Thinking of buying an inflatable boat and wondering that I often go fishing and are concerned about whether inflatable boats are safe for fishing or not? So, let’s see whether inflatable boats are safe for fishing or not?
Inflatable boats can be dangerous for fishing due to its built material, lightweight, and less stability. But nowadays, all inflatable boats are built with thick material that can withstand sharper objects well. Besides that, bad weather can also be risky, so you need to be cautious about weather changes.
The risk from sharper objects is one thing; another essential thing is that they are light in weight and less stable in nature than other boats, so rough waters can be dangerous. Avoiding bad weather (rough or choppy waters mainly) and not keeping sharper objects in the boat will completely eliminate the risk of danger while fishing in an inflatable boat.
So, this post is mainly focused on those two factors. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about puncher in the boat due to sharp objects because nowadays, they are built with PVC and Hypalon, which can defend sharper objects better. However, normal boats that are made out of metal can handle sharper objects better than any boats.
The simple solution to avoid puncture is not to keep any sharper objects in an inflatable; keep them inside the tackle box properly. I would say inflatable boat puncture is not the main thing you should be concerned about; although they are some risks, you need to be very cautious about the weather than any other things.
Since these boats are light in weight and less stable, they can easily get wrecked or carried away by waves or other boats’ wakes. Apart from the inflatable boat puncturing threat, you also need to be very careful about the type of water you are boating in, rough or calm waters.
Due to its lightweight and less stable nature, inflatable boats may not handle rough or choppy water well compared to clam waters. Winds or currents can easily carry them away. So, the weather is another essential thing to consider here apart from the “puncturing” threat. So, this post is mainly focused on those two factors.
Related post – Check my article on Are inflatable boats safe or dangerous? to now statistically whether inflatable boats are safe or dangerous?
Some of the vital things to observe while fishing in inflatable boats
We will now see some of the minor details to observe around you while fishing in an inflatable boat to prevent the majority of risks and dangers prior. Observing the surroundings well, minor changes in the weather, and the wave patterns will mostly help you get out in prior to that incoming signs of bad weather or choppy waters.
Inflatable boats may not perform well in rough or choppy waters. By knowing the wave patterns and wind patterns, you will get to know about any upcoming gales or big winds. So, by observing some of the things around, you can prevent the majority of upcoming risks prior.
1. Check the objects that are kept on the boat and outside in the water
The essence of this check is to avoid any puncher on an inflatable boat. Although chances of puncture are less, by taking some precautions prior may help you out one day.
- Ensure that the surroundings you are boating in have no sharp objects such as floating wooden logs or any stacks of rocks. An inflatable boat will most probably not get punctured due to logs or stacks, but frequently rubbing and hitting the sharp edges of the logs or rocks may result in wear off (puncture) down the line.
- If you go boating in those places, try to avoid any close contact with the logs or rocks. Even if you go in shallow waters and get in contact with the ground oftentimes, it can hurt the boat in the long run. So, better avoid those things prior.
And finally, try not to keep any sharp objects inside the boat like fishing hooks or any. Try to keep all the tools in the tackle box and ensure that the box is closed. So, by checking the surroundings regularly both inside the boat and outside the boat can be beneficial.
2. Observe the wave patterns
There won’t be any big swells or any huge heights in waves in normal or calm waters. So, it makes us very easy to recognize (distinguish) between the rough or choppy waters vs. calm or normal waters. It’s crucial to look at the wave patterns in the lakes often while boating.
- The interval between waves is important because even though the waves may not be too high, if the boat doesn’t have time to recover from one to the next, you will probably face a very bumpy (uncomfortable) ride, and it can be hazardous sometimes.
- The height of the waves is also important because if the wave’s heights are too high and if any big wave hits the boat, it can easily take that water since the freeboard area will be less for an inflatable boat. If big waves added up with less interval among them, it would become more dangerous.
Those two are the most common wave patterns (you may find in the waters) you need to check, and mostly you can easily recognize those wave patterns. If you don’t see any sign of those wave patterns, you will most probably do FINE using an inflatable boat even in big lakes or open waters.
