By: Boat Guide
Walker Bay 22 Review
By Craig Ritchie – January 5, 2022
When we think of inflatable boats most North Americans picture small dinghies used to shuttle back and forth between the big boat and shore when our main vessel sits at anchor. But this image of the inflatable as little more than a tender no longer does these boats justice, as evidenced by the all-new Walker Bay 22.
The company describes its Walker Bay 22 as a ‘luxury sports RIB’ in reference to its lower hull. RIBs – short for Rigid Inflatable Boats – provide far greater seaworthiness and occupant comfort than old-school inflatables with fabric floors, and allow builders to incorporate many more features in the design. In the case of the Walker Bay 22, its name comes from the term Revolutionary, and that’s a fair description – especially once you look closer at this remarkable boat.
With a capacity of 12 people, the Walker Bay 22 features a spacious layout that follows a bowrider style, with the emphasis on enjoying the sun and lounging around in comfort. Its deep, modified-V hull is designed for a smooth ride while keeping passengers dry in rough conditions – a capability which inflatables are not generally known for.
The helm is positioned far back to make the most of the bowrider space, so the driver sits near the transom on a three-position seat with flip-up bolsters. The helm seat is fully adjustable, allowing the driver to select between a reclined driving position, an elevated leaning bolster, or a fully upright standing position – again, something truly unique among inflatable boats.
Facing the driver of the Walker Bay 22 is a large, molded fiberglass side console with space for two touch-screen multi-function displays up to 12 inches in size to be mounted side-by-side. A small acrylic windshield does a surprisingly good job of deflecting the breeze, while a stainless steel grab handle provides a bit of extra assurance when negotiating choppy seas.
Two stainless steel drink holders at the helm – among a dozen onboard in total – offer a convenient spot to keep a bottle of water handy, while a large locking glove box includes both 12-volt and USB charging ports within, providing a dry spot to charge cell phones and other small items. Between this space and the sporty black-on-chrome steering wheel are a set of stainless push-button switches to control electrical accessories such as the navigation lights and bilge pump, with space below for a stereo – in the case of our review boat, an audiophile Fusion Apollo unit.
The engine throttle mounts to the gunnel , and is positioned perfectly for comfort. Below it, a small meshed compartment holds smaller items like sun screen and mosquito repellent, keeping them handy yet out of the way.
The inside face of the console yields another pleasant surprise in the form of a tilt-out waste bin. This is a thoughtful and handy feature that reflects the fact Walker Bay engineers obviously spend a lot of time on the water themselves, and fully appreciate the realities of heading out with the family for an afternoon of fun. No more buckets or trash bags stuffed into storage space on this boat!
The front face of the console provides space for another forward-facing seat. Lifting the seat cushion reveals a secret compartment that’s big enough – wait for it – to accommodate a head! This must surely be a first in a 21-foot inflatable boat, and it’s a real testament to Walker Bay’s brilliant engineering. A collapsible screen lifts to surround the space for privacy when in use, either as a head or as a place to change out of wet swimwear. Lower the screen, close the seat cushion, and no one would ever know it exists. The head and privacy screen are options – in its standard form the space is used as a storage locker – but it’s one which most buyers will surely spring for given its tremendous comfort and convenience.
Most of the other seats offer storage compartments underneath the seat cushions, so giving up the console space to accommodate the head still leaves buyers with abundant space for gear. This includes a huge in-floor storage locker, which is big enough to hold even bulky items like wakeboards.
The bow section of the Walker Bay 22 features pontoon boat-style, wrap-around seating that can accommodate a half-dozen adults with room to spare. Installing the available pedestal-mount table here creates a wonderful dining space with unbeatable 360-degree views. Lowering the table and installing a filler cushion converts the space to an enormous sun pad.
If you’re looking to lounge rather than dine, both of the side lounge seats have ratcheting seat backs that can be positioned for forward-facing comfort. Underway, these are hands-down the best seats in the house.
Right up front, the aft-facing section of the bow seat houses an insulated cooler, accessed by simply lifting the lid. There’s also an anchor storage locker right up front, which is a thoughtful touch.
Walker Bay knows that boat buyers like to personalize their new joy, and offer a wide range of options for the Walker Bay 22 including EVA deck flooring, a wake tower complete with a Bimini top, a telescoping ski pole, and four flush-mounted stainless steel rod holders for the fishermen in the family.
The amazing Walker Bay 22 really does offer far more than meets the eye, and families looking for a fun, versatile, and super-low maintenance boat have to give it serious consideration.