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The Inflatable Alternative

Lots of sailors like to surf. One of the big problems they have is that surfboards are pretty large and most cruising sailboats are relatively small. In addition, it can be difficult getting boards off and on boats without banging them, resulting in dings in the fiberglass boards. The problems may not be so big for younger sailor/surfers who ride small boards and are more nimble and have higher body strength-to-weight ratios. But they are a problem for geezers sailor/surfers such as ourselves, who still enjoy the waves.

One alternative is inflatable surfboards. We can hear you laughing, and to a certain extent, you are justified in doing so. If you’re a hot surfer, there is no way that an inflatable board is going to be the proper tool for you. On the other hand, there are inflatable surfboards and there are inflatable surfboards. We’d include the Uli — of which we have an 11-foot model on ‘ti Profligate — in the latter category. Not only is it of rugged construction, but you can pump the thing up so firm you can bounce a dime off of it. The problem with less expensive inflatables is that they can’t take a similar PSI, and therefore sag in the middle when you stand on them.

The best things about the inflatables are the convenience. We’ve had no problem rolling ours up and checking it as airline baggage. And when lauching or retrieving the board from the boat, you can just drag the admittedly clumsy thing across the deck with no damage at all.

The boards are also a huge hit with kids. We happily loan ours to Scotty and Lila, who run the 65-ft Gannon & Benjamin schooner Juno that is on the cover of the latest Latitude. Their family has a blast with it. Scotty takes his two sons — and whatever other kids are around — for paddles around Columbie. Or they tie the board behind Juno and the kids play on it for hours.

While inflatable surfboards aren’t a perfect product, they might prove to be a suitable compromise for your needs. 

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