DIY – Hobie AI Trailer

It’s not so long ago since I put the finishing touches to the latest incarnation of my kayak trailer. Since I wrote that article I’ve extended the drawbar by a metre which basically made it ideal for my Adventure Island. I’m still awaiting the Hobie AI cradles, hopefully they’ll be here in the next month or so. Though in the mean time I placed some 110mm waste pipe on the bottom slot which permits both the Outback and AI to sit fully supported. The outriggers on the AI have additional removable foam supports to prevent them rattling about. Both the kayak and the outriggers are secured with straps for travelling.

Loading is the reverse of unloading and it’s proving very straightforward. I took a couple of photos to show how I load it up, it might prove helpful to those folk who are looking for a suitable trailer for themselves.

With the seat and sail removed I trolley the AI up to the rear of the trailer and lift the nose onto the support tubes.

Stepping to the rear of the AI I take the weight off the rear and push the AI forwards until the trolley touches the lighting board.

Removing the trolley retaining pin causes the trolley to fall free and this can be recovered from the ground. It’s then simply a case of pushing the AI forward into the central position and securing it for the road.

It really is as simple as that!.  The trailer is rated at 750kg gross, thus I can happily carry/store various combination of kayaks, though for me it’s a maximum of two Outbacks and the AI.

2015 Hobie Adventure Island – an overview

The Hobie Adventure Island was introduced a few years ago, around 2009 I believe. It’s proved to be very popular as can be seen by watching You Tube videos and reading various web posts. Whether it be just sailing for the day or travelling hundreds of miles over many days, it’s pretty much been there and done it.

That said, it didn’t really appeal to me. It was a very wet ride when under speed, the seating area was generally somewhat flooded and there were other shortcomings. Though it was after all an off the shelf kayak that had been turned quite effectively into a catamaran. It had a huge amount going for it, though after a few years of production and thousands of hours afloat it was due an upgrade. Hobie had recognised many of these shortcomings and listened to customer feedback, the result was the 2015 model.

After reading a couple of early articles on the changes and seeing some early imagery, I decided very early on that I wanted one!. It had been heavily redesigned and as much as it closely resembled the previous model, it was in fact quite a different beast.

New model Adventure Island

Old model Adventure Island

The new AI is bigger, with a redesigned bow to reduce spray. The sides are higher, the mast taller and the sail larger. The bottom of the sail is scalloped to provide more headroom. The amas are bigger too, up from nine to twelve feet long. Overall capacity has also increased. The centre board is a lever operated affair as opposed to the push in type (dagger board) on the previous model. It’s also Lowrance ready with a dedicated scupper hole to take a transducer. There are a lot of smaller changes as well, though they all add up, resulting in a very different kayak.

I ordered one very early on, mine being the the first of two to arrive in the UK late last month. But why do I want one?, I’m a fisherman after all, not a sailor. Well I do quite enjoy sailing, though it will primarily be a fishing kayak. I envisage being able to safely fish far further offshore than I’d previously dared to, plus I really can see myself doing trips of 2-3 days at a time, overnighting on the beach or even the kayak. I took delivery of my AI two week ago, though I only managed to get it afloat for the first time yesterday.

One potential aspect of owning an AI that I really disliked was having to assemble and disassemble it during each trip afloat. That wasn’t going to work for me, so I built a trailer suitable to take the AI fully assembled along with my Outback as required. It was actually quite a simple design that utilised a motorcycle trailer as its base.

Last week I dragged the AI off the trailer and set it up on the back lawn. It was certainly quite an impressive site with its large sail and beefy outriggers (Amas). Everything is over-sized on this kayak, though ultimately it’s a Hobie and any Hobie owner would feel instantly at home sitting in the seat.

Working back from the rear of the kayak is the large rudder, this even dwarfs the sailing rudder on my Outback!. Though clearly it has to deal with more forces, impressive all the same!

The rudder controls are situated in the cockpit area, with control lines for raising/lowering the rudder and a handle for steering.

Moving forward you encounter the rear 8” ‘twist and seal’ hatch and then into the main tank well. Despite the seat being moved slightly after in the re-design, the tank well is still a generous size and should permit fitment of my dry box with ease. There’s the standard bungee net setup, though like all other kayaks before this, it’ll soon be removed. There are two angled rod holders, drain holes, though more interestingly a Lowrance ready transducer scupper directly aft the of the rear crossbar.

