I got an Sk470 15ft Kaboat a couple of months ago. This is my first and only inflatable boat, primarily to be used for fun around the harbor in my town on Long Island. Since it is my first and only boat, I had a bit of a learning curve. I quickly learned that boats are not the water equivalent of cars. Many more dynamics requiring many more considerations.
First the good news. Although I had only internet photos and info to base my decision on, my choice of the Saturn brand was either smart or lucky. I live in a town with lots of inflatable moored at the dock which gave me plenty to compare to, at least visually and on a tactile basis. I could see and touch lots of brands up close, and although this is new to me, quality seems to be fairly easy to determine with careful comparison. In the Saturn price range, the only brand that seemed to be a possible contender were some of the Sea Eagle models. I came close to a Sea Eagle purchase since they are produced close to my town. However, they seem to be quite limited in their retail showroom hours, so I would have ended up buying sight unseen anyway. That put me back on the internet sales route, and after receiving my Saturn and comparing it to the Sea Eagle models I've seen locally I'm glad I went with the Saturn. The Sea Eagle's look OK, but they ahve the look and feel of high quality toys rather that actual boats. I'm not knocking their brand, and they may have models that are more substantial that the ones I've seen.
My Saturn seems to be on quality par with brands like Zodiac and some of the other more high end brands. I continue to be very impressed with both the quality of materials used and the quality of build in my boat. It may be PVC, but the quality seems comparable to some of the Hypalon boats I've seen up close. I am very satisfied with the quality of my Saturn boat.
I chose the KaBoat Sk470 15' over the more traditional inflatable models for a couple of reasons. First of all, $699. for a 15' boat seemed like a hell of a lot of boat for the money, and second, my reasoning was that such a narrow beam would cut through the water more efficiently than a full beam width craft. On the face of it, my reasoning seemed to make sense; at least to someone with no boating experience. The realities were a little different than I had expected. I still think it's a lot of boat for the money, and it does move a lot faster than a standard width boat with the same size engine. What I had not considered was stability. I learned very quickly that a boat isn't a car on the water.
With a Tohatsu 6hp outboard and 2 people, I would guess I'm moving along at close to 20 mph. Just a guess, but I can tell you it moves pretty good. Even with 3 people it moves right along, I'd guess maybe 12 mph or so. But when I'm by myself, watch out! As soon as I get up on a plane I seem to lose all stability. I have to back the power way down and pray until I come off the plane, and even than it's dicey going more than maybe 6 or 8 mph. And even with passengers, I have to have everybody sit low, or it seems like I'm constantly fight to keep from yawing and tilting. And if the water is a little rough, things get a little scary. Now, I also have a 2hp Tohatsu I've used on this boat, and while it goes a lot slower, it seems to be much easier to control.
In spite of the above, I do love this boat. I love the quality, and although if I were to start over, I would pick a different Satern model, I am determined to sort out the control issues and come up with a fix. Weight distribution is certainly a factor, as is keeping a low center of gravity. I may end up sacrificing some performance and rigging up some form of outrigger or outside tube to give it a wider beam.
I set it up with a Bimini top, which I cut to a lower lever, and made snap in side panels with clear vinyl windows. I am currently making a front console steering system with front controls for shift and engine speed control. Being an inflatable, these changes require some creativity, but I think I just about have it licked. I'll keep you posted.
Bottom line on Saturn boats from my experience. Quality is better than I expected, on par with some much more expensive inflatables I've seen. The KaBoat is a different animal, but my experience with the 15' model may be quite different with the smaller size models. Still, I love it. I get a lot of complements on it, and am determined to make it much more stable and usable for my purpose. Good Luck!
My Saturn inflatable paddle board even propelled me into my first SUP race last June where I placed 4th overall in a race of 50 racers!
It has been a little over a year since our family bought a new Saturn 12' SUP and we can't even begin to tell you how much fun it's been for our family. After doing a lot of research, I concluded that the Saturn 12' that converts into a kayak was the best choice for us. Perhaps the best part is that we can all use it together as a family (we have twin 5 year old boys). This is one feature of the SUP that makes it unique and so useful for our family. I just wish we had bought it sooner!
