Inflatable Boats  

The Inflatable Advantage

More Australian recreational boaters are beginning to appreciate what Surf Clubs and the Defence Force learned years ago about the unique advantages of inflatable boats over their hard-sided counterparts. Whether used for leisure or sport, the innovative design of inflatable’s make them easy to transport, easy to launch, fuel efficient, comfortable, safe and easy to maintain. Here is a quick rundown for those who may be new to the inflatable boat market. There are two basic types of inflatable boats: Soft-bottom and hard bottom. Inflatable’s referred to as soft-bottom, use inflatable hulls. Flooring options include the traditional floorboards, high-pressure air floors and slat floors. Ribs, also known as hard-bottom inflatable’s, always use solid hulls, such as fibreglass or aluminium. Inflatable tubes are fitted to the top of the hull to create rigid inflatable boats (Rib). Ribs are generally considered hybrid vessels that combine the benefits of traditional powerboats and inflatable’s.  

The Top "Inflatable Advantages"

Safety: The large, shock-absorbing buoyancy tubes of inflatables create a highly stable boat that is nearly impossible to capsize under normal conditions. With several independent air compartments in each buoyancy tube, the boat is stable and unsinkable, even with one of the air chambers deflated. Buoyancy: Because of the large buoyancy tubes, the load capacity of an inflatable is far greater than that of a traditional rigid boat of similar size. Mobility: Once deflated and folded, the space taken up by an inflatable is so compact that transporting and storing it is extremely easy. Even Rib’s are easier to transport and launch than comparable traditional boats because of their much lighter weight. Cars that could never tow a traditional boat can easily tow a RIB. Fuel efficiency / power ratio: Because of their light weight, inflatables achieve excellent performance with smaller engines than would be required on traditional boats of similar size. That means greater fuel efficiency and lower purchase cost for engines, at a time when fuel prices are soaring. Smoother, drier ride: The buoyancy tubes on these boats do a remarkable job of absorbing impact when cruising at high speeds, and they also deflect spray for a drier ride than most traditional boats. Simple maintenance: Upkeep on an inflatable is simple and cheap - soapy water keeps it clean, while proper inflation is a breeze with either a foot pump or available auto inflation pump on some models. The buoyancy tubes also mean no worries about dings and scratches during docking and other manoeuvres. And finally They look cool! The crisp, modern designs and sharp colours and graphics of today's inflatable’s stand out against a crowd of traditional boats. That alone draws many buyers who simply want a different, sharp-looking boat without a custom-boat price.  

Defining Your Boating Needs

Knowing and defining your boating needs is imperative. Ask yourself, what type of boater am I? For example do you plan to take your boat across a sheltered bay, lake or on open water? Do you want to tender out to a larger boat or do you want a family runabout. These are some of the considerations that will help ensure that you are able to obtain a boat that works for you.  

Choosing Your Floor and Hull

Keep in mind that the type of flooring you choose will have a direct bearing on the time it takes to assemble the boat and get you on the water. There are three basic floor types for soft-bottom inflatables. For occasional or seasonal usage, a traditional removable floor board is best. However, you may find it less time consuming to pick a floor that can be left in place without assembly. With some models, you can choose slats or a high-pressure air deck floor that becomes very rigid when inflated. If you're in the market for a Rib, look for a well defined hull.  


Performance is yet another vital area of consideration. How fast do you want to go? The more performance you have, the more you will have to pay. Do you intend to take your boat for fishing trips with several friends? If so, then a larger boat powered by a larger outboard will be required. Will you use it primarily as a one or two person craft, for personal needs only? If so, then you should purchase a smaller craft, which will help increase speed and performance, without the need for an enormous outboard.  


Polymer - Perfectly air-tight and durable, this type of material is made from a polyester or nylon core with an outside PVC coating. It is by far the most popular material for inflatable boats. It’s light, puncture resistance and has the ability to be high frequency welded (Thermo-Bonded) for exceptional air retention.   Advantages: Economical to produce, easy to repair, can be inflated to a high pressure for good rigidity, durable and long lasting, high resistance to punctures. Disadvantage: Offers moderate UV protection  

Hypalon - Based on a rubber compound and made principally the same way as polymer, it is generally used by the military or in a commercial application. Not as popular as Polymer in the recreational market due to its weight and high cost. Advantages: Can be inflated to a high pressure for excellent rigidity, extremely durable and long lasting, very high resistance to punctures, offers exceptional UV protection   Disadvantages: Expensive to produce, prone to wicking and loss of pressure, repairs can be more difficult, can not be welded  


You may be surprised with competitor's claims, all of whom will promise they have the best or longest warranty. There was even a lifetime warranty offered some years ago by an inflatable boat company that soon enough disappeared. A lot of manufacturers use attractive warranties as a substitute for quality or proper boat design, or simply to shore up a lack of product features. You should also be sure in your own mind that the company will be around long enough to deliver. Waves Overseas have been in business for over 50 years and offer comprehensive warranties on all their products.  

Dealer Reputation

The reputation of the dealer is vitally important. Whether its parts, repairs or just technical support and friendly customer service, a good dealer can be a close Allie. In particular, as a new boat owner and perhaps someone who is new to inflatable boats, you may have questions, need to claim warranty, or just need to service your boat. Any way you look at it, a good dealer is critical.

Waves Overseas have been the No-1 Mercury Boat Dealer for the past 15yrs,

Australia wide.

Mercury is part of the Brunswick Group.  The World’s Largest Marine Group.  


