The boat comes well accessorized and has several unique design features as well. Lets start out with the goodies.
Seeing all you get looks like one of those celebrity gift packages for attending the Oscars! So I made a "gift package" of all the extras that aren't stuck on the boat:
What you see here are a Mirage Drive, Turbo fins, paddle, paddle "T" handle, 2 trays, 4 Plano boxes (3 sizes), lure hangar, water bottle and removable holder.
Attached to the boat are 18" fish ruler (conveniently located next to your seat, pictured here with seat removed)...
... cutting board (directly in front of the seat), dedicated horizontal storage for 6 rods (8' 3" to 9'), vertical storage for 2 rods ( 8" pockets), replaceable equipment mounting boards (for ram mounts, fish finder, GPS, compass, etc), Hobie's first ever ambidextrous rudder control , lift / grab handles on all quarters, bath tub sized forward hatch, cargo well almost big enough for a dance floor, and of course a Cool Ride seat from which you can access almost everything without having to move.
One of the neatest features is the rudder system. The rudder retracts fully between the split hulled stern, protecting it from fish line and getting banged up. The assembly comes with a stainless spring that pivots the rudder down and forward to operate the boat.
It automatically kicks up to ride over any obstacles then springs back down. You can retract it from any position (no pre-centering needed) by simply pulling the retraction line and securing it in the Harkin cam cleat.
All fittings and bushings are through - hull so there are no to seals to maintain against water intrusion.
The control is modular and clips into either front corner of the seat.
To remove, just depress the tab and slide out. Simple yet effective. This next picture shows it partially removed:
Rudder line tension is adjustable by turning a small knob at the bottom of the control module.
The center rudder control position must be reset if the module is shifted from one side of the seat to the other, in order to have full rudder deflection in both directions. This is easily accomplished at the rudder control hatch near the stern:
To remove the seat, snap off the rudder control module, unscrew two knobs in the front, lift slightly and slide forward.
The seat has an adjustable back, but does not slide forward and backward, in spite of its appearance. If it were to slide forward it would cover the accessory hatch. It certainly doesn't need to slide back. There is enough leg room to accommodate most professional basketball players. If anything, folks with an inseam of less than 27 or 28" may find it's a bit of a stretch to reach the Mirage Drive pedals. The seat has plenty of room though to place a cushion in front of the backrest. As those already familiar with the Drive know, the pedals have a wide range of quick adjustments for a large range of leg lengths.
Speaking of the Drive, for those not familiar with it, it is a self contained propulsion unit that drops in a drivewell and locks in place. The larger Turbofins, normally an optional accessory, are included with the boat, and provide a good power match up with the size of the boat. The fins retract against the hull for shallow water and beaching.
The hull has 10 scupper holes. These also serve as structural members to stiffen the deck when standing. Built in storage areas on either side drain down to a collection area under the seat. There are four scuppers located here with plugs. The plugs need to be opened to accommodate drainage from this area. This is the lowest point in the cockpit and can be sealed with the plugs for very heavy loads.
Standing stability is excellent.
Cushioned rubber pads are provided for your feet. If the cargo well is empty, it serves as an excellent standing deck also for a lighter person for fishing, stand-up paddling or poling.
This area is not built to the same strength as the main deck though and, though I noticed no deck flexing, I'm sure Hobie is not warranting this as an authorized standing area.
The tray for the center hatch is versatile and can accommodate a variety of combinations of trays, hangars and open space. It has small drain holes so water does not accumulate.
Likewise, the forward tray drains into the hull. So if you're packing ice to keep those fish fresh and refreshments cold, you might want to put a little piece of tape in the bottom.
On the other hand, it's OK and normal for some water to enter the bilge on the PA, as with most other boats (note rod tubes below):
Drain plugs are located at the stern along with the skid pads. For the small amount that may normally enter though, I find it easiest to sponge it out when done.
Overall the boat feels very solid and sturdy. Everything is well placed for good accessibility and utility. This is a very well thought out package.
Is it just for fishermen? Heck no. You can sail it or just cruise and use it as with any other kayak or small boat. It's not as slow as you might think. If you don't fish, the Plano boxes also make excellent hardware containers, jewelry boxes for the wife (or yourself?) or portable medicine cabinets for the elderly and infirmed among us!
Next, in part III we'll look at the performance and handling on the water.