I've been watching some of the earlier discussion of the SOAR Levitator, and I thought a new thread focused just on this boat would warrant our time.
I don't know how I missed it, but when someone recently posted that the Levitator has no rocker (bow or stern rise) I about fell off my chair. To my knowledge, no other reputable manufacturer does this (you will find a few pool toys out there that have flat floors). For the uninitiated, "rocker" is the degree to which the bow and stern sections of a round boat rise above the bottom of the boat. Some manufacturers measure rocker from the floor to the top of the tubes. In this case, to determine how much actual bow rise you have, you have to deduct the tube diameter from their stats. In other cases they measure from the floor to the midpoint of the tube and others measure from the floor to the bottom of the tube. Ultimately, you want a floor-to-tube span of at least 7.5 inches. Boats with higher rocker are designed for whitewater, but may be more useful for float hunters because we usually carry bigger loads. Bigger loads cause the boat to sink deeper in the water, and a higher rocker will help keep water out of your boat if you have any wave action.
In the case of the Levitator, I have been reading reports from hunters who generally like the boat (these are first-time boat buyers as a rule), but their stuff is getting wet from splashing over the bow or stern. Of course it is; the boat is totally flat! Other hunters are not having this experience, which leads me to the conclusion that they are floating flat Class I water or are running very light loads.
There is no question that the Levitator offers greater floatation than other round boats of the same length. This is because more of the floor is touching the water, which gives you greater displacement. But put that boat in rough water and you could have some real problems with the bow punching through waves instead of pushing the boat up over them like it's supposed to.
In thinking about this issue, I've come to the conclusion that this boat was designed primarily as a big load hauler on flat Class I rivers with limited opportunity for wind-driven waves. That would certainly be the ideal conditions for this rig, but would seriously limit your options if you plan to hunt or fish other areas of the state. I would not want to take one on an expedition trip on the Alagnak, the Chilikadrotna, the upper Nushagak, the South Fork of the Kuskokwim or any other river with anything over Class II. You'd probably be all right on some stretches of the Noatak (depending on water levels), most of the Innoko, some of the streams coming out of the south side of the Brooks Range, and parts of the Unalakleet (except the lower end where you run into a lot of wind-driven waves).
I'm attaching a picture of a Northwest River Supplies E-140 bailer with nine inches of kick, so you can see what I'm saying. As I said, the Levitator is flat. This is a serious question relating to the versatility / utility of this boat for expedition trips in Alaska.
Finally, I'm not interested in bashing anyone on this question. I realize that there are folks reading this forum who bought this boat, perhaps on the recommendation of someone or because it meets their needs. But as a float hunter, a guide specializing in float hunting, and as someone who has been providing information to float hunters for many years, I am concerned about this question and am looking for supporting or contrasting comments on the issue.
What's your take?