First a little background. Back in the '80s, we had a small, cheap-but-good, used soft top camping trailer that we could load a 14' lightweight aluminum car topper on to the top of, with a 8 hp Johnson two stroke (what else?) in a home make cradle on the tongue. It towed easily behind a '85 Corolla with 87 rampaging horsepower. It was easy to set-up, easy to launch, fun to use and it sipped gas/oil. And we (wife, me, daughter, and often, one of daughters friends) slept off the ground.
But, I had to get a bigger boat....right? So we bought a 16 foot aluminium semi-vee with a 25 HP Evinrude and trailer, towed by a V6 minivan. And went back to sleeping on the ground (bummer).
The new boat (a Lund SV-16) was very nice, felt safer....but. It was a pain to launch, ate gas/oil WAY faster than the old boat, and when we downsized, at an early retirement, from one minivan and one compact car, to one (1) compact car, the bigger boat became a pain in the tush. It sat in the driveway, insured and under multiple tarps, for 16 years. I sold it, for not much, last spring.
BTW, what I paid in theft insurance, for that 16 years, would have paid for my new boat........and motor!
So, what to replace my old and (now) beloved set-up. Well, new trailers weigh a ton (usually more) and a Kia Soul, wonderful vehicle that it is, is NOT a Ford 150, with towing package.
Enter the Explorer Box trailer, great idea, built one and I'm very happy, tows like a dream behind the Soul...........but the old boat/motor system ain't going to work. The old trailer, with it's folding plywood bed bottoms, would allow a boat to be mounted on top, with a easy-to-build 2x4 rack between the trailer and the boat. Not so the explorer box, at least not easily. More of a problem, the new four stroke outboards are heavier (but thriftier) and very fussy about how they sit while being transported. No lashing on their side to a cradle on the trailer tongue with these beasties.
The criteria, light weight, room for two, safe for clumsy amateur boaters, good on fuel, motor on back of trailer, balanced by boat on front shelf....... cost, as close to $3500 as I can get....plus taxes.
Outboard first. The Tohatsu/Nissan/Mercury/Evinrude 9.8/9.9 (yes, they are all the same motor, built by Tohatsu, although the Merc has a combined tiller/gearshift that makes it easier to use, but less reliable) was the lightest motor in that size and it has a very good reputation. (less so for the Merc.) It (Tohatsu) was also on sale locally for $2000. Last year Suzuki brought out a 9.9 with the same weight and fuel injection, but too late, as I had already bought the Tohatsu.
The boat. Hmmm, lots of asian-made inflatables, at good prices, but are they good quality? I don't want my seams splitting (and the boat sinking) in the middle of the lake. Floating on air is great, but it has to stay inside the boat. Spending a few days digging around the interwebs (yes, I need a life) I found this gem: http://www.my-inflatable-boat.com/
Lots of info, and things to think about, and it led me to this company: http://seabrightmarine.ca/index.html
Seabright marine is a one man operation in the thriving metropolis of Seabright N.S. Canada . (I'm a Canadian) I'm guessing from Google maps that the population is (well) under 100. Still, the owner is quite up front with the fact that his boats are custom made for him by Weihai Hifei Marine Co. of China, a company that also makes the highly regarded, designed in Australia, Highfield Marine line of RIBs. The Seabrights are model HSD soft bottom inflatables with upgraded floors, seats, handles and drain valves. What I liked was that Seabright (and Weihai) specified the maker of the (German and French) fabrics the boats are made from. When a boat is 95% fabric, I think that is important. I had a chance to check out some Highfields at a local boat dealer, liked what I saw, and contacted Seabright with some questions. My questions, even the really dumb one were promptly answered in full, with lots of detail.
Since Seabright sells direct to the customer, his prices are very good for the quality of boat.
Since there was a winter time sale, with Christmas bonus, on at the time, I paid a deposit on a new 2015 SeaBright 320.
Living with a small inflatable boat. Well, it's cozy. The boat may be 10.5 feet long (320 cm), and 5 ft wide, but the inflated tubes take up a lot of space. It rides nicely, the inflatable keel really works. It rows easily, and is incredibly frugal with fuel. I think it will top out at about 35 KPH with the 9.8, but 30 kph is more relaxed, and easier on gas. That's about 20 mph for the Yanks. My only complaint was that the bow of the boat climbed very high when the boat was getting up on plane. Once, while getting on plane into a headwind, we hit a small wave, and the wife bounced off her seat and onto my lap in the stern seat....the bow was that high. Since then I've installed a hydrofoil on the motor and the bow stays down and the boat gets up on plane much faster. We really love the little boat, it feels very safe and it's great for poking about with.
Anyway, here's some photos of it being assembled and some of the things I've added.
Transporting the boat. Here are the pads that protect the trailer from the boat. They snap on to snaps on the trailer front.
The floor of the boat on the shelf. with the main body of the boat to follow.
The boat mounted and tied down. Yes, I tie up the loose ends of the straps before I move.
Here's the motor, with it's new hydrofoil and bottom brace.
The boat when it's first rolled out of it's bag.
With a bit of air in it, ready to install the floorboards. The front board is in. The bright yellow thing is a two stage pump, first stage is a blower to get the boat filled quickly. The second stage is a dual piston pump that gets the tubes up to pressure. 3.6 PSI.
The floor is in and the stringers are in place. The stringers are the parts that attach to the edges of the floor.