Inflatable kayaks/canoes

OK, so I’m spending money in my mind that I don’t have in my wallet. I’ve got on my rack a somewhat old and probably somewhat brittle OK Malibu II. It’s a great kayak and a lot of fun, but getting elderly.

I paddle alone for fishing. My wife would like to get more into paddling. She’s been a few times and loved it. My daughters are intrigued. 4 yo and 8yo. 8 yo is trained on paddling and will be paddling solo the first time this spring when water conditions are sufficient. She’s a Red Cross level 3 swimmer and comfortable in water and on kayaks.

So, I’d like a couple tandem inflatables, one of which would be suitable for use fishing solo in rivers (nothing over class 3 and usually not over class 2).

Family paddling two per boat will be on mild rivers, lakes, Chesapeake Bay (near shore), salt marshes and other protected waters, and rarely at an ocean beach (so self-bailing is a must). Once the family has experience, I may take them out in up to class 2 if they get comfortable with the idea, but I won’t push them into bumpy water if they don’t have a desire.

I’ve got an assortment of other paddle craft to cover a number of other things, so I’m really looking at something to replace the OK Malibu II and give me a second similar boat that will be nearly flip-proof for inexperienced paddlers and wiggly children. All of the boats below have good reviews wherever I’ve been able to find them, so I’m pretty comfortable with the quality.

I’ve been looking at several options for these disparate tandem/family paddling uses:

2 Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 kayaks (roughly $700/each)

1 Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 kayak and 1 Tributary Tomcat 2. (roughly $700-800 each)

On the higher end:

Aire Traveller and Aire Outfitter ($2,000 / $1400 respectively) are considered. I am not above buying used, but most used boats of this nature are VERY used.

I have been wanting to do this “someday” with the family. Yesterday, I went and looked at a friend laid out in a box. We had talked many times to paddle and fish together “someday.” So, I’m feeling as if “someday” can kiss my big fat backside and if I can possibly swing the finances to get some boats and get paddling (come safe water conditions obviously).

Any thoughts, suggestions, considerations, manifestos, or ramblings are welcome.

  • Big D

I’ve been doing some reseach also

– Last Updated: Feb-11-10 4:21 AM EST –

I am looking at a kayak/canoe that can be carried to the "put in" using public transport as well as by car and needs minimal storage space at home.

These sites might be helpful.

That helps to at least confirm that I’ve narrowed down to the right crafts. I’ll have to take another look at Sea Eagles. A buddy has a couple, so I’ll borrow his for a river trip some time and see whether I like it.

Also looking for good used Aire Caracal. I found some out in California, but I’m sure they’d ship.

  • Big D

Let me know what you think of
The Sea Eagles as that is one of the makes I am interested in.

It’ll be a while
We just had a lot of snowfall so the dirt roads to the put-ins are blocked. As the snow melts enough to get to the put-ins, the rivers will be too high to paddle.

But I’ll be happy to report on what I find when I get the chance to get out.

  • Big D

Big D
Any updates ?

Some IK tandem ramblings…

– Last Updated: Feb-27-10 12:56 AM EST –

I have eight boats--And four of them are IKs. The solo IKs run from low-end(a Sevylor River X)to high-end(a Thrillseeker). I've also gotten to use a few different Aire/NRS/Advanced Elements boats, that have belonged to paddle partners I've met mostly whilst doing whitewater(the major drawback of inflatables of course is, ya can't find any dealer that'll let you demo one, so you quickly make river acquaintance with anybody that uses them.)

All the tandem IKs you listed in your post are very attractive in feature, and I've considered purchasing each of them myself at one time or another. But both because of price and the fact that I already had my solo IKs, I settled on a sale-priced Sea Eagle 380.

