Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska - Graybeard Outdoors
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-14-2005, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Default Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

Hey fellas! I am relocating to Alaska this year and am looking into buying a boat. I am interested in float hunting the rivers and lakes (motoring up and floating down), and doing some salmon fishing not too far from shore.

I have been searchig around and have seen that many people use inflatable boats for float hunting. The Zodiacs seem to be popular. Can they be used for fishing in the ocean too? Does anyone have experience with these boats? If so please fill me in (size of boat, engine, etc.). What about rafts?

Does anyone use jet boats? What are the advantages/disadvantages of a jet boat to an outboard?

Would I be better off getting a traditional boat? Suggestions? Advantages/disadvantages to traditional vs. inflatable boats.

Any information you guys could provide would be greatly appreciated.


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-05-2006, 05:53 PM
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Default Inflatable Got my first one For Alaskan Waters

After talking with several experainced natives here I decided on an inflatable.
They are the boats that the coast guard uses to save other boats:-)

Very forgiving and stable, verastile and realitivly inexpensive.

I just picked up a used but like new Achilles sg 16' plan on a 50-60 hp and a 5 horse kicker for trolling and back up. I want to set it up for console steering & get a soft top built for it.
Rob Leahy
wasilla AK

Still looking for a 50 to 60 hp outboard, a trailer and a soft top
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 08:41 AM
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Default Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

I ran many inflatables in the Coast Guard. Couple things to be careful of...The sponsons and nails and sharp metal brackets or braces on piers and make sure if it's outside in the summer sun that it doesn't expand too much from the heat if it's inflated. I know they have the pressure relief valves but you can blow out a section or inner wall before the release activates (sometimes). The new Rigid hulls are solid plastic/foam sponsons so more forgiving.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 11:37 AM
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Default Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

I've had a couple of different inflatables up here. the last was a 14' achillies. Kicking my self in the buttocks for getting rid of it. It had a 25hp johnson.

My buddies used it a couple of years ago for a bear hunt out of valdez, didnt think nothing of it. They loaded the thing down with fuel and headed to hitchenbrook island. They didnt make it all the way, I guess common sense over ruled stupidity but it handled decently on the open water for a 14'er.

I wouldnt hesitate to buy an inflatable up here. I'd go for more a 16'er. Throw a good motor/jet on it and you will be good to go.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-19-2006, 12:32 PM
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Default Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

For rivers, I have a 9', 1 man cataraft, and a 2.5 horse little kicker for getting across lakes and such. It's mostly for fishing and fun. We had a 17', but sold it a couple years ago.... need another one soon.

For a serious boat to get out on the ocean, trolling, river running, etc. I would go with an inflatable, very much more forgiving when it comes to rocks. And it depends on the rivers you want to run, some are more forgiving than others. I would recommend something 16' plus for running on the ocean. Anything 25-60HP is great for that size of boat, just depends on how fast you want to go, and with gas prices, get a kicker for trolling, it's worth it.

The main point of a jet is to get into shallow water, because the water is sucked from the bottom of the jet, and shot through with a contained propeller. I've seen light boats with jets up on step running in 2-3" of water. I know a few people who get a riser mount, to mount their normal outboard higher, and then put a jet foot on it. A jet foot just contains the propeller, and turns it into a jet pretty much, and all for the point of running more shallow.

"At least with a gun that big, if you miss and hit the rocks in front of him it'll stone him to death..."
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-27-2007, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

I have a 16ft Oly John, stand-up console, twin Merc 35s with jet pumps. This little boat is great for getting into the small feeder streams, and for use on the big rivers. I also have a set of ore locks mounted on the front so I can sit on the front seat and row. Works great for running up river then floating down. For fly in float trips I use a Sevalor HF-360 with the cadura nylon boot. Only weighs 48 lbs, and have used it eight years now without a single problem. The boot really takes a beating though. If no flying is involved I use an Outcast Cataraft. I always carry a little 8' raft that I got at Sam's club as a spare, only weighs 15 lbs and can carry two. That way if a bear gets our rafts we have a spare to get to the next take out location. Beats walking.

Zodiacs and their clones will not work for floating rivers. One big gravel bar and you will drag the transom out of the boat. In fact they are no good running most rivers, they need deep water, and Alaskia rivers are renowned for getting wide and shallow. They work great around the coast, in bays and fjords. You don't see them around Fairbanks. At least not for long.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-30-2007, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

They only people that I have seen using hard hulled boats on rivers are guides, and that is because they stay on specific places on the rivers where they know they have access with their boats, and also know the rivers.

AS sourdough said, I would only go the zodiac route for ocean use, and for that they are great boats, cause you can bump them on rocks for landings. Really anything that has any sort of keel depth is a bad idea for running water.

"At least with a gun that big, if you miss and hit the rocks in front of him it'll stone him to death..."
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2008, 02:11 PM
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Default Re: Inflatable vs. traditional boats for Alaska

Looks like the nurse already made his choice so the discussion is just for argument sake, but when I was in Alaska I used a 16' V hull with a 40 hp and loved it. I've never been fond of rubber boats because they are big on the outside and small inside. Fishing the ocean in Alaska is cold and damp more often than not.I built a sort of cabin on the front of mine and the creature comforts were much appreciated, especially by the wife and kids. In an inner tube most days you are always going to be cold and wet.

The boat was still a fair river boat. What I saw was that the Indians in Alaska could get by using a standard outboard, whereas the white guys all had to have jetfoots. I never bought a jetfoot they would turn my 40 hp into about 20 hp. And besides if Indians could do without I could too, they knew how to read the river, I knew how to read the river. Well I did wipe out a prop and break off my skeg, but the repairs were a lot less than the cost of a jetfoot. I probably would have bought a jet if I had remained in Alaska, but it would have meant changing between it and the standard lower unit when I wanted to go to the sea.
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