Unveiling the ultimate pontoon - is this it?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Cast2way, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. Cast2way row-ho services for hire

    Posts: 58
    Boise, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Long post here (thanks to a 5 hour flight) but several pics below for your viewing pleasure…

    I have been working on my solution for a new pontoon when I saw another post asking for input as to “what the ultimate pontoon / cataraft would need”, so I thought I would show you my version. Take a look and let me know if I got there, or maybe close – thanks for any feedback, ideas or suggestions. Along with a new boat, I needed a trailer to compliment what the boat offers. I will happily offer my consultation should you want it for some strange reason :rolleyes: – we can discuss a barter deal possibly.

    The New Boat & Trailer:
    [IMG]

    Background
    Having owned a couple one-person pontoons (for sale at LINK) and a Hyde fiberglass driftboat, as well as having fished from bass/flats boats and jet sleds – I began to see the things I liked (and disliked) about each and began to wonder how the best of each could be combined to develop a single craft that would be suitable for all the fishing conditions I encounter:
    • medium size rivers – Madison, Henrys Fork, SF Boise, etc
    • larger rivers for trout – Missouri, SF Snake, etc
    • rivers for steelhead – Clearwater, Grand Ronde, Deschutes, etc
    • small stillwater - trout
    • larger lakes - warmwater species
    • medium whitewater for the family (how do you think I justified doing this?)
    I enjoyed my drift boat and its sleek lines and classic look but it simply isn’t practical for the solitary fisherman and I often found myself providing ‘free’ guide service for non-rowing fishing partners thus not getting in much fishing time even though I still enjoyed that. :rolleyes: I hear this concern from many fellow drift boat owners also – so my rowing services for a ride and some fishing time are now available. I wanted something that I could use for just myself, my dog and/or a partner for either day trips or overnight trips. An inflatable seemed like a good solution even though a few compromises are made here and there. One benefit is not incurring expensive gelcoat repairs from the occasional rock damage from rookie oarsman or my own expertise. I almost always fly fish but occasionally also use artificials with a spin rod for Idaho metalheads in the winter or walleye that can be hard to entice to a fly and thus I tried to incorporate that aspect into the design.

    Having owned a few North Fork Outdoors / Dave Scadden boats in the past and having positive experiences with them, I settled on the McKenzie Drifter as the starting point since I did not have the resources, time or motivation to start completely from scratch. I’m not in the ‘biz’ – just another fisherman like most of you. I looked at many other vendors and won’t list what why I didn’t start with those but I will on a personal level if you contact me.

    Multiple Configuration or Setup Modes
    Below are multiple configurations and explanations how they can be used and for what they intended. The modifications were made with much consideration into distributing the weight to minimize the need to shift the frame forward and back to balance the boat. After these, you’ll find a few details showing some of the general features I incorporated or modified.

    Out of the Box
    [IMG]

    Uses: Fly fishing day trips on typical floatable rivers. Oarsman can row to position front angler or use fins in the right water conditions so both anglers can fish. The frame can be split and only one section used in the center of the pontoons to allow fishing alone. The lean bar can be moved to the oarsman’s retracting standing platform.

    What missing: no place for a larger dog + cooler, or cooler + gear for overnight trips

    2 anglers – cooler for front seat
    [IMG]

    Why: In out of box mode, there was only limited room on the rear deck for overnights, especially with a decent sized cooler back there.

    Uses: Fly fishing day trips on typical floatable rivers. Oarsman can row to position front angler or use fins in the right water conditions so both anglers can fish.

    What’s Missing: Still working on a larger rear deck or adding a platform behind the rower so the dog can go along, sitting in the rear during 2-person trips.

    Alternate: instead of the foam pad on the cooler, one of the standard folding seats can be mounted on the cooler (let me know if you want to see that pic). However, this hinders the oarsman’s view more and is not typically needed if the front fisherman is standing while casting.

    1 Angler + Dog + Cooler
    [IMG]

    Why: Like many, my lab has become my outdoor companion so I wanted a place to take her along which the drift boat was good for in some ways for but not the pontoon as it comes out of the box.