I have not regreted my decision. Yes, yes--I read the "Boat People"'s scathing opinion of these boats in comparison to all the other high-end(and higher priced)offferings out there...But here's how I based my analysis: All the boats are of similar length, beam and weight. All are made of reasonably tough materials, that I also reasoned, should last a minimum of three-five years(Got my SE 380 back in 2006, never had a tube leak and I've taken it down MANY a rock strewn Class III+). The "self-bailing" is four threaded caps in the reinforced hull. At first, I wondered if this was going to be enough on ww/the ocean, because one of my solo IK's has thirty holes in the hull and empties itself out instantly. But guess what? This also presents more drag when flying along in rapids/surf. I found that the Sea Eagle, with only two holes opened in stern, empties out more than quick enough and easily keeps pace with all other IKs out there. I even close all four bailing holes and paddle down rivers standing up. This amazes friends in small hardshell yaks and canoes.

Stand-up trout flyfishing is an absolute dream with the boat.(I used to lug around an 80 lb. canoe for this. But no more!)

The SE 380 is also my "go-to" boat to insure family/kids/guests/newbie safety...I seat my wife in the bow and run Cl. 3 with it...With a kid on my lap, I don't worry about most stuff up to Cl. 2 with it...I let a fat, badly out-of-shape, refuse-to-wear-a PFD Brother paddle it, and know he won't capsize all that easily(It holds 750 lbs.)\

The drawbacks? The paddles Sea Eagle provided are heavy, useless metal oak beams. The seats and trimming the boat properly, can take a little fidgeting till you get to know what's right for you. (I added thigh straps and minicell foam glued to a milkcrate shoved into the bow for a good brace while soloing with a double-blade --But most times, I paddle it kneeling down "canoe style," using a single blade.) I've taken out the seats and snorkeled with the boat. I've pitched a makeshift puptent and slept out overnight in it. I've even rigged it up for sailing with polytarp&PVC pipe.

Now I'm sure the Traveler, Tomcat, Bandit, Outfitter, StraitEdge can all yield similiar results, or even be stronger in a few areas. But more power to ya, if you cand find one of these that'll do all that, and beat Sea Eagle's prices as well.

Initially, I really liked the StraitEdge2. It looked like really quality workmanship--But guess what? It tracked too well!!! (This wasn't desirous for me, as I run alot of rapids, I needed something I could turn on a dime. So I bought the plastic folddown skeg for the SE 380, to use during those fishing-on-the-windy-lake times.)

PS- I wouldn't buy any Aire used, except from the company itself!

How's that for rambling? A few pics:

No - sorry
Water’s rushing a bit from the melt-off of some big snows. Good for whitewater 'yakkers. Not so good for lillydipping fishermen to test a new boat.

  • Big D

Thanks - that’s great information
The rivers where I’d primarily use these inflatables, and the way I’d use them, tracking is a good thing. They’re big and relatively swift, but with plenty of time to turn and very low consequence if you don’t make the turn. I won’t be doing any rapids more technical than a noisy riffle in them. Low draft is far more important because they do get real shallow. These will be family boats. My wife is not into adrenaline and my daughters require some seasoning in current before they will be permitted to run any rapids. Good tracking will be useful to me.

Perhaps the StraightEdge 2 kayaks are the way for me to go. For more technical water, I’ll keep my eyes open for used boats from outfitters at the end of seasons. Usually plenty of them on eBay in September/October.

  • Big D

Whatever IKs you decide upon…
Let warranty(a minimum of 3 years)and valves(higher quality, the better)head up the top of your decision list.

Generally, the phrase “You get what you pay for.” very strongly applies with duckies…That is, a cheap boat with a short warranty(like 1 year or none)might end up lasting only that long, if that. Middle priced IKs have what probably is half-life warranties. (That is, if a boat has a 3 year warranty, with good maintenance, should easily last 6-10.) And of course, higher priced boats(like Aire)have the most exceptional warranties(and at those prices, they should.)

Good hunting…Er, fishing!

Big D
Any news ?

