Inflatable Canoeing Adventures - Buy this eBook!

Most of us can relate to the fun we had canoeing at summer camp when we were young. But that was nothing compared to the experience of whitewater kayaking that came next for me. I have always loved canoeing, though it always seemed difficult to participate. It has only been in the last decade that the development of inflatable canoes has made a big difference. You can more easily access rivers, you can store a canoe in your car, you can even take them on a plane. They are very light, very cheap, with little loss of functionality. Perfect for weekends away or campervan holidays. Social networking was the other big change. You can now use Facebook, etc to join canoeing adventures in your local region or abroad.

Inflatable Canoeing Adventures - view the table of contents! Click here to download the table of contents for this eBook, available for just $US7.95.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Canoeing the Mokihinui River, Sth Island, New Zealand

I've got a good idea where I will be going on my next trip to NZ. I've just been reading how the NZ government is about to dam the Mokihinui River on the West Coast of New Zealand. Looking at the YouTube video below, it appears to be a pretty scenic river, with a mix of Grade 1-3 rapids. Though I'm gauging that purely from the river so do your own research. The Mokihinui River is the longest river on the West Coast of NZ, but that’s not saying much since the catchments are small.
I go hate to see river catchments destroyed. This one is fairly scenic. In this case it’s not readily apparent why there is a need for hydro electric power since there is a significant amount of coal in the area. So greenies, you can choice your poison – a coal fired power station or a hydro scheme. Regardless one suspects someone will be making your mind up for you. But at least dissident canoeists can have their chance for a canoe because I dare say government will be debating the issue for another 2 years before construction will prevent canoeing. In the interim here is an idea of what will be lost.
Also, check out the link from the Forest and Bird website: where you will ways to help Save the Mokihinui River.

Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Strategies for a weekend adventure

I think in any city where you are surrounded by nature you want to get away for a weekend at least to escape the city. But that is not enough to preserve your interest. You can relate and read a book by a pool, but then you have probably done plenty of that in your own home city. For something new I have several ideas:
1. You take a weekend and hire a campervan and go tripping. But dont just lounge around. Find that fishing gear that you never seem to use, or borrow a friends, and get yourself a canoe so you can enjoy a new experience.
2. Go horse riding for a weekend. Find one that just doesnt walk you around the paddock but takes you up on the range, perhaps with several days camping, or maybe a shorter trip up an isolated river valley.
3. Go mountain biking through some mountain forest trails

It really doesn't cost a lot these days to participate. You can even use the same helmet for canoeing as for horse riding or mountain biking. There is decent equipment made in China if you know what you need, so there is another saving. You can even buy 2nd hand if cash is scarce. These are all great activities for families as well. All my brothers have been canoeing with me. you can buy a decent canoe for as little as $US75 depending on where you live, mountain bikes $150-175. You dont need the latest & lightest, why not start slow with a 2nd hand product. You xan always find another 'sucker' to pay what you did, unless you are real slow to sell it.

My preference is not to make these adventures a one-off but to perform them on a sub-routine basis. Clearly biking is a great activity that you can perform daily, whereas canoeing and horse riding take too much time away from the other things I do. My intent is to challenge myself in work, relationships, recreation and investment. Always seek new opportunities for a challenge. Of course you can only do one thing at a time. This is not a lesson for some. For others its a revelation. For others still, they talk it, but never seem to find the path. I hope you can find the encouragement and resources on this website to take you there.
Andrew Sheldon

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why buy an inflatable canoe?

Inflatables have long been recognised for their application in watersports, particularly in marine and swimming pools. But as plastic moulding and sealing technologies have improved, its now possible to buy well designed inflatables that closely resemble the fixed hull canoes that most people are accustomed. Lets consider some of the pros and cons of inflatables for canoeing.