    Uses: I can fish while floating using fins for control. A large cooler can be mounted on the front standing platform for overnights and to help balance the load and create a ‘corral’ for the dog.

    1 Angler + Dog + Trolling Motor (high seat + platform)
    [IMG]

    Uses: For times when floating larger rivers like the SF Snake, Missouri or Clearwater where the trolling motor can be used for boat control while floating and retracted for some of the shallow sections - although it will take a bit of coordination to fly fish and operate the motor at the same time. However, it will be very practical for side drifting steelhead in the winter months when I don’t want my feet dangling in frigid water. Should work well for stillwater situations also.

    Not Shown: since I took this pic, I have added brackets to attach the lean bar on the deck in front of the oarsman seat. The seat also has 360° swivel capability.

    Alternate: For times when the majority of fishing is done floating shallow water, I can fish while floating using fins for control or use the trolling motor to move through long pools and frog water or use it in backtroll mode for boat control when the river allows. This is accomplished by lowering the seat and removing the platform. Standing is then done by using the retracting platform and lean bar.

    2 Anglers + Trolling Motor (low seat – fins)
    [IMG]

    Uses: Mainly for flyfishing situations on large rivers like the SF Snake, Missouri or Clearwater where the trolling motor can be used to move down river quicker in frog water or to move back up to the top of a hole when the current allows. The fins can be used for minor boat control allowing boat anglers to fish or the oarsman can maneuver with the oars if necessary to position the front angler in the classic drift boat mode of flyfishing.

    What’s Missing: Still working on a larger rear deck or adding a platform behind the rower so the dog can go along, sitting in the rear during 2-person trips.

    2 Anglers + Trolling Motor (high seat + platform)
    [IMG]

    Detail of front seat with the double battery box below:
    [IMG]

    Uses: For times when floating larger rivers like the SF Snake, Missouri or Clearwater where the trolling motor can be used for boat control while floating and retracted for some of the shallow sections allowing both fisherman to fish simultaneously – although it will take a bit of coordination to fly fish and operate the motor at the same time for sure!! However, it will be very practical for side drifting steelhead in the winter months when I don’t want my feet dangling in frigid water. It will also be very practical for stillwater situations.

    What’s Missing: Still working on a larger rear deck or adding a platform behind the rower so the dog can go along, sitting in the rear during 2-person trips.

    Whitewater: Oarsman + 2 passengers
    [IMG]

    Uses: How do you think I got permission from ‘the boss’ to do all this anyway? :D Obviously, it is only suitable for Class 3 and maybe some Class 4 stuff but not long multi-day floats requiring a lot of gear. Mainly just for day trips. The platform is held in place with the cam straps and located side-to-side and front-back by four small redwood pieces that straddle the frame tubing. The seat platform is 3/4” plywood with 2 aluminum angles underneath to stiffen is. It is finished with several coats of marine grade Spar Varnish so I hope it holds up. Hard to describe, I can send a picture if interested.

    What’s missing: 2 bikini clad bimbo’s for … git ‘er done :cool: OK, maybe some grab or flip lines along the outer d-rings but I don’t plan to have this in situations where that would be a necessity.


    General Features added:

    There are several additional pictures showing details and descriptions at MY PHOTO GALLERY but here are some of them:

    Rod Holders – these are just 1.5” diameter PVC piping. I added rubber snubbers used on ATV Gun Mounts to hold the butt end of the rod in place. The side pockets can also hold a rod by placing the reel in the outer pocket and pointing the rod out the back but this leaves the rod exposed to possible damage. I’ve seen rods get pulled out by an errant limb from overhanging branches.

    [IMG]

    Rear Deck Modification – trolling motor reinforcements, bungee hooks for gear holding, anchor support relocation and making it a 2:1 pulley ratio (15# pull for 30# anchor). Still working on either adding the dog deck back here or just a different rear platform for when the dog goes along (no motor though). Since the trolling motor weighs in around 75 pounds, I think this deck will also now support an 8-10HP outboard which is around 90 pounds. Not shown in the pic below are two 3/4” aluminum tubes held by the angle bracket bolts and similar braces at the front of the deck. This makes the deck much stiffer so it does not flex with the weight of the motor.

