Trip Report: Galveston Bay Lunch Sail

Reposted from the Forum. Trip report comes from Club Captain Steve Mullins, AKA Crazy Yak, who took a fun trip along the Texas coast just south east of Houston in a pair of Hobie sailing kayaks.

Sporty SailingMy family and I met up with Bob and Kathleen and sailed from Kemah to San Leon. After launching at the Kemah boat ramp our destination was Bubba’s Shrimp Palace (

The weather conditions, sailing, and food was excellent. We beached our sailing kayaks inside the protected dock in front of the restaurant.

Short video shortly after leaving Kemah:

Our total distance sailed was 16 miles and took only 2 hours with a max speed of 9.2kn / 10.5 mph. With water temps in the mid-50′s the proper exposure protection was required; waders with dry paddle jackets did the trick and we almost stayed dry. On the return we sailed against whitecaps with a crosswind, definitely sporty conditions! Reefing the sail to about 50% made for a smoother and drier ride.

Tips for Cleaning Your CamelBak

Kelsey from ACK Houston give tips on cleaning your CamelBak.

Remember to dry after cleaning your CamelBak!
Remember to dry after cleaning your CamelBak!

“Do you have to clean your CamelBak? Even if you just put water in it?”

I’ve been asked about this several times recently and thought I would write a bit about it for our online readers. The answer is yes. Ideally you should clean and air out your CamelBak after every use, but if you are like me then sometimes after a long hike or backpacking trip, cleaning your CamelBak is not the first thing you do or sometimes forget to do all together.

The result can be a smelly CamelBak. Cleaning your CamelBak can be a little more challenging than a standard water bottle but is something that must be done to prevent bacteria from growing and bad taste and odors from developing.

You can use household cleaning supplies such as hot water and baking soda or soap and water. To clean, you fill the reservoir and flip upside down and make sure the cleaning solution runs through the hose. You may want to use a diluted bleach solution or the cleaning tablets that Camelbak makes to really clean and sterilize.

Cleaning your CamelBak is important especially if you use it for beverages other than water, like sports drinks, because the sugar in these causes bacteria to grow. Even if you do just use your CamelBak for water, after sitting or being in the heat it can develop a mildew smell or old water taste. If you are sensitive to the cleaning soaps you may want to use baking soda after cleaning with bleach or the Camelbak cleaning tablets. This is also something you can do when your CamelBak is new to get rid of any plastic odors or taste. If you do choose to use your own cleaning product you may want to consider purchasing the CamelBak cleaning brush kit for around $10. It includes a brush for the water reservoir and a small brush on a wire that is designed specifically to fit into the drinking hose and thoroughly clean that hard to reach area. This is a must have if you have left your CamelBak sitting and mold starts to grow inside of the tube, it can still be salvaged and cleaned.

Another important step to remember is after cleaning you must let your CamelBak air out to avoid any moisture from sitting inside. The CamelBak Antidote Reservoir Cleaning Kit, which cost around $20, not only comes with the two brushes and cleaning tablets but a handy hanger and props to open up the reservoir and allow the CamelBak to dry completely.

We’ve got a wide selection of CamelBak models, replacement parts and cleaning materials available in store and online. Give your local store a call to see what they have in stock and check out our online selection here.

Tired of Your Milk Crate? Try the Watertrail Fishing Buddy!

Cliff from ACK Houston shares his personal perspective after replacing his milk crate with a Watertrail Fishing Buddy and using it for the past 6 months.

Cliff's kayak with a Watertrail Fishing Buddy.
Cliff’s kayak with a Watertrail Fishing Buddy.

I purchased the Watertrail Fishing Buddy w/ Rod Holders because it gave me a lot more features than the conventional milk crate that I had previously used. I was able to use it for multiple applications. The Watertrail Fishing Buddy performs very well as a food/drink cooler, which is a great tool in the Texas heat. I usually put two or three frozen water bottles in the Fishing Buddy along with the rest of my food and drinks and it does a good job keeping everything cool while I’m on the water all day.

Whenever I venture offshore, I use the Watertrail Fishing Buddy as a storage container for my tackle boxes, video cameras, and cell phone. The velcro that the Fishing Buddy uses to secure to the top part is very strong, and I trust that it won’t open up in the event that I flip over offshore. I trust the velcro’s strength enough that I store two video cameras, my wallet with my fishing license, and my cell phone in it while offshore.

Overall the Fishing Buddy is a great tool for any kayaker. The ability to pack up to six rods on it, and use the side storage pockets for anything you prefer are also big benefits of the product. I’ve used it numerous times on both the river and offshore and it has held up great, and hasn’t shown any signs of wear or tear. There’s really nothing I would change about the product even if I could, since it’s met all of my expectations so far.

