Inflatable kayaks have grown in popularity in recent years. Still, if you’ve only recently come across them, you might be wondering about their safety. And whether they are suitable for use everywhere, or only in some places.
Alligators are a particular cause for concern. And you may have read about a woman whose inflatable kayak was punctured by one while kayaking in Florida.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Safe In Florida?
Inflatable kayaks are generally considered safe but not as durable as hardshell kayaks. They are not easy to puncture but do not offer the same toughness as standard plastic kayaks. However, many people use them safely every day, even in Florida.
How Durable Is An Inflatable Kayak?
This is a tricky question. Inflatable kayaks can be extremely durable, and some even use aluminum inside them to increase their toughness. They are not suitable for really rough conditions, but they will stand up to everyday use just fine.
These kayaks aren’t made of a single layer of thin plastic. They use multiple layers of different materials that have been woven for durability and strength.
Today’s technology has made these kayaks more durable, and many of the high-quality kayaks are constructed of highly durable materials. This is great news, especially, if you love kayaking with your dog and they have sharp nails.
Inflatable kayaks can take quite a bit of abuse before showing holes or even wear. Although you should not use them in conditions that you know are likely to puncture the boat.
Inflatable kayaks aren’t generally considered suitable for white water. But they will do fine if you’re paddling on a lake or river.
You should rarely experience punctures, as often the kayak will glance off any sharp rocks or tree branches without taking any damage.
Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule; you may find that you get unlucky and your kayak gets punctured by something, but on the whole, these boats can be surprisingly durable.
What Happens If An Inflatable Kayak Gets Punctured?
You might be wondering if one minor puncture is enough to send the whole kayak to the depths. This could be of particular concern if you are thinking of kayaking anywhere near alligators in Florida.
However, according to PumpUpBoats, inflatable kayaks don’t simply sink when they get a puncture. They are made using multiple chambers, so even if one part of your kayak gets punctured, you’re unlikely to go down. Instead, your kayak will probably just sit lower in the water.
Of course, if an alligator was to grab and bite a large section of the kayak. It might puncture all of the chambers at once.
Even then, the boat would be unlikely to sink, as the air would take time to leak out of the holes directly.
A small puncture, or even a large one, is not going to make your kayak sink too quickly. However, it’s important to stay calm and get to shore if your boat does get punctured.
Bear in mind that while it happens less often, hardshell kayaks can get punctured too. This will compromise the shell integrity and could let water into the boat.
Is An Inflatable Kayak Safe To Use Around Alligators?
This might sound like a silly question, but it’s one many people want the answer to, and there will probably be an ongoing debate about it for some time to come.
The real answer is that no kayak is truly “safe” around alligators. But what counts as safe will vary from person to person.
If an alligator truly decides to attack you, a hard shell kayak is unlikely to protect you, but it will offer you greater stability in the water.
You are less likely to be thrown about by the alligator’s thrashing. And the hard casing may give you more protection from a bite. Especially an experimental bite that is testing to see what you are.
Softshell kayaks can be tricky to maneuver accurately and are often a little less balanced in the water. Also, because they have less weight, they are not as stable and can roll over more readily. Especially if you are pretty light and you don’t have much gear in the boat.
A hardshell kayak is usually easier to control and may be less likely to capsize in the water.
However, this is no guarantee against an alligator attack. And if the boat goes over, it will be much harder to recover than an inflatable kayak.
Neither kind of kayak is safe when it comes to aggressive alligators, but often, alligators are not aggressive toward kayakers. They don’t see them as prey and will usually ignore or move away from them unless they have cause to attack.
On the whole, a soft shell may be slightly less safe than a hard shell kayak, but the difference is probably negligible.
If an alligator attacks you, you will be lucky if you walk away from the encounter whatever kind of kayak you have – but in most circumstances, the alligator won’t attack.
How To Kayak Safely Near Alligators
That is not to say you should ignore the presence of alligators or assume that you are safe around them. You should always be cautious when kayaking in Florida, regardless of what kind of boat you have.
Be wary even if you don’t think there are alligators in the water; they can be invisible if they are fully submerged.
Do not approach alligators under any circumstances. Make yourself aware of their mating season. This is when they are most likely to be aggressive, and avoid them with particular care at this time.
Alligators mate in April and May. And they are much more likely to attack you if they are defending territory or trying to impress females.
When kayaking in water where you know alligators are present. Keep your hands and feet inside the kayak at all times; don’t dangle them (or anything else) over the sides.
Don’t take pets with you, as these are much more likely to be seen as prey. In addition, your dog can get scared or chase something and jump in the water. Even on a leash, it is not safe to take a dog in a kayak if there are alligators in the water.
Finally, if you are fishing on an inflatable kayak. Avoid leaving fish on the edge of your boat or even in the bottom. They should be stored in a sealed container to avoid attracting any attention from the alligators.
Since alligators eat fish. Dangling them over the edges is pretty much an invitation for them to swim up and bite at the boat.
If you are going to kayak, try to choose well-traveled routes. Here, alligators are more likely to be used to kayakers, and therefore less curious about them. You are also more likely to be able to get help if you get into any difficulty while on the water.
Many people see kayaking in an inflatable kayak when near alligators as asking for trouble. But this is a choice that only you can make.
Familiarize yourself with the dangers and never push your luck near these powerful creatures; they are very capable of killing you, regardless of the kind of kayak you have.
Inflatable kayaks are reasonably safe in Florida. But you do need to take safety precautions – just as you would if you were using a hard shell kayak.
If an alligator attacks you, the kind of material your kayak is made from is unlikely to protect you.
Treat alligators with caution and be very sensible when kayaking around them. Never kayak alone in alligator-infested water in case you need someone to call for help.
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