Coastal Scene Magazine August 2017 edition
Story and photography by Richard Gonzales
The Coastal Bend region offers such a wide range of outdoor water recreational opportunities. Boating, birding, fishing, duck hunting, beachcombing, exploring, or just
relaxing overlooking the waves of wind-driven currents. Getting out on to the shallow waters of the Texas coastal bay system allows outdoor enthusiasts to reach down and
feel the wetness, especially if they are in a kayak…or, in the ultimate alternative to a kayak, a Scout365 Inflatable.
Technology continues to change the way humans do things whether using a cell phone or a water craft. Way back when, native cultures would send a smoke signal to reach across vast distances. The original kayaks were made by the Arctic Eskimo tribes who used washed up driftwood to sew together with seal skin to better protect against harsh cold climate conditions. They mimicked nature by custom building each kayak to fit the size of the paddler. The word for kayak originates from the Arctic native Inuit language qayaq.
“In today’s world, different people are going to choose different types of equipment like kayaks, canoes or inflatables,” said Hector Rios, a certified kayak instructor in Aransas Pass, “Technology and social expression will dictate what people ultimately choose for their preferred outdoor water craft and how they convey their message. Some people want to have a trailer hauling their kayak. Or they may like it attached to the top of their vehicle,” added Rios, who also is a Commissioner on the San Patricio Navigation District.
There are so many ways to get on to the many bays and estuaries in the Coastal Bend. Aransas County has developed the Aransas Pathways system that has 17 sites from which kayaks can launch from. The Scout365 Inflatable offers another way to use these sites or to launch from even more remote locations. This was the case on the Mission River along State Highway 136 between Bayside and Refugio with a Coastal Bend Paddlers & Explorers Meetup Group event on July 23, 2017.
Jody Bickel is the Trip Leader for the Coastal Bend Paddlers & Explorers Group. She uses the online social media app Meetup.com to organize water trips for beginners, intermediate and advanced paddlers and explorers. “We now have 53 members and are averaging trips about three weekends each month,” said Jody, who came to the Coastal Bend a year ago from the Rocky Mountain region. “All participants must be fit enough to move their own equipment, and to paddle and/or small motor for several hours in a variety of weather conditions. Trips are all in the Coastal Bend region, most within a one-hour
drive of Rockport/Fulton. You need to have all of your own equipment, but you can easily start off renting the basics from area outfitters. You need to plan on getting your own equipment transported to/from the boat launches, although group members may be willing to lend a hand,” she explained.
The Mission River begins at the confluence of the Blanco and Medio Creeks in central Refugio County. It meanders downstream 24 miles into Mission Bay, a tertiary bay that empties into Copano Bay, which adjoins Aransas Bay at the northern end of Live Oak Peninsula. It is a river where you can catch both salt water and fresh water species like blue cats, trout, drum, blue crabs and reds all in the same day. The Mission River, like many other Texas rivers, empties into a bay that oftentimes carry the same namesakes….Nueces, San Antonio, Aransas, Lavaca, and Tres Palacios. All of these coastal areas are on the Coastal Bend Paddlers & Explorers Group radar.
“I was relocating to the Texas Coast for my work as Business Development Manager at Mitigation Solutions USA,” continued Bickel. “As a full-time RV’er, I wanted to purchase a boat that was easy for me to store securely (locked in the RV storage compartment) rather than a rigid boat, or a boat that required a trailer. I wanted to be able to explore the area bays and rivers to get to know the region. A boat that was designed to be paddled and also have a small motor on it was ideal. I started searching and found that the Scout365 boat had been recently made available for sale. It was a perfect match!” she said.
The Scout365 is set up within 10 minutes and measures 12 feet by 3.5 feet fully inflated. It has a high pressure inflatable flooring pad that adds to stability so two people can stand up in the boat. When it comes time to deflate the boat and store it, the dimensions of the boat in the bag is only 36” x 26” x 11” making for convenient transportation and storage.
“I have been exploring the outdoors on water since I was a kid,” Bickel shared. “My dad took us on canoe trips. Over the years I have whitewater kayaked and rafted, sea
kayaked, and canoed. Other than riding in other people’s motor boats, I have never owned or operated a boat that can use a motor until now. I love it! This boat allows me the freedom to paddle and get exercise, and also the ability to move more effectively with the motor when its windy, or I am tired, or need to get somewhere faster. I currently use a lightweight Honda 2.3hp outboard on my boat and am considering using a 55lb. electric trolling motor for a second boat.”
Charlie Roemer who comes to Rockport from Ohio to spend time with his grandson Logan says his grandson enjoys adventuring, but the paddling not so much. So that means Grandpa has to do most of the paddling when he and Logan head out to explore in his kayak.“I would seriously consider the Scout365 to avoid the extra cost of a trailer and to make my water trips with Logan more enjoyable,” said Roemer. “A Scout365 with an attached motor would be a better outdoor experience for both of us,” he added.
“There are so many places to go in the Coastal Bend, so as a Trip Leader, I try not to go to the same place twice,” explained Bickel. “I have been to San Antonio Bay, Aransas Bay, Redfi sh Bay, Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. I will go as far north as the Guadalupe River or west to Lake Corpus Christi, as long as it is within a reasonable distance for a day trip,” she said.
The inflatable Scout365 is stable enough to seat two or three people and allow one to stand up and fly fish. It has the capacity for a 3.5 horsepower motor and up to 500 pounds carrying capacity. All boats are made using the latest generation of PVC 1,100 denier PVC fabric with polyester support which offers excellent abrasion and tear resistance. The new generation PVC is designed to be inflated and deflated on a regular basis and the results
are a boat that is tough and built to last. With a portable, compact, stable and rugged design, the Scout365 is available in seven colors, including a camouflage pattern that comes with a three-dimensional “duck blind”attachment for birding and duck hunting. Scout365 just added a flycasting stabilizer bar for the serious sportsfisher, which according to the crew at Scout Inflatables is a world first for an inflatable boat of this size!
As an avid outdoors-woman and full-time RV’er, Jody serves as the South Texas Brand Ambassador representing the full line of Scout Inflatables products. The Coastal
Bend Paddlers & Explorers Meetup Group is sponsored by Scout Inflatables as a part of their business mission to help get more people out enjoying their natural environment more often. The online price for the comprehensive Scout365 boat package is about $1,300 but just a mention of Jody can save 10% off the retail price plus a bunch of great freebies provided by Scout. “I just enjoy being present and experiencing the natural environment, seeing new places, appreciating them, and helping other people to get out and do the same,” Jody shared.
To find out more about the Scout365 Inflatable or the Coastal Bend Paddlers & Explorers Meetup Group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (361) 558-5168. Come and join them on their next outing.