Hi, everyone and welcome to sunny southwest Florida. I’m Mel the Guide at Gulf Coast Kayak in a little town called Matlacha. I would first like to thank all the readers and kayakers who have been out with us throughout the summer. As you well know it was a hot one. We did get out early and beat the heat and saw a lot of birds, dolphin, turtles, stingrays, and a lot of jumping mullet. The fishing was good even with us having a ban on Snook. We saw some nice Reds, Trout, and Snapper caught.
Now that the extreme heat has left us it’s time to get on the water full time and do some major kayaking. I ride a motorcycle to work every day, about 30 miles there and 30 back, and the mornings have been nice and crisp. The trip home in the afternoon is really nice as it starts to warm up by midday.
I am fortunate enough to have my choice of 30 kayaks from the fleet to take out on my tours. However, like any kayaker I have my own personal ones. Well, I really have five and I just got my sixth. My wife always asks HOW MANY KAYAKS DOES ONE MAN NEED?? I then ask her the same thing about her earrings and shoes.
Nevertheless, really how many kayaks do you need? Well, it depends what you are going to do with them. Let me explain. If I am going to the beach I need a kayak that will be light and good in the surf. If I am going in the mangroves I need a short one so I can move around in the tight tunnels and creeks. If I am paddling out to Cabbage Key for the day I need a long one with a rudder and a skirt, and room for some storage. If I need a lot of storage, like a tent and sleeping bag, I need a big sit-on-top barge, or a two-person one. In addition, let’s not forget my fishing kayak with all the rod holders and room for my tackle box. Then I need a work kayak, one that I can do two or three tours a day in and still feel my butt.
So that all said, let me tell you about my NEW KAYAK. Which I just got over at our good friends at Florida Paddle Sports in Cape Coral, next to the Publix on Burnt Store Road. Jory, the owner, is a real nice guy, and is up on all the new kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. Then we have Josh Harvel, who is managing the place and knows more about fishing than I could ever hope to know. He has trophies from when he was just a kid, and still is out there wining more with his fishing team. These are the guys I turn to when I want something new, or want to find out what’s hot.
Well, I was in the store a few times in the month and fell in love with this one SHINNY RED AND WHITE KAYAK. It is the Hurricane Phoenix 14 ft or 140 sit-on-top with a rudder. It is made of Trylon, a hard material that holds its shape and shines, and don’t fade in the Florida sun with a little care. She is long and sleek and easy on the eye. Everywhere I take her heads turn and they ask, what kind of kayak is that. It comes with two large hatches, bow and stern, for dry bags, and a few handles to make it easy to carry. She weighs only about 54 lbs. The first thing you notice about this baby is it has a unique seat arrangement when it comes to the scupper holes. It’s somewhat hard to explain, but I will do my best. Most sit-on-tops have these holes in them that is supposed to let the water out should you take on a wave or dump it in the surf. In addition, most work well; the only problem I find is I am sitting in water most of the day. Now this may be because I am about 280 lbs. (damn, got to do something about that) and water rushes in when I sit in the kayak. This yak is rated for 350 lbs.
That said, now comes this new design where they actually have the molded seat raised about two inches and out of the water. Moreover, the scupper holes are a venturi type; they have this network of tubes built into the kayak to take the water out of the cockpit and the back deck. The tubes inside the kayak are linked together and funnel water out the bottom of the boat.
It comes with all the hardware to put in a good seat. I chose the new skwosh seat with the high back and gel bottom. This is one fine seat; it has a few pockets for my water bottle and room for a small tackle box or Boca grip. I had Josh put a few flush-mount Scotty rod holders behind the seat and one in the center of the deck. They came out great and Josh did a nice job of putting them in. So now I have this fine looking kayak and have not had the time to take her out. You see, when you are a kayak tour guide everyone goes out when the weather is nice and sunny. Well, the weather is rainy and now I am taking her out. As I unload at Port Charlotte Park, wouldn’t you know it, the sky starts to get dark. I get my parking ticket; how long will I need it?? Well, I don’t let the weather dictate my day, therefore, I get it for three hours. I adjust the rudder and the seat, and lash down my backup paddle and stow my poncho. I put on my sunglasses—hoping I will need them—and cast off. At first I thought it was a little tippy, till I got all my nesting done. When I got everything re-adjusted on the water it was like a lounge chair; the high back of the seat felt good. Much better.
Now, as I said, I love the scuppers, and as I thought would happen the lower floor got about a 1/8 inch of water on it. However, no problem; the raised seat kept me dry. Well, dry till the lightning and heavy rain came. Yep, the sky opened up and it poured, I was glad I had bought my poncho and my raffia California lifeguard hat that kept the heavy rain out of my eyes and off the back of my neck. The kayak got a good workout as she just seemed to glide across the top of the water with less drag than most of the kayaks I have paddled. I liked it so much that I overstayed my three hour parking time. I think this is a great boat for quiet lakes and rivers. On the other hand, you could use it for day tripping as I did on the coastal waters and Back Bay. It may even be good for a nice paddle to Cabbage Key on a good day, though I might add some thigh straps for security. That all said, I love this yak; it’s sleek, fast, light, and I see me catching many fish from her. Well, that may be what we write about next time. Thanks again for paddling with Mel the Guide, and get out on the water.