Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Sea Kayak alternative...

I've ranted in the past about how I am not overly happy with various dinghies of the inflatable variety... Expensive, heavy, bulky and wet seems to be the norm and you'd think that inflatable technology would have been a bit more advanced... Talk about the evolutionary state of fishing with clubs!

The big problem is most inflatable dinghies rely on brute force to get by with and the advent of cheap HP in the form of outboards pretty much froze the inflatable dinghy evolution in its tracks. After all why design a better more efficient dinghy when you can simply hang a 25HP motor on the transom... Who needs efficient?

I won't even begin to go into the dinghy butt equation...

It has always surprised me though that more cruisers have not adopted kayaks and canoes as an answer to the dinghy problem... Easy to paddle and with surprising load carrying ability both have serious appeal except for the size problem as having a fourteen foot kayak on deck is somewhat problematic. Of course, you do see a lot of the tupperware kayak variety which are a somewhat bastard child of the kayak/canoe form which mostly just sit on charter boats and succumb to UV as they don't paddle very well and are too heavy for most folks to want to mess with.

So why not an inflatable kayak? Why not indeed!

I have my eye on a few kayaks... I'll go further into one in a later post (the Hobie Mirage inflatable) but for the moment you might want to take a look at two more "normal" offerings...

The Aire Sea Tiger is an inflatable sea kayak that stows small and only weighs about sixty pounds but has a lot of capacity and unlike a lot of the sit on top tupperware boats can be easily paddled by a single paddler. Having a rudder of course makes it much easier for newbies to get the hang of paddling... Not cheap at around $2400 it starts looking a lot less expensive when you start comparing it to products from Avon and Caribe!
Cheaper and maybe more sailboat friendly is the inflatable sit on top kayak by Advanced Elements the StraitEdge 2 which is both a bit lighter and a lot less expensive while performing better than those tupperware logs. Price is around the $750ish mark.

The thing with either of these boats is they stow small enough to find a place in a cockpit locker out of the way and more importantly out of the sun when not needed, don't use fuel and in yacht terms actually quite inexpensive... What's not to like?