"I recently purchased a 12 ft. Saturn inflatable boat model SD365. This was an internet purchase, sight unseen. I pondered, shopped, and fretted for a month before taking the plunge. Specifically, I wanted an inflatable dinghy for my 36 ft. Mainship, which had no tender davit or even a really good place for one. The ability to bring the inflatable boat aboard, somehow, was very attractive from an operational standpoint. I've learned through several boat purchases over my lifespan that any boat you own only gets smaller with use. The maximum size that would not exceed the beam of my Mainship was the 12 ft. model SD365. I can single handedly roll this baby (120 lbs. wet) onto the swim platform davits that I installed. Launching the darling from this setup is as easy as untying your shoe. Initially I tried a 3.5 hp 4 cycle (38 lbs.) which was actually OK, except that it only had a 12 oz. self contained fuel tank. Fine, if you want ultimate portability and only want to run from anchor to the shore several times. Not fine, if you want to take your dink down the bayou (Biloxi, MS) to a dockside restaurant and back. Upped it to a 9.8, 4 cycle (89 lbs.) with a regular 3 gal. external fuel tank. Much better, except now I have to use a motor hoist instead of just doing it strong arm style. Always a tradeoff, yes? With the 9.8, and a self-installed planning fin, she pops up quickly and stays on plane at a relatively low speed. I like that. High speed performance with two aboard is adequate. I would have to guess...15 knots? Maybe 18. It's a guess. A rigid bottom would provide higher top speeds, but at a significant price and weight penalty. Hey, it's a dink!! I imagine a 15 hp motor would provide thoroughly satisfying top speed with two aboard. I just couldn't go the extra weight (115 lbs.). As with anything this light, passenger placement can have fairly dramatic effects. After a few experiments, and affirmations to my passenger regarding her dietary success, I found the correct configuration for both planning and cruise. The seaworthiness of the
Saturn inflatable boat design has altered my thinking to the point that I'm certain I'll use her for fishing the offshore islands. Towing her behind my Mainship or on the swim platform should be a no-brainer. The BP oil spill will doubtless test her ability to withstand petroleum products. An update will follow once she's been exposed to that environment. I'm probably in for some kind of warranty breach there, I'm sure. Furthermore, I'm convinced that this thing just will not flip. YOU might fly out, so make sure that you wear your engine shut-off lanyard. When fun time is over and she has to get out of the pool, I've learned to open the valves, get off, and then I can haul her onto my back deck by hand. Please consider that I am 55 yrs. young, of slight build, and it is measurably a 12 foot lift from the water to the top of my deck rail. The fact that I can do it repeatedly, without going to the hospital, is a true testament to the portability of the design. I usually sit down for a cocktail shortly afterwards. I like to savor my accomplishments. And don't leave my inflatable boat in water for more than a week...barnacles.
SO, WHAT DO I THINK OF MY PURCHASE?
Wise choice. I'm certain that there are comparable quality inflatable boats out there, but at this price...NOT! 12' Saturn inflatable boat is a good value and I'm the critical type. Glad I didn't go smaller. The inflatable floor works well and is lighter than the more complicated, and expensive, rigid floor. Maybe the motor mount could be a half inch higher, but what do I know. Being fairly well seasoned I have developed a skeptical eye, and don't give praise automatically. Saturn dinghy is well built. Seams and attachments appear to be top quality. This inflatable boat appears to be well engineered. I'm a commercial pilot and thusly aware of the trade offs that must be made between performance, utility, comfort, and price. The SD365 inflatable raft is excellent quality at an excellent price. Also, this is my first inflatable, so discovering that I can load 5 people plus 400 lbs. of gear is just mind boggling. It's the buoyancy factor. What a safety margin this thing possesses. My previous 14 ft. fiberglass skiff could hold 2 guys plus, maybe, a verbal message. The ability to take a 30 hp motor I find a little scary, but it speaks volumes about the capability engineered into this delightful, inflatable boat shaped, bobbing cork. I consider the bright red color to be an added safety bonus. It is exceptionally visible, even eye grabbing. Not getting run over by anything is highly desirable to me. At dockside, people (kids especially) think it is just plain cute. Strangers have asked if they could go for a ride to see what it was like. My inexperience with inflatables may have caused me to be a little cautious about inflation pressures. Evidently I was going too low because I ran into engine cavitation issues as well as a disconcerting floor deformation phenomenon. A passenger asked me if an orca was trying to surface underneath us. After reading through BoatsToGo.com website's FAQ's it became obvious that I had merely under inflated everything. With only a modest pressure increase I had a properly performing inflatable boat. So you ask: Do you leave your 12 ft. Saturn SD365 on your big inflatable boat? Ummmm no, it's in a closet in my condo. It actually folded up and fit into the well designed canvas storage bag that came with it. Perhaps I've become jaded by years of marketing hype that usually fails to deliver as advertised. I just stood there and stared at it with incredulity after in fit on the first try. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me. Another cocktail and savor the accomplishment.
Regarding my Saturn inflatable boat I will say this: THE MORE I DO IT THE MORE I LIKE IT!"