Switching to inflatable
Posted by: byruma on Jun-15-13 10:41 PM (EST) Category: unassigned
I have been contemplating a switch to an inflatable. I have a rec boat now and want to paddle Lake Erie more. The benefits for me would be increased versatility and better seaworthiness for Lake Erie, better ability to re enter in waves and open water, better load capacity, and I can take my son on calm days/on the rivers feeding the lake. Looking at the sea eagle 330 or 370. Any thoughts?
Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:
- Switching to inflatable - byruma - Jun-15-13 10:41 PM
Check out the Innova versus Eagle |
Posted by: ezwater on Jun-16-13 12:29 PM (EST)
thread. I think you would find the Innova inflatables somewhat more competent than the Eagles.
There are a lot more lakes and open rivers up there besides Lake Erie, and you'll be able to get out on them more of the time.
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I have an inflatable and hate it|
Posted by: Wolfmanrobby on Jun-16-13 3:54 PM (EST)
I have an inexpensive (similar to the sea eagle) inflatable I got as a starter boat and it's a pain. I mainly paddle on sheltered lakes where power boats are limited or banned because of it. I would never get it ouy on Lake Lanier here.
Tracking is awful! I feel like it's one stroke forward, two strokes to correct my path, repeat....
The few times I've been caught in a power boats wake, she bucked like a rabid bronco, even with the bow turned into the waves.
I'm looking to get a decent, inexpensive sit-on-top soon. The inflatable will then become a barge to load down with camping gear and take turns towing (flat water trips).
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Posted by: byruma on Jun-16-13 4:25 PM (EST)
Take speed out of the equation (lake erie is one massive lake with few destinations) as I just want to paddle around the shore line. Plus I'm big and slow, in no hurry to get anywhere. My biggest concern is getting swamped in the lake and not being able to get back in my plastic boat even with flotation. The added bonus would be being able To take my son with me. I am not looking to long trips, just to get out on the water, have fun watching the occasional freighter come into port and paddle on the water closest to me without the risk of the boat sinking
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Posted by: Peter-CA on Jun-16-13 10:57 PM (EST)
Given what you just said, I would suggest a SOT as a better option. And many can be used by 1 or 2 people just by moving the seats.
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I'm big to..|
Posted by: wolfmanrobby on Jun-17-13 10:54 AM (EST)
I'm 6ft, about 335 lbs (Hey, that's down from over 425!) and had pretty much the same concerns as you.... Not worried about speed, worried about getting back in, worried about it swamping...
I'm wishing now I had waited another month, saved a little more and gotten a decent Sit-On-Top and added some thigh-straps to it.
Self baling (With the scuppers), and no cockpit to try to get back into. It's not just an issue about the size, but I have a hip/back injury from a car wreck (Why I put the weight on to begin with) that makes it even harder to get in and out of a cockpit.
The inflatable I have now swaps like crazy with no easy way to bail (Short of stopping and sponging it every few minutes). And, there is no way I would try to get back into it on the water. I would hold on and use it as a float and kick to shore.
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I have a thought...|
Posted by: ByronWalter on Jun-16-13 4:15 PM (EST)
... and it's "no". I get out on Lake Erie fairly often and I wouldn't dream of doing it in an inflatable kayak.
Inflatables are best on small lakes and windless days. For Erie you really need to 'gear up' and have the skills to deal with the wind and waves that can kick up in a blink. If you get knocked over (I mean when you get knocked over as eventually it happens to everyone), that inflatable will take off like a stone skipping across the water.
Would you consider a plan "B"? Plan "B" can be anything as long as it doesn't contain both Lake Erie and an inflatable kayak.
Here's a picture I took of Lake Erie last year:
The waves were well in excess of 10 feet.
Anyhow, if you are thinking of blow up boats due to space limitations, perhaps you might look for a folding kayak.
Folbot makes some nice ones that one could conceivably take out on Erie and if you want to indulge yourself, there's always Feathercraft.
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Posted by: byruma on Jun-16-13 6:36 PM (EST)
That's what I figured with the sea eagle 330. It's rated up to class iii as well. Again, top speed is not as important as safety in mild chop (not extreme conditions like the above poster showed) and ability to reenter if I flip. Not so worried about popping a tube on the lake, but I would assume a class iii whitewater is far more than I would be throwing at it in lake erie
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White water vs sea...|
Posted by: ByronWalter on Jun-16-13 9:14 PM (EST)
...Class 3: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe a 3–5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills).
