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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:59 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:07 pm
Posts: 1047
Location: Ontario, Canada
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 Island
Why 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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!!
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:40 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:49 am
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Location: Morristown, NJ
Nice report & pics.. Can't wait to order my 2011...


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:43 am
Posts: 435
Location: Long Island NY
Very nice review - I too am new to the AI (May this year) and I will add this -

- having sailed quite a bit of "small" stuff since I was 7 yrs old, I would rate the AI as an EXCELLENT first sailboat for someone who has no experience at all sailing. It is about as stable as anyone can wish for. The furling sail makes getting out of trouble about as easy as pulling a rope. The only thing you need to do is remember a simple checklist when approaching shore - daggerboard out / rudder uncleated / sail fully furled / Pull mirage drive when close / pull rudder up / DONE !!

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'07 Hobie Adventure Island #1
'07 Hobie Adventure Island #2 Golden Papaya AI LadyJane
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:40 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:25 pm
Posts: 2005
Location: Central Coast NSW Australia
Great review augaug, enhanced by the excellent pics! 8)
I agree with all that you have said, especially the points about the tramps.
I will be directing my sea kayaking mates to your post as you have highlighted the AI's great versatility very well.
Adding the small sail when in kayak mode and sailing with drive pulled and daggerboard down adds another dimension to its great versatility.
Looks like Roadrunner has a worthy review competitor! :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:00 pm
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Location: Port Macquarie, Australia
Good review, good read, good pics... thanks!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:46 pm
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Location: Escondido
Excellent review, well illustrated and narrated from a great perspective. Your transportation solution is beautifully engineered. I'm taking notes! :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:14 pm
Posts: 1886
Location: South Florida
Yes, nice review describing your choices and how you use and manage your AI. Very well done and I'm sure it will help new and prospective owners. I wonder about your fortunate lack of deformation of the hull bottom. I don't think it is because of your cradles or your straps which look pretty routine to me. In the early days with my 2007 AI, hull deformation on my trailer was common even if I did not have it strapped down. I'm in S Florida where it is probably, on average, much hotter than where you are. Higher temps will soften the hull plastic allowing easier deformation. Of course, deformation is also a function of time on the hull support--longer means more deformation. It is possible that your 30" spread between hull support may be good, not bad, for avoiding hull deformation. Perhaps, Hobie has strengthened the hull in more recent models to avoid deformation? Finally, I see you have your mast strapped to your hull--maybe that extra support from cradle to stern is sufficient to avoid deformation. Whatever the cause for your lack of deformation, keep it up! That is great!

Keith

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:39 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Chekika wrote:
I wonder about your fortunate lack of deformation of the hull bottom. I don't think it is because of your cradles or your straps which look pretty routine to me.


I agree that the cradles "look" pretty routine, but that's the difference with my system. Most straps pull the boat down onto the bars or the cradles, these ones hug the boat, creating even pressure, and then the cradles themselves have a significant amount of play to them. Without bow or stern straps, I can rock the boat up or down well over a foot. They really do soften the ride.

As far as temperatures, we use Celcius, but to convert to fahrenheit, our temperatures on many of my trips have been around 95 degrees with the humidity making it feel as high as 111 degrees fahrenheit (measured in the shade). Although our average temperatures don't match Florida's average, we still get quite hot. Also, and a very important note about this system is that the bow and stern lines are on quite loosely and are used to control the up and down motions that the suspended cradles allow. They place very little pressure on the boat itself, and I think that's key to limiting the risk of deformation.

Can the boat still deform? Yeah. But this is the best system I've found to work on our car, and it's a comfortable balance of risk vs. cost for me. A custom made utility trailer is in the works for when kids arrive, and it will allow us to take boats, bikes, and our camping gear while still being able to drive an economy car.

As far as the sail being strapped to the boat, it really doesn't add support. It slides between the two pairs of saddles to prevent side to side movement. I then secure the sail to the cradles and bars. The blue straps that you see front and rear are overkill, but I use them to keep the sail snugged up to the boat. It's really just to keep the sail and boat from smacking eachother, (because the boat has some up and down movement when it's secured) and by securing them the way they are,they ride together.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:16 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
stringy wrote:
I will be directing my sea kayaking mates to your post as you have highlighted the AI's great versatility very well.


With that in mind, I should probably add another thought that I left out of the review. I had always scoffed at the idea of "pedalling" instead of paddling. I liked the techniques used on paddling, there was a skill involved that was enjoyable to master. So many people go out paddling and don't have very good technique and it makes paddling more difficult. Those who do know how to paddle with good form think they're doing so subconsciously, but my experience on the Hobie taught me otherwise.

When paddling my traditional kayak, I was always watching the waves, the wind, and other surroundings to make sure that I was moving as efficiently as possible through the water. Mastering that skill is part of the fun. When out on the AI in kayak mode, there is a whole new kind of fun. You aren't spending time watching waves, or water, you're watching the scenery. You're able to "pedal" within inches of your paddling partner because you don't need to keep the distance required to paddle. We were able to get closer to wildlife then I've ever been on my paddle kayak.

What I realized was that no matter who you are, or how much or little experience you have in a kayak, if you get on a Hobie Mirage kayak and pedal, you instantly have all the skill that you need to be as efficient as possible. You never take a lazy stroke, you're an expert from day one.

We really noticed this on a very windy day where we had to go a few miles against the wind. We were following a number of kayakers and canoes, and consistantly closed the gap with ease. I think the mirage drive is much easier to handle in the wind, because you are never putting a paddle into the wind, but we really noticed that we were pedalling comfortably and the experience kayakers were keeping their lead on us whiel the less experienced kayakers were losing ground on us. What we noticed is when the experienced kayakers began to talk with eachother, they also lost ground. Their strokes shortened, and their form became weaker. Why does all of this matter? Well the picture of me in the rain in the post above was taken that day. A bunch of kayakers and canoes got stranded, or soaked when that rain hit, while my wife and I were just a few hundred metres from shore. Did we get wet? Sure, but we didn't take one inefficient stroke for that entire trip, and in the end, that made us faster, and less tired. We didn't stop to drink from our water bottles, or to have a snack, we just kept pedalling, and ate and drank while on the move.

With the turbo fins, I think these boats are just as fast as good kayaks. They really don't glide near as well, so while a kayaker can take a nice long stroke and glide, you still have to pedal, but over a long trip, I'm sure these boats are faster simply due to the efficiency and the ability to go for hours without stopping for drinks or snacks.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 4:26 pm
Posts: 39
Location: Cocagne,New Brunswick, Canada
Good review and pictures . The AI is the best boat for all around fun and diversity , today we went out my wife and I in 40 km wind gust, all we had to do was to furl the sail so the boat wouldn't be overpowered and we were out at a very low tide, it's amazing how little water that boat can sail in, its a great feature to have the retractable centerboard no other boat could have been where we were without running aground. Tomorow a friend is coming to test the boat I am quite confident he will probably soon be AI owner.

Dan


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:18 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:04 pm
Posts: 227
Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
Great review and great Pics!!! I never got around to doing what you have done here but maybe I should.? You really can sum up the AI with 2 words... Versatile Fun. This little boat has been a real treat for me and I can't thank Hobie enough for making it as nothing for its price or double will do what it does. I never go out without at least 1 if not 2-4 people in boats say something like "NICE RIG".

I hope my AI replacement Hull will get here soon as I am really missing going out without bailing out gallons of water.

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