Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: AquaYak - Aqua II tandem kayak

A little while ago, I showed you all the AquaYak Snapper-Pro, that was loaned to me by the good folks at AquaYak Kayaks. A couple of months ago, I saw that there was a sale going on at AquaYak, and we took the plunge (so to speak) and went out to check out the showroom. It was the tandem's that had caught my eye, both for load-hauling, but also for family-moving purposes. We settled on a Aqua II tandem, in their Granite Spa colour, with a full load of accessories.

Tactical Baby promptly claimed is as "MY BOAT"

The kayak is a direct extension from the Snapper Pro, just bigger.

It features the same scupper hole and circular storage hatch system as the Snapper Pro, giving self-draining capacity to each of the two, deeply molded seats which as well as adding stability, and having their own mounting points for the padded fabric comfort seats, also feature the molded foot rests, drink holding wells (between the thighs) and anchor point for lashing dummy-cords (between the calves).

The central storage hatches had bags fitted, so your personal items don't get lost in the hull-void.

Fore and aft hatches, are the main structural difference between the Snapper Pro and the Aqua II. These hatches are held in place with a clever shock-cord mechanism, and can be unstrapped and opened with minimal effort, without being a loose or an accidental release risk. These open directly into the hull-space, and afford a very spacious cargo storage area, if you first consider the width of the openings. Stuffable packs and items will work well, but larger items might need to ride on top.

I found that I made use of the Grab Lines, which are mounted by brackets running all around the hull, for both maneuvering the kayak about on the land, as well as for giving Tactical Baby and Triceratops Girl places to hold onto when they were riding with us. As part of our deal, we bought a family's worth of life-vests including a red and black and  coyote/OD Stormrider YAK PFD for the adults as well as lurid red and yellow kid and toddler sized ones (which I will cover later). I also got several 10L dry-bags to go in the hull, and scupper plugs, to reduce incidental water splashes. 

You can get an idea of the depth and size of the two fore and aft hatches with this shot of my arm, along with the padded seal that makes up the inside of those hatches.

The same propriety 'alkatuff polyethylene' material, which holds a UV certification for maritime plastics, is used to make up all the AquaYak hulls, and whilst I have noted that my dragging, and beaching has scored the keel and sides of the hull, its all cosmetic, and a very tough, resilient material. 

At 3.8m (12.5") long and 0.9m (just under 3") wide at the beam, and weighing in at 30kg, it is quite a bit larger than the Snapper Pro, and harder to man-handle when out of the water.

At 30kg it is not all that to lift, but the size of it makes it awkward. The two sizable heavy-duty handles at the bow and stern make for easy lifting and hauling, even when fully laden with safety gear, seats, paddles and even the occasional squealing child. I've dragged it up a grassy hill by looping some webbing through the front handle. Wheels might well be in order (and AquaYak offer them)

In the water, It handles really well, thanks in part to having two sets of paddlers but is very operable with only one, even being quite maneuverable when solo.

We've it out on The Bay a number of times, and whilst its bulk means loading it onto and off my vehicle can be a pain, once its in the water , it is a lot of fun.

With a stated carrying capacity of 200kg, even with two adults, and two kids riding, unencumbered by gear, we've ridden very high in the water, and have had little trouble staying course, and upright, even on our first trips, are probably largely due tot he great design, including this tri-keel, which helps with tracking and stability, even in the moderate swells we've encountered.

I feel that if we needed to get off-shore, as simply as possible, this is a real option for us, both is speed, and limited cost. Get it on the vehicle, get to the beach, onto the water, and away ... Load it up with MALICE 2 pack, a Platatac Light Field Pack, and supplies in Dead People Jars, we could have quite the getaway. 

We put the kids in their Mudlarks All-In-One suits, to keep them warm and dry, with the PVD vests over the top, and went for a paddle one sunny spring afternoon, having been visiting with friends.

You can see that there is quite a bit of room the in the kayak, and we have found that the kids can site between our knees as we paddle, but that space could just as easily be full of packs and supplies. This is the saem beach as I reviewed the Snapper Pro, with a high grassy hill from the carpark to the beach. The weight of the fully laden kayak, over grass, down a hill was no issue at all. It even maneuvered well.

Once down at the waters edge, it was a simple matter to alight and shove off.

You can see here how high on the water we were, and whilst heading right into waves gave us some spray, we were a long way off ever taking water over the side and into the cockpit. I think we could have laden the hull with a lot more kit, and still have been positively buoyant and dry.

All in all, I am really pleased with this acquisition, and plan to spend a bunch of time on The Bay over the summer, as well as trips to local lakes and rivers.

I heard recently that AquaYak are going to stock a Windpaddle sail for their kayaks, and that is a great idea...

1 comment:

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