Ok, so this is not a review of the Hobie Compass, it is just my impression and few observations from a short 2 hour period on the water, in relatively benign conditions and without being able to head back out after making some adjusts. And just to put it in perspective I have been using an older Hobie Outback with the moulded seat as a comparison.
Pimping it first:
The most obvious difference with the Outback is the reduced storage – all part of reducing the weight and the cost. I added the rectangular tackle box and moved the circle hatch to the bow where the battery was added. The 2 rod holders and Lowrance Elite 4 all fit into the H rail. 2 push in Hobie Rod Extensions Tubes were inserted, the Lowrance unit wired up and it was basically done. My esky already holds 3 rod holders, the Go Pro mount and a Berleypro Orb light. This just clips into place, a perfect fit.
My first test run impressions
Rudder – I had reservations about the rudder, given the rudder/steerage history of PA 12 & 14’s - but the rudder on the Compass was responsive and felt very balanced. The side mounted steering knob was easy & comfortable to use, in a very natural to use position. There appeared to be no issue in the small following sea when I went downwind.
Tracking – the Compass appears to track quite straight compared to the Outback and doesn’t wander as much.
Stability - I was apprehensive about the higher seat position but the conditions were very mild but I was surprised by the apparent stability when side on to the waves, and also when moving around the kayak. I would hesitate to say it probably felt better than the Outback and the higher seat position made you (literally) feel higher and above the waves. I didn’t have the opportunity to try and stand up.
Front end buoyancy – I have yet to test it in waves but the couple of waves I went through did lift water over the bow. There was minimal splashing however, compared to the Outback.
Speed – I used the same mirage drive as I used in my Outback, with the stainless legs and single Flow Fin. It did seem easier to maintain trolling speed but I didn’t try for a top speed. Given I am in recovery mode still, I took it pretty easy but genuinely believe it was easier to maintain a trolling speed.
Size – I found the wider seat and extra cabin space very large and comfortable.
Berleypro Side Bro – a nice attachment which helps to keep things tidy and improves the storage.
Catching Fish – well I did christen the yak with a couple of fish and it worked perfectly. Easy enough to lift the fish in, plenty of room in the cockpit to handle the fish and chasing down and manoeuvring around the bigger fish while I was fighting it was great.
Seat Comfort - the seat didn’t seem as comfortable as my AI seat, but after returning to shore I made a couple of adjustments which I am yet to try on the water, but think it will help significantly. It was still a comfortable seat; I just need to make it fit my body.
Storage – it is no surprise that it is limited and with a little planning you can fit some extra gear, but you really need to plan ahead and take the minimum. I took a couple of extra waterproof bags to store tackle in, which sat between the seat and esky. I may go back to the in-hull storage I had on the Outback and not use the 2 fold out tackle trays. Using some mesh and making a square container I think will work quite well and increase capacity but have yet to make it.
WIndage – I did notice that sitting higher up exposes you to more wind and the drift is faster than the old Outback, but probably similar to the new Outback’s and PA’s I assume.
Refitting the trolley – this is only in comparison in regard to my Outback. Not having a rear hatch open and lift the rear of the yak with is not ideal. The only way I can find at the moment to insert the trolley is to roll the yak on its side – not the best option on rocks or rough sand. Still working on another solution! Solution has been found -refer to the Secret Trolley installation video.
Stay tuned for the next update once I get to test it in some rougher weather - now completed and it is even better than expected.
Paddling the Compass: Well this was a huge bonus surprise. It has been a few years since I paddled a yak but purchased the Compass with the hope of being able to paddle it easily. The old Outback was almost impossible to paddle effectively. So the other day, whilst the Compass was fully loaded, I put the rods in the holders on the esky, loosened the ram mounts and folded the rod holders and Lowrance sounder inwards, out of the way of the paddle stroke. I was able to pretty easily paddle for 1 km, maintaining 5 kmh for the distance. This to me was a fabulous result. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the speed if the fins were down or flat against the hull. It did seem to track better with the fins down, but either way, setting the rudder straight meant the Compass tracked straight and small directional changes could easily be made with the paddle.
Extra Storage: It just dawned on me that a couple of tackle trays do fit under the seat, same as the PA. Getting them out while sitting on the seat may be harder for some than others, but it is a good place to store tackle in water proof containers and doubles the storage capacity when combined with the tackle trays stored in the rectangular hatch.
Battery relocation - I moved the battery to the front of the rectangular hatch using a custom made ally bracket. More central weight and now extra storage in the bow for light things.