Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
October 4, 2011

Andy Whitcomb

Bumper Boats

In our continuing quest for the perfect family boat, we are trying to keep an open mind; considering even the most unorthodox boat types.  Primarily because we want the kids’ input too, we recently had another new boat experience: the “Bumper Boat.”  Amazingly, this hull type cannot be found on’s Boat Explorer tool.

“Fun!” was my wet kids’ complete assessment of this 72” diameter, 2-person vinyl doughnut.

I received mostly blank stares when I asked amusement park operators about technical stuff but found good information at J&J Amusement.  Although the gas-powered version only has a top speed of about 4 mph, with a centrally located, 360-degree rotating motor, it can turn tighter than any other boat.  There also is an electric version for a more stealthy inflatable doughnut, and it can only turn 200 degrees if you are not “into dizzy.”

Fun or not, I tried to consider any practical fishing applications. It is stable (This water park did not provide life jackets; please keep safety in mind!), but there is no place for storage of tackle. Loading and unloading requires handrails and docks.  I suppose one could move the entire boat to another pond by rolling, but you will probably want to have a patch-kit handy. With the bulging sides, any body of water with abundant standing timber would be like trying to fish in a pinball machine. However, some models are fitted with squirt guns that might come in handy for guarding your fishing spot.

“Okay,” I asked my 6-year old daughter “bumper boats are fun, but could you really fish out of one of those things?”

“Not with Grammy driving!”

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at

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One Response to “Bumper Boats”

  1. The Reverend Fowl says:

    The Bumper Boat is flawed mostly by the single air chamber. Sane, modern inflatables have multiple air chambers that allow the operator to survive a puncture or other mishap.

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