Recommend a Boat!

iturner8

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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?
 

Old John

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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
 

AK Troutbum

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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.
 

Michael Strahan

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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
 

brav01

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

iturner8

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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.
 

AlaskaTrueAdventure

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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
 

brav01

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goeaux

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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
 

Brian Richardson

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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?fbid=429126518222&set=pu.114233938222&theater

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...233938222&theater&pid=5350248&id=114233938222

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...233938222&theater&pid=5350349&id=114233938222
 
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Bullelkklr

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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.
 

iturner8

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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.
 

AlaskaTrueAdventure

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( 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.
 

Brian Richardson

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( 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.
 

iturner8

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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!
 

BlueMoose

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Nothing wrong with a good used Sotar. Depending on the application of Cost versus Warranty versus application you should consider AIRE Tribs as well or the NRS Otter in a self bailing option. There is no problem with standing on your self bailing floor and fishing. Remember a lot has to do with the total weight in the boat and the type of self bailing floor you have in that boat. I would not expect to wear tenny pumpers in my raft and not get a slightly wet foot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AIRE boats have a Foam/AIRE option for the lack of going into to much detail that is extremely stiff and of course Sotars floors tend to be very stiff when fully inflated. Depending on your frame options what you see most is the NRS fishing frame with the Stern Seat with thigh bar and platform and the Bow Seat with platform with and thigh bar. That is not to say there are not additional options just seems to be the most popular.

Have fun and best wishes!
 

Brian Richardson

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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!

Venturing the Saltwater - PWS skiffing in an inflatable Sportboat or RIB... I feel it'll be a much better idea to rent/try really good comprehensive sportboat packages with engines and wear the suitable gear a few times to gain some valuable perspectives in various conditions. Go really conservative at first discovering your comfort zones.

Going the rivers - You'll be hard pressed to find a better quality, nicer, more dependable boat than a SOTAR self-bailing raft. Brand new or a used/demo (in decent shape) regardless of all the warranty jargon... a great boat is a great boat. Here, I'd also highly suggest try or renting before you buy... a few different sizes, manufacturers, designs, and package features.

Believe me: you do not need to over accessorize on frame jaz, stand-up fishing stages with railings, funky chicken motor monstrosities, and high chairs. All this stuff is weight-gainer non-essentials as well as the trimmings that can get a guy in trouble under the wrong conditions. Get a quality anywhere/anytime row-frame and keep 'er simple having a boat more nimble.

Many of us will be at the Sportsman's Show. I encourage you to take the time to talk to everyone and look at the products. I often discourage most folks from pulling the big trigger on some deal too seemingly good to pass up at shows. I'd much rather they be super satisfied for the long run.
 

Heg

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I bought this 16' Sotar used a few years ago, and I could not be happier.

IMG_3308.jpg


Although it's primary purpose is a family cruiser/fishing boat (I've taken it on numerous Upper and Middle Kenai runs, Gulkana, Willow, Eagle River, etc.), I have also brought it down 6 Mile, Lion's Head and the Nenana Gorge as well as a couple fly-outs. There are a lot of good boats out there, and I'm sure everyone is going to be more than willing to hook you up with a "good" boat at the Sportsman Show. You seem like you've done your research, and I'm sure all will agree, you cannot go wrong with a Sotar...new or used. I am notoriously rough on gear and both of my Sotars have held up remarkably well. They are super tough, look good, and you will have the ability to grow into it as a rafter.
IMG_6388.jpg

You do not need to put all those silly looking contraptions on your boat to make it a fishing boat. Sit on the tubes, thwarts, cooler, or stand up. The floor is extremely rigid, and unless you are going through whitewater your feet will stay dry and warm. I wear sandals and fish out of mine quite a bit in the summer.
IMG_6581.jpg
 

BlueMoose

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Not trying to pick a fight not my style however I will address the warrenty statement. It is something that should be addressed; The purchasing of a boat is an investment and although it may vary on average new or used a qaulity boat such as an AIRE or SOTOR etc.. normally has an associated warranty with it depending on how old or new it is. I for one would not purchase an as is car without a warranty if I did not have to. I would be under the assumption that such an investment can run between 3-6K for the raft, oars, frame be it basic or created for a reason such as this is "what I would like and I would like to be able to break it down as required for the particular usage I might be considering". That is not to say some sound advise has not been provided it has been just that the gent states he wished for a fishing frame and wishes to break it down as required for his trips as he sees fit and the first thing anyone should ask about any make or and model is what warranty if any is available for that purchase. Last time I check 3-6K was a lot of money.

Respectfully

Maybe I am to old to completely understand some dynamics of life Moose-O
 

goeaux

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Don't know why every one seems to worry about warranty, and who has the longest ect.?? In my opinion buying something that will not break except for pilot error is more important. Look at what the boat is made of and where it is built and who makes the fabric is more important than warranty. It is proven that you get what you pay for, hypalon, pvc, or urethane. Some companies, such as SOTAR offers a 12 yr. warranty over the standard 6yr. for $200 not that you need it, If she don't, break by 6 she probably won't.
 

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