See more about it for yourself here:

Stay Prepared with the Weekender First Aid Kit

Written by Spring Store Associate Kelsey Knowlden

Emergency preparedness is an important aspect of outdoor adventures that often is overlooked or forgotten. What many people don’t realize is that it doesn’t usually take much. Getting a basic kit like the Weekender First Aid Kit and keeping it in your pack or car glove compartment can prepare you for a variety of situations.

Supplies Paired with the Knowledge To Use Them

The Weekender First Aid Kit
The Weekender First Aid Kit

The Weekender First Aid Kit is intended to keep up to 6 people prepared for up to a week in the field. It doesn’t just offer supplies for emergency situations but also basic instructions on how to use them. It should never replace seeking medical attention, but when you have the Weekender First Aid Kit packed away nearby you can feel confident that you are prepared for the worst.

As with all of the Adventure Medical Kits that are stocked at ACK, the Weekender First Aid Kit is packed full of user friendly features. A basic but important one is that it is very clearly labelled and bright blue. This is especially important if in an emergency someone else has to grab the med kit, you can easily explain what it looks like and they don’t have to spend time searching through bags.

It’s organized into compartments labeled by injury or incident with the necessary supplies and simple instructions.The instructions do a good job of giving a crash course on how to assess a situation, when medical attention is needed and what to do in the mean time. Adventure Medical Kits even go as far as including a patient assessment chart that goes over documenting the details of the scene, subject information, noting vitals, and an evacuation plan. These probably aren’t things that you would slow down and think to use these when in a stressful situation, but they are still good to have.

The Weekender First Aid Kit also includes supplies to treat different injuries plus simple and easy to follow directions on how to identify what the issue is and how best to treat it for ailments such as fractures, sprains, and cuts. Not only that, but it also includes supplies for the one who is treating the patient. Being sanitary when treating others is extremely important and the Weekender First Aid Kit has the essentials like a bio-hazard face shield and gloves.

Don’t Rely On the Kit Alone

The most important part of being prepared, after having a complete first aid kit like the Weekender, is knowing what is inside and how to use it. Familiarize yourself with its contents and keep it easily accessible because there may be a time, whether it’s a matter of survival or cuts and scrapes, where you will be thankful that you were prepared.

See more about the Weekender First Aid Kit in the video below and then check out the product page here:

Old Town Predator 13 – First Look & Review!

 Predator 13 on Display at ACK Houston
ACK Houston is one of the first to display the new Old Town Predator 13 kayak in it’s store.

After finishing up at the Houston Boat Show this past Sunday, it was time to go have a little fun on the water. I had been eyeing and slightly drooling over the new Old Town Predator 13 kayak  that has been on display in our Houston store this past week. With advertisements boasting it’s user friendliness and stability, I figured there is no better way to find out if it is true than to take it for a test drive myself. :)

First Impression of the Predator 13 Kayak

Right off the bat, I was impressed that that rumors of the Predator 13 being a very quiet hull were true. Moving into the cockpit area, the layout was very well designed. The seat DID NOT block the mod pod hatch which allowed me easy to access to my gear in both the low or high position. Also, the side mounts were close enough for me to reach without obstructing my paddle stroke. One thing I did feel it was missing were brass inserts for an anchor trolley  similar to what you find on the Ocean Ultra 4.7, however, it was overall a very nice set up.

Yeti Standing on Predator 13
Stability Test – Standing on a Yeti Cooler in the Predator 13.

Beyond Expectations for Stability

Standing at 6’1” and 230 lbs., I must say I was most excited about the kayaks stability. It was easy for me to fold up the seat and get it out of the way, letting me stand and move around quite comfortably.  Putting it through a true test, while kneeling I pulled a loaded Yeti Tundra 45 from the rear tank well and place it where the seat normally goes. I was then able to sit sideways on the cooler and even stand up on it and paddle. After paddling for a while, I can tell you that you will definitely not win a race with this boat. However, I am willing to give up a little bit of speed for the added stability.  In my book, the Predator 13 definitely gets an A+ for stability.

To sum it all up… I can truly say I was blown away by this kayak. Other than a few additional  features that would have been added bonuses, the overall layout design, stability and smooth paddling make the Predator 13 Kayak top notch. Way to go Old Town!!!!

For those interested in purchasing the Predator, we are currently accepting pre-orders online or via any of our locations and expect to have them sometime near the end of July.

