Boat logicstics

I’ve got a problem and I need some advice.

Until a few years ago two friends and I would do weekend trips using a 15.6 foot canoe and a touring kayak. This worked nicely and gave us enough space for all the gear even up to and including dutch ovens and a cooler with food in it.

The friend with the kayak moved away and in the mean time the remaining one and I have two other people that we paddle with although one is in the air force and isn’t around that much.

So this leaves me with three people and 1 canoe. I have access to an equal size coleman and a 16,9 Old Town but since the 4th guy isn’t available most of the time it doesn’t work well.

Three of usjust did a trip to an island by the beach in the Old Town and were able to cram in everything by cutting back to basically minimal gear. I don’t think we could do this in the winter with the gear we currently have as we’d have space issues with three sleeping bags. (and while I’d like a Jack-R-Better for my Hennessey I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon).

There’s also the logistics of it all. In a perfect world all trips could be organized by passing the take-out on the way to the put-in and leaving a vehicle there.

Right now our vehicles can only take 1 canoe at a time. We can of course drop off the gear, shuttle the shuttle and then begin the trip but this is more than a little obnoxious especially for a day trip or a weekend trip. You don’t want to lose an hour or more just in moving vehicles around on both ends of the trip.

Finding a third party shuttle is always an option and when we do a trip close to home I have gotten the family to do this for us. Paying for it probably isn’t going to happen.

Here’s what I’m wondering about. Looking around on Ebay it looks like I can get a cheap two person inflatable kayak for under $100US if I play my cards right. I haven’t messed with these before and have no idea how well they handle or hold up.

The trip might be ruined if they completely failed but there wouldn’t likely be any serious risk for anyone involved, just hassle. I’m thinking if it isn’t like trying to paddle a barge and actually works I could put the third person and a bit of the gear in the kayak and carry most of the stuff in the canoe. I’d be able to deflate the thing at the end of the trip which would solve my shuttle issues.

Years ago before my friend go the kayak we took a 4th person and decided to buy a cheap Coleman inflatable raft and use it as a dingy. This was on a short trip about a mile up river. It was only a mile but as you might imagine that became a very LONG mile trying to pull what felt like a snow plow behind us. I don’t want to end up repeating this all over again.

Would 1 person be able to easily paddle a 2 person inflatable kayak or would it be as awkward as trying to paddle a full size canoe by yourself (I could of course just get a single person kayak but I’m hoping for some cargo space). How dry are these boats? Is it really just meant for a summer time play boat where the person is expected to get wet or could one stay dry in the winter on one of these?

I’m sure this wouldn’t be as good as having a one person canoe or kayak to use for these situations but so long as it isn’t a complete joke on the water I’d be willing to give it a shot and possibly make do with it till we have the extra cash to spend on another boat and possibly a trailer.

What do you guys think?

my general rule of thumb is that everybody is responsible for packing/carrying their OWN gear. that’s the problem with canoes, folks see one and think Hey dude can you carry this 60lb caldron for me, it wont fit in my kayak!! as for the inflatable, I wouldn’t do it, you would be better off purchasing some lightweight SMALL backing gear, matter of fact that’s all most folks that I know use on river trips, its smaller & light and pretty robust, not as robust as a cast iron frying pan but that’s over kill…ditch the cooler and dutch oven!!!. . A better solution would be to purchase one more canoe, or ditch one person. actually I also subscribe to the Sleep tandem paddle solo philosophy too. although I know of a couple of tandem paddlers that are FAST and just cool to watch, unlike my wife and I who manage to paddle like we are trying to ovoid gunshots by zig zagging all over the place!! We do much better in our own yacks, we also dont need folks to haul our gear, even for LONG multi day trips, of course our shortest boat is 16’, so we do have a little more space, but still. i would shop around for smaller gear…

in inflatable
If you are going to go the inflatable route, I wouldn’t skimp but instead spend a few hundred for one made for use as a real kayak. Something like a Stearns (

link the two canoes like a catamaran, twice the storage and paddleable like a canoe…

reminds me
Saw a guy who was doing a multi-day paddle around Late Tahoe with an inflatable. My friends talked to him, and thought he had some sort of European accent. I got a picture of him - I loved the suit case strapped to the back…