Running a river is not analogous to sea kayaking on one of the Great Lakes. On a river you have shore boundries that will constrain your course to a finite band defined by the topography of the shoreline. You don't have to contend with breaking waves, rip currents, or winds blowing you off shore.
White water kayaks are distinct from sea kayaks for some of those those reasons.
There have been days when Erie is nearly perfectly flat but an off-shore wind can kick up and pretty soon you are going to start to wonder if you can make that 100 yards back to shore. If not you'll be spending the next day trying to explain to the Ontario Border Patrol what you're doing in Leamington without a passport.
Even asking the question if a Sea Eagle kayak would be the ticket suggests to me that it might be better to not hit the Erie waters.
Going out on Erie, one always has to assume the worst and one to three footers on Erie can be a problem for even experience kayakers. I've been out on two to four foot days and had less trouble (or fun) than on some of the 1 to 3 ft days where the water had lots of chop. The last time I was out on Erie the waves weren't particularly big but the chop was knocking me all around. I doubt that I could have handled an inflatable on that day.
In my opinion an inflatable is not appropriate for Erie, especially with a kid along for a ride... but hey, the OP has gotta make that call for himself. I'll be sure to have my towline with me:)
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Have owned two inflatables|
Posted by: WaterBird on Jun-16-13 6:38 PM (EST)
Can't remember the make of the first one but it was a reasonably serious expedition boat. One day in Maine on tour the wind was so strong that my partner and I could not make any headway whatsoever with this tandem kayak. We had to land and hitchhike back to our car. An inflatable presents a large surface to the wind and sits high on the water, with minimal keel, so it is easily blown about.
Its softness makes it very slow. Slow is not only about speed; it's about EFFORT. It's not fun to paddle a boat that takes a huge amount of effort to move at slow speed.
On another occasion on the ocean (same conditions as Lake Erie) the bow of this inflatable was lifted several feet out of the water by an oncoming wave and the kayak literally folded in half.
Remember I said this was an expedition-quality kayak.
Even on calm days these things are not a joy to paddle. If you're in a rec boat now a rational upgrade would be to a 14' x 24" transitional kayak with two bulkheads.
If you're not swayed by the comments of people here who know Lake Erie you may have a judgment problem and should reconsider your plans. I mean that respectfully.
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Posted by: byruma on Jun-16-13 7:30 PM (EST)
I get you are not trying to be disrespectful about my "lack of judgement" but I think that you are missing my intended use or I am not being clear enough. I have ZERO plans of taking any paddle craft out on the lake beyond a 1-3 foot day. Never going to happen. 1-3 foot waves won't even fold a pool raft in half. My point is that I don't want to risk a swim into shore if something goes wrong. The boat I have now is uncomfortable and will sink if filled. I can't stretch out in it or adjust where te seat is. I don't want to go on long expeditions over several days, I am not touring. I understand there are trade offs to inflatables that make them undesirable for the types of use being described above, but for an occasional paddle on the water I live closest to. I have lived by the lake my whole life, have seen it in its many states and I know when is a good time and when it's not.
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Posted by: Bob_d on Jun-16-13 8:51 PM (EST)
If you do go ahead and acquire one of these boats make sure you check that winds won't turn 'offshore' while you are out.
Your statement, "better ability to re enter in waves", may be dependent on your ability to catch it as it blows away.
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and there's not much chance...|
Posted by: ByronWalter on Jun-16-13 9:22 PM (EST)
...of that as there appear to be grab lines only on the bow and stern, no perimeter lines. It's amazing how quickly even an empty hard shell kayak travels with a slight breeze. Only a touch of wind and a sea kayak is moving faster than you can swim... and I bet that Sea Eagle moves even faster.
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Posted by: byruma on Jun-17-13 7:48 AM (EST)
Thanks for all te advice. I think I am just going to love the one I'm with and keep my existing boat an get float bags for it. Maybe I'll get an inflatable to travel with as circumstances allow
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inflatables on big lakes|
Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-17-13 9:58 AM (EST)
You'll find more folks with direct experience with a range of inflatables (and folding kayaks) over at the folding kayak forum:
Having spent my first 4 years of sea kayaking on another Great Lake and also being familiar with Lake Erie having lived in Western PA most of my life, I have to join with the others in strongly urging you to reconsider any plans to take a cheap inflatable out on one of our inland seas. In fact, when I was living in Michigan, the Coast Guard at one point got so tired of having to retrieve kayakers in incompetent boats who were swept by wind, waves and offshore currents out beyond where they were able to get back to shore, that for a while they were intercepting and banning paddlers in rec boats and inflatables from venturing into the lake in some busy coastal areas. It can be a real challenge to regain the shore on a windy day in a competent sea kayak -- trying to drive a bulky and bargelike inflatable in is next to impossible.
