By Greg Illes
Everybody has seen the wild-ride, white-water kayaking adventure films, breathtaking and scary with what these world-class athletes put themselves through. But there is a totally different world of kayaking, as I discovered with my wife a couple of years ago.
We had always looked at all the waterways that we passed by and thought somewhat wistfully, “Wouldn’t it be nice to wander over to the far side of that peaceful little lake,” or something to that effect. After a half-day guided kayak tour in a local slough, we began looking into inflatable kayaks. Inflatables have both advantages and disadvantages over the hard-shell, do-or-die kayaks that you see the death-wish guys flinging down waterfalls.
Inflatables can, of course, be easily stored in an RV cargo locker. They also float high in the water and provide much greater stability and visibility. They are much less competitive than hard-shells, and a bit more susceptible to wind. Since my wife and I are in our late sixties, competition is not foremost in our minds — we crave a relaxing, peaceful “stroll,” so to speak, but on the water.
We ended up purchasing a Sea Eagle two-seater tandem kayak, and we couldn’t be more pleased. This handy boat inflates and is ready to go in about 5-10 minutes, and is both lightweight and rugged. It’s suitable for smooth to choppy water, and for anything rougher than that we don’t want to be out there, anyway.
Hiding away in our rear storage bay, the little boat weighs 35 pounds and is virtually invisible until we want to use it. This is a real blessing in our travels. In the last year, we’ve paddled easily out on a Pacific Ocean bay, a secluded western river and the famous Lake Powell, to name but a few. Our exploration of the remote winding fjords of Lake Powell, where our outstretched arms could reach both canyon walls, was a sublime experience.
Inflatable kayaks are available from many vendors, in price ranges from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. Try Googling for “inflatable kayak,” and be sure to check out this website for reviews of inflatable kayaks.