It’s highly recommended to install a bilge pump on your boat or keep a small handpump in the boat while boating. Since inflatable boat’s bows are very low and open, it can easily take water if any wave hits the boat. Having a bilge pump or hand pump prior will remove all that incoming water out of the boat quickly.
3. Observe the wind patterns
Wind pattern and wind speeds are the most essential things to check while boating in big lakes or open waters regardless of the boat you are using. Because if there are lighter winds, you most probably won’t see any upcoming bad weather signs, such as gales, storms, big waves, etc.
- Knowing the wind direction is important because whether you have a headwind, following, or a beam wind makes all the difference in the wave patterns. And some hulls handle one and not the other. Sometimes, it can decide your route (since it’s tough to move against the wind).
- Knowing the wind speed is also important because if the wind speed is low, there won’t be any big waves, and similarly, if the wind speed is high, there will be big waves. If you want, you can take a small anemometer with you to measure the wind speed.
A small change (increase) in the wind speed will increase the choppiness of the waters. So, by observing the wind patterns and speeds, you can get back to the shore prior to if the wind starts to pick up (if wind speed increases).
Here is a small breakdown of the wind speed vs. wave height. Those are average (approximate) values.
- 10-knot wind: < 2-foot waves
- 15-knot wind: 2-foot waves
- 20-knot wind: 2-3 foot waves
- 25-knot to 30-knot wind: 4-foot waves
- 40+ knot wind: 4 foot to 6+ foot waves
By looking at the wind speed in the anemometer, you can roughly tell what would be the wave height and compare it with your boat to conclude whether your boat can handle those waves or not. Anemometer would help you a lot in deciding whether your boat can handle the waves or not.
4. Make a note of safe places (cove)
This is another essential thing to do while boating, making a NOTE of some safe places (cove to be precise) in the lake where you often boat (it doesn’t mean you to write it down on a piece of paper). If any gale picks up and if you aren’t able to reach the boat ramp quickly, you can stay there for some time until the storm or gale passes away.
- Cove (a small indentation or recess in the shoreline of a sea, lake, or river). These places can sometimes be beneficial. If you are fishing far away from the boat ramp and suddenly a small gale picks up, you can steer the boat to the cove and stay there until the gale passes away.
- If you are boating in a massive open lake, you most probably may not find any cove in the middle of the lake. If it is not wide open enough, you can find one, and simply remembering the cove location in the lake will help you a lot.
Similarly, you can find some safe places in the lake. Since the cove is like a U-shaped projection kind of thing in the lake’s shore, they try to reduce or slows down the winds a bit. Staying there for some time (until the gale passes away) will definitely cut down the risks of danger to some extent.
Remembering all those places in the lake can sometimes help you in preventing risks. You should always have a plan in mind if things get crazy, sudden weather changes (gale or storms). All of a sudden, if a gale pops up, you can take shelter in the cove or any plan like that.
5. Stay away from other boats
Staying away from other boats (especially big boats) is also an essential thing to do. Generally, if you don’t go boating in crowded areas, you probably need not worry about this; otherwise, you need to be careful around other boats if you go boating in crowded areas.
- Boats create wakes. You might be minding your own business (fishing) in the middle of the lake, and if any boat goes by slowly in the middle of the lake, it creates wakes. If you’re lucky, it just tosses you out of your seat; it can capsize the boat if you’re not so lucky.
- So, better go for boating in places where there are fewer recreational boaters around you, so you shouldn’t have to deal with wake hitting your boat while fishing or any. If it’s a big lake, there gotta be somewhere where you can get away from the crowd.
So, try to avoid boating in crowded areas. If the other boats are small, you are FINE; otherwise, better stay away from them to avoid those wakes. But, try to stay somewhat close to the people, so you can signal them for any help if anything bad happens to you.
6. Boat related things
Those (wave patterns, wind patterns & speed, and wakes) are external contributing factors that can affect you and your boat. We will now see some of the things you are (maybe) doing that can affect yourself while boating (fishing).
- Boat weight is the essential thing to check since inflatable boats are very light boats; it can only handle very few weights compared to same-sized other motorboats. So, carrying extra weight on the boat will definitely increase the draft and making the boat more susceptible to risks.
