Oct 282010

With the storms gone, we have sunshine and blue sky, and it’s time to hit the road. We are leaving the Escapees Raccoon Valley campground today and heading for Florida. We’ve enjoyed our time here, but we have a lot we want to do in the Sunshine State, and we’re eager to get there.

We have decided to take Interstate 40 through North Carolina, and then pick up Interstate 26 across South Carolina. This will be a pretty fast trip, so we probably won’t do any sightseeing along the way. We want to be in Titusville by the weekend.

We’ll be bouncing all around Florida, from Titusville to the Thousand Trails in Clermont, and down to Key West. We also want to spend some time at the Escapees RV park in Bushnell, and I have some family members I want to visit in the St. Petersburg area We don’t have to be in Arizona until mid-February, so we’re just playing it by ear for the next couple of months.   

It’s been over a year since we’ve had our kayaks in the water, which is way too long, so we definitely want to get some paddling done. I also really want to try kayak fishing. Two years ago we paddled with fulltime RVers Dennis and Cindy Henderson off of Little Duck Key, at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge, and watched Dennis catching fish from his kayak, and I was hooked.

Dennis needlefish

Lately I have been seriously thinking about going to an inflatable kayak. We currently have two Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12 foot rotomolds, and we like them a lot. They are very stable, they track well, and they’re comfortable. You can see from the smile on Miss Terry’s face how much she likes her kayak.

Terry first paddle

However, I have a very bad back, which my doctor says will only continue to deteriorate, over time. We carry the boats inside our van, on a platform built over the wheel wells, and they weigh 64 pounds each. Lifting them up is going to get harder over time. Hence the thoughts about inflatables. I’d be interested in any feedback from those of you who have an inflatable kayak, about your particular boats, the pros and cons.

On a completely different topic, Walter Cannon from the Recreational Vehicle Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF), has set the dates for RVSEF’s 2011 RV Lifestyle, Education & Safety Conference. It will be held May 6-8 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The RVSEF program, designed to be more like a college course than an RV rally, provides a unique educational opportunity for new and veteran RVers to learn about RVs and the RV lifestyle from expert instructors. For more information, call (321) 453-7673, or visit the RVSEF website at www.rvsafety.com and click on the Conference button at the top of the page.

We all can learn new things, and even an old warhorse like myself can pick up a valuable idea from relative newcomers to the lifestyle every so often. My friend George Stoltz had a post on his George & Sandy’s Great Adventure blog yesterday about how he saved $295 on a quick and easy RV repair. Check it out, and you may be able to save yourself some money too, if you run into the same problem.

I don’t know where we’ll end up tonight, but it will be somewhere in the Carolinas. We’ll drive until we decide to stop, wherever that happens to be.

Thought For The Day – When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  28 Responses to “It’s Thursday And We’re Traveling!”

  1. Nick
    Since I bought my Pressure Pro tire monitor, Trek bike, and an EMS system based upon your suggestins, I’ll be interrested to see where you go with the inflatable kayak. I’ve considered one for years now.
    Matt in Las Vegas

  2. We are interested in what you decide too. We have no place to carry a regular kayak or boat and want something easy to store and that we can fish from.

  3. Nick I have looked at Sevlor and Sea Eagle and a couple of other inflatables online and just can’t find anybody who can give me an honest opinion. I always respect your opinoion because you tell it like it is with no BS. We have no way to load or carry a regular hard body boat and don’t like the folding boats. I hope you get one while you’re in the FL Keys because that would be a good workout you could report on.

  4. It is a shame the trip will be a fast one, you will be missing a lot of beautiful and interesting places. But hurry on down…….

  5. Nick, we have being using two inflatable kayaks from Boat U.S. for some years now. They store easily in the bay, and are easy enough to inflate, though it is a process. They are not too light either. It definitely takes two of us to carry each down to the water. Nevertheless, we love having them and the ability to explore waterways when we are out traveling.

  6. Just FYI Nick. Space Shuttle Discovery is set to launch at 4:40 p.m. on Monday. If you are in Titusville by the weekend, you may not want to miss it. We are hanging around for an extra day down in Melbourne since we have never seen one launch.

