Need To Be With Wife

My wife has decided to enter a 12.5 mile open ocean rough water ocean swimming race. Each swimmer needs to be accompanied by a kayak (or other craft) to act as a SAG wagon. Being the husband, I’m elected.

I’ve never kayaked before. I figure I need to buy or rent a kayak and then do some practice with it. My wife is an avid kayaker (we’re newlyweds) having spent a good deal of time afloat in one including spending a few months paddling around Puget Sound with her dog a few years ago. She says I’m easily strong enough and fit enough to paddle on for the length of the race.

Looking around at kayaks to buy or rent or something, I’ve tentatively decided on a Hobie Adventure. Part of this is just because I know the name. I used to hang with Hobart at Capo Beach from time to time so the name is familiar even thought I’d be shocked if Hobart was still part of the company. Also I like the idea of the Mirage drive so I can propel with my feet near my wife w/o danger of whacking her with a paddle.

My second reason for wanting the Adventure is the sail kit with the akas and amas (pontoons). I’ve lived, oh, 7 or more years on sailboats including doing a few years single handing a fairly large sailboat from ME to Fl and then to the Carib. The Hobie Adventure looks to me like a stupid open ocean sailing vessel which I’d like to try to take over the open ocean to islands from 100 to 200 miles away. I’m stupid that way.

I’m curious is people here have any comments on using a Hobie Adventure as a SAG wagon for marathon swimming and/or as an open ocean long distance vessel if equipped with amas and akas? Heck any comments on my ideas are welcome. I repeat, I’ve never done a kayak before, but then again, I never tried single handing a 42’ 36,000 vessel from ME to all around before & I didn’t die so I’m game.

could work…
The Hobie Adventure should work well as would many others. One question is just how rough is rough water as this may be a detail affecting your ability to be of help soon – if you’re struggling with waves you won’t be much help to her. Generally for a swim race your speed will only be 2mph or so which isn’t too hard for a fit beginner in most boats. SOT boats are pretty common for this partly because many helping like this aren’t avid kayakers (often they are avid swimmers themselves) and also a SOT can be quicker for a beginner to get back in if they flip (not always so practice is important). The hardest part is you may be required to carefully match her speed and not run into her. Often a beginner has trouble keeping a straight line so that’s part of your practice.

Does your wife still kayak? If so then your choice may have a lot to do with if and how you may join her in the future.

btw, I suspect you already know this, but you won’t want to use any sail for the swim race.

Still Need a Paddle
Even with the hobie, any kayak without a paddle is missing a vital component of control and stability. The paddle is needed for the following reasons:

Steering - as far as I can tell, you have forward motion, but the ocean is anything but a straight line and the paddle will provide a useful stern rudder

Braces - if there are any waves at all, you may find a need to low brace or stern rudder

Surf Reentry - yeah, the sound is pretty calm, most of the time, but there is plenty of cold water and unpredictable weather and there may be waves to cope with near shore. Again, low brace, high brace, stern rudder can all be useful here.

Reverse - you just can’t do slow/low speed turns with the hobie unless you have a paddle and there is no way to back up (useful, in my experience)

Rafting/Rescue - if one of the kayakers needs a rescue (it isn’t just the swimmers), or a swimmer must leave the water and enter one of the kayaks, the paddle laid across two hulls can be used to create (effectively) a pontoon boat to help get the swimmer out of the water. Again, not something you can do without a paddle.

So, go for it, but I hate to see anyone on the water who hasn’t taken at least one sea kayaking class or similar training (often run a couple of days, but it sounds as if your wife can do it for free). There are many written sources of information, books, periodicals, etc. about paddling in the area where you live. Check those out as well.


Take a canoe. If she needs rescue, or emergency gear how would you carry it in a kayak? Plus, canoes are blessed watercraft endorsed by God!!

I’m down to

– Last Updated: Feb-28-11 8:38 PM EST –

8 or 9 boats, from an 8' RIB to a 28' sailboat (Newport 28), one squirtboat and half a dozen canoes...Been boating since I was 11, 40 years ago. Used to average 100 days a year at sea on my parents sailboat, now average 100 days a year paddling, and a few weeks cruising....
That Hobie is about the coolest boat I've ever seen under $50K. They sell them at a local dealer (, and they're fascinating. I believe the sail is roller furling, you know the benefits of that I'm sure.
rj, it has a rudder and a paddle. Boats freakin' incredible in my opinion. Do anything but whitewater...;-)
This is the one I love

mj, total agreement with your last line :-)

Some answers
OK, let me see if I can reply to the two responses I got already (thanks people).

The Hobie comes with a rudder and a paddle so I can use both to maintain position. I know that the sail and amas/aksa aren’t relevant to this event. I should have been clearer. My point was that if I have to buy a kayak, I may as well get one with these options so I can use it otherwise after the event.

I can’t predict the conditions but assume that if things are too rasty, the organizers will call it off.

