A few weeks ago I ran across a fellow cruiser selling an inflatable kayak.  I had heard of these but had never  seen one in person. As the price seemed good, I thought I would give it a look.  Some friends of ours who had headed to the Caribbean, had talked about using their’s down in the islands to explore mangroves near where they anchored, as a more peaceful way of exploring rather than using the dinghy and noisy outboard. Stowing a hard kayak on deck just did not seem practical to them and I would have to agree, as deck real estate is limited on most boats. Also storing things on deck can be dangerous when at sea.

The kayak I was looking at was a two person model made by West Marine. As the price was good and it looked to be in decent shape I went ahead and bought it. I figured it would be better to buy a used one to try out, before investing in a new one. If we really like it we could always replace it when this one wears out.

I got it back to the boat and quickly learned that inflating these things was not easy. The wimpy pump that comes with it is pitiful. I used a little electric air pump to get the chambers mostly filled and then used the better dinghy pump to top it off.  This seemed to work well but I will have to get some adapters to help with the different valve sizes. It is a bit frustrating that everything that inflates seems to use a different valve size and I seem to have misplaced my adapter set.


The first test I did was me solo paddling around in the marina. It seemed to work well so I invited Teresa out for a paddle. Due to the presence of a not so small alligator recently sighted in the marina, we opted to take the kayak over to the river side in the belief the gators would not like the open water. I am not sure this is true but it made Teresa feel better.  I kind of figured the kayak, being black on the bottom and shaped a bit like an alligator would appear like another gator. I was worried the gator would see this as a threat to his territory and attack.  I am not sure how valid this rationale is, but when dealing with creatures left over from the Jurassic age one should not assume they have very large brains.  And I’ll admit it, they scare the crap out of me! Those giant lizards are just creepy if you ask me.

So we took the liberty of launching from the rowing clubs dock into the river and set off for deep water. I was pleased with the performance in general. We did learn you have to over inflate the kayak as the cooler water causes it to go soft. Yeah I sort of know the feeling, so note to self, “over inflate before heading to sea.” It might not be a bad idea to bring the pump just in case as well. Teresa really enjoyed the paddling and we ended up going out several times.  The presence of the gator watching us eat  dinner in the cockpit one evening put the fear in Teresa.  Now she shares my reluctance to get into the same waters with a dinosaur. It is a bit unnerving the way the alligators will just float there staring at you never blinking, always watching and I thought Jaws was creepy!

So despite the alligator we have found we really enjoy the kayak. I think we will be using it more and that it was worth getting. I still have to figure where I can stow it but I think it will be worth finding the space. Now I guess we will just have to find a place to go kayaking where there are no alligators.

Capt. Wayne


About the author: Capt. Wayne


Boat builder, Sailor, Surveyor, and freelance writer.