  7. Lose a hundred pounds and your back problems would go away and your boats you have now would be fine. Just sayin…

  8. We bought a cheapie inflatable boat that only lasted one season at REI but we could definitely see the advantages. We just don’t want to spend big bucks on junk and don’t know how to tell good from bad.

  9. We haven’t been there in a few years but there used to be a vendor on the frontage road in Quartzsite that sold inflatable boats. He was a full time RVer and seemed pretty knowledgable.

  10. I had a kayak for a while but loading it onto the top of the car after a day on the water was just too much for me as a solo RVer so I sold it. I considered air inflatable boats or kayaks but want one I can handle alone and that won’t take up half of one of my storage bays.

  11. I find this very timely since we are going to be in Rockport Texas this winter and would love to get out on the water. We really miss fishing now that we are fulltimers. But with a fifth wheel and HDT to pull it, we can’t find a place to carry a boat. Will be watching to see what you end up with if you do.

  12. Every inflatable boat I have seen is just a toy. My brother said he bought one on line that cost over $900 so I guess it must be a quality item. I have a 10 foot Punga and love it but I’m getting too old to load it onto the roof anymore.

  13. We too have thought long and hard about an inflatable boat to carry in one of our MH storage bays. We spend a lot of time volunteering at COE parks and see a lot of people with different styles. We have just never done the homework to check any out in depth. I have heard that some will blow all over the place in any wind at all, and that others are so stable you can stand up and fish off then. We’ll be following your decision making process carefully to see if you decide an inflatable will meet your needs, and if so, what brand and model you choose.

  14. Nick if you get to the Tampa Bay area look us up. We sell three brands of inflatable boats as well as standard canoes and kayaks and will be happy to provide you with test models to evalaute and report to your readers on, and a healthy discount on whatever you buy. We probably could even loan you a couple to take to the Keys to try out.

  15. I had a Sevylor inflatable kayak and used it one winter at Rockport Texas. I found it to be quite stable and it didn’t blow around too much. The boat is mostly open on top so you have to watch for big waves. The side air tubes are about a foot high and I was in waves that were about twice that high with no real problem – but it was scary! I needed to buy a rudder to make it track straight, otherwise it would turn with each paddle stroke. The two problems that I had were that it has more resistance to movement so it is harder to paddle compared to a rigid kayak. Secondly, I sliced the bottom tube open on an oyster bed. The two side tubes kept the boat afloat with no problem but my weight caused the bottom to act like a sea anchor and it was a struggle to get back to shore. I lost confidence after that adventure and ended up replacing mine with a rigid kayak. By the way, the weight of the inflatable was almost as much as the rigid one. One point about your current rigid kayaks is that you can buy wheeled dollies that you strap to them. This makes it a cinch to transport from the car to the shore. I use one all the time.

  16. We have a friend in our singles group that has an inflatable. After use they have to be dried before packing up. When we go on an outing she not only has to pack it up to be transported back to camp but then unpack it, dry it out and then repack it.

    Bob bought 2 golf cart pull along at a thrift store for $3 each and converted it to wheels for the kayaks. He can show it to you or we can send a pic.

  17. I used an Avon brand inflatable dingy for almost 30 years, and was astounded at the durability of the hypalon hull. I left it tied across the transom of our 28 foot cruising boat for 15 years, with a southern exposure to full sunlight, with no deterioration of the fabric on the bottom or on the the inflatable tubes. I don’t think Avon, a Welsh company, is in business any longer. I also don’t know if any other mfgr. is using the hypalon fabric, which seems to be indestructable, unless punctured.

    Speaking of punctures, I was always concerned about tears and punctures, and seldom landed the boat on the rocky New England beaches, prefering to launch and retrieve it off the swim platform in deep water. I would hesitate to fish out of it, for fear of puncturing it with a fishhook. I finally gave it away to a good friend last spring when we moved to Florida. I would love to have it to poke around in backwaters of the Loxahatchee and St Lucie Rivers, but was afraid to trust our lives to a rubber boat where alligators may lurk. I’m thinking about leasing or buying a amall fiberglass runabout to replace it. Unfortunately, like you, I have a bad back, and the effort of launching, retrieving, and handling even a small boat begins to seem daunting. BTW, the surgeon who interpreted my MRI said the pain was related to bone and joint deterioration in the spine, and would NOT be improved if I lost the 100 pounds of extra fat that I carry in my belly, so don’t be too quick to blame weight for your back problems.

