Guide for Mountain Travel Sobek, South Pacific
Helios 380 excels in Papua New Guinea
November 28, 2001
I have spent at least 700 days paddling the Helios 380 in the South Pacific, Guiding clients and going off on my own, and am convinced the Helios is the best boat you can have for tropical applications. French Polynesia, the Cooks, Fiji, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, you can go ANYWHERE in this boat!
I’ve never had a puncture, though I’ve scraped over staghorn corals at low tide more than a few times. I am always careful to let a lot of air out of the boat if it’s going to be out of the water for more than a few minutes , and I’m religious about parking it in the shade. A little caution with the heat, sun and pressure, and this boat will last you for many years. The rubber material handles the intense tropical sun amazingly well, better than my skin.
Using the boat as a single, I can stay out for a week without resupplying water, and as a double, we can easily stay out for more than a week, resupplying water. With the optional rudder, the boat handles well in any winds you care to go out in, even when paddling tandem. I’ve surfed in, bashed my way out and ridden big tide rips without a worry. The boats virtually untippable, unless you broach in big surf.
The Helios really excels as a snorkelling platform: ANYONE can climb back in, without fins, and the security of snorkeling with a boat allows us to dive into rough water or currents that wouldn’t be prudent without such a safety net.
I’ve landed at an international airport, bought gas and tanked up on water and been paddling within half an hour of clearing customs – the convenience and speed of this boat in a bag can’t be appreciated until you’ve tried it. I’ve struggled with a certain folding boat under the blazing sun, 90 degrees dripping with sweat and humidity, crawling inside the damn boat, and would rather pump up a Helios and be on the water any day – it’s too easy for words.
The Helios is also ideal for what I call “covert landings”: you’re paddling up to a crowded wharf or market in some third world island nation. Naturally, a large crowd assembles to stare at the boat, your gear. Do you really want to hang around with bits and pieces strewn all over, with everything you own up for inspection? With the Helios, I can land, have everything into one large duffle and be in a cab, on my way to the hotel, in 5 minutes!
Would you rather buy a new Helios and a PAIR of 6 month plane tickets to tropical Paradise (and have money lefr over for beers), or would you rather buy that heavy, bulky folding boat and stay at home? I’ll take the plane tickets any time!
Guide for Mountain Travel Sobek