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  • Recommend a Boat!

    In the proverbial quest for the best all-around Alaskan boat, I've decided that an inflatable will get me the closest, would you guys agree?

    Now the question is whether to go with a round boat, cat, or sport boat?

    I want to be able to motor up some shallow interior rivers, float the Kenai, dipnet the Kenai, and cruise around PW Sound.

    Round Boat & Cats seem to be inadequate on the Sound. I'm leaning towards a sport boat right now as it seems most adequate for motoring the rivers and PW Sound but am concerned about how it will perform in a float-type scenario.

    Any advice?

  • #2
    Nope, I disagree.
    I've owned too many different boats trying to find that one great all around boat... each has had it's strong points and each has had it's weak points... my advice would be to give it up, bite the bullet, and buy up about 4 or 5 that give you the ability to go everywhere and do everything... If you buy those 4 or 5 right now, you might have them all paid for by the time you get ready to retire.... and reach that age where you have the time to enjoy them.... /John

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    • #3
      What exactly do you mean by "sport boat"? Jet Ranger possibly? I've seen people dip net out of cats and it looked like a major cluster in my opinon. Also, if your looking at doing any motoring up shallow rivers, you'll probably want/need a jet unit. Got to agree with Old John on this one. One boat will work for all those applications, just not very well.

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      • #4
        All in all I think a sportboat would be your best choice. They're simple to rig and can be used for MOST of what you want to do. You will not, however, be able to float the Kenai in it. Sportboats make lousy drift rigs, for a variety of reasons. And in a river situation you can almost always count on striking that transom on the rocks, and probably damaging your floor as a result.

        Where did you hear that cats are poor performers in the salt? It's not true. Many folks use them to troll for kings and silvers, and they work just fine. You do have to rig them properly with the spray shield and whatnot, but it can be done. The benefit of the cat is that it's a powerboat, a drift rig, a flyout boat... they're really versatile.

        I agree with the deal on dipnetting out of a cat. The biggest issue is that there are too many little pieces of hardware on which your net gets snagged, continuously. It's a headache.

        There is no such thing as an "everything" boat. Not yet, anyway.

        -Mike
        Michael Strahan
        Site Owner
        Alaska Hunt Consultant
        1 (907) 229-4501

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        • #5
          How about a Rigid Inflatable? Then all you need is an outboard with 2 lower units one being a jet.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the advice John, I'll just go ahead and buy 7 for good measure! Hmm....I might be able to afford 7 TOY boats right now!

            By 'sport boat' I'm talking a rigid inflatable like a Zodiac.

            brav01, when you use the term rigid inflatable, are you referring to a Zodiac-type boat as well?

            If I go with the inflatable sport boat maybe I'll have to add a personal cat or inflatable canoe for floating.

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            • #7
              iturner8,

              Concerning round rafts vs catarafts...this often gets as (non) complicated as buying a Ford or a Dodge pickup. Most pickup trucks carry a bunch of stuff just fine, under a variety of conditions. Big trucks carry more stuff more efficiently than mid-size trucks. But mid-size do a great job within their limitations. So when buying a new pickup, or a new raft, get a color you really like. Regardles of what sytle you purchase, within one summer of use you will be posting here on the forum that you got the best of the best, with honors, whatever you get/got.
              OK, seriously, Mikes book is mandatory reading for both new and experienced rafters. Get it and read it and you will refer to it often. Find a few friends with different boat styles and ask to raft with 'em. Then your an expert like everybody else ready to purchase the "best boat for everything in Alaska".
              Spend the rest of the weekend reading the rafting forum archives! This has been a frequent flyer topic.
              Then get a raft in your favorite color so can enjoy rafting in it all summer, and looking at in the garage all winter.
              It ain't rocket science. While no single boat is perfect for everything, most boats will do an bunch of stuff really good or great.
              And I just returned from a short(ish) trip to Hawaii, and while there I was surprised at the number of catarafts running motors while in the salt.
              See you on the water.
              AlaskaTrue Adventure/Dennis
              Imagine (It's easy if you try)
              …miles and miles of mountains…wide expanses of tundra...remote wild waters…
              (Whisper words of wisdom) Let It Be

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by iturner8 View Post
                brav01, when you use the term rigid inflatable, are you referring to a Zodiac-type boat as well?

                If I go with the inflatable sport boat maybe I'll have to add a personal cat or inflatable canoe for floating.

                Here's a Rigid Inflatable, not sure if it's considered a sport boat or not, heck I thought a Bass Boat was a sport boat.
                http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/17-AV...Q5fBoats#v4-35

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                • #9
                  A ridged hull inflatable is ONLY made for ocean - deep lakes, ect. Would not last an hour in a a shallow river!!! It has a fiberglass bottom and inflatable tubes. An unreal craft for the specific purpose. We ,SOTAR, build lots for the US military as well as ALMAR and BOLTON. You can find some with an inflatable floor, mainly out of Asia. I had some made for Alaska use, by SOTAR, with the blow up floor, which are still in use, back in the 80's. SOTAR is just too busy making custom river rafts and cats for the general public and commercial outfitters to deal with the break down transom issue.
                  Goo

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                  • #10
                    I have one of the Urethane mil-spec boats geaux is referring to. (edited) This is all urethane construction, heavy duty aluminum transom, with sloped I-beam floor that self bails at a standstill, rowing a stream, or on the fly with engine. It goes like an inflatable jet-ski on performance as a rescue craft and is mil-spec rugged enough to push twisted float-planes on my salvage missions.