In the cockpit, the steering and rudder controls are a fairly standard affair and ahead of the seat is of course the drive well for the Mirage Drive. There’s another 8” round hatch in between your legs, in addition to the one at the rear. The rudder control has the option of fitting a vertical spacer, effectively raising the handle away from the hull of the kayak. I’ve fitted this as I much prefer the feel of actually being able wrap my fingers around the rudder handle as opposed to holding it either side with a finger and thumb.

There’s a large lever situated to the right, this is the deployable centre board which prevents the kayak from being blown sideways by the wind from either side.

There are two cup holders in the cockpit area as well as a pair of mesh side pockets. Though dominating the cockpit is Hobie’s new Vantage CT seat. This is a big jump in seat technology for Hobie and my experience of it to date on my 2015 Outback is that is works really well!. Rather than me talk about it, below is the official video from Hobie.

A brief description on the new Vantage CT seat

At the front of the cockpit area is the forward crossbar to which to furling and mainsheet cam cleats are attached. Directly ahead of that is the mast mount. The sail simple drops into the mast mount and automatically locks into place. With a push of a lever to the side of the base the mast can be removed.

The forward hatch is quite simply huge and should prove invaluable when carrying gear for overnight trips. It’s trimmed with a substantial seal and secured in place with two bungee cords. It’s seems a very solid affair.


That pretty much leaves the sail (65 Square feet) and the mast which measure in a 16’6”. Ah, nearly forgot, the amas!, and the akas, the latter being the tubular arms that attach the amas to the crossbars of the kayak. The amas are around 12’ long and they attach to the akas by pushing the aka into the amas and securing it into place with two bungee cords. The akas then push into the crossbars, locking into place with a positive click. Removal is achieved by pushing the release buttons on the crossbars.


In the above photos you can see the optional trampolines fitted (rolled up). These can be unrolled and secured to the rear aka to permit the carriage of articles or lighter people/pets. They should also reduce potential water splash into the cockpit area. The also look cool!

That pretty much wraps up the initial overview and I’ve since written up a couple of pages covering the maiden voyage. It’s certainly a very imposing kayak and I’m really looking forward to completing the rigging and clocking up some serious hours afloat!.


2015 Hobie Adventure Island (AI) – Maiden voyage

I recently took delivery of a new 2015 model Hobie Adventure Island. I’d never really been attracted to the earlier version of the AI, the ride looked too wet, the seating too low and it lacked a little buoyancy if I wanted to take a passenger with ease. I’m sure some people will disagree with this, just my personal opinion.

However, the latest model from Hobie seemed to address all of my misgivings and it became a highly attractive proposition overnight!. I decided to treat myself and placed an order last August, though problems with supply and shipping delayed its arrival considerably. That said, it arrived a couple of weeks ago and quite simply, it looked the dogs danglies!..

It’s been sat gathering dust since it arrived due to work and family commitments, though after a little frantic preparation I managed to get it afloat. I’d been busy the night before fitting my Lowrance HDS7 GPS/FF combo to the AI. I really wanted to be able to know what depth I was operating in as well as the speed of the kayak. Depth probably more than anything else as I really didn’t want to inadvertently remove the centre board, etc!

The first trip was all about finding out how well my new trailer system was going to work as well as getting comfortable with rigging the kayak and operating it whilst afloat. I decided to launch at Daedalus slipway in Lee-on-Solent, it’s local to work and is a relatively clean launch area (though busy at weekends!).

I was a little concerned about parking due to the trailer, though I was fortunate as there were two spots back to back, so I drove straight in and parked without fuss. I don’t have the new trailer cradles yet so the main hull is sitting on two 110mm waste pipes with the amas supported on foam pieces. The hull is fully rigged on the trailer to minimise rigging time as well as making loading/unloading as simple as possible. The latter is aided by having the trailer bed low, to the point that I can pull the AI back a metre, slip the cart into the scupper holes and roll it straight onto the road. That was the theory and the reality was pretty good!. All that was left to do was to fit the seat, sail, battery and electronics unit and I was good to go. It probably took longer to get dressed!.

Trolleying the AI down to the waters edge was simple enough, reversing it into the water until it floated. It was simply then a case of wading alongside and pulling out the trolley. I was concerned that fitting/removing the trolley in the water was going to be a real pain. With the ‘heavy duty’ wheels it’s absolutely no problem at all, though I’d certainly not like to to attempt the same evolution with the much larger flotation tyres!. With the trolley removed it was just a case of extending the amas and locking them into position, hopping aboard, dropping in the Mirage Drive and heading out to sea.