The pros of inflatable canoes
The benefits are:
1. Inflatables ride over river gravels better than fixed kayaks because the plastic material glides over smooth rocks much better. This is facilitated by the more even weight distribution, which also gives you better clearance. I find that I can get even better clarance or weight distribution by suspending my butt in the air so the weight is on the front and back. But I find the material readily slides over these rocks.
2. Inflatables are much more comfortable to ride because you can more easily flex your limbs and the hull gives, so your weight is more evenly distributed. Some designs are better than others because they are equipped with a separate air cushion. Another design uses straps to support the seat...I dont like that type.
3. Inflatables are more easily transported. I have taken my inflatable canoe on public transport in Japan (though I suggest taking a collapsible paddle). The benefit is that there is very little portage required if you live near a station and the train follows the river valley. The same portability makes them great for storing them in the rear compartment of a car. Being inside the car means they are moe secure. I dont want people to know what I am doing in the local area for safety reasons, and I want my possessions secure inside the vehicle.
4. Inflatables are lighter to carry. Whether you need to portage your canoe to a remote river, or negotiate a steep forest trail to avoid an impassable section of river (eg a waterfall), you will appreciate avoiding the safety and exhaustion issues that plague fixed hull canoes. If you slip with a fixed hull canoe you will very likely break your back or hit your head. An inflatable is light and soft so your hands are effectively free to break your fall. I often dont even bother deflating my inflatable to negotiate any river portages. I can carry it in one hand or carry it overhead for greater visibility and 'hands free' in slippery situations.
5. Inflatables are more compact. The relative compactness of inflatables makes them well suited for taking overseas as normal luggage. You can even store them in some train station compartments, though these services are disappearing because of the terrorist threat.
6. Inflatables are surprisingly robust. I've taken my inflatable on about 8 rivers with no signs of wear & tear. I had a puncture on the 6th occasion, but I just packed up the canoe, walked up to a bus stop and took it home for repair. The polyethylene material gives alot, wrapping around rocks and sticks. They tend to just absorb the impact so you dont get punctures. Firstly because of the air cushion, and secondly because the plastic stretches. The puncture I had was actually more of a slash than a puncture. That is evident from the cleanliness of the cut, so I suspect there was broken glass in the very shallow river. I actually deserved the damage given the shallowness of the river. A fixed hull canoe could not even have passed this section. Generally there is very little sign of wear and tear apart from this puncture, so I am convinced its a rare occurrence.
7. Water Discharge: All canoes eventually accumulate alot of water in them requiring you to flip them over. Rest assured its alot easier to discharge an inflatable canoe, though they do tend to gather more water too if they are open as opposed to 'enclosed' kayaks.
8. Boarding the canoe: I think boarding a canoe from land or water is alot easier than with an inflatable than a fixed hull canoe because the inflatable absorbs or gives, whereas the fixed canoe will rock causing instability. Similarly boarding from the water is easy from water because the canoe gives and does not rock as much. They require a different mode of entry from river banks. You would tend to enter from a low centre of gravity or from the water. You dont step into them since you would likely ruin the seams.
9. Stowing gear: I find the inflatable very good for stowing gear because you can wedge gear in the front and aft of the canoe, and you can secure it with the straps or just the inflatable seat that comes with the canoe.
10. Repair: You might argue that an inflatable is more likely to get a puncture than a fixed hull canoe, but I would argue that its easier to fix an inflatable on the river than a fixed hull (fibreglass or plastic) canoe. Regardless, either can be fixed by applying waterproof tape.
11. Sleeping compartment: According to the design specs for inflatables they are not designed for sitting in on land. But I wonder if they could in fact be used for sleeping as a substitute for a tent. The obvious advantage is that you could reduce your weight and bulk stowage needs - for a tent and sleeping bag. Modern tents though are pretty light though. There is some appeal to the idea of sleeping in a wet suit, whether on land or the river (depending on the design specs), but I have yet to test this concept.
12. Safety: I believe inflatables are far safer than fixed hull canoes, particularly where children are concerned. Its hard to imagine being trapped in one unless it was punctured by a tree and deflated around you. They are not going to give you a head injury.
13. Mobility:
Inflatables offer by far better mobility - whether you need to traverse steep slopes or rugged gorge country. This is true whether you have it packed in a backpack or you carry it in a bag. Why? In a backpack it leaves your hands free, and if you decide to carry it, its easy to dispense with until you regain your balance. You dont have to worry about a heavy object falling on you or undermining your gravity. Like any other canoe its harder to navigate through bush, so for long portages you might want to deflate. For accessing those wild wilderness rivers lacking road access or a helipad, there is no better solution.
14. International trips: Buying equipment for an overseas trip can present a hassle paying on credit card or establishing a receiving address, particularly in a foreign country where you cant trust vendors. Inflatables offer the option of taking your boat with you. Airlines are now enforcing strict limits on the weight and types of luggage they are prepared to carry. The light weight of inflatables makes them cheaper to transport overseas. They weigh about 20kg. An inflatable canoe can always be carried in a standard box, whereas for a fixed hull canoe you will need a commercial transport company. eg. British Airways recently decided to ban surfboards, kayaks & windsurfers from their flights. You can't even pay extra, forcing travellers to freight their boat/boards via surface mail. If other airlines follow suit, this would be a huge restriction on canoeing. For some this might be reason enough to buy an inflatable since it would be classed as normal luggage since it comes in a box. See related article.
15. Multipurpose: The Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe is not designed for this, but I suspect you could use this canoe as bed. Seylor advises users not to use inflatables on-land, but I suggest there might be compelling reasons to do so. The inflatable might make a comfortable bed if you are careful. Having said that, tents and foam insulation are likely more comfortable and light to carry. Just an idea. Your weight should be equally distributed by the air, so I can't see a problem as long as you avoid sudden impacts because water does give.
Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe - Buy Now!