                    While it is not the all in one boat for Alaska... she sure is versatile to the right driver for all sorts of applications.

                    Last mission was salvaging crashed CAP Beaver... we secured & inflated cataraft tubes underwater, floated her up, shoved the wreck toward shore with assault boat, then haul lined 'er righting it for dismantling and helicopter slinging.

                    Couple links:
                    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...938222&theater

                    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...d=114233938222

                    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...d=114233938222
                    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 03-21-2011, 21:23. Reason: negative comment about business

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sport boat...I have a zodiac sport boat. It is a 1985 GRIII. Aluminum floor. 15'-5" long. I run a tired 1986 40hp Zuki long shaft prop on her.

                      I put 800 miles on it last year in PWS, Skilak, Deep Creek, Deshka, Little Sue, Cook Inlet, Homer, Seward, and Valdez. We took it camping, bear hunting, King salmon fishing, Silver fishing, halibut fishing, shrimping, duck hunting, and moose hunting.

                      I picked it up for 3400$ 2 years ago. The transom rotted so I had AKRK replace it for 1108$ - which they are re-doing now due to some issues. I had Brian at Alaska Raft Connection put a eurethane coating on the floor (which is holding up excellent after approx 400 miles now) for 750. I basically have about 5K in it.

                      I was looking for 2 things - Cheap and get me out on that water instead of being on shore. It accomplished both. It does nothing very well. It is uncomfortable. It doesn't have much room. Instead of 2-foot itis - I have 10 foot itis.

                      I will use it again this year and hope to venture up to Lake Louise, Yetna river, where ever else I can get it.

                      if you want to float kenai, kasilof, little sue, little willow, etc type rivers get a couple one man cats for 250$ used - they are great fun.

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                      • #12
                        Here is what I'm thinking at this point. Please pick this proposed 'boat program' apart!

                        - Inflatable sport boat (Alaska Series, zodiac, etc.) with outboard for: Lower Kenai, dipnetting, PWS, lakes, hunting larger interior rivers.
                        - Inflatable canoe (NRS or 'other', any recommendations?) for: fishing upper kenai and other skinny water, raft trips with friends who have
                        bigger cats and round boats, fly-out hunting trips.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ( ITURNER8...Perhaps I do not completely understand your post # 12, but...)
                          You are going to want a larger boat, larger than an inflatable canoe, for the upper Kenai so you can tote more friends, dry bags with gear, and beer.

                          An inflatable canoe, such as an AIRE Traveler, is really a special purpose boat IMO.

                          I suggest a AIRE Super Puma, or Super Duper Puma.
                          Imagine (It's easy if you try)
                          …miles and miles of mountains…wide expanses of tundra...remote wild waters…
                          (Whisper words of wisdom) Let It Be

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AlaskaTrueAdventure View Post
                            ( ITURNER8...Perhaps I do not completely understand your post # 12, but...)
                            You are going to want a larger boat, larger than an inflatable canoe, for the upper Kenai so you can tote more friends, dry bags with gear, and beer.

                            An inflatable canoe, such as an AIRE Traveler, is really a special purpose boat IMO.

                            I suggest a AIRE Super Puma, or Super Duper Puma.
                            Yep... my thoughts exactly. First a do-all/all-arounder... now talking niche watercraft like inflatable canoes.

                            I can understand... It's can be difficult making up your mind, and of course you'll get all kinds of opinions on what to get.

                            The most versatility you are going to find in one boat as an all-arounder is a high end quality 16-18 big single-tube per side cataraft. This is not a stripped down bare necessities affair. Keep in mind tho', you will be able to access an enormous variety and scope of water accessorizing a great set of tubes. I'd go Urethane if you can afford it.

                            In terms of going two boats (one for skiffing the saltwater/lakes/flatwaters & one for getting out rafting/fishing on all sorts of rivers/creeks).....
                            Boat 1.) Hard to beat an Achilles for example and mid to upper tier Hypalon (many are similar properties CSM fabric) Sportboats or RIBs (don't go cheapo here, then again - it's your life)

                            Boat 2.) A raft or cataraft of most practical, full-sized geometry... skip the skinny boats on down to super skinny hybrids/canoes unless all you plan on is day trippin' or gravitating toward niche usage.

                            A new boater in Alaska with all these dreams and plans should make every attempt to get a hold of the highest end product available whether it's new or used.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ok, in light of the most recent comments, I'm switching gears a bit. I'm reconsidering the 'salt component' of my desired boat as I'm green as they come with boating in the 'big water' and have a history of pushing my limits too much, often getting myself into precarious situations. Probably not a smart idea to cut my teeth with an inflatable sport boat in PWS. That being said, I'm looking more at a quality river raft that will be great for fishing and leasure floating. I like the look of the round boats with fishing frames (high seats, front railing etc.) I'm curious how comfortable it is to stand and fish from a self-bailing round boat? Is it better used to access fishing spots as opposed to fishing from the boat? I'm looking into a used SOTAR (any feedback on SOTAR quality is appreciated too!) with a rafting frame. I'm hoping to be able to add fishing components to the frame that can be easily removed depending on the trip. If you have a quality fishing raft I'd like to see photos. Thanks again for everyone's help as I look to get into a new craft!

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