Versa Paddle Great Tool for Diablo Kayaks – Customer Review

The hybrid kayak/paddleboards from Diablo Paddlesports have been making a big splash here at ACK and especially among our local kayak fishing customers who like to fish calm fresh water & saltwater flats. That’s why we were very excited when we picked up Sawyer’s new 3-in-1 Versa paddle, which functions as a kayak paddle, SUP paddle & push pole. Recently, one of our Houston store customers submitted the following review of how the Versa paddle performed with his Diablo Adios kayak. Here’s what he had to say:

The Sawyer Versa Trident Paddle
The Sawyer Versa Trident Paddle

I recently added a Diablo Adios to the fleet and as a consequence, needed a SUP paddle to get around. My dream paddle would: work as a SUP, convert to a traditional kayak paddle, be a push pole in the shallows and be available as a stake out stick as well. That sounds more like a dream than realistic requirements! Tom Flemons with Diablo showed me a broad range of choices at the Houston ACK Demo Day. I settled on a high tech / high dollar choice: the Sawyer Versa Trident. Great thanks go to Dave Graves at ACK-Houston for help in ordering and tolerating my impatience prior to delivery.

So here is the review:
This is my first encounter with a carbon fiber shaft + carbon fiber paddle. The space age materials rock! Blade and shaft stiffness translate to really moving through the water. Similar with Werner, I suppose. The wood inserts in the paddle add some weight. They look pretty but I would probably trade them for less weight and increased durability in our marsh. Most of my paddling is in less than 2 feet of water along salt marshes and shorelines. I generally don’t need to paddle great distances but fight constant wind.

SUP Paddle Review: Set up as a SUP Paddle, the Trident really pushes water. The non-traditional shape worried me in pictures: would I be able to maneuver as well as with a standard “shovel” paddle? The answer is yes and no. Paddling and turning is actually a bit easier with the trident shape. When the blade is further from the board edge, it catches maximum water. This makes positioning exceptionally easy. The trade off is less raw power in a touring set up.

Versa Paddle, Kayak Ready
Versa Paddle, Kayak Ready

Kayak Paddle Review: The Trident has a quick lock system that allows you to take off handle and replace it with a second trident shaped blade. Voila! You now have a traditional sit down kayak paddle in your hands. This is a great convenience for my needs. I will often cruise flats with a wind at my back in SUP mode looking for fish. Then I need to get back to my launch site with a facing wind. Not much fun standing, to say the least. Being able to convert to a traditional kayak paddle confuguration really makes the Trident a valuable tool. As a sit down paddle, it has less cup to the blade than you would like and tends to twist a bit with strong strokes. With that said, paddling the Adios in a sitting position is a perfectly vialbe alternative wit this paddle and my speed is good.

Versa Paddle, Push Pole & SUP Ready
Versa Paddle, Push Pole & SUP Ready

Push Pole Review: Dave Graves graciously suggested that I protect the pretty wood handle on the SUP extension before using it as a push pole. Two dollars of commercial neoprene, some glue and electric tape covered the wood well. This matters for my, as there are plenty of oysters in my marsh and I dread the thought of shredding a $500 paddle with oyster rash! and WOW this is where the Versa Trident shines. I can plane my Adios across a mere inch or two of water by turning the SUP upside down and going to push pole mode. Perfect for getting into grass, across flats and positioning for the perfect fly cast. It doesn’t work as a stake out stick, so I still carry one.

Bottom Line: Like EVERYTHING in the paddle world, the Versa Trident has a number of trade offs. It is neither the best touring SUP paddle nor traditional kayak paddle on the market. But its quality and design make it a reasonable alternative for both. Where it shines is in shallow water real life fishing conditions. My real need is to slip quietly along a grassy shoreline looking for tailing reds in shallow water. I drag and whell more than cross open water. I want to be able to stop and turn easily. The Versa Trident fits that requirement perfectly. The telescoping extension makes it a good tool for big craft (i.e. Hobie Pro Anglers) in shallow water where peddling may be a challenge. It is costly but worth the investment to carry one tool for three purposes.

Tight lines,
Midcoast Mark

Sailing with the Hobie Adventure Island

Woody in a Hobie Adventure Island before deploying the sail

I had never sailed anything yet but it has been something I have yearned to do. So, for my birthday I decided to take out the Hobie Adventure Island and fulfill this lifelong goal. After only have been shown once how to rig the kayak up with the sail, akas and amas, I set out to Galveston’s West Bay. I was a little scared, but was too excited to not want to try the kayak at its full capability. So I started the day off with just the akas and amas locked into place next to the yak and the 16 foot sail strapped onto one of the sides.

My fishing buddies, each on a Hobie Pro Angler 12, and I pedaled out north against the wind in search of a good area holding reds and trout. As expected from past experience, the wind does nothing to ruin your kayaking trip when you are using Mirage Drives. We reached a nice flat to drift across so I dropped my drift chute and stood up to begin casting. The stability was unmatched due to the amas and made it easy to turn and cast in any direction. After a few hours of no bites I decided it was time to do what I set out to do, sail. The sail is so light that it isn’t an issue setting it up out in the water even with 10+ mph winds and choppy water. In a couple of minutes I was fully rigged and ready to sail.