The cons of inflatable canoes
The only things I don't like about inflatables are:
1. Navigability: Inflatables don't steer as well as fixed canoes because they are not rigid. You can buy an attachment to improve the steering which works well. For whitewater, the diminished steerability is only a problem for technically difficult rapids. Inflatables are not as appealing on open water because of wind drag. Inflatable canoes experience greater wind shear, so I would tend to avoid them if you intend to use your boat mostly on lakes or broad rivers. For whitewater, you are unlikely to experience much wind as rivers are generally protected by V-shaped valleys and overhanging trees.
2. Speed:
On open, flat water an inflatable canoe can feel a little sluggish. This sluggishness is somewhat offset by their lighter weight.
3. Weight: A fixed hull canoe offers greater weight carrying capacity. This is not a problem for short trips or if you are very careful with your stowage weights, but it might restrict touring trips. I however think there is the opportunity for using an inflatable as an air mattress, which means you dont have to carry a tent (assuming you are one person per canoe).
4. Vulnerability: One problem with inflatables is that they are more easily damaged, so if they are damaged in an isolated area, you might have a problem fixing them. Its not that they cant be fixed, its more likely that you might be delayed until after dark. My experience however is that you tend to get holes from man-made objects (not from rocks or branches) such as steel or glass shards, which tend to be around people anyway. So be more careful when passing concrete foundations, particularly at old bridges. I have never fixed a canoe on the river because all my canoeing experience with inflatibles has been on rivers with good access, so I've just taken the damaged canoe home for proper repair. On the positive, the only hole I got in the canoe was due to a glass or steel, and you are unlikely to have such materials in remote areas unless its civil works related.

Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe - Buy Now!

The best canoe to buy!

River running is without a doubt one of the best sports to engage in I believe. But there are several options to choose from:
1. Kayak: A kayak is an enclosed vessel first conceived by the Eskimos. It has a sealed flap to ensure little water enters the manhole. The benefit of a kayak is that they are faster, more maneuverable and self-driven. Different kayaks are designed to offer variable stability, buoyancy, speed and navigability.
a. Fixed type: These types are made of solid polyethylene or fiberglass, providing them with a high level of rigidity, but also some flexibility to absorb shocks on the river.
b. Collapsible type: There are collapsible kayaks which have a frame, so you can compact the kayak for storage or cartage. These are only suitable for sea kayaking.
2. Canoe: A canoe is an open vessel with the capacity to carry 2-3 people, otherwise used for greater storage capacity. Different kayaks are designed to offer variable stability, buoyancy, speed and navigability. There are 2 types of canoe:
a. Fixed type: These types are made of solid polyethylene or fiberglass, providing them with a high level of rigidity, but also some flexibility to absorb shocks on the river.
b. Inflatable type: These types are made from various grades of plastic. Inflated by pump, the air pocket provides a different type of cushion to absorb shocks. Inflatables have the advantage for cartage and storage.
3. Raft: Raft are open, broad, polyethylene inflatable vessels equipped with tie-lines to offer passengers greater security. These vessels are less navigable but can carry a great many people and if the river is wide enough, they are able to handle large rapids with ease.

