Many anglers have flocked to the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 due to its affordability and sleek look and accessories. Heck, you’ll be hard pressed to find pretty much a complete kayak package for under $1000 these days. Our good friend, Dustin Schouest, recently purchased a Vibe Sea Ghost 130 and put it to the test. Here’s Dustin’s thoughts on the Vibe Sea Ghost 130.
If before April you had asked me about Vibe Kayaks, I would have looked at you like a puppy who heard its name called. I knew nothing about them, and I hadn’t cared to. But, my knees and back had started to hurt more and more with the posture required for paddleboarding. The pain had started to get so bad, and my frustrations so strong, that I was beginning to dislike even paddling.
Something had to change, and I knew what I needed to, begrudgingly, do.
On a tight college student’s budget I would need a new boat for around 1000 dollars. This would let my diet of ramen noodles, Vienna sausage, and soda keep me going, and keep my bills paid. But, even better, I’d be able to get on the water. I looked at boats and boats and boats: but nothing in my price range that wasn’t used.
I had three main things I wanted in the next boat. First, I wanted storage options for the minimal gear I like to bring: an ice chest, a bag of fly fishing materials including flies and tippet, and a second option to store drinks: I do not like fishy smelling or tasting water. Second, I really wanted a wide hull to allow me to stand and sight cast to fish: the best thing about paddleboards and my old Ride 115 was that it was wide enough for me to dance a jig on. But the Ride was over 80 pounds, and the board required me to put it on top of my truck, a real hassle when the winds pick up. Lastly, I wanted a high/low chair: I love the option of being able to sit up high and look for nervous water or waterlife, and I love to be able to recline and rest my back. I missed having the option to lay back and relax on my paddleboard.
After looking around and researching, one brand stuck out at me: Vibe Kayaks. Specifically, their new boat: the Vibe Sea Ghost 130. The biggest differences in the latest model from the 2015 model were the removal of the forward port and starboard rod holders and the inclusion of a high/low Larry chair style seat. The large aft tankwell, large forward hatch, and center console with gasket seal really appealed to me. Plus, the weight of the boat was only 74 pounds, ten pounds less than my old Ride 115. And even cooler, it came with a rudder system that was foot controlled. All for the reasonable price of $ 899!
The nearest dealer for me was Pack n Paddle of Laffayette. After a drive there and missing the very last boat by a mere hour, I decided to order the exact boat I wanted from their next shipment: the Vibe Sea Ghost in natural camo color. It would take almost a month for my boat to come in. And during that month I spent a good bit of time fishing the bank of my local bayou for bass and studying new fly designs to tie.
On June 10th I got the call, “Sir your child has been delivered.” Like a happy father to be, I hopped in my truck, grabbed my newly made kayak trailer, and drove down at Sonic speed. The awesome woman behind the counter walked me to the “delivery room” and I saw her…. The most gorgeous sight to any kayak angler will always be seeing their new boat cut from the plastic wrap womb that they were mummified in.
Now let me iterate: I did my homework on the Vibe Sea Ghost before I bought it. I knew this was a very, very new mold for them: the first batches had just come out, and as with all new things, there were problems being tossed about. In the Vibe Owners Facebook Group, there was much talk about leaking hatches and small holes in the mold lines inside the scuppers, as well as thin walls in the footwells. But, with that problem being said, Vibe had shown amazing customer service: if a boat was defective upon delivery, Vibe would get a new boat straight to the customer as quick as they could. Those problems hadn’t deterred many people from getting the boats, and the ratio of defects to customers were very low. One person also brought up a small issue with the fastening screws, and the co-founder of Vibe, Joshua Thomas, immediately told the guy he would go to the factory and immediately talk to them about changing it. This stuck with me deeply: the owners of the product actually depended upon feedback from their buyers!
I took in my new boat and looked over every single detail of the boat. I loved the camo scheme: it would shine on the water and be easy for boaters to see, but it would also be great to help hide in the coming duck season. The forward and aft hatches had a good seal to them. One of the cool things Vibe did for the boat was to include small bags that fit inside the hatches and conform to the lip of them: big enough for my fly boxes, tippet material, and fish scale. The chair was the next thing that I looked at. The mesh was very comfy and flexible, and the adjustability of the seatback would almost let me lay flat if I wanted to nap while waiting for a bite. On either side of the seat were slots molded perfectly to fit regular sized Plano tackle trays. This would be perfect for when I would bring the conventional tackle out for bass or speckled trout. Right aft of the seat were two flush mounted rod holders. The tankwell behind them was huge, with a raised “VIBE” that really caught the eye. Unlike many old kayaks I had owned, the drain plug was not located here: instead, it was located in the nose. The track for the foot pegs went a long way down the cockpit, and had toe controls for the rudder. For transport, the handles were a hard rubber that had a decent amount of flex to them: no hooks getting buried in them this time. The center console had a cup holder molded into it as well as a plethora of places to mount Scotty-style rod holders and other accessories. There was also a mold line that I was told marked the perfect place to cut if I wanted to turn the hull into full blown internal storage for rods. The depth of the console itself also was good enough for small Gatoraide bottles and would fit about four bottles of water and ice: perfect for me. In the gunnels were a two foot long track system, which unlike in some boats, was molded into the plastic, meaning that it wouldn’t catch onto anything at all. Aside from the tracks were two paddle keepers. But, I saw a different potential in them: fly rod storage.
