14' Cataraft Build

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Robert Engleheart, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Thought I'd put forth my impressions of the boat after 6 months of assembling and dialing in a 14' long cat. I decided to go with a cat as I already had 2 Skykomish Sunrise pontoons by Scadden and initially was just going to get bigger tubes and put them on the Scadden frames, somewhat like his 2 & 3 person pontoons. Decided that the 1" i.d. pipe frames were too light for the 14' x 22" tubes and I'd just go with a proper 1-1/4" frame that could carry up to 3 people on milder waters or 2 in the rough stuff. With the 1-1/4" speedrail style framework one has multiple options for set-up of seating and framework that wasn't possible without cutting and welding on the smaller NFO frames and I decided the smaller toons will be great for the grandsons to learn on and use in lighter waters and solo trips as I can carry my 10'-6" Scaddens on Yakima racks and load and unload it by myself.
    I bought the 88" x 69" x 1-1/4" aluminum pipe speedrail style frame from Kootenai Valley Inflatables (http://kvirafts.com/) and tweaked it a bit to suit my needs; NRS anchor system, added a removeable 24" front standing platform for stillwaters and class 1 and 2+ waters to be able to take my 2 grandsons in front and a 4th person in back if I want. Normal set up would be 1-2 fishermen and the oarsman. Used 8" aluminum bleacher planks for a floor that can be removed in minutes if desired. This adds 65lbs to the rig, but is solid and easier to remove (4 cam straps) than the sewn up NRS style web flooring and is not permanent as the woven web floors are. Substituted Cobra oarlocks for the superston-style, added some 3/4" CDX sideboards with anti-slip grit, rodholders and a drybox. The cast fittings Doug at KVI uses with his frames are far superior to any of the other brands in appearance and quality of finish and cheaper and lighter than the NRS style.
    The 14' x 22" Rocky Mountain tubes (http://www.rmrafts.com/) I selected have minimal rocker compared to the Aire, Sotar and other premium type, but for me it works as I believe that allows me to carry a bit more than comparable size tubes and the cat tracks nicely at the cost of a bit of responsiveness you'd get with greater rocker. At $1200 for a welded PVC construction with 3 air chambers/tube they are about 50% of the previously mentioned tubes, as well as having as thick or thicker material.
    Needed a trailer and wanted something with larger wheels to avoid the issues associated with small ones as I will be towing this 400 miles one-way to my winter fishing grounds on the Trinity with future trips to points further. Not having a large assortment of used raft trailers near me I settled on a used Ziemann Quad trailer. At 12' x 6' it was the perfect size, a bit heavy but real quality with 15" wheels, bearing buddies and submersible lights and a huge toolbox on the front. I built up some bunks (?) out of 2x10 PT lumber that attach to the trailer frame with 4- 3/8" bolts for quick conversion back to it's design as a quad trailer. This gives me over 10" of storage space under the boat for oars, spare tire and anything else I want to carry. I put a small electric winch on the toolbox lid and a 12 volt AGM battery in the tool box for power. Makes loading the boat easy for one person and the battery is in a marine box, ready to use as trolling motor power when required.
    I just returned from a trip to the Trinity, North Umpqua and Portland area streams where I ran the cat on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers. Intended to do the Trask as well, but after finding out a good friend has liver cancer, I elected to spend the day with him instead. Most of the water I ran was Class II with the exception of a short stretch of III on the Sandy; put in at Dodge Park and you have about 30 seconds to get lined up before it gets interesting real fast. I made a mistake and got the cat sideways over a drop of about 4 feet, if I'd just let it run straight there'd have been no worries. At over 86" wide it's incredibly stable and other than pitching me sideways to the end of the drybox rowing seat and injuring my pride, all was ok. We punched through some pretty nice rollers at the end of the run with incredible smoothness. I believe the Cobra oarlocks help immensely, allowing me a greater angle on the oars when required compared to the superston style.
    Bottom line is, there is no perfect boat. I have made compromises to end up with what works best for me, and I'm satisfied. Future plans include a narrower and shorter frame for whitewater work as I live 60 miles from one of the better WW rivers in CA, the Kings.
    One of the best parts of my recent trip to Oregon was getting to know my 16 year old nephew better. My baby sister's son, I've really only seen him a few times at weddings, funerals, etc and really wanted to get to know him better. We set up a drift on the Clackamas, McIver to Barton as my sister made me promise to have him home early as he had several papers due the following Monday that he'd put off until the last moment. Therefore, fishing was limited to about 1-1/2 hrs, but I did put him on the sticks for the last couple riffles and he loved it. I got to expose him to a new activity that he seemed to like and we both have a better feel of the other as a person. Priceless! CIMG2542 (2).jpg CIMG2542 (2).jpg CIMG2643 (Medium).JPG CIMG2644 (1024x768).jpg
    Patrick Gould likes this.
  2. Great report, and glad to hear that you're using the new boat and getting to include some of your family. That's the stuff that matters at the end of the day isn't it? :)

    I wanted to add a note for everyone else reading, as I suspected, the frame fittings used by KVI are the Star Inflatables F1 knuckles. They're $11 each, but you'll have to call Star as they're not listed on the website 1-877-900-2628. I also have them on my break down frame, and they're a great budget option when building a DIY or break down frame, and a heap easier to use/drill out than the NRS fittings.
  3. I like this thread already!
  4. Buy a boat, and you'll instantly have more friends. Looks like the start to a good friendship!
  5. This is so true. The interesting part is that since having a boat, I have taken so many new people out, I realized I really like showing newbs the whole experience. I have a friend who hooked his 1st steel while I took him downriver and have taken my nephew, friend's sons and others to "indoctrinate" them in the whole picture and it has been very rewarding. The best part is when you realize one "gets it"; not about numbers, but the whole experience, preservation, ethics, etc, etc.
    Derek Young likes this.
  6. Very nice, very nice indeed. Whenever I see someone's new ride I get an itch to start tinkering with my raft. Good luck and nice work

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