Building a cataraft

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by isaacfab, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Shapp,

    Thanks for the input. I'm going to be working on it tomorrow so maybe I can address some of these issues then. I think that the corner fittings I have should be okay for pinning all the way through but I'll double check. Just to be clear your talking about the top section of the frame and not the floor right?
     
  2. Shapp

    Shapp Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    275
    Location:
    Back to the state of my birth (OR)
    YEs the top corners, it also doesn't hurt to do the bottom rail corners, but not as important, although I would on a cat frame that big just to make sure it all holds together. If you are ever in a pin situation, run into a big boulder, etc. water is pretty powerful and you don't want that thing falling appart.
     
  3. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Indeed.
     
  4. matalpa

    matalpa Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2010
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Mead, WA
    I have rented 4 or 5 catarafts, then bought my own 6 years ago. It was nice seeing different designs and figuring out what would work best for us.

    I think there are basically 2 ways to go- minimum weight or maximum comfort/fishability. The light type of boats usually have a mesh floor. I found out pretty quickly that I despise mesh floors. You can walk on them, but not very well. You certainly would not want to stand on them and cast all day. Perhaps most annoyingly, everything you put on them will be soaked if there is anything more than a riffle-no matter how high they sit. Get lots of dry bags. Plus, there is usually enough room for stuff to fall into the water along the edges.

    I think that if a person goes with mesh floors you need to put in really comfortable seats that are positioned well. People will have to stay seated while casting. Having a tube under their feet while seated really helps.

    I put 1/2" plywood floors in my boat. I painted them and put some anti-skid on the tops so they don't get slippery. I think the floor is about 12' long. There is only one bar that you have to walk over to get from front to back, and that is the one with the rowers seat. I also put cargo extensions on the front and back. They add about 2 feet each, and I hard decked and put a casting brace on them for casting platforms. They are great to cast from, but are not so great for landing fish- a long handled soft net is a big help.

    The cargo extensions are great for people to sit on while going down the river. They get used like a tailgate- people sit on them, make lunch there, sort gear, etc. They are probably my favorite thing about the boat. I wouldn't let people sit there in real whitewater, but for trout rivers they work well. The boat fits 5 easily, 9 if you can stand to row it that heavy. It still only fishes 2 unless you want to short-line nymph.

    I haul it with a flatbed/snowmachine trailer, and can slide it on myself, but it is more fun to have help. Last year I bought a winch/roller on a stanchion and that makes it easy, especially at really steep ramps. A few times we have carried it a 20 or 30 yards- it needs 4 guys. I think I could do it with just one other (strong) guy, but there is not a middle lift handle to keep it balanced. I think it probably weighs 400 pounds just tubes, frame, plywood, seats.


    A couple things I have noticed about your frame-

    Are there foot pegs or a tube for the rower to brace his feet against?

    That action packer lid seems pretty slick, might be annoying over the course of a day. When the rafters use a cooler for a seat they often glue foam rubber on top for comfort and grip.

    There are an awful lot of tubes going across the top of the frame- that will be annoying if anyone wants to move around.

    Catarafts do not anchor well, even with a 35 pound anchor. In a foot of water with little current and no one in the boat it works fine, and it beats hauling the boat up on shore, but in much current it does not work. If the anchor holds, the boat walks back and forth, no matter where the anchor line comes off the stern. Usually the anchor just does not hold. Drift boats can anchor in much much more current than cats.

    I can't tell from the pics how heavy-duty the tubes and fittings are. Sounds like you have a plan w/ jb weld- I think that's a good idea.

    Good luck with your raft!

    matalpa
     
  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,708
    Likes Received:
    4,757
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Matalpa, hoping you'll post some pictures of your cataraft!
     
  6. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Okay so today I am back at it. On the agenda is to make adjustments for the bays and seats. I am also going to incorporate the suggestion to pin corners of frame with 1/4" bolts.

    Okay so to make the adjustments I am going to just pretend like I am fishing and see what is the most comfortable...kind of obvious approach I know. The only thing today of technical significance is to fabricate dry box/cooler holders. I have some aluminum bar stock that I will cut bend then drill holes to feed the straps through.

    I do think that the previous post is correct after putting the boxes on the frame this morning I believe I can do without one of the rear cross bars (I might have to spring for a bar seat mount though....). So attached are some pics one of the materials to make the dry box mounting kit and the other of the frames tentative arranged.

    I do have a foot rest for the rowers seat but am not sure exactly where I want it yet...hopefully will find that out today.
     
  7. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,708
    Likes Received:
    4,757
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Issac, where is your rowing seat going to be? When I put my frame together, and it is smaller than yours, I had to make sure that my front box that holds seats was back enough for standing room and yet forward enough to keep my hands and oar handles from banging the seats. When I started I had seats on crossbars and no storage. I then went to boxes with seats atop and pinned them with bars like you've done. I like what you've got going so far and like the suggestions that you are getting from others.
     
  8. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Mumbles,

    Thanks for the heads up. My first dimensions would have had me with not enough rowing room.

