Submitted: 10-23-2012 by redmond
Realize here that the Safari is my first inflatable, so all I have to compare it to is hard shell kayaks. So, with that in mind, let the games begin!
Dimensions (mine is a 2004 model)
Maximum beam 25"
Waterline beam, considering that I'm a 200 lb. guy about 22"
Last night I inflated the Safari in my bedroom just to check it out. The Bravo 8 foot pump worked really well. The Safari chambers are really taut when fully inflated. I was a little concerned about the inflatable foot rest, it only attaches on the bottom in the middle. It feels like if I push with one foot, I'll have to make sure that my other foot is pushing on the other side.
The boat is very snug, which I like, I like the feeling of being "one with the boat". It feels very comfortable to me especially since it's an inflatable and everything gives somewhat. I didn't like the inflatable back rest so I ordered some D-ring patches so I could use a regular backrest from my SOT's.
Took the Safari out today for the first time.
The light weight is really handy 'cuz I had to walk down a hill to the river. It also makes it easier to travel with. It does take a little while to inflate, so a hard shell is quicker to launch. But, a hard shell would have been harder to get to the river. Everything's a trade-off.
Did not install the skeg, I wanted to get a feel for the boat without it. I also didn't inflate the seat, I wanted to sit lower to make it more stable.
The river I was paddling in is a small river with non-existent current. Got in and pushed off, expecting some tippiness from other reports. It's a little tippy, but I like it. Also, consider that my favorite hard shell is one of the more stable surf skis. Your mileage may vary.
It is very maneuverable. Like a whitewater boat, if you stop paddling, it almost instantly turns 180 degrees.
The wind had more of an affect on it than I thought it would. Controllable, but maybe with the skeg it would do better. The inflatable footrest works well, still don't like the inflatable backrest. I like it with the seat deflated.
Pulled over to the shore to install the skeg. Now, the directions said to install it with the boat deflated, but what do they know, they’re just the manufacturer. After trying for a while, I gotta tell you, deflate the center chamber. No other way. So, deflated the center chamber, installed the skeg, and reinflated the center chamber. The one thing I really don't like about the boat is how difficult it is to install and remove the skeg.
With the skeg installed it tracks better. Now, this thing definitely doesn't track like a freight train, but it is definitely better.
Now I can really see that the glide is pretty impressive for a 10' inflatable. If you look at the dimensions, with a 22" waterline beam it should be easier to paddle. Also, it should help that the chambers are very taut almost like a hard shell. Also, the wind didn't have as much affect on the boat now. Now, realize that I'm mainly planning on using this boat on rivers where the winds are generally less than on open water lakes.
I didn't bring my GPS, so no hard speed figures, but it seemed pretty impressive for a 10' boat. I don't think that I'd paddle with any sea kayaks though. Especially if my wife's paddling one of them, I hate it when she beats me.
Had to portage around a downed tree, the light weight helped immensely. Little suggestion, if you’ve installed the skeg and are dragging the boat like I was, pick up the stern so the skeg doesn't catch on anything.
Getting in and out was fairly simple, just swivel and throw your legs over one of the side chambers and stand up. It was pretty easy to just sit that way with my legs over the side.
Got back, it dried out pretty quickly in the sun, packed everything up and went home. Also, the shoulder straps on the bag are not very comfortable, but I happened to have an NRS Paragon Pack and that worked really well! (www.nrsweb.com)
Overall, I really like the boat. I always like it when I buy something and it turns out to be as good as I hoped it would be. It all depends on what you're looking for.