Travelling to Sitka in 2019

Sitka Alaska is one of the most picturesque places in North America, and a magical place to kayak. Having just led a trip in June of 2018 to Prince William Sound and Talkeetna for kayaking and sightseeing with 9 people from San Diego, I was looking for an inflatable decked kayak to take to Sitka.

For June of 2019 I, Jay Murdock, would be leading a group of 14 kayakers to paddle among the many islands in Sitka Bay, and also for a float plane paddle trip to a hanging lake nearby.

Having a background as an inflatable boat dealer years ago, I wanted a kayak that was dependable and rugged for our trip. There are barnacles and sharp rocks in that bay, so I searched for a boat that was rugged and tracked well, yet easy to paddle and comfortable. Having repaired several brands of inflatables and internal frame kayaks, I knew I did not want any internal frames, as they are prone to damage, and cause abrasion of the “skin” where the two meet.

The best kayak I found was the Swing EX. I read everything I could find on it, including all the reviews. It looked like the perfect boat for this trip, and others I was planning for future years.  I then contacted Dani at Innova and told her about our trip, which led to Innova Kayaks becoming a sponsor. We will be staying at the Totem Square Hotel, which has a dock, and they will also be a sponsor, along with the pilot and owner of Baranautica Air Service taking us to the hanging lake.

I’ve now paddled my Swing EX several times, including with the skeg off, and find it to track very well, while being extremely maneuverable and stable. It is also very comfortable to sit in for extended paddles, and can reach 3.5 knots, almost as fast as my Legend hard shell boat. The hull material is as rugged as the large powered inflatables that the Navy Seals use, and I personally saw and did minor repairs and modifications on those boats. If you want dependability and performance, consider Innova boats. Value is where quality and expectations meet. The cost of something should always be evaluated in terms of safety, performance, dependability and longevity of your purchase.


Among our group is a professional photographer, who will record our ventures, including aerial photos from a drone. We hope to have this trip published in some magazines, along with the West Marine website, who is the fourth sponsor of our trip.


Another “plus” for Innova boats, is that they are lighter and roll up smaller than most of the competition. That is really important when you are taking them in a float plane to land on and take off from a small hanging lake. It is also very nice to have something small and light weight that you can carry when traveling, and when packing them into a wilderness setting. “Portability” should always consider weight and size rolled up. If you can get that in a boat that is also durable, safe, and performs exceedingly well, that is what you want.

When considering the “safety” of these boats, I’ll tell you what I use to say to a yacht owner looking to buy an inflatable tender: These are not pool toys or “rubber rafts”, but are similar in construction and durability as the inflatable life raft you may have on your large boat. That is what people depend on to save them if their yacht sinks in a storm. At that point, they “get it”.

The preparation for the Sitka trip has resulted in my joining the Innova Team as a Representative, and will be leading some trips in the future for Innova. We have plans for kayaking in Austria, Ireland, New England, Lake Chelan in Washington, and back to Prince William Sound. If you are interested in joining us, by owning an Innova boat, you are automatically a member of the “Innova Travel Club”. There will be details posted in the future on this website, along with how to contact us for the trips.

So, buy an Innova boat if you don’t already have one, and come join us!

Have Boat, Will Travel

-by Jay Murdock

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