When buying a vessel you really need to decide which type of material and design suits your needs. You need to decide whether:
1. You will be riding river rapids, beach surf lake waters, and the type of conditions
2. You will be taking short trips or doing overnight tours requiring more storage for food & overnight camping.
3. You need to decide the number of passengers – Will you be accompanied by friends, kids, and can they handle an independent vessel?
4. You need to decide the level of autonomy you want to have, or whether you see it more as a social activity.
5. You need to decide your motives for running a river? Is it to explore, to feel the excitement and adrenaline, or to look at scenic nature. Is it intended to be a social activity?

Ideally I prefer kayaking because of the greater control that a kayak offers, but I find the need to lug around a fixed kayak too much of burden, both for security reasons and storage. An inflatable can easily be packed in the back of a vehicle, taken on a plane, bus, train or even overseas. They are navigable and strong enough to run river rapids, and carry supplies for 1 person. My primary reason for running the river is the adventure, nature and tranquility, the social interaction is secondary, so I prefer to run solo. But actually I think solo experiences are more social because they are not shared. Anyway inflatables are far more flexible.

Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe - Buy Now!
Andrew Sheldon

Monday, January 14, 2008

Canoeing the Magat River, Nueva Viscaya, The Philippines

The Magat River flows north of Santa Fe town, in Nueva Viscaya, in Central Luzon. The section of river suitable for canoeing is marked on My Google Maps at,121.03157&spn=0.319682,0.63858&t=h&z=11&om=1.
This river is well suited for novice canoeing. The water is Grade 1 to 2. The river offers only a short trip as the river quickly broadens out on the valley floor, and as the river disperses, the water becomes flat. Despite this the area is very scenic. At Aritao, the river is flat. The roads in this area are very straight and not so busy, though I performed my river survey on Sunday. Trucks and a multitude of tricycles are the biggest obstacle.

Canoeing at San Jose City, Nueva Eclija, The Philippines

The San Jose River is easily accessed from Manila by bus – it takes about 6 hours. Access to the river is easily achieved along the highway heading north, whether by car, bus or jeepney. The following map will help you plan your trip – see Better still use the Canoe Trip Map 1 I have constructed at,120.976639&spn=0.320252,0.63858&t=h&z=11&om=1
The river is grade 1-2 gravel races, so its well suited to beginners, though it might be advisable to undertake the trip when there is more water in the river (ie. After rain) so you don’t spend too much time on gravel. According to my trip notes, and my limited observation of this river, the section marked is navigable and offers some water flow and the possibility of rapids. Some rapids are evidence from the Mahalika Highway, though these are mostly gravel races suitable for beginners and children. Above a marked river confluence there is too little water, and below the Cowboy Grill (exit point on the highway), the river is flat, and thus boring for all concerned.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Canoeing the Ibulao River, Banaue Area, Philippines

Every holiday I go on I am always looking for opportunities to go mountain biking or canoeing. Since canoeing is not very popular in the Philippines, I tend instead to look for rafting opportunities. Actually I heard of rafting in Ifugao Province whilst staying at the Banaue Hotel in Banaue, Ifugao Province. I had actually passed the river during the night getting to Banaue, so I was pleased to know I would see it returning to Manila. The Ibulao River rises in the mountainous regions of Ifugao Province.

