10 Reasons Every Cruiser Should Consider an Inflatable Kayak
Space is limited on average-sized cruising boats, so it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of adding yet another gadget to the equipment. We recently bought an inflatable kayak and couldn’t be happier with it! Here are ten reasons why a kayak is a sensible piece of equipment for cruisers:
1. A kayak adds physical exercise to the boat life
We cruisers often complain that we don’t do enough for our fitness. Everything on board is located within a few steps, often to be reached without even getting up. Some ambitious sailors do yoga on deck in the morning, even sportier ones go jogging ashore and of course there are occasional work-out bursts for kite-surfers when a stiff breeze is blowing. But most of us don’t move enough, apart from going snorkeling (where you hardly ever manage to work up a sweat) or doing an occasional hike. A kayak is a great way to get more exercise!
2. It goes where dinghies can’t go
As they have hardly any draft, kayaks can take you over shallows that dinghies cannot navigate. If it gets too shallow even for the kayak, you can always just pick it up and carry it for a stretch before paddling on. Schlepping a dinghy would be cumbersome, a light-weight kayak poses no problem at all on such occasions.
3. It can go in rough conditions
Of course a SUP is also light, can be carried when necessary and is great to paddle on glassy-calm lagoons. The advantage kayaks have over these wobbly devices is their sturdiness. While SUPs are only fun in calm conditions, kayaks can safely be taken out for a ride even if it’s choppy out there!
4. It’s quiet
Apart from some gentle splashing and an occasional curse when it won’t stay on course, a kayak glides along soundlessly. It’s a wonderfully serene way to explore a remote shoreline and we get to see much more wildlife than we would if roaring along in our dinghy with its noisy outboard engine.
5. It’s environmental-friendly
Powered by AP (arm power) instead of HP (hose power) a kayak is an emission-free and pollution-free alternative to petrol or diesel engines. Sailing to a destination and then kayaking there we can be perfect eco-tourists and leave zero carbon footprint as cruisers! In times of high fuel prices using the dinghy less often also means that we are going easy on the cruising kitty when paddling instead of motoring.
6. It helps in areas with tricky landing
On rocky or rough shores without a dock it’s sometimes hard to find a safe spot to leave the dinghy. In such conditions it’s much easier to take the kayak—you can simply carry it ashore and leave it safely high and dry to await your return instead of worrying if the dinghy’s safe in breaking waves.
7. It’s easy to store
We often see rigid, plastic kayaks tied to railings, but Pitufa’s decks are clattered enough without yet another gadget that has to permanently live there. We therefore opted for an inflatable kayak in order to be able to deflate it and store it below deck on passages. Our two-seater Advanced Elements kayak weighs only 16 kg and—once deflated—fits into a carrier bag we can easily stuff into the forecabin.
8. It’s a back-up
It’s good to have some alternative means of transport, in case some misfortune should ever happen to the dinghy (touch wood!). If the dinghy had to stay on deck for a few days to let the glue on a repair fully cure, we wouldn’t get cabin fever as we could still venture out with the kayak. If the dinghy got blown away, we could at least go out and search for it. In the worst-possible scenario of a lost dinghy the kayak would be a vital means to go ashore and even do some shopping.
9. It’s teambuilding
We have a two-seater double kayak and yes, maneuvering the little boat to a beforehand agreed-upon destination can sometimes lead to arguments about tactics, techniques and navigational options between the two paddling captains, but working together we have always made it there and –more importantly—back home again. We can therefore only recommend double kayaks as a way to improve communication and cooperation for couples!
10. It’s fun
Last, but not least, let’s mention the fun factor: It’s pure joy to move out in nature, propelled by your own muscle power and feel the sun, wind and spray on your face while paddling to a sandy beach or pristine reef!
Birgit and Christian have been cruising on their S&S 41 Pitufa for 11 years. Check out their blog www.pitufa.at for more info or follow sy.pitufa on facebook! They have also published a book about their travels: “Sailing Towards the Horizon” is available on Amazon.