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TOPIC: A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use

A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #1


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After paddling a Future Beach Angler 144 for 3 years, I was ready to get an upgrade to an open deck, more stand up friendly Kayak. Incidentally, the FB 144 has been and still is a very good kayak to me- once I upgraded the seat.

I was looking for a yak that had a more open cockpit, paddles a little faster, and was quite comfortable and stable to stand up and fish off of. I spent a lot of time researching yaks in the 12-14ft range and decided to pull the trigger on the Kaku Wahoo 12.5, model. I knew that I needed an SOT that would suit my needs for fishing as well as kayak camping.

I don't believe in reviewing kayaks in depth right away. I like to get past the honeymoon phase of the new toy smell and see how it performs for me on averages. This review reflects over a year of use with it as my primary fishing platform on open water and rivers. Also as used for recreational paddling.

When the kayak first arrived and was unwrapped, The hull design amazed me and my brother. You could see right away that it was going to be fast as well as stable. The Wahoo has rockers in the hull both for and aft that is almost on par with a white water boat. You could see that this yak was going to be able to turn very easily and get up to speed quickly with less hull in the water. Center frame where most of the boat is touching water is wide, giving it good stability.

Looking over the rest of the yak, we discovered that one of the screws on the skid plate was slightly cross threaded. Disapointing but we fixed it. Opening the hatches, we took a look inside and saw that there was sufficient under deck storage for dry bags and what not. The we looked at the screws for the hatches. The tips of the screws are all exposed for both hatches, which would be hazards for dry bags. Again, I was a bit disappointed, but, I fixed this with silicone. The foam blocks that went under the deck in the area where you stand, were very loose and moved freely under the deck, so we used Velcro to keep them in place. I "lived" with these initial discrepancies because I just knew the hull design was going to be a great thing.

Paddling on the water: I was highly impressed with how well the Wahoo came up to speed, kept its speed while gliding and not paddling, how well it tracked w/o a rudder, and how well it turned (it turns on a dime- super maneuverable). I had no issues at all keeping up with brother's WS Tarpon 160. He even stated that he felt he had to paddle a bit more to keep up with me. I did discover that a 250cm paddle was a better fit to the Wahoo than a 240cm. The Aqua Bound Manta Ray 250 has been a great paddle for the Wahoo.

The Seat: Def not a WS AirPro Max as far as comfortable seats go, but it is comfortable. Easy to stand up from, and the mesh is cool on hot days. BUT, more on the seat later. There is a bad- very bad- fatal flaw to it, IMO.

Stability: Super stable- period. Standing in the Wahoo is very easy and not "tippy" at all. I can turn around and face the back, walk to the front of the cockpit, and stand facing sideways. The open cockpit is so freaking nice. I did find that it was a little more difficult to climb back into the Wahoo compared to my FB 144 when getting out of the water. The gunwales are a bit deeper on the Wahoo. It was not bad though- but something I feel I should note.

Light repairs: Every yak after a while is going to have something break on it. My first thing to break was a couple padeyes. The ones that came installed on the Wahoo are a bit flimsier than what I order from ACK. The other thing is that the padeyes that Kaku installed have further spacing between the holes that padeyes that I have seen. I have a few different brands of padeyes in my parts box for yaks, and none of these fit the hole spacing on the Wahoo's padeye placement. I really do not understand that at all. The hatch latches have also broken on me twice. Both times it happened while sliding my paddle under the deck bungee and hitting the latches. Now, maybe it's me... IDK. But, my brother does the same thing on his tarpon and has yet to have a latch break. Kaku has been good at sending me new latches free of charge though.

With all the little caveats about the wahoo, I was happy- very happy with how the kayak performed. The heavy rockers on the yak, can play to a disadvantage a bit when standing up. It does act a like a white water boat when shifting your feet. This can cause the yak to turn in the water a bit when standing. Those same rockers though are great in choppy water. I have hardly ever had water splash over the deck and into the cockpit. On the river, those rockers make for very easy and quick turning in current. The yak overall does sit fairly high out of the water and can be caught by the wind which can cause the boat to turn. When standing in wind, I like the wind to push me down a weed edge once I get the yak to the right angle. Works like nature's trolling motor. The Wahoo can at times turn while being pushed by the wind. But, It's not a deal breaker.

The fatal flaw: This was the game changer in my overall opinion of the Kaku Wahoo. I noticed recently that water was getting inside below the deck. Not much, but it was getting in there. I noticed nothing wrong with the hatches. Did an inspection of the hull and saw not holes. Couldn't figure it out. I left the Wahoo outside over night one day. A thunder storm came through that night. The next day I noticed a lot more water was inside. As I was cleaning this up and getting ready to go fishing. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Where the seat sits on the deck, under the front right and back right legs where two 5" tears. I couldn't believe it. I removed the seat and was in disbelief at what I saw. The seat had actually wore through the hull on that side at some point causing it to tear in two spots. At first I could not understand how this happened. The hull is quite thick. I have not abused the yak. Stood up to fish, sat down to paddle. I have not slammed down into the seat or anything like that. Then I started to look at the seat. It's made out of aluminum tubing. Where the tubing comes down from where your butt sits, instead of using one continuous tube for the front frame (which would of caused a gentle 90 degree bend and dissipated your weight gradually), they cut the vertical tube at a 45 degree angle, and welded the bottom cross bar to it. This created a pointy but dull "knife edge" at the weld. This knife edge also centralizes all of your weight to one little tiny point on the deck, instead of gradually dissipating it like a 45 degree bend would. Best I can assess is that over time, this knife edge and my weight caused a failure in the hull and tore it. I am 240lbs and well within the weight limit of the Wahoo.

