By Mark Weissler
Fishing, hunting and transporting materials across rivers, ponds, lakes and ocean waters all bring Alaskans together with one essential need: a reliable boat. But what is the formula for the perfect match-up between man (or woman) and boat?
Boats built out of solid materials like aluminum and fiberglass impose a weight penalty, and the horsepower to move boats that weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds can consume fuel at an astonishing rate. Storing, launching and maintaining these boats is also convenient and adds cost. Thus, the perfect Alaskan boat would be light, fuel efficient, highly reliable and easy to transport, launch and store.
An inflatable boat is tough, can carry heavy loads and will get you on the water for less initial investment, and cost less to power and fuel. An inflatable boat will be just as reliable as a conventional hull, and is much more convenient to store, transport, launch and maintain.
Today’s tough, inflatable or inflatable-and-rigid hull boats (RIBs) are made of layers of industrial-strength materials and polymers, both designed to be rugged and light. Most modern inflatable boats are designed with separate sealed chambers to ensure the boat stays afloat no matter what. They have the added benefit of being incredibly stable on the water. Instead of weight and deep hulls, they utilize flotation.
These light vessels require a fraction of the horsepower to go the distance on a tiny sip of gas. A small outboard between 9.9 and 90 hp is usually all that is necessary to power the inflatables.
Should a repair become necessary, it’s usually accomplished with the small patch repair kit included with each boat, not a welding torch. And these light, inflatable boats can be lifted onto larger vessels, towed behind in the wake, and car-topped with ease. They can be stored inflated or deflated in a shed or garage.
Choose your inflatable boat from a quality manufacturer with a solid reputation. You will be amazed at the selection, and astounded by the startup and operational cost savings awaiting you. Get more out of your Alaskan boating experience this season – go inflatable!
Author Mark Weissler is an avid Alaskan boater, fisherman and has marketed marine products in Alaska for over 30 years.