailing boat makes the Adventure a more then capable sea kayak. Do you get a bit more wet? Sure, but in most conditions you can dress for this and have just as much fun.
As a paddling kayak, the Adventure isn't great. You lose the ability to brace, and the stable design creates a boat that doesn't track as well as a 16 foot kayak should. Can it be done? Sure! Does it paddle as well as most recreational kayaks? Yup. Would anyone prefer to paddle this boat over pedal? Not likely!Transporting the boat, and moving it around on land
As I stated before, the simplicity of the Hobie cart is great. One small complaint that I had about the cart on the AI
compared to the Revolution, (or any other Hobie Kayak) is that the wheels do not slide in from the top once they are removed from the bottom. Our Revolution allows us to pop the wheels out of the bottom, and slide them in upside down from the top. The whole process takes as long to do as it does to read about it here. The AI
has one of the aka crossbars sliding just overtop of the scupper holes making it a bit difficult to slide the wheels into the scuppers from the top.
As far as moving the boat around on the cart, it's quite manageable. I bought the heavy duty cart with the boat because I tend to walk the boat about 750 metres (maybe a half a mile??) to the water on roads and then beach. I would have preferred the beach wheels for moving the 115 lb boat on the beach, but as it is, I can put the wheels in place while still out on the water. Beach wheels would be too difficult to push under water. Overall, the weight difference is noticeable compared to the Revolution, but I don't see any other sailboats being walked that distance to the water, and the ability to take the wheels with you makes this boat incredibly versatile!
When it comes to transporting the boat on the car, I did a LOT of research into what the best system would be. My system may not be the best for others, but it works for me. Because the roof rack bars are only 30 inches apart on our car, I found a system that suspends the boat with some give, and this allows the boat to ride smoothly on top of the car and have less jolting forced on the boat. Although it is carried upright, the straps do not pull weight down onto cross bars, or cradles, but instead the straps hug the boat spreading the force evenly around the whole boat. I've had no deforming at all. We are actually able to fit both the Revolution, and the AI
with sail and pontoons on the roof our our Civic. If I take the AI
on it's own, I strap the ama's beside the boat for best aerodynamics, but when we take the AI
and Revolution, we strap the ama's on top of the AI
. It's not the best solution for everyone, but it works well for us. Lifting the boat onto the roof can be done by one person, but it's easiest with two.
Again, you don't see many people able to take a sailboat, and a kayak on top of an economy car. That's another part of what makes this boat so unique and so much fun.
So there's my review
. I'm sure it's incomplete, but I'd be happy to add to it, as I'm sure many other forum users would as well.