Most helpful positive review
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2009
Having enjoyed my AE AF-Convertible for years, I decided to get the lagoon for a playboat. My first impression was--that's an annoyingly large carry bag--2 feet high, 3 feet long, and 5 inches thick; the handles are such that you have to keep your arm bent to keep it off the ground unless you shove it onto a shoulder. I refolded the boat so it's smaller and thicker and stuffed it into a different duffle bag I had for much greater convenience.
Inflating and setup was quick and easy with a closed cell foam bottom replacing the inflatable floor and saving some time. Be sure to close the coaming twist-valves tightly and be careful using a sprayskirt or they'll come open when you're working it into place. I finally glued 7 velcro tabs around the coaming and sprayskirt and got it to hold up to heavy water. That's a must-do imo except escape could be difficult if it flips.
The little boat was cramped and even with my short legs I had to jam the bottom of one foot against the other ankle and bend my knees slightly. I managed to stuff a winter jacket and a half-gallon jug of lemonade under and between my knees and that pretty much used all the inboard storage space unless you want to pile gear on your lap. Camping gear can be bungeed to the front deck in a dry bag but the small rear deck is unfortunately free of D-rings. On calm water I stretch my legs out on the front deck and recline against the rear and get quite comfortable.
Handling was a reasonable trade-off between tracking and maneuverability, with the bow hunting from side to side with the paddlestrokes and requiring a weaker stroke for steady cruising but responding nicely to the strong turning and scooting strokes needed in rough water.
Speed was another trade-off for stability, the boat was very stable and only flipped once from a smoothly rising rock that didn't disturb the surface of a muddy creek, so I usually take off my floatation vest and stick it under the deck bungees while enjoying bobbing and rocking over class I and II waves and chop. But still-water speed suffers with that wide, teardrop shaped hull and I have to settle for a modest cruising speed.
I got some "pool noodles", (foam tubes) and trimmed, velcroed and stuffed them under the coaming to elevate it and keep things much dryer. I also started spraying silicone water-guard on the top fabric.
After many river trips I'm pretty happy with the boat but the tedious pulling apart, inflating, drying, reassembling, deflating and packing are still a major downside to these inflatables.
The lagoon is clearly best used as a playboat in whitewater or at least with moderate current to move you downstream and people who want to paddle around on still water should choose a more streamlined model.