Got the sail up!

As soon as I pulled the rope and fully extended the sail it caught the wind and the kayak lunged off at full speed. All fear was gone and I felt like a kid again. I was surprised at how much speed it picked up and even more so at how maneuverable it was. When I felt I was going too fast or simply wanted to stop, I just released the rope from the cleat and would immediately lose any propulsion due to the wind and glide to an effortless halt. Having the sail made it easy to quickly position myself anywhere I wanted to start casting then 3 seconds later have the drift chute in the water and the sail rolled up nicely thanks to the awesome pulley system on the Adventure Island. Fighting the fish on the kayak was easy until I got the slot sized red near the boat and it realized it didn’t want to be landed and took off under the kayak. My mistake was fighting the fish standing up while having the amas fully extended. I later hooked on to a flounder and fortunately had corrected the amas to be up against the kayak rather than fully out and that made landing him a lot easier.  It was nice not having to paddle or pedal back to the launch point after everyone decided to call it a day. It even gave me time to fish the nearby docks and land the only keeper size fish between the three of us fishing that day, winning the competition we had going on. Birthday boy wins it!

Best fish of the day!

At first I thought the sail would be bothersome for casting and fishing since I would have a rope running overhead all the way to the back, but after the full day of fishing I had no issues with it. Going back to my Hobie Outback after using the Adventure Island will be difficult. I’m getting myself a Hobie sail for the Outback to make the transition back a little more bearable.

Woody @ACK Houston

ACK Spring & Houston Visit the Paddling Anglers in Canoes & Kayaks of Texas

Several nights ago, Brock, ACK Assistant Store Manager, and I were invited to PACK’s annual gathering at Saint Arnold’s Brewery.  PACK (Paddling Anglers in Canoes and Kayaks) is a large organization here in Houston that consists of paddling enthusiasts and also sponsors events and trips.

Unfortunately that night, anything that could go wrong almost did go wrong. Brock and I were both closing our respected stores and we weren’t able to leave until 7:30, the event was from 6 pm to 9 pm.  So we didn’t arrive until a little after 8 PM. Brock ended up getting there before I did because I got caught by a train that stopped on the train tracks with the brewery was just beyond the train tracks. Brock was laughing because he could see me not a few hundred feet away behind the train. I took another route to get there and needless to say, we were incredibly late. All that aside, this was a great opportunity to introduce myself to new and familiar faces. A number of the members are regular shoppers at ACK and recognized me but it was my first opportunity to introduce myself as the new Assistant Manager. I also had the opportunity to introduce Brock as the Assistant Manager for our new Spring store and answer any questions PACK members had.

Luckily for us, we brought door prizes for PACK and they forgave our tardiness. They even offered pizza and beer. That made it even better because not only was I looking forward to the meet and greet, but St. Arnolds is my favorite local brewery.

Always an enjoyable event. For more information about PACK, check out

Dave @ACK Houston


Raccoon the Biggest Pitfall of Winter Camping in Texas

The other day I took an opportunity to “go play” at Huntsville State Park with a couple of my good friends. The weather was typical of a winter day in east Texas, a bit cool with some precipitation. However, I wasn’t going to let some weather stop me from going camping!

I find that winter camping can be rather fun when done with the proper gear. I used my NEMO Losi two person tent,  which I have been told can handle quite a bit. It held up even when the winds picked up to 15 mph accompanied with some rain. I was especially impressed with how easy it was to set up and take down.

Nighttime proved to be the most exciting part of the trip. Make sure that you bring plenty of dry storage for your food, because the raccoons at Huntsville (or any other campsite) are relentless. I was tending to my fire about 15 feet from our picnic table when I heard a crash and a clang. I spotted the little rascal with my Princeton Tech Quad Tactical headlamp. The little critter ran off with my marshmallows! I found them the next morning about 15 feet from my tent, but they were soiled on and mostly eaten. I know better now, appropriate food storage devices are a necessity when camping at Huntsville!

Brock @ACK Spring Store


Comparing Hobie’s Tandem and Adventure Islands by Daniel Pham

I had the pleasure of testing out the Hobie Mirage Tandem Island (TI) during the ACK demo days back in September. While I was testing the TI out on the lake, I could not help but compare it to the Hobie Mirage Adventure Island (AI) which I had paddled/sailed before. I have to say that operating the TI on the water was very similar to the AI. The TI sail mast area is 90 sq. ft. compared to the AI sail area, which is 57.5 sq. Continue reading Comparing Hobie’s Tandem and Adventure Islands by Daniel Pham