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It was a combination of events that got me to buy this boat. There was a discussion on the forum about slow inflation of this boat. Then I looked at the link posted on this boat and saw that it was only $85. Which is really inexpensive compared to other boats. But it isn’t what we’d paddle so I went on. Then google came back and told me it was on sale for $50. So I bought one. Then Amazon gave me an email and said they were crediting me $5 since the boat was “over priced.” Hence I got a rather cheap inflatable boat. It is the first inflatable I’ve purchased since 1978 when my inflatable got crushed between two sailboats.
The boat came in a big box. It came with a pump, patch kit, two paddles and a bag to carry it all in. The boat has nine inflatable chambers if you count the seats (4). The main floor is ribbed like an air mattress and inflates by #1 station. The #2 and #3 are “Boston valves” that have a screwed in plug that caps off the main plug that screws out to deflate the chambers. There are #4 and #5 in the ends that form a spray rail. Then there are two seats with two chambers each (6, 7, 8, 9). The forum member said you needed an electric pump because the boat filled too slowly. AND when they tried it with the electric pump inflation was too slow. They never finished it and gave up. We used the air pump that came with the boat and filled the boat in five minutes. The seats followed and were installed total operation about 10 minutes. Yes, there was a little physical effort needed to pump the hand pump. But kayaking is a physical effort. Electric pumps were not necessary or checked. There are three different nozzles on the pump end. Two were required for this boat. Electric pumps would have to have similar nozzles. I think my shop vac would do it but it’s not necessary. Back in the day I blew up my inflatable to get to the sail boat by manual inflation, like blowing up a balloon.
The boat comes with two paddles. Each paddle comes in five pieces plus the two drip rings. The locks are plastic. The paddles assemble easily enough but pushing the locking pins can be a little rough since the edges are not beveled like higher end paddles. Once assembled they work reasonably. There is a slight play from the multi sectioned paddle but good for the low cost.
Two seats come with the boat. They inflate manually or with the pump. Hook and loop straps on the bottom secure the seats. The seat backs are secured by straps that buckle to the outer hulls. There is adjustment to seat positions.
There is a skeg that slides into a track on the bottom of the hull under the rear paddler position. It is far enough forward that it does little when paddled from the aft position but later use showed it helped when paddled by a tandem crew. Especially from the front position.
Our first paddle was solo with dog ballast in the forward position. The boat loaded nicely from a floating work platform. Quriser paddled off with the dog. She found that the boat preferred a “lily dipper” paddle. The kind of light force paddle with a catch just forward of the hips back about a foot to the hips and out of the water. Long or forceful paddle strokes appropriate for a touring sea kayak spun the boat around its axis. Tight circles were easy to do. Forward motion was controllable if you didn’t mind the back and forth motion of the bow. There was no coasting. Stop paddling and the boat stopped. She paddled up the river about a ½ mile and returned averaging 3 mph. Her sea kayak paddle on the same course would be 5mph. Boat wakes causes it to do a lot of bobbing motions.
So, next I got in the boat and tested solo paddling with a heavier paddler. The boat has a 400# load limit. It lists a paddler’s load limit of 350#. I moved the aft seat as far forward as it would go and got in. Immediately it was apparent that a more balanced load was preferable. My 250# sunk the middle of the boat enough to increase the rocker of the boat and show a definite crease in both hulls. This can be due to two things. One, the hulls needed more air pressure. We didn’t check or increase the pressure. Two, the floor needed reinforcing like the flat plywood floors or framing of higher end inflatables. It would spin really well though. Paddling a distance though would be difficult and uncomfortable.
So not wanting to slight the design of the boat we loaded both of us into the boat for a tandem paddle. Once loaded the boat trimmed out and was a little more orderly. We were able to paddle a general course across the river and back at a respectable average speed of 2.5mph. The boat straighten out more with two paddlers. Partially due to the skeg position. It paddled nicely from the stern when Quriser was paddling in the bow and I was ruddering. I found the seats unsupportive. I could not get comfortable in the boat. It is too flexible for me.
Disassembly took about thirty minutes after a drying off period. The air valves require you to pinch the valve body and press on the boat to force the air out. The “Boston valves” just required removing the screw out plug base, whoosh! But you still have to lay the boat out on a flat surface and “push”/roll up the air out to make it flat enough to roll up. The paddles took a little pressing with a dowel to get the pins to retract so the paddles could be disassembled.
The boat stores in its own bag and takes up the size of a large duffle in the trunk. Perhaps that is the greatest thing that you can transport it easily but it is not a pack boat. It is heavy.
Speeds were measured by Garmin watch and Garmin GPS 78C.
All in all this boat is good for close to shore hanging out and play in calm water. I would use the boat for paddling play with the grand kids within sight of the landing site. This boat is a step up for those “tubing” spring runs in Florida where swimmers paddle down river 1 or 2 miles on inner tubes.