Kayaks & Canoes

Choosing a kayak

First, what type of paddler are you? Where do you want to paddle and for how long? Kayaks and canoes are specific to their application and come in few types. White-water Kayaks for fast moving rivers, Touring and Recreation Kayaks for calm water, and Sea Kayaks for open ocean paddling. What style kayak, Sit-in or Sit-on-top?

Sit-on-top kayaks are very popular with paddlers who want a very stable paddling platform, who like to play in the surf and on flat water. Almost all sit-on-top style kayaks are self-bailing, no need to worry about flooding the boat in deep water! Sit-on-tops are a good choice if you want an all-rounder.

Sit-in kayaks usually have a more efficient hull design, give greater storage, are dryer and let the user paddle more comfortably in colder areas. A properly fitted cockpit will allow the paddler to effectively use his or her body weight to control the boat. Experienced paddlers will tell you the boat becomes part of you rather than just seat to sit in.

White-water Kayaks by design have little or no keel and don't track in a straight line. This makes them very nimble and agile. The cockpit is small and designed to keep you in the boat and most of the water out.

Recreational and touring Kayaks combine easy tracking and good manoeuvrability in a compact design to suit the beginner or weekend paddler. These kayaks usually have high initial and secondary stability with generous size cockpits. This style of boat is perfect for flat water, lakes and gentle rivers but not fast moving or breaking water. Many serve as excellent platforms for fishing or photography. Some are fitted with rudders and you can even add a sail kit in some instances.

Sea Kayaks are for open ocean paddling. They are usually low in the water to reduce effects of cross winds and measure 4.8m or more. Most have smaller cockpit openings, many will have multiple bulkheads and smaller access hatches. Rudders are generally a standard feature to help compensate for a variety of wave and wind conditions. They normally have other features such as deluxe seating, deck lines and compass housings.


Stability is defined in two ways. Initial Stability and secondary stability, initial stability is the left to right movement that a boat has when still. This will influence the way you will be able to enter or exit the boat. It will also determine how comfortable the boat will be in slow motion activities, such as fishing. Secondary or final stability is the left to right movement a boat when the boat is underway.


The length of the boat is important for several reasons. Simply put the longer the boat, the faster and more efficient it will move through the water.


At some point we all need to move the kayak around out of the water, at these moments weight becomes a significant consideration. Unfortunately there is no easy way around it; you will just have to work out the best technique for you. Thankfully, constant advances in design and materials result in lighter boats each year. Kayak carts make it very easy to help you move your boat around.


The main choices are plastic, fibreglass and fabric (inflatable). Plastic is the heavier of all the popular materials, but by far the most resistant to damage. Polyethylene is the most common plastic used, it can be environmentally recycled from other post-consumer products. Fiberglass is lighter, but at least double cost of Polyethylene. Almost all of the major manufactures use Polyethylene as the material of choice in there recreational and touring craft. Fiberglass is more rigid than plastic, but can be damaged on impact. Exotic materials like Kevlar or Carbon-fibre are lighter still, but very costly. Wooden boats are uncommon now days, they look great but are difficult and labour intensive to produce. Inflatable boats are an option for a portable and storable kayak. These boats are well suited to still, white-water or surf conditions, however most will not track as well as their hard shell counterparts. Prices range from very from just a few hundred dollars to many thousands. As with anything the quality and performance generally follow the price curve.

Rudders and Skegs

This is one of kayaking's great debates. Most touring kayaks don’t need a rudder or a skeg. For bigger sea kayaks (over 4.8m), a rudder is useful to go straight in a cross wind or difficult wave conditions. Some people like to use a rudder to steer, but that’s easily accomplished with your paddle, remember there is no substitute for learning effective boat control.


A common mistake of many new paddlers is to under estimate the importance of their paddle. You’re the engine and the paddle is the transmission. You’re paddling enjoyment and ability is closely related to the quality of your paddle. Besides a PFD, a paddle is the most important piece of gear you will buy. Get the best paddle you can afford! For example a light paddle will allow you to maintain proper technique resulting in less effort and good boat control. Paddle shape and length will vary with the type of paddling you do and the boat you paddle. A recreational paddler with a wide boat and very relaxed paddling style will typically use a blade with a moderate surface area and slightly longer length, about 2.2m. The touring or sea kayak paddler will typically use a narrow blade to avoid fatigue over long distances. While a white water or surf paddler will use a very large blade and short shaft, allowing for better grip on aerated water and quicker acceleration.

What else will I need?

You need, at minimum, a paddle and a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Please give some thought to how you will remove unwanted water from your kayak, consider having a pump and sponge with you. It is highly recommended that you learn the skills required to safely handle your boat before you go out on the water. There are several good videos and books that we recommend




What do you want to do with your SUP?

Surfing: Surf specific boards are generally shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (curve). These features make the board much more manoeuvrable on a wave, but the trade off is that they are slower and don't track in a straight line on flat water and are often less stable.


All-round: All-rounder boards are designed to perform well in all conditions. These versatile, multi purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all facets of the sport with only one board. All-round boards are wide enough to be very stable, have decent glide and tracking for flat water paddling or open ocean touring, but also enough rocker and side cut for decent surf performance

Touring: Touring boards are optimized for flat water, open ocean paddling and 'down winders'. They are typically longer than all-round boards for more speed and often have a nose area that is pointed and shaped like a "vee" on the bottom to help the board slice through the water smoothly, increasing glide and help the board track straight. The rails are usually rounded, at least in the front section, for more glide and speed. Most touring boards are wide enough to be stable for beginners.