You can NOT predict what will happen on Lake Erie, or any other water body of that size so don't kid yourself about "only going out on nice days". Did you not hear about the father and young daughter who drowned near Cleveland two months ago after venturing out on a "nice day" in a recreational kayak? I have seen the conditions change within minutes on these lakes. In fact, 2 of my cousins, who had grown up on Lake Michigan and swam in it daily during the warm seasons, both drowned one awful day 20 years ago when a storm materialized out of nowhere while they were body surfing. The sky turned from blue with fluffy white clouds to violent grey and the water went from gentle waves to howling wind and screaming surf, sweeping them away from the sandy beach and smashing them against the breakwaters.
As others have said, whitewater rivers and open sea are two entirely different beasts. The features that make inflatables suitable for rapids go against them on windy open water.
Another thing that you have to consider in paddling Erie is water temperature. This isn't Florida. The lake rarely gets up even to 70 degrees and in some summers never goes above the 60's. Average temperatures in June are in the 50's. Even in the 60's your autonomic responses are drastically reduced and you can become unconscious if immersed for only a couple of hours. Long before that you would become incapacitated enough to not have the strength to get back in your boat in a capsize in rough water. A closed sit-inside kayak is usually the boat of choice for cooler waters because the sprayskirt keeps your lower body from getting doused. Rec kayaks, besides being short and wide (which makes them a danger in strong waves) tend to have oversized cockpits which cause a spray skirt to implode.
One viable option that would be safe for what you are planning would be folding kayaks. Their rigid frames make a craft that is less susceptible to wind and faster and easier to paddle. Probably the most budget friendly of the seaworthy for someone your size would be the Pakboat XT-15 or Pakboat 155. Both are sort of folder/inflatable hybrids in that they combine a rigid aluminum frame with inflatable side sponsons that keep the skin tight and add flotation. They are light like inflatables and pack down to fit in a car trunk or closet. You also have the option of paddling them with or without the deck, which is removable. You can get a new Pakboat for around $1500 and sometimes they come up for sale used. There are also free instructions for building your own sea-worthy folding or inflatable kayaks at the Yostwerks site (thousands of ordinary people have built them, as you can see in the Gallery on the site).
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Posted by: byruma on Jun-17-13 12:59 PM (EST)
That you bring up the 2 in Sandusky. I vividly remember that day, because it was a nice day in early spring with warm weather. It also was extremely windy that day. I was considering going out that day but decided to go mountain biking instead, because like I said earlier, I know Lake Erie. I know the water was frigid cold, just above freezing and that due to the heavy wind things could go bad quickly. So I stayed in. I have yet, in 29 summers living by Lake Erie, to see a mid summer water temp under 70 degrees. Last year it was almost 85 degrees near shore. Starting to remember why I stopped going on forums...
Ps: I would love a several thousand dollar boat with lots of features. I would get one if I could, but I am lucky to have what I have and will make it work.
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You can get a sit on top, cheaper|
Posted by: wolfmanrobby on Jun-17-13 4:22 PM (EST)
You don't need several thousand dollars for a decent boat.
The Sit-On-Tops I'm looking at to replace my inflatable are under $500!
This one is the front runner for me: https://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_751757_-1__?color=Sand&N=670787849 Toss on some thigh straps and I think you would be better off than in the inflatable you are looking at.
Mind you, the lakes around here are nothing like you have up there. But, still...
I have no roof rack on my car. I plan on picking up a set of the $50 shaped foam blocks with cam straps and bow/stern bumper lines.
And, like I said, I'm a big guy with a bad hip/back. I find this inflatable I have IMPOSSIBLE to get in and out of if swamped. Heck, it's a pain to get in and out of when launching from a ramp. You have to keep the bow on the ramp, straddle it and FLOP down into it, hoping to not flip. And, getting out means rolling over on your hands and trying to get one leg on the ramp without turning the whole thing over on you.
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