I am a fisherman and free diver, and the Tribalance had fit the bill for a couple of years. I always felt like the odd man out, with real touring or cruising kayaks, although the Tribalance was pretty fast due to its narrow beam. The limitation existed in the fact that you had to have the outriggers in place at all times. I wanted to be a real kayaker too, so I went for the T16.
I am a large paddler 5'10 and 223 lbs., former college athlete, but at the tender age of 65, I had some doubts about balancing one of these sit ins without outriggers. I have the outrigger and fishing package, and now have had the opportunity to use both. I practiced in my pool here in Jupiter, FL to get the feel for the boat. The initial stability surprised me! Next I taught myself to do a wet entry with a paddle float after intentionally dumping the boat. No problems exiting the cockpit in a roll and with Mike's rescue paddle slot, I soon mastered the re-entry.
Today, I did my first sea trial without the outriggers, in the intracoastal waterway, its very wide and beautiful green water from the proximity of the inlet. Lots of boat traffic in the channel provided lots of wake practice. Secondary stability seemed even better than my wide sit on tops. I never felt out of control regardless of my tack angle in the wakes as they rolled into the shallows. Even did a little wake surfing, and had a very nice 5 mile paddle. I can't wait to get this boat to the keys for touring, fishing and diving. I have to thank Mike for giving me an entire new venue to pursue. My only negative thought on the boat concerns the seat acting as a giant sponge if you roll the boat, but it is the first seat that has allowed me to paddle in comfort with no numbness, sciatica, or leg pain. I have to give Enlightened a big thumbs up.
In summary, if you are willing to sacrifice a little cosmetic refinement, this boat is hard to beat at any price.
The big day arrived when the kayak arrived in a huge box. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the main boat. The thermoform plastic results in a gloss finish that looks great. Enlightened Kayaks boasts a 49 lb basic weight and while I didn’t get out the scales it was clearly a noticeable difference from my couple of 60-65 lb SOT’s. During my initial walk around of the boat, I was not as impressed with the outrigger assembly, which is comprised of two pontoons connected together with three outer tubes and two inner splicing tubes. The tube cuts on the original assembly were poorly aligned and the push pin holes were elongated resulting in a sloppy / loose feel. To Enlightened Kayaks credit, I made note of this to them and they immediately sent out a replacement tube assembly that met my expectations.
My boat arrived just before I was leaving on a trip and wanted to take the kayak for a paddle before departing so despite some rather foul weather, I took the new boat out to try out the various “options”. First launch was with the outriggers in place and sitting in the cockpit. As advertised, the stability with the outriggers is outstanding. Even with the outriggers on, this kayak gets up to speed quickly and is fast. The next attempt was using the SOT seat and sitting on deck behind the cockpit. This mode is the “fishing” mode with the ability to sit high or stand for casting. The wind was extremely strong and I found in this configuration the bow of the boat was riding out of the water and acting like a weather vane. I literally could not get the boat to change direction and broad sweeps of the paddle could not be used because of the outriggers. I ultimately had to climb in the cockpit to regain control. In these kinds of conditions, my conclusion is that ballast in the bow is required. Since this initial run, I’ve found that a 2.5 gallon container of water works great in the forward hatch and I’ve not had control problems since. The final run of the day was with the outriggers off and sitting back in the cockpit. I was immediately impressed with how stable this boat is even without the outriggers. Its large cockpit allowed me to straddle the boat and then plop down in the seat. Then I brought in one leg at a time without even coming close to tipping. While this is not a conventional way to get in it works great here in Savannah where most of my launches are from concrete ramps so being able to saddle up in 1-2 ft water is great. Again the boat accelerated nicely, tracking was a breeze even with the wind and current. After my trip I made another short run in the T16.0 with the outriggers in place and sitting in the cockpit. This trip was to try out a new sail. The T16.0 and sail combination work great with no issues.
Feeling comfortable with the boat, I then decided to try a trip of 17.5 miles. This was the first chance to get a real sense of speed of the boat. I was able to average 4.4 mph in this boat (this was going with and then against the current). A similar trip in my WS Freedom would not likely exceed 3.5 mph average at best so it was a noticeable speed difference. I did not stop to get out throughout this trip and found as advertised the seat in the T16.0 to be outstanding. I did not have any back ache or other problems which a trip of this length would normally entail for me with the SOTs. I felt so good after this trip I went out the next day and completed another 7.5 miles on rough water. I’ve installed a GPS on the forward deck to track my speed and every time I take the boat out I am amazed at how fast the boat moves.
As noted above, I originally bought this kayak for fishing. I’ve had the opportunity to go fishing four times now and the configuration works great. The ability to sit on the back deck just aft of the cockpit works perfect for fishing (now that I use my 2.5 gallon water ballast). My water bottles, cooler, tackle box and other stuff all fit nicely in the forward portion of the cockpit and are easily accessible. For fishing I remove the main seat and use a different SOT seat which was provided as part of the fishing package. While sitting on the rear deck, the rear hatch is also accessible. I’ve found a good place for the stringer, holding all those fish of course, is around the outrigger tubing and an aft perimeter line. It took a little while to get used to standing but now that I’ve done it a few times it’s not so bad.
The T16.0 truly has delivered the flexibility I was looking for in a kayak. The fact that it’s a great looking boat, built tough, has great speed, and well thought out features doesn’t hurt either.
The boat is capable of adding an outrigger system, which I do not have, but can see how it would not only fit perfectly into the deck design but would also be fun.
After having looked at just about all the available entries in the 16' touring category I chose Enlightened and am delighted that i did! The company owner, Mike, is extremely helpful and a true Gentleman. Look around as I did, then buy Enlightened.
For Northeastern Ohio buyers you can pick up your craft 45 minutes east of Cleveland at the manufacturing location. Oh yes, you can't beat the price of this fine craft!