I just received my two Hobie Adventure Kayaks and thought I'd send some photos of my first outing in the red Hobie Adventure.
Here they are in my backyard taken from my second floor balcony.
I made the short trip to Sleeping Giant Park, about 1 hour east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada on Lake Superior.
Here is a Google Earth image showing the location of Thunder Bay and the Sibley (Sleeping Giant) Peninsula as well as a zoomed in image. Marie-Louise Lake is the prominent lake seen along the peninsula and the Sleeping Giant can be vaguely seen south west of the lake. I wanted to try out the Adventure on Marie-Louise Lake which is situated within the park.
The road to the park is full of wildlife. A brief side trip to the Thunder Bay lookout along the park peninsula yielded a special visitor with good posture. Just like me, I think he was a little depressed that Boston didn't make the Stanley Cup finals.
Here is a photo of the Lookout itself and the panoramic view looking west across Lake Superior towards the city of Thunder Bay.
The centrepiece of the park is the Sleeping Giant landform that looms high above the entrance to Thunder Bay on Lake Superior. The high-point of the Sleeping Giant (the "Chest") down to Lake Superior is actually the highest continuous vertical drop of any landform in the province at 1247 ft (380 m). The highest point on the Sleeping Giant is 1847 feet (563 m) above sea level. In 2007, a cross-Canada poll sponsored by CBC Television to pick Canada's 7 natural wonders revealed that the Sleeping Giant garnered the most popular votes!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Wonders_of_Canada
Here is what the Giant looks like from Hilcrest Park in Thunder Bay. You can see the distant profile of the Giant lying down with his head on the left and chest and knees toward the right part of the photo. O.K. - I could have selected a clearer photo!
And from the Giant's knees looking back out on Lake Superior from the "Top of the Giant Trail". This trail is a must climb day-hike from the campground. These are the highest cliffs in the province of Ontario at 800 ft (250 m).
In the photo below you can see the boat launch at Marie-Louise Lake and the outline of the Sleeping Giant in the distance (viewed now from the opposite side and complete with Adam's Apple). I am using the Thule 400XT rack with two Hulla-Port Pro kayak carriers on my beloved 1992 Honda Civic Si hatch. The system seems to work well so far, however I noticed that the knobs used to tighten down the carriers tend to loosen a bit after each trip and need minor retightening. You'd think Thule would have developed a better system to keep them tight. Also, I had ordered two sets of Turbo Fins with the kayaks but Hobie unfortunately shipped the V1 masts with the Turbo Fins rather than the V2 version. My local dealer has contacted Hobie, but I suspect it will be a while before I try out the Turbos. So my experience so far has only been with the regular fins.
Marie-Louise Lake is actually quite small, and I was the only one on the lake when I went out. There is a saying in Northwestern Ontario that is commonly espoused by backcountry adventurers here - "If you see anyone else on your trip - the trip is spoiled". With almost 100,000 lakes in this section of Ontario alone - can you blame adventure-seekers for adopting this attitude?
The weather here has been unseasonably cool this spring, and the temperature for the day was about 60 F (15 C) - our expected day-time high is normally about 70 F (21 C) at this time of year. The lake was cold and calm. Unfortunately I wasn't dressed for swimming, but I will be purchasing a dry suit for colder water outings.
My first impressions? Incredible. Wow. I have read about how surprisingly fast these kayaks are - but I was still taken aback by just how efficiently they move through the water. I captured a brief video during this outing and e-mailed it to various friends online and the consistent response was "Wow - that is FAST".
Here is a video from the park.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arYJILJIQSo
(Once in YouTube, select HD for the higher quality version).
There was a bit of a learning curve though. I found it took a little bit of time getting used to the feel of the mirage drive (my pedal strokes were too long and the drive was hitting the stops on each stroke) as well as the balance of the kayak. My legs also started feeling tired - not from pedaling - but from holding them up on the pedals. I noticed that my feet weren't far enough in the straps - once I adjusted the foot straps - everything was fine again. I found with my 30 inch inseam - setting the drive at the 5th position worked the best for me. The initial stability I experienced while entering the kayak was acceptable, however I suspect the secondary stability to be much better. Either way, I felt very comfortable and at no time did I feel unstable. Did I mention that it felt very fast?
And suprisingly - not very difficult to pedal. I ordered the large sailing rudder with both Adventures and it works great. Though there were a few mysterious times when the Adventure was slow to turn right. At other times it turned right with full authority. Previously, I noticed that the rudder was out of adjustment on the yellow Adventure (not rotating fully and affecting right turning ability) and I re-adjusted it - but the rudder appeared fine on the red Adventure before I set out. Once again - this only happened a few times. **Update** - Roadrunner suggested that I cleat the rudder down line to address this issue. That did the trick. Thanks!!
Here is a photo of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park campground beach on Marie-Louise Lake from the water. There were some people on the beach staring out at this strange kayak zipping across the water with no paddle.
Here is a view from the beach looking out at the lake.
I was surprised by how much distance I could cover in such a short period of time. I can't wait to use the Adventure for touring and camping. I passed by some campsites closer to shore as seen in the photo below.
I've camped along this stretch several times and it is great to be able to go for a swim just a few steps down from your campsite.
Here is a view from a campsite looking out over the steps and across the water. There is that darn Giant lying down in the photo again! He is about as ubiquitous as Michael McDonald's back-up singing in an afternoon of 80's satellite radio.
I was moving quite quickly as I passed by some campers huddled on one of the steps. A few of them shouted "Is there a propellor on that thing!?!?!" I chatted with them for a bit and removed the drive to demonstrate how the fins worked. Most people have never seen or heard of Hobie or the mirage drive here. They seemed suitably impressed with the inventiveness of the drive.
And here is another view of a section of the lake from a different perspective.
Overall - I had a great experience out on the lake and I look forward to many new adventures with my Hobies. Special thanks to Stringy for providing the directions for how to use Imageshack to post photos. I've appreciated all your valuable posts. And once again - thanks to Roadrunner for providing a wealth of information and useful tips that have benefited so many adventure seekers on this forum.