Do you have a tender behind?

No, not that. A small dinghy? "Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about a second boat! To a traditional houseboat owner it’s usually a ski boat of some kind, or a fishing boat. Something that will safely ferry people and supplies to and from the local marina or other not too far away locations. We all know what a pain in the rear it is to have to pull up stakes and run to the store with the big boat. "We could lose our spot!" "There could be a lot of dock traffic?" It seems like "the larger the boat, the greater the risk of incident," or higher the damage cost in a collision situation. It’s so much easier to take a smaller boat. It’s faster, less fuel is used and is easier to maneuver in close quarters.

You name it and I have seen it dragged behind a boat. From PWC’s (personnel watercraft) like jet skis, to the grand and glorious center console Boston whalers. (That’s the one I want some day.) One of the most popular and affordable, as well as light and functional boats, let’s not forget fun, is the inflatable. They too come in all sizes. Little putt-putt all the way up to, well, the sky’s the limit. Other than the fact they can pop if mistreated they are very useful and have many pluses afforded to their design. I can’t name them all but the one’s I like the most are no bumpers needed. Being made of rubber and full of air it’s a "No biggie" when your tender comes in contact with another boat. This is good a thing when being towed. The other good thing is fuel consumption. A small Hp outboard and two gallons of gas and you're good for days!

We have a ten-foot West Marine inflatable. It must have been ten years old when a buddy gave it to me. He said "It has one or two small holes in it." "Oh I can fix that, thanks!" was my reply. A fresh new hole patch kit. A good scruba-duba of soap and hot water and she snapped right back! Good as new. Sure enough she fixed up real nice.

Some people mount a placard with the registration numbers on it but I went and got a stencil kit and spray-painted them on. Za-boat vas finis'. Of course there was no way, with the kids around, to get away with not putting it in our swimming pool for a sea worthiness test. Much fun was had by all. Both participants and observers. The dog didn't like it.

As far as I know all crafts of this nature have an information plate on the transom. It tells you the maker, year, length, serial number and more, but most importantly the horsepower limit rating for this particular boat. I was suprised to see our boat was rated for up to 15 horses. Now a ten-foot boat sounds bigger than it really is. Once you and a buddy get in it seems pretty darn small. Well, most all my friends and I are over the 250-lb. mark. I’d say this boat alone weighs less than 100 lbs. The Evenrude 9.9 I put on it is less then 90lbs. Some would say that what we have here is the proverbial 500 lbs. of crap in a 200 lb. bag.

OK, so now you’re thinking, "that poor raft and engine" "Don’t even go there" This thing can hold it’s own and then some. I kid you not! Even with well over 500 lbs. of cargo in her belly, (that would be us) this little inflatable jumped up on a plane and jammed right along. I know it was fun because friend Carl was doing the "I’m the king of the world" thing off the bow on his knees as I was bellowing a decent "Wah-who!"

Ya, I think I like inflatables, I think you will too.

Mike Wolfe "River Queen Refit" 2001


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