    [IMG]

    Trolling Motor – this trolling motor looks to be ideal for the application but testing it is still underway. I’ll report on its performance later but you can see details about it here: http://www.minnkotamotors.com/products/motors/detail.asp?pg=ftm_vantage. It is a bit expensive ($1100) but offers features perfect for this application such as:
    • Extending tiller handle
    • Up/Down deploy buttons (to retract the motor as shallow water approaches)
    • 4:1 steer ratio – move the tiller 45° and the motor turns 180°
    • Backtroll mode
    • 24Volt – 80 pound thrust (hoping it will go up river to re-float pools/holes)

    [IMG]

    Trailer
    Along with the boat, I needed a decent trailer. Shortly after getting a truck camper for my F250 so I could camp and haul the drift boat, I quickly discovered it did not leave much room for packing gear for the boat or overnight float trips. I didn’t like any of the trailers I found on the market, maybe I missed one somewhere. The closest was that by Trailwater.com but the price was somewhat high to me and it did not have all I wanted. Thus, I came up with a trailer concept shown at the beginning of this post and below. I’m not sure which I put more time into or which I am happier with, but they seem to compliment each other really well.

    Desired Criteria for the trailer:
    • At least 5x8 or 5x10 to hold the boat
    • Enclosed lower storage – keep out rain and dust as much as possible
    • Able to hold all various boat gear plus other essentials:
      • Oars, seats, platforms for other modes
      • Fishing gear
      • Trolling Motor, Battery Box, etc
      • Anchor nest, coolers, etc
      • Camp gear, bicycle (?)
    • Able to load/unload boat when by myself
    • Able to open storage with boat loaded such as when parked in my garage
    • Able to open storage by myself

    [IMG]


    So, what do you think? Have I totally lost my mind? It was fun putting this all together though so I hope it all holds up and works as planned. I’ll probably be tinkering with this for awhile at least. I’m looking forward to getting this baby out on the water – hope we have some warm weekends this winter.


    Mike T
  2. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,396
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,355 / 9
    Sweet. I have not enough experience to determine if that is the ultimate setup, but I have a smaller pontoon rigged up on a smaller utility trailer where I can put all my crap and/or family gear if my float includes some cozy camping for us all. Great work. Maybe when I grow up I'll have a multiperson boat too.
  3. FLGator Member

    Posts: 646
    PNW
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Awesome ideas and incredible post. Great job! Thanks for sharing!
  4. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,760
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +221 / 1
    Nicely done Mike!
  5. troutangler Member

    Posts: 117
    S.E. WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Beautiful!
  6. Fish Hunter Too many people, not enough fish

    Posts: 200
    WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Does it float?
  7. Mark Moore Just a Member

    Posts: 734
    Vancouver, Wa.
    Ratings: +66 / 0
    You obviously have the same incurable disease as me. Sometimes I think the only reason I fish is so that I can have more boats. Very,Very well done, I can't wait to hear how you like the trolling motor. I've been looking at that model for a while now.:thumb:
  8. papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Posts: 2,222
    Camano Island, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +61 / 0
    Nice set-up!
    Wonder if one of those foot control units for the electric trolling motor would work? that could free up your hands for fishing without giving up boat control.

    LB
  9. Josh dead in the water

    Posts: 2,935
    NW Washington
    Ratings: +496 / 2
    I've got to say, I'm really impressed.
  10. cj6530 Member

    Posts: 164
    Bellevue WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    can you steer the tiller comfortably...or are you all twisted with the tiller hitting you in the back?
  11. Cast2way row-ho services for hire

    Posts: 58
    Boise, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Thanks for the nice comments folks.

    I hope so - it did last time at least.