Conditions were perfect, no doubt it’d be a little more challenging some wind and swell. Talking of wind, there was almost none!. The original forecast had been for 10-16mph wind, the reality was 2-3mph, gusting to 5mph. Ok, so I wasn’t going to be setting any speed records, though the first trip was not really about that. With the sail unfurled I manoeuvred to catch a little wind and headed off seawards. Furling and unfurling is a simple enough procedure, no different to sailing my Outback. The rudder control is excellent and I really like the optional vertical extension on the rudder handle, it feels far more natural being able to wrap your fingers around the handle as opposed to holding the top of it.

Deploying and raising the rudder is a simple affair, pulling on a control line and cleating it into the raised/lowered position as required. It’s just like any other Hobie kayak to be honest, just a lot bigger in all respects!. There was no real need to use the deployable centreboard, something that is raised and lowered with the trough of a lever. Though it was all very smooth and efficient, nothing further to mention there.

Despite the almost total lack of wind I was still pushing along at a steady 3.8-4.2mph, on a couple of runs I managed 5mph. What was impressive it that I was achieving this in such little wind, it was certainly demonstrating a good wind to speed conversion ratio. Rudder control and tracking was excellent. With the sail furled, standing up and moving around posed no issue, stability as you’d expect is huge.

I was making leisurely progress and this provided me with some time to fine tune my Lowrance HDS7. The Navionics Gold works extremely well on this unit, options such as tides and currents are accessed with a couple of touches to the screen. Clarity and brightness are very good with no reflection from the screen. I was also recording a sonar log so I could upload the data to Insight Genesis later.

I’ve still to fit the Structure Scan to the AI as I was a little concerned as to whether it’d be usable at higher speeds. Though Lowrance quote a useable speed on up to 10mph so it should be ok in that respect. The kayak will lean when underway so this would impact the coverage either side of the kayak, though I wont know by how much until I try it I guess. I’d like to make a more sturdy mount for the Structure Scan transducer, I’m not fully convinced by the effective of the RAM transducer arm that I recently purchased. Watch this space.

I spent a couple of hours soaking up the suns rays (yup, I forgot to apply sun block!) whilst tacking along the bay. I eventually headed back towards the slipway with a view to calling it a day. I really needed to think about beaching as the last thing I needed was a costly mistake at the end of the trip. It’s going to be important to get myself into the routine of retracting the centre board, raising the rudder, etc. More so that the Outback, everything is much bigger, therefore more expensive to replace or repair!.

When I was in 50cm of water I hopped out adjacent to the submerged slipway. Inserting the trolley was extremely quick and simple. Despite being about 150m from shore I could see the submerged slipway so I pulled the AI onto it and started walking to shore.

It must have been a James bond moment for those folks watching from the beach. A floating Hobie AI leaves the water and continues to roll up the slipway, how did that happen!.

The trolley system works well. I certainly noticed the weight on the AI when I hit the slipway incline, partly covered in places by shingle, which didn’t exactly help matters.

With the sail removed I just positioned the nose of the trolley on the rear on the trailer, pushed it onto the trailer from the rear of the yak, pausing for a moment to remove the trolley. It worked really well, no complaints!. Once home the AI was freshwater rinsed on the trailer and allowed to dry before being stored in the garage.

I’m hoping to hit the water again in a couple of days as the wind is due to pick up. It’ll also allow me to try a couple of evolutions that I forgot. One being retracting an ama with the sailed furled to check the stability, a configuration that I envisage using for fishing.

I really enjoyed myself and I can see the AI getting a lot of use during all four seasons. Yup, I really like it, some may say a little smug!, what does my face say ?

New sponsor – Reuben Heaton

I’m very fortunate to have been sponsored by Reuben Heaton. They’ve asked myself an Ian Harris to fish under Reuben Heaton and Eagle Claw Trokar brands in the World Predator Classic.

Rueben Heaton are world famous for their fishing scales, though they also produce a variety of fishing tackle as well as retailing Eagle claw Trokar hooks. These hooks are quite simply awesomely sharp!. Trust me, I have many small holes in my fingers to prove it!. They feature an unusual hook point that dramatically reduces the effort required to set the hook.


Reuben Heaton is an engineering based firm based in Warwickshire, manufacturing high quality weigh scales and weighing equipment as well as angling products. Scale manufacture now dominates production and covers many markets both home and abroad, with an extensive range of products covering both commercial and sporting markets including the angling trade where Heaton’s high profile is underlined by its sponsorship of national teams and international events.


I’m be using Trokar hooks regularly over the next few months and I’ll provide a detailed review in due course.