    Which brings me to another concern about inflateables, which is weight. A good inflateable with a heavy, durable fabric will probably be about as heavy as the rigid kayak. The hull to my 9 foot dingy weighed about 50 pounds, and got heavier every uear that I got older. Accessories (floorboards, oars, etc.) added about about another 30 pounds. Even when I was younger, I inflated and deflated it only once a year. By the time I gave it away, it was really too much to handle, with my achey back.

    I don’t know how the inflateable kayak would be to paddle, but the inflateable dingy was difficult to row. It went sideways in the wind, and presented a very blunt aspect going ahead. I never tried to row it, prefering to use a small kicker mounted on a transom bracket. I’m guessing that is not an option on a kayak.

    I’m sorry I can’t say more about the kayak, but I’m thinking my experience with the inflatable dingy (weight, puncture vulnerability, and very poor handling) may be somewhat relevant.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck in your venture.

  18. Hey, guys, I’m the kayaker fishing in the picture above. For those of you like me who are getting older with sore backs and who find the task of loading kayaks on the roof is getting harder, you should investigate the Thule Hullavators. I put two of them on my Jeep Liberty and wouldn’t be without them. They are hinged to drop down to waist height allowing the kayak to be loaded at that level. Then gas struts assist in lifting the kayaks on to the roof–almost effortless.

    For those times when you have to get your kayak quite a distance from your car to the put-in point, I also made a wheel transport system out of lawn mower wheels and PVC pipe which REPLACE INTO the rear scupper holes of our sit on top kayaks and allow us to wheel the kayaks around easily by holding the front grab handle. Total cost of each wheel system less than $20.00.

  19. I looked and looked regarding the inflatables. Try looking at the Inflatable boats 4 less site. Tim and Crystal can and will answer any questions you have. I bought the more expensive Explorer (looks more like the duckies that go down on the white water) but felt that it was designed to do everything…white water, flat water and salt water. On the research site the SeaEagles are highly rated for waht they can do. It paddles a little harder than my hard kayak but is much much more stable. It was also made of heavier material that could stand up to the dogs. If you see two English Cockers on the web site…..those would be my Stuart and Izzy. I looked at some of the smaller kayak but their weight limits were lower (250-300) and would not permit a second passenger or a dog. This model works for me….

  20. Dianne and I have had a Sea Eagle 320 for a couple of years and use 3-4 times a year. We enjoy using it and have no plans to upgrade. As with everything, we have found good things and concerns that could be major or minor depending on your point of view. The good things:
    – It inflates easily and quickly with a foot pump.
    – It fits in one of our storage bays.
    – It is more stable in the water than the rigid kayaks we have rented.
    – We don’t consider it to be a toy. It performs well as a kayak.
    – It enables us to have a kayak without trying to fit it on the roof of our dinghy.
    – It handles well in the water.

    The concerns (major or minor depending on your perspective):
    – It is not light. I can manage it by myself, but it is much easier with two people.
    – It does need to be wiped down and preferably dried in the sun before rolling it up and putting it back in the bag. I usually deflate it and leave it in a sunny area for a day before wiping it down.
    – It does take up quite a bit of room in the storage bay. Bending over to stuff it in the bay can be strenuous; however, not beyond my capabilities.
    – The rudders bend during storage and need to be straightened out before each use, otherwise, you just go around in circles.
    – I did get a leak. It was my fault. It happened when I tried to force it into the storage bay instead of moving something that was in the way. The provided repair kit seemed to work, but the leak resurfaced after the next trip. Additional glue solved the problem. The good news is that there are three air compartments. If one fails, the kayak continues to float. My leak was in the floor compartment. I was able to steer, but had to paddle a little (not much) harder. Keep in mind that rigid kayaks can also spring leaks. I rented one a couple of years ago that had to be grounded and tipped frequently to get rid of the trapped water.
    – It does paddle a little harder than a rigid kayak, but I would not consider it to be a significant difference.

    You did not say if you were thinking about one or two kayaks. Dianne and I just have the one. It can be used with one or two people. If we were buying a new one, we would get the 380 model. It is a little longer with more leg room for two people. Hope this helps.

