Toys for the Boys (and Girls) Page 2
The Aquaglide Multisport 4.1
Before this review, I had never boarded a sailboat, but it took only minutes to master the Aquaglide Multisport’s sailboat option. SAIL’s edit team was skeptical at first: the mast is held fast by three adjustable-length nylon shrouds (straps) on a flat step and the boat itself is inflatable. However, it performed well enough for a newbie such as myself to comfortably sail. As far as sailboats go, the Aquaglide won’t become an Olympic class, but for children and beginners, it’s perfect. The whole setup, which includes the inflatable hull and an 11.5' rig and sail with a windsurfer control bar, takes about 15 minutes to assemble. The sail has an elastic mainsheet strap that attaches to the hull and lets the sail self-tack and self-trim. I opted to hold the sheet myself. At 8.5' LOA and 4.3' wide, it can be easily launched from a larger boat. The Aquaglide accommodates four different water sports, although we only tried the sailboat configuration. If you’re finished sailing, a rotating connector allows for windsurfing. Remove the rig and add a seat, and it’s a (wide) kayak. Also, it can be towed.
Conclusion: Comical for an old salt, great for juniors or novices.
The Hobie Mirage i9s is the perfect cruiser’s toy. It features high-quality construction, multi-functional design, fits into a rolling bag, and is small enough for even a J/24. The three-chambered body inflates in about 8 minutes. A built-in rudder can be deployed and steered from the cockpit via internally routed control lines. You can choose between three methods of propulsion. First, there’s a collapsible kayak paddle that clips to the hull for stowage. If your arms get tired, you can use the ingenious Mirage Drive, a removable device that looks like bike pedals attached to penguin flippers that scissor past each other to create forward momentum. They can also be set flush against the hull for beaching or dock/deck launching. Or you can sail. The optional rig is supported by three shrouds. There’s no centerboard so leeway is noticeable, but if you play the rudder and occasionally pedal the Mirage Drive, you can get the boat sailing well. The Mirage i9s comes standard with a well-padded seat, a patch kit, a fantastic inflation pump, and a large dry bag, which can be bungeed onto the boat’s deck, abaft the seat. Hobie didn’t miss a beat with this one.
Conclusion: An all-around great kayak that stores snugly, deploys quickly, and performs well.
Two pontoons, a crabclaw rig, and more metal bars than a jungle gym give the Cat2Go a decidedly homemade feel. It comes in two large bags, but it can accommodate two people. Set-up is not intuitive, but short with practice (20 minutes). The cat performs about as well as it looks. The lateen rig is big enough to get it moving, but the hull is anything but stiff. Controlling the dual steering oar rudders is difficult, but they can be used as oars if the breeze dies.
Conclusion: A complicated design with limited performance.
Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker
When scorching summer heat hits and the nearest freezer aisle is nautical miles away, you might be keen to tow this ice cream-making ball. The design is simple and effective: add ice-cream ingredients to the center container, and ice and rock salt to the hollow space between. After about 30 minutes of rolling about, you have rich, delicious ice cream. It comes in two sizes, pint and quart, and you know it will be a hit with the crew’s shortest members (and maybe the tall ones, too).
Price: Pint $24.95, Quart $34.95