    So here is where I settled for now. The oar towers are mid frame (5'6"). The front box/seat is 24" from the front rail and everything else is done to my personal feel and size (without actually being on water). The attached pic is the setup that will make its way to the river. I'm not sure what the rower will sit on yet...just the box or maybe a low back seat. I will also probably replace the rear box (action packer) with a rail mounted swivel seat. Didn't finish the box mounts yet but am close,the kids were not having it :)
     
  9. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,708
    Likes Received:
    4,757
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    With my boat rigged for a rower and two passengers, one fore, one aft, the 14' boat is a bit crowded. So far it has done pretty well though. I call it my big boy cataraft, but really it is my cataraft training wheels. Maybe some day I'll have a really big water boat for recreational floating and one my 14' for fishing. The first day I had the boxes mounted and the girls side by side seats on the box up front I banged the crap out of my knuckles. Moved my seat, oarlocks and foot bar back 2" and their box and its two cross bars forward 2" and now I like the setup and balance. I find that the center baffle dividing my tubes is right at the forward edge of the cooler on which I sit and row. The texture of the cooler has held me comfortably in place, as I've not yet added any padding. I think I might add some for this year though. Love the progress. Make sure that you get a good test run in to make sure that you feel balanced.
     
  10. matalpa

    matalpa Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2010
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Mead, WA
    Mumbles,

    Here are a few pics for you (I hope.)

    View attachment 38902
    View attachment 38903
    View attachment 38904

    The single arm casting brace was not sturdy enough, but the double arm brace works really well.

    The holes in the boards on the cargo extensions are so I can get to the air valves. I thought about reversing the tubes, but settled on this. The outcast seatback organizers are great for storing stuff and keeping rods out of the way. I think a big weakness of rafts is the lack of storage, and these help.


    Isaac- just eyeballing your frame, which looks cool, by the way. It seems like the frame is really shallow in depth compared to most of the frames I have seen. I am curious how you will like the seat height/oar lock configuration. I think the seat height might be higher than you want (or the oar locks too low.)

    Matalpa
     
  11. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,708
    Likes Received:
    4,757
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Matalpa, did that cat. Much different than my narrow boat setup. My tandem seats up front only fit my little fishy chicks, when the big boys are in the boat it is one fore and one aft. Nice!
     
  12. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Okay so I'm back at it today. Last week I finished most of the adjustments to the seating and the rest of the frame. Today I got the lean bars installed (4' kind of big but I like them...), anchor system (something I developed with some pulleys from the store), the floor, and got it all up on the frame. I have the boxes/seats up in the pics, it looks like I used all of the cross bars. From here I need to accessorize...I have some options for rod holders/tackle storage but I will need to think it over...

    Also the box mounts where easy with some 1" webbing and some aluminum flat stock (2 1/2" wide x 2') bent to the box or cooler contour, they are not pictured here. They are MUCH cheaper than the $70 from NRS kits (cost me about 10$ a piece for everything).
     
  13. Rob Ast

    Rob Ast Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Messages:
    2,253
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    West Pugetopolis WA
    You need to make sure your anchor is centered (definitely not in the first 2 pics - cant tell from the 3d). If you try to anchor that boat with an off-center anchor you will be walking all over the place.
     
  14. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    19,708
    Likes Received:
    4,757
    Location:
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Still liking what you are doing. Some thoughts, only thoughts! Putting some side boards for stepping into and out of the boat still might be a good plan. To minimize weight, maybe just spanning both sides across three cross rails, the end rails and the paired cross rails that pin the dry boxes. I was going to suggest angling the lean bar back a bit in the first photo, but the last one looks like you've already thought of that! Might suggest a U shaped anchor support bar in the back, rather than a single bar that might not tolerate torsion forces as well as a multi point attachment system. Also, I see the rear most pulley, then one rear of the rower seat. I think you might find pulling from there tough. Mounting a third pulley forward of the rower, maybe on the right side of the rear crossbar for the front box, that is about where mine is and it is easy to grab. My friend Jeff has his anchor rope tied to the top of his anchor mast, from that he hangs his anchor on a pulley. Rope goes up to another pulley fixed on the oar mast. This reduces the pull weight of the anchor by half, but will require more anchor rope. He swears by this configuration and I trust my friend. That is how I mounted mine too. Will the laced in mesh net floor cause the drop down rails to sag when load bearing? Might want a crossbar down low in a couple of spots to keep it nice and tight. Looks like a fun project. Reminds me of some of the assembly of my boat a while back. I love projects like that as they get planned out and take shape.
     
  15. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Point, NY
    Thanks for the input! Yes I guess the pics are a bit deceiving the anchor is not centered....but it is close and I can change that fairly easily (thanks for the heads up Rob). Mumbles thanks for the extra pulley idea, I'll do that first thing tomorrow (putting one in front of the rower, not sure where yet). Maybe a U shaped system will make its way onto the boat at some point. Where did you get the PVC material for the side steps on your boat? I would like to do that but haven't done any research on them yet. I have done some cross bracing of the floor already and it seems to keep fairly tight (have not done an entire day yet but did stand on it while working on the boat for a few hours today with no issues).

    Just for the record it does not seem prohibitively heavy yet...I can still easily lift it by my self with the tubes on (not loaded). However it is not light for sure but I'm happy with how much it weights for now.