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Thread: Efficient outboard for large cataraft

  1. #1

    Default Efficient outboard for large cataraft

    Thinking about dumping the cata-canoe concept and going with an Aire 16' expedition cataraft. Looking for suggestions on good motor to utilize for occasional power during a couple month long float trip down the Yukon. Boat will be loaded at about 1,200 pounds. Not interest in going upriver, mostly to take a break from rowing when there is little current and when crossing becomes necessary. Obviously fuel economy is a major concern. Any thoughts most appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member gspd750's Avatar
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    If your thinking 16'...well then what's a couple more feet. Go big with an 18' Leopard and be done with it.

    608704427_HpDYF-L.jpg

  3. #3

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    Tks. After a lot of research including this forum, and with the help of some very knowledgabe Anchorage folks, the Leopard is just what I may do. There are other great cata-rafts to consider (and still considering), but I have Aire products and understand their systems and have experience with any needed repair which is a plus on such a long trip. Load consists of 2 people loaded for Whitehorse to the Bering Sea - tentatively expecting a load of about 1,300 pounds including frame/people/food/gas/motor - everything. This is assuming a 60 pound 5 hp motor and 20 gallons of gas and lots of fresh water. Will outfit for sleeping on the boat as an option. Boat will be outfitted with oars of course & extra set. Trip is a planned "float" trip and motor considerd a luxury to be used to assist crossings and help with the wind - if the motor is working Bad weather - we're off the water.

    As with most orginal estimated weight plans - those figure only go up. I originally was thinking about the Lion 16 because of its advertised cargo capacity rating on the Aire website. The Leopard advertised load capacity of 1476 scared me off initially, but I'm learning it may well be my best choice for our planned trip taking into consideration efficency with rowing and motoring with a 5 hp. I'm now also aware of the Cougar, Super Leopard, and 18 foot Lion that isn't easily found on their web site. However, it may well turn out that the standard Leopard will the sweet spot for our needs. Thanks for everyone's help.

  4. #4

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    GSPD - Is that an 8 HP outboard? How is it's performance on the Leopard? Many thanks.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I personally think the 5 hp would be a horrible choice. The single cylinder outboards produce alot of vibration and they lack torque when two people are added to the mix. Over the years, I've owned and run a single cylinder 5 hp merc, a twin cylinder 6 zuk ( twice the torque of the five), a tohatsu 9.8 and 25 hp tohatsu two stroke.

    When you step up the the 9.8-9.9 sized outboards, they have smoother twin cylinder motors and still relatively lightweight. Fuel use will be a non-issue as they are all good on fuel, yes.....even the old two strokes. The twins don't work as hard. Another consideration is the high thrust yamaha 9.9. I have a cousin that runs this on his cataraft back in Maine, he say's it scoots. His cataraft was the biggest one Aire ever made.

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    Golden rule of leopard cat is 15HP 4-STOKE gives 11 knots for 2 people plus camp gear on flat-water such as bay-running.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    I've been running an 8-horse Yamaha 2-stroke on a Leopard for years and I'm getting eight or nine miles per hour downstream on slower rivers. The outboard is very light (I have backpacked it several miles) and great on gas. Keep in mind that you need to plan out your fuel stops to avoid carrying excess weight. There are several villages along the Yukon where you can purchase fuel. If all you need is something to move you downriver a little faster, the eight will do the job. Granted, the four-strokes are better on fuel, but they also weigh a lot more. You might need something more substantial than the standard adjustable transom setup.

    I have a ton of river miles on this one-



    And there's a photo of the same rig on a float hunt, with the outboard and a full load aboard AT THIS LINK (it's our main cataraft page).

    If you need help building the transom setup, check out Alaska Raft and Kayak. They built two for me (including the one in the photo). They've got it nailed pretty well and I suppose they've built a few hundred of them.

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    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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  8. #8

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    Thanks everyone for their help on this. At this time, I'm just guessing exactly how I will use the motor. I envision using it to assist crossing at the wide spots and help get off the water when the weather turns bad. Depending on gas availability, I can see using it to help on some of the slow spots if a break from rowing is desired. On the other hand, we are allowing enough time to just float the trip and the trip will not be reliant on the motor. Some of the villages on the lower half are 150 miles apart or so, and I'm told that quality gas availability is not guaranteed - so fuel economy is of high importance. I'll certainly bring along a Mr. Funnel and additive.

    Yamaha makes a 2 cylinder 8 hp four stroke at about 85 pounds and I'm seeing the 9.9s of most brands are about 100 pounds. Surprising to me, the 15 weight just a little more. I'm told that some lighter 2 cylinder 4 strokes are coming out shortly at more dollar?? I would consider a good 2 cycle for weight and simplicity - but fuel consumption and finding the right one are issues.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Tohatsu leads the class in the lightest weight fourstroke 9.8 that weighs in at 81 lbs dry for the short shaft pull start only model. I used to have one, and it was a great motor.

    If weight is a concern, this is a good motor to have. It's almost as light as the older two strokes. On a square sterned canoe, I actually burnt about 7 gallons of gas going 100 miles UP the Yukon, and all of 4 gallons going 100 miles DOWN.

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    Member KelvinG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    ....and lots of fresh water.....
    With weight being an issue, why are you carrying all that water?

    I hear good reports about all these different water filtration systems. Iíve never used them though.

