Getting a bit bored with lounging in your giant inflatable unicorn? Give a little novel boost to your waterfront with something new: how about a motorized surfboard, a slide that attaches to your boathouse roof, or perhaps an inflatable coffin?
There’s always something new being developed for waterfront fun, and it doesn’t take long before the best of these toys start to show up in Muskoka. Waterskiing was invented in the 1920s and was popular in Muskoka not long afterward. When wakeboarding came on the scene, Muskokan riders were soon at the top of the competitive heap. Wakesurfing has become huge here.
We have a long history of being willing to try novel water toys. So what’s on the horizon, and what’s starting to show up at cottages already this summer?
Air mattresses and rings have been around for decades, so it’s surprising that it’s taken manufacturers so long to get really creative. But they have certainly done so in the past few years. Parrots, flamingoes, slices of pizza and avocadoes are among the countless shapes available.
A couple of the most interesting that we’ve seen are a 20-foot inflatable speedboat – complete with swim platform off the stern – and a bright pink coffin, allowing you to float with the lid open or closed.
While the novelty shapes are fun, be aware that a lot of the cheaper ones are very poorly made and won’t last. Punctures or split seams mean that it won’t be long before your inflatable whatsit is on its way to the landfill. A higher quality inflatable should last for many seasons, particularly if you keep it out of the sun when not in use.
Giant climbing icebergs were first developed for water parks, but they’ve been showing up on private waterfronts for a few years now. They’re fun, and good exercise, and because they stayed anchored just offshore you don’t need to run around looking for the air pump every time you want to enjoy them.
But what if you want to get in the water without diving? How about an inflatable two-storey slide attached to the boathouse roof? Everyone will want to try it at least once, and kids and teens will likely be occupied on it for days.
Wakesurfing allows you to enjoy the feel of surfing without having to wait for a wave to come along. Jet Surfing takes the same idea but removes the need for a boat.
These zippy little boards have a fuel-injection engine and can motor along at 55 km/h. There’s also a racing model that will go even faster and – not surprisingly – a competitive race league. They’ve even been used to run a little delivery service.
There are demonstration days taking place in Muskoka this summer.
Water mats or water carpets have been popular for a few years, offering a place to play and a place to lounge. What are they missing? Speed, of course.
Enter the Towboggan, a towable water mat that can carry six people. There’s nothing to hang on to, so this is definitely a slower-speed ride (or a very short ride at higher speeds!)
A fun ride, and when you’re done pulling it can go back to being a simple water mat, a spot to bask in the sun or play a game of King of the Castle.
Ultimate pedal boat
We all know pedal boats – clunky, slow, and inefficient, but not a bad place to sit if you want to move around the lake and enjoy a cocktail.
This latest design takes that concept to a whole new level, with a pedal boat that mimics the look and feel of a classic wooden boat.
It has a polished wooden deck, a hand-carved mahogany tiller, stainless steel hardware… and even a built-in cooler and charcuterie board. It will set you back about $25,000, but this is definitely not your grandfather’s pedal boat.
One online reviewer says that the original version of the Flying Kite Tube was a lot of fun, “although taken off the market due to people dying or getting injured.” In fact, so many people were injured – and at least three people were killed – that the tubes were banned on many waterways within months.
They stopped making them a decade ago, but you can still find used tubes, as well as knockoff imitators. The concept sounds like a blast: ride behind the boat and get airborne. The problem is that if – or when – you fall off, you’re falling up to 30 feet and doing it at high speed. If you still have one of these, or if someone suggests that you get one, maybe recommend a ride on a nice inflatable flamingo instead.