Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finally, Hobies for Two!

Randy and I have been talking about kayaks for years, but always put off buying them.  Well this year, we did something about it and are now the proud owners of two new Hobie Mirage kayaks.

Randy's is a blue Hobie Mirage Outback, about 12.5' long and weighs 68 pounds.  His is stable and comfortable.

My kayak is a dune colored Hobie Mirage Revolution 11, 11.5' long and weighs 45 pounds.  Mine is a "sports car" of sit on top kayaks.  It's a little tippier than I'm used to, but I get comfortable very fast on water craft, so I'm hoping it's not going to be an issue.  My kayak is fast and smooth in the water, but not quiet as comfortable sitting position as the Outback.

Both kayaks are sit on top kayaks with Mirage pedal drives.  This allows us to use our leg muscles to get around and have our hands free while sailing.  We steer using a rudder lever next to our seat. It looks a little funny to be pedaling your boat, but I'll go long, further, and faster than a  person paddling their boat.

We ordered our boats in Coos Bay from Waxer's Surf and Skate shop,  after demo'ing two of their boats in the bay one weekend earlier in the month. We picked them up last week, and took them on their maiden voyages to two coastal lakes.

The weather in Coos Bay on the southern Oregon coast was typical for the summer.  Nice in the morning, steadily building wind bringing in the afternoon fog. Because the Willamette valley had temps in the upper 90's to 100's, we were getting socked in with coastal fog and wind by early afternoon. This meant if we wanted to get on the water in the sun and calm, we'd need to do it early in the day.  We took off for the the South Slough Marine Preserve in near by Charleston OR, unfortunately the coastal fog was already socked in and the wind was blowing.  Not a good place to try our stuff out for the first time.
We headed back to Coos Bay and found Empire Lakes near the campus of Southwestern Community College, right in town!  The lake had a nice parking area and a grassy area to get our gear set up in.  The coastal fog was not over the lake, but we could see it on its slow approach our way.  Empire Lake was the perfect place to put everything together and start our learning curve.  We pedaled around the lake for about an hour and half, not much to see, but good experience.  The next day we headed north for Florence.  On the way north we put in at Eel Lake, next to Tugman State Park.

Eel lake is a larger lake with a nice parking and launch area.  Being further north and a little inland from the ocean, the coastal fog was not an issue.  The day was beautiful once again, and we kayaked in shorts and t-shirts. The pictures posted here are all from our Eel Lake trip.

The kayaks are so easy to set up and put away, there's just not much to complain about.  The only thing we keep getting hung up on is seating the Mirage drive pedals in the boats.  Both times we've tried to put the drives in after putting the boats in the water and have struggled with them.  Next time I'm going to try it while the boat is on it's wheels.  
We paddled around this large lake for almost 3 hours, taking a 1/2 hour break on a floating dock to practice self rescue maneuvers.  This involved me finding the tipping point of my boat and practicing how to right it and reboard the yak.  I've reboarded sit on top kayaks, in the warm waters of the Caribbean and Hawaii, on snorkeling trips with no problem.  For some reason, this wasn't as easy.  Possibly it was the life vest getting in the way, or the fact that I didn't have fins on, that made it hard to "beach" myself on the top of the boat.  I'm going to try it with fins next time.  The water in this coastal lake was surprisingly warm, swimming was not a big shock.  
From the floating dock, which was situated in a cove sheltered from the north wind, we could see that the wind had picked up substantually and the channel we had to cross to return to the dock was filled with fast moving wind waves and white caps.  Our crossing back to the dock was going to be a good test of how our boats would do in rough waters.  Adding to the challenge was the that the shortest distance to the protected shoreline was to run perpendicular through the waves.  This would put us in the best position to "accidentally" tip over (can't really be an accident if we knew it was high risk).  I thought the channel was great fun.  I love riding in the waves and surprisingly didn't have much trouble moving through the waves.  The bigger problem was that while practicing the self rescue, my boat took on some water in the interior.  This made my boat more sluggish and hard to control as the water moved from side to side inside the boat. We've ordered a bilge hand pump and will remove the water next time.   Randy's boat was fine in the waves, but it goes through the waves instead of over them, making his trip a little slower and splashier.  That's why I bought the "sports car" model that I've got.

In the near future we will test the waters closer to Florence, including the Siltcoos River trail, the South Slough of the Siuslaw River and the North Fork of the Siuslaw River.

Overall, very happy to be Hobie owners, but beware.... it's alot like being a Harley Davidson owner.  There are many accessories to make your ride better and none of them are cheap.

Stay tuned for more adventures.

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