Okay, so in our seemingly endless prep for travel, we were thinking seriously about a tender/dinghy for Tesla's Revenge
. Here's the thing: while we love our beloved little puddleduck racer, the thing is frankly too broad and heavy to tow easily, and there's no room on the deck for Dharma Duck
, so we needed to find another option.
|The little puddleduck racer is a great little boat, but a bit too heavy for our needs.|
We knew we would only have use of such a boat occasionally, so an inflatable was a good choice. We had earlier used an Intex Excursion 4 man boat for a time, which worked fine and did well with a little trolling motor, but, again, the thing was a beast when inflated, and a large lump when deflated. We needed something more compact, something we could inflate on board to make repairs if needed and could use to get to shore when on the hook.
I was delighted, then, when Amazon Prime put an Intex inflatable Kayak on sale. We had been pleased with the durability of the Excursion, and since the price was under $70, we thought we would give it a shot.
|Intex Explorer K2, as it comes, with pump and paddles.|
We've been using the boat just as a pleasure craft now for several months, so I thought I would take the time to give you a bit of a review.
Right out of the bag, we were rather pleased that the fabric of the kayak was the same vinyl we had seen in our 4 man boat. The pump (which was identical to the one supplied with the Excursion 4) seems a bit light and flimsy, but has proven actually quite durable and inflates quickly. Deploying the boat and pumping it up (once you FIND all the freaking valves. . . we spent forever looking for the one to pump up the sole of the boat) takes about 10 minutes start to finish. The paddles are fairly stout, and snap together easily. Apparently an earlier iteration of this boat had a problem with the skeg coming loose. That has been fixed. I mean REALLY fixed. As in, don't plan on ever removing the thing once you snap it in place, not that that matters.
|This is the skeg. you will not be losing it.|
The most irritating thing about inflating the boat is that three, count em, three different kinds of valves are used to inflate the thing. I'm a big fan of the screw in Boston valves. The rest, not so much, but the pump does have adapters for everything and it's a minor deconvenience.
The seats attach with webbing to support the back and a wide strip of velcro to hold them in place. There is a nice range of positioning possible for both the front and back seats, which makes them pretty accomodating. With both seats in place and two people in the boat, there is a fair amount of stowage forward and aft under the spash covers. The boat is also provided with two stout handles fore and aft to lift and portage the boat.
In the water, the boat handles and points very well. We both have experience with canoes and kayaks, and the little inflatable moves along smoothly and smartly. The skeg makes holding your course pretty easy, and we've found we're able to get in and out of the boat even when it's in water too deep to stand on the bottom. All in all, the little boat is pleasing to paddle and easy to deal with.
Okay, the downsides:
This is an inflatable boat. You're not going down any class IV whitewater in it. The vinyl is tough, but if you rammed it into some underwater branches, you would hole it. Heavy chop is kind of unnerving, as--being an inflatable--the waves move through
, not just under the boat. The paddles are . . . well. . .okay. They're too short by at least six inches, and replacing them is on the agenda. Them being short means you drip a lot more water into the boat than you would otherwise. Some of the valves have to be pinched open to deflate the thing, which is a bit of a pain, and the pump doesn't have a reverse mode, which would help. There's also, sadly, no good way to affix a trolling motor or sail.
All that being said, the boat has a lot going for it. It inflates quickly, is easy for one or two persons to handle, paddles smoothly, can be accessed from the water, and deflates and stows in about 15 minutes. Wonder of wonders, the bag supplied is ACTUALLY LARGE ENOUGH FOR THE BOAT TO BE PUT BACK IN IT. I was stunned. The stowed package, including seats and pump and oars, is a good sized duffle bag and weighs in the neighborhood of 40 lbs and fits easily in one of our lazarettes.
|Alongside Tesla's Revenge.|
While our intent for the boat was purely utilitarian, we've had a blast with the little boat. It's simple to toss in the back of a car and take to local inlets and rivers for exploring, and we've paddled many miles around Marshy Point Nature Center and the Gunpowder River, as well as wandering around our own Middle River in warm, early fall afternoons.
All in all, we remain happy with the purchase. Find it on sale and grab one.
Back to installing the electric drive in the next episode.....still waiting on a reversing contactor. Ah well.
Hey would anyone like our little Puddleduck Racer for free? I just hate to have it sit here if we go traveling.