My wife hasn’t kayaked in a while, but still has the bug and we have some sort of German collapsible canvass and wooden thing stowed in our garage joists she used to do the Puget Sound adventure. She recently took some class which ended up with her doing something called an Eskimo Roll useful in the rough water kayaking we have locally. I watched as she rolled.

Our meta plan is that someday we’ll live again near the ocean where we’ll both be able to kayak, but of course, she’ll be faster than I am so it’ll be me in mine and she in hers. She’s always racing and competing. I just want to sail into the sunset. We’re a great couple , but not identical.

I am convinced I can’t land my wife in case of emergency. In that event, I plan on a passive PFD & calling for help. I am 100% convinced, after trying to land a man overboard on a stable craft, that landing my wife in the kayak isn’t possible. I’d just capsize & then we’d both be in the soup. I have arranged to call for assistance if my wife is in dire straits.

Some hopefully helpful advice

– Last Updated: Feb-28-11 11:45 PM EST –

1) Doing 12 mile paddle in the hobie adventure in truly rough water is not going to be much fun, also you can't use it under sail with a swimmer in a race event -you can't tack and trim with masses of swimmers in the water. We do swim escorts a lot in San Diego, if your wife is a kick ass swimmer you may indeed have your hands full in open ocean keeping up with her if you are a novice paddler.

2) You could by the Adventure and just rent a sit on top to use for the spotting during the swim race. I would rent something like an old scupper pro or WS Tarpon, don't rent a fat wide SOT.

3) Where is the rough water swim? Some places will require actual skill paddling a kayak in wind and waves ... is this in Maui or San Francisco coast ? You might be way over your head.

4) If you want information on sailing kayaks go to there is forum there especially for kayak sailing and a guy named Robert who sails a lot on the open coast out of Los Angeles.

Side Note: I am a fan of Hobie Kayaks, my first kayak was a Hobie Oddysey tandem kayak, that I quickly outgrew. Hobie boats are fine for paddling in protected waters but I found that they did not handle well in real ocean surf. The adventure does not have much rocker ... probably great for fast sailing on flat water but it will plow through ocean waves and not handle well in rough conditions. That being said I do know people who have them in Hawaii ... they do look like fun if all you want to do is sail.

For your needs (and hers)… maybe
There is the Hobie “Adventure” (kayak, no sail or amas) and then there’s the “Adventure Island” (kayak w/sail & amas). There is also the newer two seater “Tandem Island” as well. I’ve got an Adventure Island and it’s quite fun to sail, more so on days when it’s too windy to kayak with a paddle. Plan on getting wet. The faster you go, the wetter it’ll be. My top speed (GPS log) has been about 12 mph, which produces large quantities of water thrown off the bow. This boat serves as a nice fishing kayak, with or without the sail & amas.

For me, it’s quite fun and enjoyable to sail. Without the sail & amas (fishing mostly) it’s “okay” to peddle with the mirage drive. Paddling (for me anyway) is >not< fun, especially knowing I could be doing it in my Impex Currituck instead. The hull design on the Hobie is far from being efficient looking. And, although rugged, the weight of this craft isn’t something folks brag about when car topping.

So… would this boat suite your needs??? If you need to be close/nearby to your wife while swimming, you’ll not likely be using the sail (which can be easily furled). The mirage pedal drive will have you casually moving beside her. But, keep in mind when the boat is peddled with the amas, more effort will be noticed to move the boat through the water. They do make tramps (trampolines) that could serve as a platform if needed for rescue. For me, the temptation to wonder off from the (swimming) wife for a “quick sail” would be too great.

You should probably direct any specific questions regarding this boat to the folks over on the Hobie forums here >>> .

I don’t have one and have never …
paddled one, but have been around them quite a bit, and I think it would be the perfect “sag” boat.

Two immediate reasons that I can think of is:

  1. it is hands free if she needs a quick hand
  2. it is a much more stable platform than a long skinny sea kayak

    If I were the swimmer, I would be all for it for my sag wagon

    Good luck to both her and you

    Jack L

ROUGH water

"easily strong enough and fit enough"
It sounds like you know the sea, but I want to pick up on one of seadart’s themes: you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re in over your head. I’m easily strong enough and fit enough to play the guitar, but I can’t play the guitar. It’s not rocket science, but kayaking does require some knowledge and experience. You need to learn boat control, and get seat time in the kind of conditions you’ll be paddling in. I used to sail, and my experience is that the two are very different. You’re right down in the waves and balance is everything. You’re in NM? Can you take a quick vacation to San Diego or LA and take lessons/get some training first? Dress for a swim, take a VHF radio, and good luck!

Just a couple of thoughts

– Last Updated: Mar-01-11 8:08 AM EST –

I don't know anything about open ocean marathons except that there's no way I have the training or strength to do it... but the one thing that really caught my eye was your saying that you didn't believe you could land your wife. It strikes me that one of the main reasons to require a SAG craft for each swimmer is that organizers feel it is necessary to be able to do this.

I am guessing that the relatively high sides of the Hobie would be the problem? If that's the issue, it seems to me that it wouldn't be a good choice for her to hold onto until help arrived either (or for you to hold onto her). If something really unforeseen happened, you'd have to be stretched some over the side to support her. At that point you have the similar weight and balance issues to trying to land her.