    Whenever I spend an extended time in the sticks, (especially on float trips) I take enough water to get by for first two days. Then my routine is when I stop for the night I gather a couple of gallons of water and let it sit overnight. By morning its settled out and I pour the clear water off the top and boil it while cooking breakfast. Then I pour the boiled water into the potable water containers. I now have drinking water for the day and cooking that night. As a bonus Iíll hang a canteen off the side of my raft to have cool drinking water.

    Kelvin

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    Member gspd750's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    GSPD - Is that an 8 HP outboard? How is it's performance on the Leopard? Many thanks.
    Correct....it's an 8 hp Honda long leg with what Honda calls a Power Thrust Propellor. With my latest mods to the floor boards I find the most comfortable high speed cruise (calm lake) is 8-9 mph indicated on the GPS and that is with 4 people and a little bit of gear. Going any faster and the cavitation around the leg gets to be a bit much and worries me that it might jeopordize cooling. It is also hard to see the water cooling check hole with all that aerated water.

    I use a series of 3 boards (surplus commercial airliner floorboards) which fit between the spreader bars and the NRS trampoline floor. The very aft board sits directly on top of 2 spreader bars with the 2 front boards sitting on top of the trampoline. Again, with this setup a little over 8 mph and this motor will run all day with no labouring or water coming over the boards. You better not be in any sort of a hurry to get somewhere on a Leopard with a motor. As Michael has already mentioned the 4 strokes are heavy with the 8 hp Honda coming in at 98 lbs or so. You only want to pack it down to the lake once and that is with 2 guys carrying it.










    Unrelated....we had a good run of Sockeye on Babine Lake north of Smithers BC last August. Going back
    there in a few weeks.







    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12

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    Thank you for the information. That is one fine looking CAT !!

  13. #13
    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    Here is another power option...The Honda 4 stroke 20HP weighs 103 Lbs dry, sips gas, 3 yr warranty and has worked flawlessly the last year...at WOT it will push my 16' Lion with 4 people on a plane if loaded correctly... but floods the rear 2 feet if Center of Gravity is aft...

    A question I have is where did you get the surplus airline floor boards...That looks like a great alternative to marine plywood or diamond plate...

  14. #14
    Member gspd750's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyCzar View Post
    A question I have is where did you get the surplus airline floor boards...That looks like a great alternative to marine plywood or diamond plate...
    I have the privilage of working for a major airline here in Canada when some old stock floor boards that were no longer suitable
    were about to get tossed so I claimed them....i call it recycling. They are honeycombed sandwiched by aluminum sheet metal. Very strong and very light. I had an opportunity to claim some carbon fiber floorboards at one time but avoided them as they are very nasty to cut in which you need a special enviroment and saw blade.
    Airlines replace them all the time due to delaminated areas...which may still be usable for a boat. Maybe check with an aircraft maintenance repair/salvage company at ANC and it's possible they may have some kicking around. Cover them with a light vinyl deck material and seal the edges and your good.

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    New member AKDSLDOG's Avatar
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    Very nice Cat set-up you have there! After looking at outboards today for the same cat as yours, gonna go with the 15hp Honda. What frame do you have? Looks like the Top Cat? Size?

    What part of Canada? Fishing looks great!

    Quote Originally Posted by gspd750 View Post
    I have the privilage of working for a major airline here in Canada when some old stock floor boards that were no longer suitable
    were about to get tossed so I claimed them....i call it recycling. They are honeycombed sandwiched by aluminum sheet metal. Very strong and very light. I had an opportunity to claim some carbon fiber floorboards at one time but avoided them as they are very nasty to cut in which you need a special enviroment and saw blade.
    Airlines replace them all the time due to delaminated areas...which may still be usable for a boat. Maybe check with an aircraft maintenance repair/salvage company at ANC and it's possible they may have some kicking around. Cover them with a light vinyl deck material and seal the edges and your good.

  16. #16
    Member gspd750's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDSLDOG View Post
    Very nice Cat set-up you have there! After looking at outboards today for the same cat as yours, gonna go with the 15hp Honda. What frame do you have? Looks like the Top Cat? Size?

    What part of Canada? Fishing looks great!
    Yes, it's a Top Cat 72"W X 120"L. Fish were caught on Babine Lake in north central British Columbia which is only 25 miles
    from hwy 16 (Yellowhead hwy) if you have ever driven to or from the lower 48. It's BC's longest natural lake at 95 miles. It drains into the Babine River, a tributary of the Skeena River BC's 2nd longest river after the Fraser.

    Following is a good view of the boards and homemade spreader bars looking aft. cheers!


  17. #17

    Default Distance from bottom of drop floor to water?

    Thought I would use this old post to ask a related question. I'm having a lot of trouble trying to decide how far to drop my cataraft floor. I will be using 28" diameter tubes and will be heavily loaded for a very long trip. I will be using a 15 - 20 hp 4 stroke. I am planning on having some form of very thin splash guard material attached to portions of the underside of the frame. I've calculated that my draft will be between 8 1/2 to 9 inches deep. In trying to determine how far to lower my drop floor, for me the question boils down to how much distance do I want to maintain between the "bottom" of the floor and the "water" when the boat is fully loaded. If you folks were going to doing a very long trip down the main Yukon River in a cataraft occasionally using a 20 hp motor, how much clearance would you want between the "bottom" of the floor and the water surface? Many thanks.

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