Originally Posted by amv48
Wondering if any of you had used one of these, and if so, used one on moving water? Specifically the Mariner 3 or 4.
I know this reply is a couple of months later, but in case it's helpful....
I bought a Mariner 3 and put a row frame on it as an intro raft. You can probably find my old thread with a few pictures on here somewhere. I only took it out 3 times, basically on flat water and some mild riffles as a fishing boat, but it did just fine.
The boat is definitely more durable than a pool toy, but it is not nearly the same quality as a commercial level raft. The boston valves are cheap, and when the boat is inflated the circles from the valves sort of protrude out of the PVC skin in a way that makes you wonder if they're going to hold. I put pipe insulation between the frame and tubes so the metal wouldn't rub. The raft is only 2 chambers, so if one of those fails, you're in rough shape. The patch kit that comes with the boat is crap, so get Tear Aid Type B and some duct tape. The plastic oar locks didn't seem very strong, and certainly never intended for rivers above flat water, but I never really used them. My Mariner won't ever be used on truly remote rivers where I'd be in trouble if the boat just failed.
All that said, the material the boat is made of is only marginally less thick than the PVC of a Saturn RD 365 (ducky/light raft). Considering the RD365 costs $600+, I think a $200 Mariner is quite a fair price for a brand new boat of this quality. Just don't count on it to take any real abuse or last you 10 years.
Most folks on here (but not all
) poo poo'd my strategy of buying the Mariner 3 as a first boat, but I'm glad I did. I loved taking it out, I learned a lot about boats and frames, and I built a row frame from steel fence rail post and aluminum Hollaender fittings. Even using the boat just 3 times so far, I spent about the same as I would have for a canoe rental somewhere.
I recently lucked out and found a good deal on a used Aire Traveler in my area, and I am now modifying the same row frame for the Traveler.