Since I first tried SUP in Hawaii a few years back, it got me hooked. I wanted to get an inflatable board that was easy to inflate/deflate, easy to pack and something that our entire family could use. I tried several models and was not quite sure which one to buy. I knew it had to be an inflatable, but all of the ones we tried were so expensive. We wanted one that was affordable, yet good quality. I learned about the Saturn model from a friend. I watched all the videos on the website and it was a no brainer. Saturn was the one for us! The minute we got it last March, I inflated it right away in the house and was so excited I wanted to take it out in the snow! It was super easy to inflate and takes about 300 pumps to fully inflate and about 5 minutes to pump up. Not very long, and very easy!
The Saturn board fit's all of our criteria and makes all of our trips to our local lake great memories. I love how our kids who are 5 year old twins can paddle by themselves. They caught on so quickly and it was so impressive to watch. In fact when we have guests in town and are looking for something to do, we head to the lake and I give them a lesson on our Saturn. I have had all of my family and friends try out our board and they all really like SUPing. I recommend the Saturn SUP to each person that tries it. Most of the feedback I get from people about it is that it's so convenient, fun and that the Saturn is very cost effective. I love telling people that we bought a SUP! I always get a lot of looks like they are jealous of our find!
I also travel in-between CO and UT for work. When I do travel in the summer, my Saturn SUP always accompanies me in the car and it's very easy to find a place to take a quick work break and squeeze in an hour paddle. It is the most relaxing time for me after a long day of work (I am in sales).
My Saturn inflatable paddle board even propelled me into my first SUP race last June where I placed 4th overall in a race of 50 racers! All due to the purchase of our Saturn board.
One of the other features of the board that we like as well as the SUP is that it converts into a Kayak. We bought the seats with the board and they fit on very easy. We also bought a paddle that converts from a SUP to a double sided kayak paddle. This way we can go from SUP to Kayak in a matter of minutes and the entire family can be included. We each take turns paddling and have a lot of fun! Our boys have mentioned to us lately that they want to bring our fishing rods on the board and fish off it as well…adding to the fun!
Overall, we have been very happy with our Saturn SUP board. I really believe that it is one of the best investments out family has made as we all get to participate in SUP and Kayaking on each and every trip. So many people ask us where we got it when we are at the lake and I always tell them boats to go! We are actually thinking about buying another one soon for our kids when they get older. Thanks to Saturn for making our summers tons of fun!
Highlands Ranch, CO
You should limit journeys in small inflatable boats to smaller distances in the calmer waters of the harbours and in winds of under force 4. If not, you will have difficulty in controlling both the boat and navigating the direction in which you are going. A solution is to fit a bracket over the tube or transom on which a small outboard engine can be mounted.
Inflatables are so easily driven that you only need an engine of 1 to 2 horsepower to make progress in reasoncale conditions, but the quality of these boats has advanced so much that most can easily take a 5-10 hp engine. One of the main issues you might experience is in engine starting, because these are almost always hand-started. The strong pull you need on the starter cord can be enough to make you lose your balance, particularly if the engine has to be started in gear making the boat move forward as soon as the engine is started.
You should be able to start the engine from a seated position. Once underway be ready to direct the boat in the right direciton. With one person steering from the back the bow will be lifted enough to deal with small waves. Luggage and travelers will have to be properly arranged to slim the boat to give a reasonably dry trip and good progress. You will also need to adjust your speed to match the conditions of the water. A bow dodger will help to give a clean dry ride.
If you think you can avoid getting wet during a serious trip in an inflatable, one trip will quickly correct your thinking. Any water in the bottom of the boat will immediately collect around your shoes as you step into the boat. It will run to the deepest part of the bottom where the majority of your weight is concentrated.
If the boat is inflated properly it will respond more like a hard hull boat and this would enhance its performance when rowing or with an engine. A soft boat will be harder to row that a fully inflated boat since the row locks will bend under the strain. This boat will also deform under with heavy cargo sitting on the tube. Often, problems with uner-inflation stem from the difficulty of inflating the boat on the deck of the yacht or when alongside, especially when the temperature may be moderately high. The pressure of a boat may be fine on land, but when it is put into the cold water it reduces the pressure inside the boat and the boat becomes flabby. Rock solid inflation of inflatables certainly helps the handling, but do remember that if they are left out in the the hot sun the pressure will rise to unacceptably high levels.
A good alternative to the gas engine is of course the electric motor which requires no hand-starting.