Not yet.
I’ll let you know when I get out. Keep checking in. Floods are receding, but work is insane. I’m working crazy long hours. Maybe it would be less if I didn’t take P-net breaks (for the record, I don’t bill for this time, not that I figured you were worried).

What do you think of your Thrillseeker?
And, of course, what are those thoughts based on, ie, what have you run with it?

I’ve not paddled one, but have heard they’re good for any WW, depending on skill, of course. I’ve been doing solid class IV+ in rubber like Shredders and SuperPumas, but would love to do it solo. My hard kayaking skills just aren’t there, and I’m have psychological issues with depending on a roll. :frowning:


Da best!!!

– Last Updated: Apr-20-10 3:10 AM EST –

I'm 50. My three regular paddling partners are older than me. We are all married hetero family men, that love and want to see our wives again. We all pretty regularly(like once or twice per week, mostly in Spring-Fall-Winter, paddle Class III+ thru Class IV water together--with drops as high as 8'). We all started/used hardboats for quite a while. Three of us now use Thrillseekers. And the fourth is looking to sell his hardboat and get one for himself(or maybe the new Aire Force 2010, I forget which.)
Maybe that answers some questions for ya?

I had some of the same psychological issues you mentioned. And although I started (and still use from time to time)my hard ww boat (Diesel 75)
I've never mastered my offside(left)roll in big water. Don't know why really. Of course, I've always done it just fine in the pool, lake, or on a pond with a friend coaching. So I desperately needed an ease-of-use solution in waterways with big rocks lurking beneath the surface. And I already knew that solution wasn't a canoe(bailing,kneeling,schlepping and singleblading in Class IV: I have issues)or a raft(got to use to the narrower beams and speed). So I've now made the full-time switch to strictly solo-paddling duckies in boney waters over Class III+. Got my TS used from my friend, but I'm told Atilla is a great guy who'll interview you about what you paddle most/and want to accomplish before taking any money and fitting you out in one of his boats. (Hey, he triple welds and handmakes them himself--How cool is that?) Worth every penny(I'm gonna have to save really hard in this recession, if I want to get a newer one.) The only soft spot in the design I've found, is the TS's rocker can make it somewhat tricky to right after turtling. (A few more handles/grab lines would be nice.) But then again, if you get really competant with one, you'll never ever have to swim, if you don't want to! (I only seem to, when trying out some goofily high surf waves or playing in a grabby hole that anyone in his right mind would stay the hell out of.)

Special disclaimer for this forum only: Not really a "fishin' yak," but can work somewhat at that too...On windless days, that is. Don't expect to carry alot more than your pump, water bottle and a small lunch: The Thrillseeker weighs just 26 lbs. and rolls up tight to about the size of a pair of jeans or sweatshirt...

Big D
Any news ?

Still no news on the Sea Eagles
My buddy has been suffering from Lyme’s disease, so hasn’t been able to get out. Then he’s on some powerful antibiotics that have got him photosensitive and he is again not able to get out.

  • Big D

I bought a used Outcast Power Drifter

– Last Updated: Jun-18-10 10:59 AM EST –

It's not suitable for whitewater bigger than a Class III wave train with no must moves, and those only rarely, but it'll do great for fishing in current on mild rivers and creeks.

- Big D

yo Big D
Its been awhile! I was awol for a couple of years, but I am back. I ended up buying the Straitedge2 and took it out for the first time last sunday.

The more and more I researched, the more I realized that IK’s were the way to go. At least for me anyway.

Here’s to hoping you have great experience on rivers and lakes near you! If you make it anyway near ohio, hit me up and we’ll paddle.

How about a Straightedge 2 review?
Would love to paddle with you. The last couple years have been real scarce for paddling and fishing. Things are turning around. The kids are old enough to get on the water.

  • Big D

right on
I will do a review, but let me get her out on the water a couple more times. I ordered a high back seat from austin kayaks, so let me get that in, and take a couple of all day trips and I will write that review. Plus I want to see how she does on a river, not just the big body of water near the house.