There are several sections that offer whitewater:
1. Mungayang to Ibulao Bridge: This section of river is popular for rafting. The following map shows the location of Mungayang – on the Mountain Polis Highway – see, though I am not aware of the entry point. The exit point from the river is the Ibulao Bridge – viewed at:,120.5711&sspn=0.009964,0.019956&ie=UTF8&ll=16.784019,121.121049&spn=0.004961,0.009978&t=h&z=17&om=1.It&time=&date=&ttype=&q=lamut+philippines&sll=15.9761,120.5711&sspn=0.009964,0.019956&ie=UTF8&ll=16.784019,121.121049&spn=0.004961,0.009978&t=h&z=17&om=1.It might be best to ask locals how to get access to the river from the Mountain Polis Highway, or call the Adventure company below. I am guessing the rapids are grade 1-3 in difficulty.
2. Ibulao Bridge to Lamut (??): The possibility or utility of canoeing this section is unknown. I personally checked out the rapids in the gorge below Ibulao Bridge from a track running along the northern side of the gorge – follow the sign to the caves. Apart from providing a view of the river, I have seen a overloaded jeepney go along this road, so it must continue for some time. It might even provide an access point to the lower section of river. It would however be preferable to access the lower section of river from the highway around Lamut as the Caves road is mostly one-way with few turning places. There is a log in the gorge that would obstruct rafts from passing, and the conditions would make portage difficult. The obstruction should not hinder canoes however if they take the central route with care. Eventually this river joins a larger river before flowing into a reservoir (dam), so an exit around the confluence (flowing north) would be preferred, if not earlier. The rapids in the gorge are grade 1-3.

See my Ibulao Canoe Trip 3 - marked on my Google Maps at,121.224518&spn=0.638012,1.277161&t=h&z=10&om=1hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=106791913239054408744.000443a6386cb1a223c36&ll=16.680924,121.224518&spn=0.638012,1.277161&t=h&z=10&om=1.

Accommodation is available in Banaue (The Banaue Hotel for P2300-3300/night) or Youth Hostel for P250/night) or perhaps Bagabag in the Cagayan Valley. See the following websites for video-photo footage of the river from people who have rafted this river with Uerm81 Adventures (email:, Cell: 0919 694 5964) - see and, and heaps of photos at If you are concerned about leaving your vehicle around and like the idea of using inflatables, consider public transport options. Public transport necessitates travelling with an outdoors adventure company or using inflatable boats.
The options for transport include:
1. Bus from Manila – transfer in Cabanatuan City or Bagabag. Jeeyney to Banaue, and exit near river.
2. Bus from Manila – transfer in Baguio to Banaue jeepney.

Whitewater tubing the Sibulan River, Davao del Sur, Philippines

I have no paticular interest in 'tubing' but here is a blog by a guy who seems to get around more than me. See This blog posting describes his whitewater tubing adventures on the Sibulan River in Barangay Santa Cruz, in the southern (Mindanao) province of Davao del Sur, close to the boundary of Davao City.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Comparison of Inflatable Canoes

At this point in time I have only used the Sevylor 'Tahiti' inflatable canoe. Though for the sake of completeness I want to consider the other alternatives:

1. Sea Eagle Explorer: Sea Eagle manufactures 3 variations of its inflatable Explorer canoe. See There are 2 elements about the specs that I dont like. The $900-1000 price and the seat design.

2. Sevylor Tahiti: Sevylor produce a range of inflatables. There are 2 different designs - the 2-man Tahiti and the 1-man Bali. For a little extra weight I think its worth buying the Tahiti for the additional storage capacity. You can buy these canoes for under $300. I love the inflatable and adjustable seat design. The only things I dont like was the colour and the lack of a carry bag. I could not get the thing in my box, though I note that Japanese customs were able to do so when I freighted one to Japan. I like the one-way valves, just wished they were used on all compartments. If you want the vessel to paddle in a straight line - get the skeg accessory. But I like whitewater, so I prefer not to use it.
Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe - Buy Now!

3. Intek AirHead Inflatable Canoes: InTek manufactures a 1-man and 2-man designs of their Airhead inflatable canoe. I have not used this canoe, but the netting at the front could be a dangerous entanglement in whitewater canoeing. Anyway its only designed for moderate whitewater. Also I dont like the sea. The price is moderate at

4. Soar 12 Inflatable Canoe: Soar1 producers several inflatable canoes for around $1200. I dont like the design of the seats, and I think the heaviness would limit the portability of the vessel.Its also an expensive option. See

5. Gumotex Safari: This whitewater canoe an option. I like the seating style, though I have not tried this specific model. I think the netting for holding equipment presents a safety risk in whitewater because of the possibility of entanglements. Though its an open netting, so not too risky. The price is far more than the Sevylor Tahiti.

Overall I think the Sevylor Tahiti is the best design - and its sold at a very competitive price!
Sevylor Tahiti Inflatable Canoe - Buy Now!