- If the boat’s weight exceeds its maximum limit, the boat can tilt sideways and sometimes capsize. It’s vital not to carry any unnecessary equipment on the boat, especially on an inflatable boat. These boats are very light and can easily capsize than other boats if the weight is not distributed evenly on a boat.
Related post – Check my article on How to prevent boat capsize to know some of the vital measures to take to avoid capsizing of a boat entirely.
Finally, those are some of the things you need to check (observe) to prevent any risks and dangers while fishing in inflatable boats. Steering away from sharp objects, not exceeding the boat’s weight, and checking the weather before the trip and while boating is crucial than any others.
Safety tips for fishing in inflatable boats
We will now see some of the safety measures you need to take while fishing in an inflatable boat.
1. Check the weather before starting the trip
- Checking the weather before starting the trip is an essential thing to do. However, the weather may be good before starting the trip, and it can change during the trip. So, simply checking the weather before the trip isn’t a solution; you need to check it often while boating as well.
- By checking the weather often while boating, you will get to know about the weather changes prior. Then you can reach out to the shore before the gale or storm hits you up.
2. Wear a life jacket (PFD)
- Wearing a life jacket is one of the crucial things to do while operating a boat, especially while using inflatable boats because these boats are very light, freeboard area is also less and less stable compared to other motorboats. So, better be prepared by wearing a life jacket.
- And every person onboard needs to wear one. Simply wearing a life jacket isn’t sufficient; it should fit you as well (meaning it shouldn’t be big or small to you), and it should be approved by USCG as well. So, a life jacket is crucial in the boat to have.
3. Don’t overload the boat
- Since inflatable boats are very light boats, it can only handle very few weights compared to same-sized other motorboats. So, carrying extra weight on the boat will definitely increase the draft by making the boat more susceptible to risks. If the boat’s weight exceeds its maximum limit, the boat can tilt sideways and sometimes capsize.
- And this can be easily prevented by loading the boat properly without exceeding it’s maximum limit and avoiding uneven loading. Mostly try not to carry any unnecessary equipment on the boat. So, keep an eye on the volume of weight you are carrying on the boat.
4. Take all the safety equipment
- Taking all the safety equipment while boating is essential, especially if you use inflatable boats. Some lakes (wherever you go boating) can whip up some pretty big swells, gales, storms, even the wake from other boats can be dangerous to both craft and humans.
- If that is the case near you, you need to take personal safety devices very seriously. If you take the boat on any “BIG” lakes, just make sure that you have spare shear pins, tools, anchor, oars, sound & visual signaling devices, lifejackets on, and practice smart decision-making.
Related post – Check my article on Required safety equipment for a boat to know all 31 safety equipment you may need based on the type of waters you are boating in.
5. Better avoid rough waters
- When you are on an inflatable boat, you are on a skinny, light platform with a lot of contact with the water with minimal grip for the greatest part. When that inherent problem is combined with many other external contributing factors, it is very easy to get into that totally unforgiving trip.
- Inflatable boats are very likely to get wrecked by the waves and bad weather since they are very light. So, by not fishing the boat in rough waters, you can avoid many risks and dangers.
Relates post – Check my article on safety tips for boating rough waters to know some of the vital safety measures to take while boating in rough or choppy waters.
Those are some of the safety measures to be taken while fishing in an inflatable boat. By following some basic safety measures, you can avoid most of the risks and dangers. For inflatable boats, not using them in rough or choppy waters is a vital safety measure than any others.
Related post – Check my article on Safety tips for boating to know the most vital safety measures to take while boating to prevent the majority of the risks.
Whether inflatable boats are safe for fishing or not depends on the water’s nature you are boating in, and for the most part, you don’t have to worry about the boat puncture unless if you are carrying any sharp anchor in the boat. It would be best if you were more cautious about the weather rather than a puncture.
Since nowadays, these boats are built using a think material, and it can sustain sharp objects such as fishing hooks or any. Unless you are carrying a sharp anchor, you probably do not need to worry about the puncture. The essential thing to consider here is the weather.
Due to the lightweight, small, and less stable in nature, you need to be more concerned about the weather you are boating in. Winds or currents can easily carry away these boats, and waves can capsize the boat, so you need to be more careful about the weather rather than a puncture.