In about 2 weeks time, the Woodsfamily will complete our move to southern Finland. As our new residence will be an apartment, there will be no room to keep a solid-hulled water craft where we live. I really wanted to find a solution to this dilemma, because the Woodsboy is now old enough to go on longer boating and fishing trips. Several years back, I had a lot of success with higher-quality inflatable boats, so I decided this was the way to go.
Now you might be thinking, “OK, so you bought a raft, Weekend Woodsman”. Au contraire. I’m not talking about pool toys here. I’m talking about larger, thick-PVC boats with multiple air chambers capable of holding several people. These things can be very stable and rugged, yet they don’t weigh a ton. The model I bought, the Sevylor Fish Hunter HF250 (from Adventra.fi in Tuusula, Finland) weighs only about 8.3 kg/18.3 lbs and folds up compactly, which means it can easily be carried in a larger pack. This boat can hold a total of 220 kg/485 lbs of people and gear. The total inflated length is 232 cm/7 feet 7 inches.
You’re not exactly going to be crossing oceans or going white-water rafting with a small boat like this, but for calmer lakes and rivers, especially ones which are not accessible to most boats (fishing, anyone?), an inflatable will do the trick. You have to be a bit more mindful of hitting sharp objects in the water, but to me the advantages of light weight and portability make up for any of the disadvantages.
I received our boat just a few days after ordering, so the Woodsboy and I were able to take it out for its “maiden voyage” this past weekend.
Here it is, deflated and folded up.
Here’s the boat unfolded.
I filled the five air chambers in the marked order with a manual pump.
It took 10 – 15 minutes to fill the boat completely. I attached some collapsible oars I had bought years earlier. They worked fine with this boat (I think they are also from Sevylor).
The Woodsboy and I brought the boat down to the water, and I helped him in.
It was easy enough getting out into the water. We rowed around for a while and took some pictures. The weather wasn’t great, but it made for “dramatic” shots. 😉
The Woodsboy insisted on helping Daddy with the rowing multiple times. 🙂
All in all, this boat performed exactly as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, it turned out being much more stable in the water than I had expected. We didn’t get wet at all while out on the water (except for a little bit of rain), and were able to move surprisingly quickly with the little oars. My manual pump can be used for deflation as well, which meant that I could easily deflate and fold up the boat again before putting it in the car. The Woodsboy really enjoyed the trip and wants to fish next time as well.
I’m really glad I bought this boat, because it opens up a lot of opportunities and enables us to go to places we couldn’t access before (like the little pond in the forest). Highly recommended for city folk or anyone else!
One more thing. I don’t want to sound like I’m advertising, but the company I bought this from is offering a 10% discount to any customer who likes them on Facebook, so I thought I’d pass this info on to you.