So after realizing that I would not have a large purchase this year (second kid starting college) I went for the $144.99 sevylor IK-95 with paddles and pump yesterday.
I inflated it, which went easy and fast.
GOOD: It was light - I could park several blocks away and carry it to the river. There was a jam up at the launch so I carried from the parking lot. Piece of cake. This will be a Brewster Flats liberator.
I wore regular clothes and carried my cell phone and wallet on a leap of faith, and for this test paddle no lifejacket. Of course I will wear an approved PFD in real usage. It kind of IS a pfd
Like all yaks, getting in and out is not it's forte. It has a skeg that drags in shallow water (a couple inches deep). Once you get in the floor sags from the weight of my butt. With shorts and sandals or waders no problem because you'd get further from shore. I had my regular casual leather shoes on. I pushed off the shore and started paddling.
A lot of water comes off the paddles and into my lap. Half of that was bad rowing, as I changed my stroke to point my off paddle forward at the end of the stoke and that reduced to a dribble from a gush.
GOOD: The IK 95 is extremely comfortable, the backrest is like a sofa and the sides have a nice sort of give to them. I thought about changing to sitting on my knees while on the water... then I decided not to tempt fate. So I just sunk into the seat and tipped my hat over my eyes and floated for a minute, dreaming about riding a tide current toward an exposing flat in the middle of nowhere.
Moderate: The current picked up at the bridge. I thought, no way could I paddle up thru this current. No problem... I even played manuevering games between the pylons. This craft will paddle upstream against a moderate current, but a full rip current will be a go-with-the-flow proposition.
BAD: because it's so short (8') and pudgy for stability, it does not track well in the bow. When rowing aggressively it veers left and right like a flat bottom canoe.
BAD: no storage room. The bungee "X" straps on the front will hold a sealine bag, but not much else. I really don't care though, this is just a shoal shuttle.
I will go ahead and get a great paddle, which can be used with a 'real' yak when I can get one.
At this point I would conclude the following:
a) this in NOT a real yak, but it is not a toy either
b) this will solve the bayside flats low tide / parking lot launch dilemma.
More trials to follow - with waders on, flyrod on board, etc. At this point I am thinkin' it was as good a $145 as I've spent in a long while!