    Maybe, but afraid I'd get too many invites to join B.A.S.S. :eek:

    The pictures show the tiller extended - how it would be operated if you were standing up. The tiller retracts about 8" so it sort of misses your head. You can also pivot it higher as well. The seat also pivots and locks so that would help. I don't see operating it from the sitting position that much but if I did, with the articulated steering on the tiller to motor rotation, you can actually push it all the way to one side, about 60 degrees or so and the motor will make a complete rotation so then if you were just motoring across the lake for instance, you wouldn't be making but small adjustments so then its out of the way as you sip a cold one on the way across... I might find that I should have mounted it offset to one side instead of centered, we'll see. I'll try to report back after some more trials.
  12. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    Can you actually control that beast with fins? With the amount of extra weight of 2 folks and a dog I think you'd be better off with a full sized cat thats gonna draw a lot of water... Its also a pain in the butt to fish 2 folks out of a boat that small. If it were me with enough money for all those things I'd go for a watermaster for fishing by myself and a drift boat for fishing with friends, you can always teach them to row... I do see that boat as being really practicle on lakes if its light enough to handle by yourself fairly easily because it would be a superb fishing platform compared to canoes or kayaks (you can stand!) also it would be nice to have a light boat for places with longish portages but I'm not sure thats light enough...

    Of course my frame of refernce is different up here things that don't fit in supercubs are essentially worthless :p
  13. Cast2way row-ho services for hire

    Posts: 58
    Boise, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Teaching people to row and teaching them to row so you can fish are 2 completely different things...trust me, i know from experience having owned a drift boats for 3 seasons and providing hour upon hour of rowing services. What I learned was that everyone I knew that also knew how to row decently also had a drift boat and we were always debating whose to take. :beathead: So now I offer my 'services' to them for a ride but that means only one guy gets to fish at a time (if just me and a partner, no third).

    For most of the better rivers I fish, I can control the boat with my fins so we can both fish --- with a bit of casting coordination of course, but no worse than 3 people in a drift boat, just a bit closer. I did this successfully a few weeks ago with a buddy, a full cooler on the front and about 100 lbs of camp gear on the back (no dog). It did draw a bit more water obviously and it's not easy to fin but it is certainly do-able in lots of water as long as no big boulders or whitewater to navigate around. When I see tougher conditions coming, I just stow the rod and get on the oars, then I (as oarsman) am no worse off than rowing somebody in a drift boat.

    Sorry if this is braggish, but I am also fortunate to have pretty strong quads being 6'4" and years of skiing and sports to build those babies up. In my old one-man 'toon, I almost never used my oars unless I came upon some bigger or longer whitewater - I would fin through most class 1-2 water that most people would be on their oars - catching fish to by they way which led to some comical situations at times.

    Plus, with a rookie on the oars, the boat seems to be easier for them to control and I don't have as much anxiety for all the rocks we are bound to bump, nor worry about getting breached as the rookie gets us sideways against a midstream boulder. The sidewall gelcoat on my drift boat was proof of that... Oh, the stories I could tell ya...

    By the way, this thing when broken down could fit into a supercub for some remote fishing, not with all the extended options of course, just a basic setup.
  14. Michael&Tanner Sir Real

    Posts: 63
    Seattle , Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    You are just as OCD as I am. It makes me happy.
    And you've actually gone ahead and done something CONSTRUCTIVE with your obsessive behavior.

    Good Job.

    Great Boat. Great Analysis. Great Modularity.

    Michael.
    ... letting OCD work for me, since 1966
  15. EasyE Member

    Posts: 418
    WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    That thing rocks. Nice work.
  16. Michael&Tanner Sir Real

    Posts: 63
    Seattle , Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    hmmm... Now that I think about it, you COULD add some holders on each side for tent loops to support a canopy, allowing you a rainproof platform for sleeping, or duck hunting.
  17. Truchero New Member

    Posts: 1
    TX
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed! This has given me enough ideas to keep me busy and out of my wife's hair for the rest of the year.
    :beer2: :beer2:
  18. CovingtonFly B.O.H.I.C.A. bend over here it comes again

    Posts: 586
    Covington, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Holy Sh$t, put a wet bar in that thing and I think you've got it.
  19. Zene New Member

    Posts: 15
    Vancouver, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Great looking set-up. I'm an avid modder on every pontoon boat I've owned. so I can appreciate all your hard work. BTW do you leave the boat and trailer parked outside at night? Zene
  20. Mark Yoshida Active Member

    Posts: 466
    Seattle WA
    Ratings: +67 / 1
    Great Job.
    I cant wait to show my wife.