  21. I have had my rigid frame kayak from West Marine for more than 3 years and LOVE it.
    It has been in most of the Great Lakes and many inland lakes and rivers. It has all the air chambers inside an outer skin so you don’t worry about the average sticks or stones.Tried a friends the non frame version, it doesn’t track the same. At only 36 lbs it is easier on the back and actually fits back in the bag it comes in, which fits in the car, boat locker or motor home bay. It is much more stable than the hard shell kayaks I have used. Not sure I would be comfortable fishing from it,hooks and fish teeth even with the outer cover would still make me nervous. They are not cheap but go on sale a few times a year. The full name if you want to search is WEST MARINE Advanced Frame Solo Touring Kayak. As a Sailor and RV-er it is great way to get on the water when we travel. And No I don’t own stock in West Marine………….

  22. I have a Sunny and really like it, but last week my brotherinlaw got a Sea Eagle off Cragis List, I think a 330 or 370, and I was much impressed with it. The quality is very good, my only problem is that I can’t afford another toy so I’ll keep what I have.

  23. We were at Mark Twain Lake COE park last year and met a couple that had an inflatable boat that even took a small motor! They were out fishing every day on it. When they got ready to leave they just let the air out, wiped it down and put it in a duffle bag and shoved it into one of their storage bays. My husband fell in love wth it, and I wish I had gotten the brand name from them because it would make a great Christmas/retirement gift for him. He’s 6’3 and over 270 pounds so it has to be study enough to handle a fellow his size. We

  24. My wife and I bought two Advanced Elements ridged frame inflatable kayaks 4 yrs ago. We live in our 30′ trailer- Green Ache’rs- and love the kayaks. My wife doesn’t like water sports but likes getting out with the kayaks. Mine is 14 ft long and weighs 54 lbs and folds to an average suitcase size. Jan’s is 10.5 ft long and weighs about 38 lbs. It takes about 15 minutes to inflate both and about the same to pack up. We have been on rivers in Fl.– Salt Springs, Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs, Tx.- the Gulf coast at Port Aransas , AL AZ.-the Colorado river, WI.–the Mississippi, and MI. and would not be able to take two hard kayaks along on our travels. These inflatables paddle almost like a hard one , but you do sit quite low in them( for a 6’7″ 250lb 64 yr old man). I have not tried fishing from them yet. As Sue in a previous post said West Marine sells these kayaks with their name on them and they can be found online under Advanced Elements– we bought ours from an Ebay Store.

  25. I’ve had my yak for about 12 years and prefer the rigid hull. We tried a high-end inflatable a couple of times and didn’t care for it. I think we may not have inflated it enough. It was sluggish and had difficulty tracking. None I’ve seen are great for kayak diving.
    It depends on how you want to use them.
    Sounds to me like you really don’t need to own kayaks, for the amount you use them. It might be better to rent when you get the urge to paddle. Save the weight and space for other toys.

  26. Get hold of Tim from Inflatable Boats 4 Less. I talked to him a long time at the Affinity rally in New Mexico a couple of years ago and I was really impressed with his knowledge and the time he took to listen to what I needed before he started trying to sell me something. My wife passed away soon afterward and my health took a downturn so I no longer travel, but I was very impressed with him and his wife and with their boats.

  27. Our kayakks were stolen from our campsite this last summer. They cut the chain and took off with them while we were in bed. We have debated getting new ones or just giving up paddling. We love getting out on the water, but it was a real pain having the kayaks on a roof rack all the time and it really cut into our gas mileage. We have never considered inflatables until readign this thread and all the comments. We always considered them as not much more than pool toys. You have given us something to think about.

  28. Hi Nick, Gary and I purchased a Sea Eagle SE 370 Pro Kayak in September. We have used it twice. Once on Kerr Lake and again on the Cape Fear River. I agree with the comments previously given by another Sea Eagle user. Even though there are skegs near the back of the boat, we found it more challenging to stay going in a straight line as compared to our experience with a hard kayak. And it weighs about 40 lbs in the bag. I can handle it but it easier with help. Overall, so far we like it and plan to keep it. Sea Eagle is having a sale with 180 day return policy. Try it and return it if it doesn’t work out. (I don’t work for them). Good luck in your search. Isn’t it fun to try out all of the options!!

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