Friday 12 August 2016

Takacat Inflatable Boat Review


Here's a first for my blog. Today I have a guest writer by the name of David Evans writing an article for me. David, as in husband, lover, best friend, chauffeur, photo model, dump station attendant and fisherman. Yes THAT David.

There have been many times over the last 3 years when we've been asked how we find our Takacat inflatable dinghy, so David decided to write a review of it for the blog. 

When we decided to follow our dreams of exploring New Zealand in our 5th Wheeler home, a boat of some kind was always going to be on my shopping list. Obviously it was going to have to fit the guidelines of minimum storage size and weight, easy assembly and practical transport for two people.

Iveagh Bay, Lake Brunner, West Coast
As a previous motor-launch owner I had experienced using an inflatable tender and was quite comfortable with the air boat concept so consequently, I spent a considerable time evaluating what was available and what would easily fit across the front of the wellside on our Ford Ranger utility.  

That's the boat; ahead of the gate separator. 
There are quite a few brands of inflatable on the market in the 3-4 metre range, most have blow up keels and mainly have, either partitioned marine ply or an aluminium floor. The Takacat inflatable, however, is different and comes with a very innovative separate air floor. This caught my attention and encouraged me to take a closer look.

It's also important to set your criteria as to what use you are going to require from your boat and in my case I wanted to be able to use it off the beach where practical and on the many lovely lakes that New Zealand is famous for. 

North Mavora Lake, Southland
Trout fishing was a top priority for me, as was exploring the lakes and also having a stable platform for Shellie's photography. 

Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka
Safety was also paramount as I am very often fishing in the boat on my own and usually a fair distance from home base. Performance at reasonable planing speeds was a must to cover ground quickly as conditions can often change very quickly, especially on the mountain lakes.

Taking all these things into account, the unique features of the Takacat Lite were starting to add up to being the ideal inflatable for our needs. Firstly, and most importantly, the ability to re-board by coming in over the front end (that actually comes down to meet you) after an accidental dip fully clothed or otherwise, had great appeal to me being an older boatie. 

Secondly the boat is very easily driven with its raised air floor and only the pontoons in the water which would also equate to less power and engine weight being required. It is exceptionally easy and pretty quick to inflate, or deflate for that matter, into a nice small manageable package. 

Finally, a big plus was the very helpful attitude extended by the owner of the company, Greg Sowden of Takacatto my many questions and queries. His genuine enthusiasm for his unique product was very infectious, well founded and easily absorbed into one's decision making. 

Consequently for me, little further thought was needed and a decision was made to purchase a Takacat Lite in the 3.4 metre configuration. My engine choice was a Mercury 8HP 2stroke which is light enough to manhandle on and off the boat and it also offered good all-round performance giving me a top speed of approximately 14 knots (25kms). 

With my first Takacat I also invested in a quality set of Beachmaster Dingy Wheels which transformed my life and made for simple launching and retrieving, even on very rocky beaches. Also for ease I purchased a 12volt electric pump to save my wife (haha) having to use the hand pump.

My time on the water in the Takacat to-date, whether in blustery or calm conditions, sea or lake, has been great and very pleasurable. I certainly have never been looking for more power although they are rated up to a higher 15hp. 

North Mavora Lake
I am often being asked whether water comes over the front and I can honestly say it never has in my case. However, I think I am a very prudent boatman and never push the boundaries. When planning in higher winds I always move my body weight into the centre of the boat using my tiller extension, even though in the worst conditions I have never felt it would flip backwards.

When Takacat inevitably introduced a newer model with optional beach wheels & built-in rod holders, I was very impressed with their decision to also run with an ‘open transom’ concept and a much modified, stiffer air floor. I have always been a great fan of open transoms since racing Sunburst sailing dinghies in my younger days. The open transom empties water very quickly after a capsize, through very large openings in the transom. Another excellent safety feature.

I loved the new features and it was an easy decision to upgrade. As already mentioned I have never taken any water into the boat but I feel even more relaxed now with the thought that I will never be required to hurriedly bail out in a worst case, rough water, scenario. The new floor has been manufactured in a much heavier material and also has a 3M reinforced surface bonded onto its top which resulted in much improved stiffness throughout the whole boat.

I cannot imagine how things might improve further and I continue to love every minute I spend in my boat, be it fishing or just cruising. I highly recommend the Takacat as very worthy of your consideration if you're thinking about purchasing an inflatable. 

Emerald Bluff, Lake Wanaka


  1. Well written David, I hope you are allowed to participate again.....I know you love to chat to people and must be able to tell some tales about the characters you've met met and the fish that got away and didn't!
    Ps Heavy rain in Nelson as I type.

    1. See....leave it to David, and he forgets about the comments he has to reply to. I guess he won't be doing too many blogs if he forgets his readers! :)

  2. Wow what a treat! David, after talking about the boat, sure you'll tell us something about the fish, right? I'm looking forward to your fishing tales :)

    1. Hey, offstone it took him a year to write this blog (and then he forgets to reply to his readers comments) so I', pretty positive that he won't be writing too many blogs in the future! ;)

  3. Great boat blog
    We are in the process of doing a similar thing to you guys .
    How do you transport the motor ? as its my understanding that 2 stroke motors have to be stored upright. I am currently look a Takacat and a 5 h 4 stroke Yamaha (can be stored on its side ) Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Callan, here's David's response-
      Thank you for your comments Callan. I am not an expert but my understanding on the motors is exactly opposite to yours in that the 2stroke motors can be stored in a horizontal position but the 4stroke always need to be kept upright to stop water from entering the intake and exhaust valves. I have always stored my Mercury 8hp 2stroke on its side across the back of the Ute tray with no issues to-date and after travelling 58,000kms. However, I always allow water to drain out for a while, before removing it from the boat. Another point worth raising is that 4strokes are usually heavier and offer less performance for their size.

      Hope this helps your decisions.


  4. Hi David, was interested in your review as I have a takacat 260 sport which I find great, the only issue I have is the size of the tabs on the metal transom bars being so small they tend to dig into the soft wooden transom letting it come loose on the bolts. I have lost one of the wing nuts out on the water because of this, just wondering if you have had this problem.


    1. Hi Graham, yes I certainly have noticed the softness of the wood used on the transoms although the latest models that I have now moved to have changed how they locate on the bars by using only one bolt. However I always used large s/s penny washers on both sides which did help spread the load better but didn’t completely eliminate the problem. The ultimate fix I suppose is to replace what you have presently got with a hardwood or perhaps marine ply. Cheers David


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie