I pulled out the minicell foam "console", footpeg mounting rails and bulkheads and gave it a complete cleaning. The hull was sound. I removed all the bathroom calk from the bulkheads, lightly sanded them and reinstalled with proper marine sealer. I purchased new thigh braces from Wilderness Systems ($35) and a preformed minicell seat blank from Joe Greenley at Redfish Kayaks. I shaped the seat blank to fit the Tsunami SP, made a back rest & hip braces and installed. I replaced all the deck bungee and added a paddle rest. Total cost in the boat less than $150 and a couple of days work.
So, how did it perform?
This salvaged boat was launched at Crooked River State Park during Spring Break 2012 and my 11 yr old son (75lbs who is a fairly seasoned paddler) paddled with me to Cumberland Island and back with no problems. He found the boat to be very stable, easy to turn and fast enough to easily keep up with a group of adults paddling at a moderate pace. The boat's size provided my son a good fit and he was able to control the boat, not the other way around as would be the case with a larger boat. Although the seat was a custom foam seat and not the factory original, it fit the boat well and my son found it to be very comfortable.
I am very pleased with how the Tsunami SP performed for my 11 yr old. I had been in the market for a good used one and would have paid a fair price for it. But when this "salvage" boat showed up, I decided to see if I could make it seaworthy. Now that it is seaworthy again and my son is using it, I would wholeheartedly recommend this boat for a youngster. It is a "real" kayak sized for a kid and it performs much better than a short & wide adult boat.
The kayak is amply stable for my lightweight daughter, and small enough that she is able to handle it well on and off of the water. This summer our family of 4 went canoe/kayak camping, my wife and I paddling a canoe with our younger daughter while the 9 year old paddled her Tsunami SP. We went about 10 km (6 miles) through a series of 3 connected lakes. She paddled the kayak for about the first half and we towed her the rest of the way. The kayak tows very easily. We were camped on a large open lake and we had a short distance to go with larger waves rolling in to our end of the lake. I was concerned, but she LOVED the waves (it wasn't big stuff, but big enough). Once we were into the chain of smaller lakes, the water was much calmer so she sought out the wake of every passing motorboat. Into the next lake, the wind was hitting us hard and so we again towed her the rest of the way home. For that trip, the hatches were packed and she carried at least some of her own gear. The hatches are not large and it is a small boat so don't expect to carry a huge amount of stuff in them, but it is good for them to take responsibility for their own stuff when camping or on day trips.
At 9 years old she is fairly slender but tall. The Tsunami SP affords her lots of room to grow and it should fit her for a few years at least, by which time her sister will be ready to paddle it (that daughter currently paddles a Yost Sea Flea).
The weight of this kayak seems light compared to any "recreational" kayak, or any plastic kayak of any category. (At 12' x 21", it should be light) and I appreciate the weight since I'm the one who has to haul it around.
People usually stick kids into short but very wide kayaks, usually "recreational" kayaks. As far as I'm concerned, this is a mistake. Kids really do benefit from a kayak that fits them. The fact that this kayak is narrow enough that my daughter can engage her knees under the thigh braces means she has much better stability and better control. Proportionally, this is still a pretty wide kayak for her size so it is very stable for her and contributes to great confidence. She has much more fun in this kayak than she does in a kayak that does not fit.
There are very few kayaks out there that actually fit "small persons" and this is one of them. If you have a kid that would fit this kayak, definitely consider it. This is a very real kayak, that they are selling at a price point populated by kayaks of much lesser quality.
Very stable, well sized, great features. Much like what Eric Jackson has done for kids in whitewater boats, the SP fills an awesome gap. In reference to the seat support, it has the more advanced backband of higher end kayaks vs the high full seat cruiser. Yes, a personal choice, but the outdoor/athletic kids I had just loved it. Can't wait to teach one of them to try a roll in it!