Did you know you can kayak in the desert? That's right, there are lakes and rivers throughout Arizona, and Southwest Kayaks
is located in Tempe and Lake Havasu, to help you get started!
We paid a visit to Southwest Kayaks, a local Hobie Kayak
dealer, to interview owner, Bob Nielson, about the unique Hobie Cat brand and what sets them apart from other kayaks on the water.
Hobie is the only brand kayak that Southwest Kayak carries, but there's good reason for that!
"No other make kayak can measure up to what Hobie offers. They feature advanced engineering, superior ergonomics and the unsurpassed Hobie warranty, plus they are made in the U.S.A.," said owner Bob Nielson.
Hobie has a patented MirageDrive pedal system that operates differently from typical kayaks, which rely on arm strength to paddle. The Hobie line uses the muscles in your legs, which moves the boat forward. Hobie's are also very stable, which is a nice change from a wobbly boat.
Kayaking requires only a few feet of water making Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake, Tempe Town Lake, Canyon Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, and especially Lake Havasu all great places to kayak in Arizona.
Let's find out more about Southwest Kayaks and why they love Hobie so much!
FCHH: When did Southwest Kayaks open in Tempe?
Bob: I've owned the business in Havasu since 2010, and we've been in Tempe for 2 years.
FCHH: What makes Hobie Kayaks stand out from other kayaks?
Bob: It's powered by a mirage drive, which is a pedal system powered by fins. They sort of look like penguin wings under the boat. You use your legs to pedal rather than paddle, using the muscles in your legs instead of your arms. You can go much further and longer; you often pass people who are paddling traditional kayaks on the lake.
"Hobie's really exploded in the market within the last 5 years. They are a perfect product for a perfect time. Kayaking is "green" and eco friendly, it's a healthy sport, and it's inexpensive to get started compared to other boats and "toys" on the market," said Nielson.
FCHH: Where is your other store?
Bob: We are also in Lake Havasu, right on the water.
FCHH: Do you offer kayak rentals?
Bob: Yes, we have rentals at both locations. At Lake Havasu, we are right on the water so it's very easy to rent out kayaks. In Tempe, we provide help with trailering and transporting the kayaks.
FCHH: What type of accessories are needed to enjoy kayaking?
Bob: Many people invest in a wheel cart, which is an easy way to transport the kayak from your vehicle to the lake. Another cool feature would be the turbo fins. They are for performance and make a huge different as far as speed.
FCHH: Do you need to attend a class to safely learn how to kayak?
Bob: No, not with Hobie Kayaks.
FCHH: Does Arizona require permits for kayaking?
Bob: Not unless they have an electric motor, which you would have to add.
FCHH: Which is the closest lake to enjoy kayaking in the Valley?
Bob: Near the Tempe store, Saguaro Lake or Lake Pleasant.
FCHH: How did you get into kayaking and kayak sales?
Bob: I had a torn rotator cuff and at the time I owned a houseboat at Lake Havasu. I wanted a kayak to get around. I couldn't paddle so when I heard about Hobie, I thought they were really cool and got my own.
FCHH: What other sports can be associated with kayaking?
Bob: Fishing, birding, sailing- Hobie can accept a sail, scuba diving and it can serve as transportation on the water between larger boats.
FCHH: How do you recover if the kayak flips over while you are on the water?
Bob: Hobie's are very stable and extremely difficult to flip over. If you do, there is an easy method to get back on.
FCHH: Can kids kayak?
Bob: Yes, absolutely, just about all ages can kayak. With the MirageDrive, you can adjust the pedals so that kids can reach. We recommend that anyone who kayaks has the ability to swim and wears a PFD.
FCHH: What events does Southwest Kayaks participate in during the year?
Bob: We hold Paddle Fest in Lake Havasu in November. It's a fun get together where we play a kayak poker run with the winner receiving the prize of a Hobie Kayak! We also have free camping and other fun events. It's a good time!
Here's Bob with the winner of Paddlefest 2013 and his new Hobie Kayak!
Come in for a free demo and you'll know why Southwest Kayaks loves Hobie, too! We can't wait to take one out on the lake for a test-drive ourselves! Check out Southwest Kayaks online or at their Tempe or Lake Havasu locations. www.swkayaks.com