What a mess. An $1100 kayak that has failed at just over a year of use and not abusing it. After my initial disgust with what happened, those other little things that I didn't like but lived with now seemed to compound my feelings with my bigger issue. I slept on it- pondering what I could do. I knew that there was no way a new yak was going to be given to me so I had to come up with something. Well, I broke out the plastic welding tools. Drilled holes at the ends of each tear, heated up the Deck, filled the tears with HDP2 and sank metal screen into it over the tears. Then I welded HDP2 into the screens the best I could and let it sit over night. It def looks like crap but, It seemed to be quite strong. Took it out Tuesday to fish and it did hold up. But, it was always in the back of my head and that did influence my fishing.

Time will tell if this holds long term. I have plastic welded before, but never in an area where constant weight is going to be distributed. The only solution i have come up concerning the seat, it after this season, give it to a friend that knows how to fabricate, and have him design my one with bends in the legs and crossbars to dissipate weight better. Kaku, you really have a great design with your yak. Fix the seat, cover the crew tips under the deck, and put some better quality padeyes on it. People will still by the Wahoo even if it a bit more expensive that what it is now.
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A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #2


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Nice review, thanks for the solid info on your boat.
Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish that they are after. Henry David Thoreau
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A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #3


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Wow, sorry to hear about your bad luck with the Wahoo. I have one as well, and am truly floored by the trouble you've had. I can confirm that, yes, I too have had to replace one pad eye (It wasn't even in use when broke) and have had to replace the front latches (Never DID figure out how it broke.). Additionally (and I don't know if you have the same version seat that I have. I have the original seat, and don't know how the second version is set up), I have had two clips that attach the mesh material to the seat, break under the seat. I have done away entirely with the clips and straps, and now have it mounted using paracord, and tightened with trucker's hitch knots. MUCH tighter and secure, and it actually helped make the seat a tad more comfortable. I also added support straps to mine like the second version, cause I felt there was not enough support to the back of the seat without them. While I did that, I also raised the front of the seat, only, by 1.5 inches, to replicate the lift that the second version seat also has, that mine did not. Took my comfort level much higher. I've since been on mine for 10 hours straight, before my already iffy back and butt started to give me grief. With my previous kayak, I could last, maybe, 2 hours.
Both seat versions have the mitered legs, like you mentioned, however, I've never experienced any signs of tearing or deformity, in mine. I've even plopped my 265 pound butt down into the seat from a standing position a couple of times, cause my balance sucks! I wonder if your support blocks are not in the proper position, thus contributing to this. I don't know where mine are, I've never looked. Never had to. I will, however, make sure that I have not suffered anything similar, when I get home, today, just to be certain. If I do, I'll provide an update to this.
If you are not part of the Facebook group yet, I would highly suggest it. Kevin Hawkins, the owner of Kaku, is a very strong presence on there, and will address any messages with questions and concerns in a very timely fashion. If you have not reached out to Kevin, yet, I'm sure he would like to be made known of your problem. Good luck. Hope everything works out for you.
Last Edit: 1 year 1 month ago by Racerx.
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A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #4


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Racerx,

Thanks for the feedback on my post. I would highly suggest that you take a good look at your seat. I am by no means a structural engineer, but my theory is the best one that I can come up with as far as the knife edge and failure. I am curious as to what brand padeye you used to replace your broken one. If you could provide me with that info, I would greatly appreciate it. It's really a huge let back, because the performance of the kayak on the water really is outstanding with the Wahoo.
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A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #5


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Swift One , I don't fully understand the seat issue , but would a good blob of JB-Weld cure the knife edge issue ? Just a thought .
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A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #6


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4x4,

It's not literally a sharp knife edge. It just comes to a dull point which puts a lot of pressure on small, concentrated spot which IMO, worked it's way through at some point- twice. I am actually in an email exchange with Kaku as we speak. Apparently, this is the first generation seat that was shipped out with the first 50 yaks. Apparently, there was a free upgrade available (customer pays shipping only) that I was not aware of. We shall see what happens.
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Re:A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #7


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I looked at mine. Zero signs of any of this. I've had mine for over two years now. The pad eye was an exact replacement. I just reached out to Kevin, and he sent me it, no problem.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
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Re:A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #8


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I thought they stopped the free upgrade and was offering at 50% off. Might have to message Kevin.

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Re:A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #9


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I'm not sure. Myself and Kaku (I am assuming it's Kevin) are going to talk again tomorrow to see what route is going to be taken
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Re:A Review of the Kaku Wahoo After a Year of Use 1 year 1 month ago #10


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Well, I have to give some props to Kevin Hawkins at Kaku kayak. After some phone discussions and sending him pics of my yak, it was concluded that ACK had sent me one of the original Wahoo yaks. From what Mr. Hawkins said, one of the first 50 made. I just got my new (and new version) Wahoo shipped to me today. Kevin asked that all I do was pay the shipping and he would take care of the rest. I did, and my yak arrived in good condition. Thank yo so much Kevin for taking care of me. That is some very good customer service!!
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