Took the Compass out for its maiden voyage yesterday and have to say that I was quite pleased overall. Spent 7 hours on the water putting her thru the paces in a variety of environments.
- Open Bay: She easily handled the open water taking on the chop created by a 12-15 MPH northerly wind. You could feel the wind but had no issues with being pushed around. And like a knife thru butter, she sliced thru the waves created by passing power boaters - headed straight into them, let them roll past the yak sideways and also tried them tailing from the rear - no issues at all. She was very stable on the water.
- Passing Currents: The tide was dropping so took the opportunity to run the currents in and around a narrowing train trestle. You could feel the current pushing you side to side but small adjustments to the steering quickly righted the yak's path. Note: When I first saw the size of the rudder I had concerns. Could such a small rudder effectively maneuver the yak? The steering (like on a PA) is located under the rear of the yak about a foot or so in and it's this location that makes the rudder work. To my surprise the steering was actually excellent giving the Compass a relatively short turning radius.
- Skinny Water: By the time we got into the marsh the tide was way down so I decided to pull the Mirage Drive and paddle the Compass back into the skinny water. Was wondering how a 34" wide yak would handle but she was surprisingly easy to paddle. Did take her into ankle deep water (for about 100 yards) and although you could feel the bottom scrubbing at times there was never any issue with pushing her along. I could be wrong but I don't think my PA or Outback would have made it so easily through that depth. In any case she did well in the marsh and while under paddle.
- Handling fish: (Yes she got slimed yesterday!
Landed a dozen or more specs with a few rat reds tossed in for good measure.) The Compass, when compared to the PA, has no H-Rails or other clutter to get in your way while landing fish. It also has a lower seat which places you closer to the water. Had never really given much thought to seat positioning but can attest to the fact that it was simpler and easier to land fish from the Compass. I rarely used the net yesterday.
- The Verdict - I give The Compass an "A" overall. She was stable, fast and quiet on the water (very quiet yak). She accelerated quickly and turned on a dime. Cruising at 3.5 MPH was no problem. Can tell you that I was cautious about the lack of seat adjustments (no up and down) but was very comfortable once I got it dialed in. There aren't many downsides to this but had a few. Would have given her an "A+" but the location of the starboard side seat strap interferes with the paddle lash down bungee keeper. It was a pain trying to secure the paddle back onto the yak for safe keeping after paddling. Solution - I will move the keeper. I also wish Hobie would make the square hatch a standard on this kayak. The amount of storage coupled with increased access (for rigging) would make this so much easier. Solution - I will add the square hatch.
Here's a pic that was taken just before launch. That's Ken's ugly mug in the background.
Tight Lines Everyone!