Congratulations on showing the intelligence to choose such a wonderful boat. You will love it.
As for me, the end of my second year of fishing from the AI is closing in and it has been a great experience, quite different from any other boat I've ever used. The first mod I completed was the installation of a sonar. Then after losing two rods and reels out of the way-too-shallow built-in rain gauges, I have since added a milk crate behind the seat with two homemade and secure rod holders and a third one in the rear cup holder. Having a lot of 1 1/4 strapping around I got my wife to sew a tramp that is suspended between the akas on one side much like the one described above to hold additional gear. I'm still working on getting her to make another one.
A typical outing with the AI is sail to a favorite area, then reduce sail and troll over the fish-holding structure a few times and once a concentration of biting fish is pinpointed, I furl the sail completely, quietly lower the anchor, stand up and cast for more fish. Once that school has moved out (or I've caught them all
), I bring up the anchor, pull out the sail and boogie to the next spot and repeat as often as necessary or until its dark.
One of the first skills I needed to learn with the AI was how to pull in one or the other of the amas with one hand while trying not to lose a large fish working my rod hand. My second day trolling from the AI, I hooked up with a huge northern pike. It towed the boat around for at least 15 minutes before I even got a glimpse of it. It was further complicated because my german shepherd, Mikie, who was riding along, wanted to tangle with the fish when it was still several feet from the boat. While Mikie may not be the biggest german shepherd around he's close at 110 pounds and still growing at only 16 months of age! After folding in the ama on the starboard side, it was rather anti-climactic lip-gripping the beast (the pike, not the dog--though things might have settled down quite a bit faster if I'd done it the other way round.) The fish measured 48 and 3/4 inches long and weighed around 35 to 40 pounds I'm guessing. Once I got its tail out of Mikie's mouth, we released it--good brood stock.
For not losing big fish, folding in one or other of the amas is crucial at a moments notice for me when trolling and hooking up. After, of course, I have first either furled the sail completely or rounded up into the wind. Or I anchor with sail furled and pull in both amas before I start casting. Not folding in the amas will lose you fish. Don't ask me how I know. But practicing it when not under pressure conditions is probably a good idea.
Enjoy and share your adventures with us.