Looking through the above replies, it seems to be that the suggestion by seadart comes with the best combination of ability to carry some gear as well as to be able to land her. That does mean you'd have to practice getting both yourself back onto the boat as well as helping her on - we have known of circumstances where a big strong guy could not get back on top of a SOT. But that was due to someone going over a mile offshore having never been on or in a kayak of any kind before. They had no idea of anything.

As to your doing this, with respect to your wife's wishes you may still need to make your own assessment on exactly how rough a situation you can handle. Her race is over pretty fast if you can't stay with her, and it sounds like she should have some kayaking companions that would be easily up to this. Sailing is a great background, but there is a difference between being eyeball level with the top of a wave and being up a bit higher.

Tandem Island
I think the Tandem Adventure island would be a great Sag wagon for the race. You could peddle and paddle it 12 miles easily. And after the race you could have a lot of fun together going sailing and paddling. You can use it as a kayak by taking off the amas and the sail, or use it as a trimaran and have all the fun of the hobie catamarans.

Hobie Adventure Explained
OK, thanks for the added replies although I’m not entirely sure about using a canoe from God for this duty…:slight_smile:

The Hobie Adventure has OPTIONAL amas, akas and sail kit. It is a one hole vessel. The Adventure Island is the same thing but expanded to two holes and comes with the amas/akas and sail kit. The two hole sailboat / kayak has already won the Sailing World sailboat of the year which is really quite impressive.

If I were to live there, I’d surely 100% w/o a doubt get the Adventure Island which can work as a two hole kayak, sailboat or as a fishing kayak. However, I’m there and then out. My friend in Key West has encouraged me to buy the Adventure, leave it with him so I can use it whenever we return. I think you all get the drift on that one.

Thanks Leaf Peeper
Good to hear a first hand account of the boats.

I’ve arranged a side tie to a sailboat docked at a marina in Key West. We’ll be living on that sailboat for our time there. So the mass of the Adventure isn’t too worrisome, but I did note that the basic weight of 65 lbs would be annoying to lift in and out of the water all alone. As a hobby weightlifter, 65 lbs is nothing but it’s also distributed so I think it’d be something in the Adventure.

12 mph?? That must have seemed awfully fast. As to the sail kit, amas/akas, I don’t plan on buying them for the swim race duty. Only if I keep the boat will I then buy those accessories to use for general purposes.

As to the Mirage drive, is it really easier than paddling?

“Landing your wife”–PRACTICE
I thought that’s what the escort boats were intended for. If you can’t help her onto your boat, at least bring a Type IV throwable for her, and a tether.

A Tarpon 160 is another boat to consider, and with some practice your wife will be able to get onto it.

That’s the key word: PRACTICE. For you (learning to paddle) and for her (learning to get onto your boat when cold or tired).

In addition to the Type IV throwable, carry some kind of emergency windproof wrap for her if she’s able to get on board. Most likely she’ll be cold if she’s calling it quits.

Hi Seadart
The race is a circumnavigation around Key West and a few other islands in that group. I am assuming that if the conditions are so rough that it’d be difficult for me to paddle the 12+ miles, the organizers will say it’s too rough to swim and call if off.

I need a boat with good carrying capacity because I need to supply food and water to my wife. To my ignorant mind, this means a sit in with extra payload capacity above my 200 lbs personal weight. The Hobie I had in mind has a payload of 350 lbs which is enough for her and my luggage needs.

My wife is an experienced kayaker (to say the least). I’m relying on her assessment of my conditioning to say that I’m not in over my head. She is confident that this duty will be easy for me given my general shape and high comfort at sea. I’ve lived about 7 years on small craft at sea so waves, wind and so forth don’t bother me. In fact, I relax under those conditions.

The organizers of the even will have boats holding at many points on the course. In the event that my wife gets into trouble, I plan on throwing her a passive PFD and then signal one of these boats for help. I will have both a cell phone and a handheld VHF.

Thanks, JackL
Appreciate the comment. As I said in my OP, I’m inclined to favor Hobie as a brand due to knowing Hobart and also, heck, I know of no other brands. Good to know I’m not way off base here.

hi Celia
I don’t plan on having the amas/akas attached to the Hobie. I doubt I can land her due to fear of capsizing. I can get into a canoe from the bow or stern w/o capsizing it, but that takes more effort than a swimmer in distress could muster.

The organizers will have boats stationed through the course. My plan is, if my wife gets into distress, is to secure her to a passive PFD, then signal for help from a motor boat nearby. I also have a friend with a boat who will be standing by with a VHF (yeah, I’ll have one too).

The reason for a SAG wagon isn’t for rescue but rather to supply the racer with food and water. She cannot touch me or the boat, though.

Yeah, that’s my thought too. We don’t live near the ocean but I have a friend there whose happy to store the boat for when we visit. He says he’ll be sure it doesn’t grow rusty with disuse too.