“July 4 just isn't July 4 without a brewski on the beach,” you say. Fine, then. If you're exploring your flotation-device options, first know this: A good raft is going to set you back a C-note, maybe more. And you'll have to figure out how to get it up, over and out past the waves—and not open your drink until your toes no longer touch the sand. Lastly, Sports Authority in Mission Valley is having a 30-percent-off sale on life jackets.
So if you're going to go for it, CityBeat did a little shopping and found a few options. For the whimsical, there's the eight-person Party Island by Coleman. Looking oddly like the Dharma Initiative logo from Lost, the floating octagon (“guaranteed not to leak,” according to the box) holds up to 2,000 pounds and has four cup-holders and two “snack trays.” And it features a Snap-N-Stay™ cord, which means it can be attached to other Coleman floating products, kind of like what the stranded kids did to their boats in Jaws 2.
Sun Gear calls its 110-inch Party Platform “the perfect party platform.” It's got four cup-holders, four backrests, a four-step rope ladder (for when you want to take a dip) and holds four people—all for $200. Meanwhile, the Fun Splash floating trampoline might sound fun and novel, but the box warns, “only one person at a time on product.” At $210, that doesn't sound very fun at all.
More practical ban-the-banners might opt for something like Sevylor's Fish Hunter, certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. At 12 feet long, it holds up to six people, or 1,200 pounds, and—get this—you can attach a 2.5 horsepower gas motor (not included) or two oars (also not included). It “offers two tunnel chambers for improved lateral stability” for when things start getting a little tipsy and tow rings for when the authorities haul you back to shore. At $200, it's cheaper than the trampoline.
If you want to be truly Nietzschean—truly a man above the law—go for the Cimarron eight-foot pontoon boat. There you are, seated like a king on his throne, with an adjustable footrest, padded seat and rear storage space for a small cooler. At around $165, it's a small price to pay for pontoons.
As for us, if we were looking to defy the law and had money to spend, we'd drop a grand on a Pelican Peddle Boat (a little less for a two-person version). Not only does it have a canopy top (inebriation, arguably, heightens skin sensitivity) but also a “large built-in cooler seat.” And there's something wonderfully Prisoner-esque about it. Just be sure to keep an eye out for Rover.*
8 reasons to drink while floating
1. Gas prices are at an all-time high, and this will prove to be the ultimate staycation. Close your eyes and enjoy the breeze, and to the relaxing sound of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” imagine that you are on a serene Rosarito Beach or South Padre Island getaway. Up yours, Chevron!2. Besides dissident Cubans, no one really owns a raft, so this will be the perfect time for you to explore your crafty side. Take an old futon mattress, a Hefty bag, some empty 2-liter Mountain Dew jugs and have a go at it. Martha who?3. It will be fun for the whole family. But remember, safety first. Invest in a keg; empty ones double as makeshift flotation devices. Over at Chip's Liquor on Garnet Avenue, they start at $89. Grandma having a go at the beer bong, portable dialysis machine in tow? Priceless.4. You can blame your lightheadedness on motion sickness.5. It will finally give you a chance to use that “If this vessel is a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'” sticker that's been sitting in that junk drawer of yours.6. No need to use those gross beach restrooms. Just as the world is your oyster, the ocean is your urinal.7. If things go terribly awry, your life story could be immortalized in “Jaws 5.” We need that franchise back!8. Finally, because it will broaden your horizons. A bunch of stuff that is banned on land is legal at sea: cock fighting, some forms of cannibalism and interspecies weddings, just to mention a few. You'll have a good chuckle explaining that MySpace pic at the next family reunion.—Enrique Limón* Those failing to get the reference are encouraged to throw “The Prisoner” into Google.