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Old 10-22-2013
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Inflatable Kayaks

I'm thinking about buying an inflatable kayak for use from my sailboat and wonder how difficult it might be for boarding the kayak from the sailboat. I'll have to board from the side of the sailboat which has around a 3 foot drop to the waterline. A boarding ladder can be attached to aid the decent. Any experiences with such a kayak? Thinking the sea eagle brand looks interesting. I have little experience kayaking, but one of the times I kayaked about 10 miles on a lake under windy conditons and my back was sore after the paddle. It was difficult going against the wind and an inflatable kayak would even be more difficult even with the skeg. Not sure if the high back seats will allieviate the back pain. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

My partner and I just bought a couple of Advanced Elements kayaks and used them this season. We have the same arrangement, with our boarding ladder off the side. I'm not very flexible, (and am overweight ), but I was able to get in and out without tipping. We have covered kayaks, which makes it kinda tricky. If they were open, it would be very easy, but certainly doable either way.

I like the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame boats (we have the convertible and the expedition). They are not as nice to paddle as real kayaks (we used to do a lot of sea kayaking), but I'm quite impressed with the way they handle. They certainly do not cut as fine a line on the water, have more windage, and tend to flex in big seas, but heck ... they're inflatable!

Your back will get stronger if you paddle more, but good lower lumbar support is important. For Advanced Elements boats, I'd recommend getting the Lumbar Seat (which comes with the Expedition, but not the Convertible). I'd also recommend getting the optional backbone.
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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

We have a sea eagle and board it using a swim ladder. We don't have a transom cut out so we have to climb over the stern rail. After a couple times we got the hang of it.

When anchored out for a couple days we stored it, inflated, on the deck. The "deluxe" seats make a nice helm seat. When it's in the carrying case it fits nicely in the quarter berth or cockpit locker.

I had kayak experience, John didn't. This was my first time with a tandem. Mostly I prefer to do the paddling because we don't coordinate the movement of both paddles very well and it's just easier.

The sea eagle tracks decently for an inflatable. It has little twin keel thingies. I don't know if they help or not but they look cute.

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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

I have an Intex Challenger K1 that I bought on Amazon for $80. This is the newer model with the skeg. With a swim ladder it's fairly simple to get aboard, however, I don't have much freeboard as some others do. The plus is that it stores quite easily in a space about the size of a large briefcase.
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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

I've been using an Innova Helios II for a few months and it's been pretty stable. I went with the Innova because it seemed more durable for my dog. Plus with no 'skin' on the outside it makes it easier to patch if it became necessary.

As far as stability, I board through an open transom and it's never been a problem. I've never actually tried to stand up in it though, and it sounds like you may be close to that type of situation even if you're still holding the boarding ladder.

It tracks well if you remember to attach the fin, if you don't it'll be an exercise in frustration (learned from experience.)

It's not going to be like hopping in and out of a dinghy though.
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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

We have a smallish semi-covered inflatable kayak that is short but quite wide - my wife fits a similar description and is far from agile.

She gets in and out of her kayak without any effort at all from the boarding ladder off the stern - she has never fallen out during the transfer. Even she would say- if she can do it anyone can.

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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

We have plastic kayaks, and use them a lot. For 30 feet and up I'd be very tempted to avoid inflatables, if only for the performance aspect. However I've liked what I've seen in the Advanced Elements models.. (btw they make the BEST solar showers too!)

My wife lacks upper body strength and a bit of agility.. when getting out of the kayak she puts one foot on the first underwater stern ladder rung, reaches up higher and stands up on that ladder step.. literally no forces applied to the kayak itself and no issues with tipping. She gets in with dry feet, but not out, all off the transom ladder. However she's very uncomfortable with the idea of getting out at floats or even occasionally on other boats..

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Old 10-22-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are much more stable than sit in (least stable) and more stable than sit on top(moderately stable). Getting in or out should not be much of a problem. Going anywhere fast will be. While more stable they are less efficient than a hard kayak, but would work well for a sailboat and short trips around the harbor. If you got the space go for a hard shell kayak, they make a cool rack that holds kayaks outside the lifelines for voyages.
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Old 10-23-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

We use a sea eagle, the larger one (370). We like it. It's better to think of it as an inflatable canoe.

When you get in or out, step in the side-to-side center.

Our boat is on a mooring, we use it to get out to the boat, and to carry supplies. The 370 has the extra length that provides more weight carrying ability, and more room for gear. Longer boats track and work better than short ones. We tow it when sailing.

The ends stick up like a canoe, so they catch the wind. If trying to go into the wind alone, sit closer to the upwind end and the tail will want to face downwind. Might do better going backwards, having weight over the skegs helps tracking. With two people it works great. We do know how to canoe.

I have other inflatables and hard canoes and a hard kayak, including an old town canoe the same size. I prefer the sea eagle 370.

When anchored out in a driving rain I can just flip it upside down and not have it fill with water and yank on the line. As mentioned, it is more stable then a hard canoe.

Regular wide inflatable boats really need a motor to enjoy, I call them "turtle shaped". The canoe shape cruises fairly well with paddles, and has less drag when towed.

After the first day we stopped using the seats. They take up a lot of room. A square floatation boat cushion jams down in and fits perfectly. We don't even carry the seats on the sailboat anymore. We do carry a patch kit, and manual pump. This year I got two 12V electric pumps and let them do most of the work, then top off with the manual pump. Big improvement. The 12V pump I like the best is the Airhead small yellow pump, item# AHP-12H. I carry the 12V in the vehicles, on board we have a tiny shop vac that doubles as an inflator. We have a couple manual pumps, for vehicles and the sailboat.
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Old 10-23-2013
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Re: Inflatable Kayaks

I'm glad lancelot asked this question and got so much great info! I've been thinking about getting a dinghy of some kind, but hadn't even considered an inflatable kayak. Those Sea Eagles look very interesting. Thanks all!
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