I had never owned a boat or watercraft (surfboards don’t count). I had never really thought about owning a boat. Maybe a canoe or kayak But a boat usually requires a motor, and a motor means work; or at least maintenance. Many of my friends have owned boats. And as one told me, “The second happiest day of your life is the day you bought your boat; the happiest is the day you sold it.” Seems that there is a lot of angst during the boat owing period.
The IDEA came to me all at once. I don’t where or when it came; but one day it was there. A boat would be cool. There were so many things one could do with a boat. But we already had a camper, and we were camping every weekend with it. No way to tow a boat, when you are already towing a camper. Then it came to me — an inflatable boat! I could just throw the boat into the back of the SUV and have a camper too. Joyce wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, but then she didn’t say, “No.”
Not sure we would even enjoy a boat; so I bought a Sevylor inflatable boat and a Honda outboard motor. Both were small and not too expensive; just in case we didn’t like the new endeavor. The boat was 8’6″ long inflated, and the little Honda put out 2.5 horses of 4-cycle drive power. Once I got it home, we set it up — so far so good. Always one to be prepared, I did a little research and purchased a few safety items and accessories. We were ready to go.
Our first trip would be a weekend camping outing at Mayfair County Park in Blythe, CA and right on the Colorado River. Saturday morning we inflated the boat, attached the motor, ensured the hull number tag was posted, threw in our gear, and launched. As the boat slipped into the river we slowly drifted with the current. One pull on the starter rope and the engine sprung to life. After a little slow maneuvering which also served as the break-in for our new motor, we headed down river without any goal or destination in mind. We spent several hours learning about our new transportation, explored several lagoons, and generally had a blast.
Sevylor Boat and Honda Outboard Engine
The boat and motor was small and light enough for us to launch it by hand.
Scenery as We headed Down River
About 78 miles from our start, we reached The Imperial Dam. Since we couldn’t go any further unless we took the boat out of the water, portage it around the dam, and re-launched; the obvious choice was to turn around and go back to our campsite. It was early afternoon and there were several hours of daylight. It was at this point I discovered a very negative mathematical fact: the river was flowing at 5 mph, and our boat had a top speed of 4 mph.
It didn’t take long to learn how to read the river’s currents, where the slower moving pools of water where located, how to draft off the wakes of speeding boats that passed us, how to serpentine and other innovative and new to us techniques. Of course everything was new to us. We also had to spend the last couple hours of our up-river journey in the dark. The operative word is “up-river.” I had bought a couple of night-time marker lights that were really just little flashlights, but they worked.
Joyce wasn’t thrilled about the long journey home to our campsite; especially travelling at night. But the next morning she realized that she really had had a great time the previous day and wanted to go out again… only if we went upstream first. And that is what we did. We even saw a beaver lodge and three beavers. Keep in mind that we are in the lower Colorado Desert where summertime temperatures can exceed 120 F, and here we found beavers! What is more amazing is that hundreds of boats speed pass the beaver home and I bet not a single person has an inkling of the residents living there.
On our drive back home, Joyce said she had a lot of fun boating and wanted to do more of it — if we got a bigger boat and a bigger motor. And that is just what we did the very next weekend. Our set-up now includes:
- Mercury Quicksilver 310 Sport
- Nissan 9.8 HP Outboard Motor
- Seitech Configuration 9 Launch Dolly
Transporting the Boat and Motor
The Launch Dolly is in the roof top carrier.
Assembling the Launch Dolly
Assembling the boat.
Mercury Quicksilver 310 Sport
- Length 10 ft. 2 in.
- Weight 121 pounds
- PVC Construction
- 3 air chambers, plus keel
- 5 piece wood floorboard
- Max load 1146 pounds
- Maximum passengers 4 (they must be kidding!)
Nissan NSF 9.8A 4-stroke Outboard Engine
- 9.8 horsepower
- Weight 90 pounds