Customer Review of Saturn 15ft Inflatable Boat Crossover KaBoat SK470.
I got an Sk470 15ft Kaboat a couple of months ago. This is my first and only inflatable boat, primarily to be used for fun around the harbor in my town on Long Island. Since it is my first and only boat, I had a bit of a learning curve. I quickly learned that boats are not the water equivalent of cars. Many more dynamics requiring many more considerations.
First the good news. Although I had only internet photos and info to base my decision on, my choice of the Saturn brand was either smart or lucky. I live in a town with lots of inflatable moored at the dock which gave me plenty to compare to, at least visually and on a tactile basis. I could see and touch lots of brands up close, and although this is new to me, quality seems to be fairly easy to determine with careful comparison. In the Saturn price range, the only brand that seemed to be a possible contender were some of the Sea Eagle models. I came close to a Sea Eagle purchase since they are produced close to my town. However, they seem to be quite limited in their retail showroom hours, so I would have ended up buying sight unseen anyway. That put me back on the internet sales route, and after receiving my Saturn and comparing it to the Sea Eagle models I've seen locally I'm glad I went with the Saturn. The Sea Eagle's look OK, but they ahve the look and feel of high quality toys rather that actual boats. I'm not knocking their brand, and they may have models that are more substantial that the ones I've seen.
My Saturn seems to be on quality par with brands like Zodiac and some of the other more high end brands. I continue to be very impressed with both the quality of materials used and the quality of build in my boat. It may be PVC, but the quality seems comparable to some of the Hypalon boats I've seen up close. I am very satisfied with the quality of my Saturn boat.
I chose the KaBoat Sk470 15' over the more traditional inflatable models for a couple of reasons. First of all, $699. for a 15' boat seemed like a hell of a lot of boat for the money, and second, my reasoning was that such a narrow beam would cut through the water more efficiently than a full beam width craft. On the face of it, my reasoning seemed to make sense; at least to someone with no boating experience. The realities were a little different than I had expected. I still think it's a lot of boat for the money, and it does move a lot faster than a standard width boat with the same size engine. What I had not considered was stability. I learned very quickly that a boat isn't a car on the water.
With a Tohatsu 6hp outboard and 2 people, I would guess I'm moving along at close to 20 mph. Just a guess, but I can tell you it moves pretty good. Even with 3 people it moves right along, I'd guess maybe 12 mph or so. But when I'm by myself, watch out! As soon as I get up on a plane I seem to lose all stability. I have to back the power way down and pray until I come off the plane, and even than it's dicey going more than maybe 6 or 8 mph. And even with passengers, I have to have everybody sit low, or it seems like I'm constantly fight to keep from yawing and tilting. And if the water is a little rough, things get a little scary. Now, I also have a 2hp Tohatsu I've used on this boat, and while it goes a lot slower, it seems to be much easier to control.
In spite of the above, I do love this boat. I love the quality, and although if I were to start over, I would pick a different Saturn model, I am determined to sort out the control issues and come up with a fix. Weight distribution is certainly a factor, as is keeping a low center of gravity. I may end up sacrificing some performance and rigging up some form of outrigger or outside tube to give it a wider beam.
I set it up with a Bimini top, which I cut to a lower lever, and made snap in side panels with clear vinyl windows. I am currently making a front console steering system with front controls for shift and engine speed control. Being an inflatable, these changes require some creativity, but I think I just about have it licked. I'll keep you posted.
Bottom line on Saturn boats from my experience. Quality is better than I expected, on par with some much more expensive inflatables I've seen. The KaBoat is a different animal, but my experience with the 15' model may be quite different with the smaller size models. Still, I love it. I get a lot of complements on it, and am determined to make it much more stable and usable for my purpose. Good Luck!