The only issue that I noticed at all was the flex in the wall of the footwell. Not just that, but the screw in the near part of the foot peg track was loose, and I could watch the track flex under pressure. While this bothered me, the material that the foot rail was made of made me feel secure in it.
Along with the kayak came a Vibe brand paddle. The paddle reminded me of a slightly shorter No Limits basic paddle you could get at Academy. There was some wiggle in the two piece assembly, but the grips felt thicker, and there was a raised part on the right hand side. The cupped faces were very pronounced I found compared to other paddles. I’d need to use it to find the problems with the design.
The good gentlemen at Pack & Paddle, a bearded guy with ginger hair and a California themed tattoo on his arm, helped me set up the rudder. The device was triggered by pulling on a paracord tether on the starboard side of the boat, just before amidships. Yanking forward would deploy the rudder into place, and to keep it from moving all the fisherman had to do was fix the paracord in place with the provided cleat. He fixed the rudder lines, got them tied up, and we got the boat on the trailer. Two and a half hours later, my boat was sitting in my yard!
FIRST SEA TRIAL
The next day the boat would be getting wet. I met up with my buddy Thomas Musso down at the new kayak launch in Pointe Aux Chenes. The owner, Eddie Mullen, had built the facility from the ground up to be the premiere kayak fishing spot in the south. With a floating dock, easy kayak launching access, fish cleaning station, and rentable camp boat, Mr. Mullen had the perfect set up. Musso and I got our boats in the slips, and I got into the Vibe Sea Ghost.
The first step was easy: the boat had a bit more rock than my old Ride 115, but it was nowhere near critical. I easily shifted my weight to the opposite side and sat down in the seat, specifically in the high setting. While not as high sitting as the AirPro MAX seat, it was sitting higher than the average seat. This meant that I could let my knees bend more and be more comfortable.
I started to paddle the long kayak, and deployed the rudder with ease. The rudder controls took a bit of getting used to: pushing the left foot took the paddle to the left side, and the right foot to the right side, which messed with my sense of direction as I was used to it being reversed. But once I got the hang of it, the rudder was a cinch. Little pressure would make the boat begin to correct course quite a bit. I hung up the rudder and decided to turn the boat without it. While turning it took a lot more effort, it wasn’t too tiring. But the best part was that the boat tracked very straight even without the rudder. There was no waddle-feeling: a little change to heading when paddling to one side, but not enough to make one go all over the place.
The most surprising thing to me was the boat was fast: even fighting against a gentle current I was making at least 2-4 miles per hour, the perfect trolling speed. Musso even complimented the speed of the boat.
Next up was the stability test. I slowly stood up, with no assistance from my paddle or anything. I stood straight up, and was able to move around very well. While the boat tipped back and forth more than I was used to, I never felt like I was going to fall. This would prove to be perfect for sight fishing on the flats.
We saw a large tail break the water tension. Musso worked on getting the beast to eat a shrimp fly, and I tried to slide my paddle into the paddle keeper in front of the hatch: a small piece of bungie with a recess for a paddle. However, it was hard for me to get the paddle under it without struggling: I knew of the perfect fix for it.
Musso spooked the fish, and we started paddling around the islands south of the launch. However, the heat was getting to be a little much, and the water was too dirty for effective sight casting, so we elected to bug out. Loading the boat was not too bad: once the bow was on the trailer, it was simple as pie. Three straps around the boat, and I was good to go.
THOUGHTS SO FAR
As of this writing, I have taken the boat out dozens of times, and had it for a month and a half. The weather has been horrible: it has been raining every twelve hours, and sometimes the skies have released small oceans upon us. But, the problems that many have complained about with the Vibe Sea Ghost have not been a burden on me. The scupper’s mold lines do not leak, as I tested them on the first day I had it home. The hatches leak only somewhat: in three nights of constant rain, I had less than a fourth of a cup of water in the hull.
The foot rail problems have not gotten any worse, and I used the rudder near constantly on my last trip. While some of the screws are not the right kind (counter-sunk screws instead of regular fastening screws), the mounts have not given me any trouble. There is flex in the handles; however I like that about them: it is easier on my hands.
The seat has stayed in the high position as the boat has never felt like it would tip on me. Even though the seat isn’t the highest sitting in the kayak world, I have no problem spotting tailing or cursing redfish. I was able to spot the wave of a school of six reds in formation with ease, and was able to get a cast to them quickly.
Over all, this boat has helped me capture two redfish, and two perch. It will be seeing tons more water time in the near future. If any problems develop with this boat, I will let you all know in post on the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club forums, or I will make an amendment to this article.
For now though, I am gonna go get my Vibe on, and get ready to destroy some more redfish!
About the Author
Dustin Schouest is a veteran angler from the small disappearing village of Pointe Aux Chenes, La. When not fishing, Dustin is usually found tying flies, editing video, or writing about his adventures from his Vibe Sea Ghost 130. He is a member of the Hook1 Fishing Team as well as a member of Team Filthy Anglers.