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Thread: Fishing/Hunting Boat Suggestions

  1. #1
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    Default Fishing/Hunting Boat Suggestions

    I'm seeking some of your wisdom. I'm in the market for a good small boat. I'll use it for fishing, hunting, and general cruising/boat camping with my wife and son. Not looking for anything fast and won't be towing inflatables or skiers. My main requirements are as follows:

    1) No trailers -- must be either a car-top boat or a folding boat that will fit in the truck.
    2) Must be stable -- I want to be able to stand up in this boat. And not brace myself any time my boy makes a sudden movement.
    3) Should be able to take a motor, but should also be comfortable to row or paddle.
    4) Must be durable -- I won't be buying another boat for a very long time (maybe ever). It'll be stored in my garage, out of the weather, but it needs to be able to handle being run into a rocky shore once in a while.
    5) Must have sufficient capacity and space for 3 adults and gear (and maybe even a dead hog).

    From what I've seen online, rigid transom inflatables of the Zodiac variety seem to fit this bill relatively well. Does anyone have experience with these boats in such a capacity? How do they hold up? Assuming that I'll use it 5-10 days a year and store it in a cool, dry place the rest of the time, how long can I expect it to last? Do you have any specific brand suggestions? Looking forward to everyone's thoughts and stories.
    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." -- Winston Churchill

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    Every boat is a compromise. The perfect boat doesn't exist. If you read an advertisement that says "this is the perfect boat", you shouldn't bother to read anything else. A boat that will carry three people and is very stable is not going to be easy to row. Stability = wide but easy to row or paddle = narrow. And you left out several of the most important criteria:

    1) How much gear are you going to want to carry?
    2) How much can you afford to spend?
    3) Will this be used in rough water or still? Ocean, rivers, or lakes?
    4) How far do you need do go? And how fast?
    5) How much time are you willing to spend setting it up?

    I think you would find an rigid transom inflatable to be a bad match to these requirement. Those row, but they are exhausting to row far. Because they take a long time to set up you'll find the ones big enough to take three people and gear usually live on trailers. I've never owned one, but I have owned several inflatable kayaks.

    The classic answer to your requirements is a square-stern canoe. A seventeen foot Grumman aluminum square-stern canoe will carry 825 pounds and weighs 85 pounds. But it's tippy.

    I'm personally quite comfortable in kayaks and canoes, and I would stand up in an inflatable kayak or canoe. I've owned a couple- I currently have an Aire Lynx II. If you don't have experience you could easily flip it when standing, but why would you need to stand in a small boat? I've never owned a folding kayak or canoe. They have the reputation of being better as boats because they are more rigid and don't waste the volume with air, but take a lot longer to set up. I pull mine kayak out of the truck and am ready to paddle in less than ten minutes, but 30-45 minutes is typical for something like a Folbot. That's fine if you're doing a three week expedition, but kind of annoying if you're spending three hours on a lake. I've seen inflatables kayaks that will take a motor, and some that will carry three people plus gear, but I don't offhand know of one that will do both.

    The best option I know of for your stated requirements is the port-a-boat, at http://porta-bote.com. I've never owned one, just seen and read about them. I wouldn't want to row one far with three people and gear, but the larger ones will do what you want, and if you just want to row out into a small lake or pond to fish that flat-bottomed shape isn't too bad as long as you stay slow. Don't plan on rowing very far unless you're awfully strong.

    Just one person's opinion.

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    jrod is offline Member Allowed To Sit On The 1st Rung
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    I don't really have any experience with zodiac style boats but any boat that will fit in/on the truck won't be stable enough to stand up in without bracing yourself while the other people move around. I think a 16' jon boat would do you well.

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    There actually is one class of boats I'm aware of that fits your requirements in all respects, but you can't buy them. You have to build them. Google "Bolger Brick Boat". They are ugly, and violate any knowledgeable boater's instincts. But they work and are about the simplest boat you could possibly build. There are a number of variants. Here's one source of plans:

    http://www.instantboats.com/brick.htm

    You could stretch to ten feet or so and it would be a better boat.

    If you build one of these, please make sure you use a bunch of floation foam.

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    I've never owned a Zodiac, but I've owned and used a number of small boats. Here's a few comments:
    1) Every boat is a compromise. You're not likely to find a boat that does all that well for the same reason you can't find a car that gets 50 miles to the gallon, will tow an 8,000 pound trailer, and is good for 4 wheeling.
    2) A zodiac is definitely not what you want. The smallest zodiac that fits your needs weighs over 200 pounds, and inflating in under an hour it is going to take a gas generator and a big compressor. It's also going to be exhausting to row more than a few hundred feet. There's are reasons all the rigid-type inflatables you see live on trailers and have decent-sized outboards.
    3) You need to be more specific. How experienced are you in small boats? How fast and far do you need to go? Saying "I want to use it for hunting and cruising" is nice, but better is "I will only use it on lakes, and need to go no more than three miles in about an hour". Some people think cruising is a two-week trip to the Boundary Waters Park or a two hundred mile kayak trip up to British Columbia. And a boat that works in the ocean is a lot different from one for rivers, which is different from one for lakes. And what are you willing to pay?
    4) The classic answer to your situation is a flat-stern aluminum canoe. The seventeen foot Grumman, IIRC, weighs under 90 pounds, which I could carry on top of my Kia. It will carry over 800 pounds safely as long as it's stowed properly and the waves are small. It requires some skill, but not a lot in flat water. It can take an outboard- normally 2 or 3 horsepower. Don't over-power.
    5) I like canoes and kayaks. But you can't stand up. Well, I have, but it takes experience and attention and a willingness to risk getting wet. That has never bothered me. There's nothing you should be doing in a small boat that requires you to stand, IMHO.
    6) Most people looking at requirements similar to yours get folding or inflatable kayaks or canoes. Manufactures use "kayak" and "canoe" almost interchangeably. Folding kayaks (Think Folbot, for example) are better, but take a long time to set up. They brag about setup in a half hour. My current inflatable Kayak is an Aires Lynx II. It goes from the trunk to the water in under ten minutes, with a foot pump. It's a bit too small for you, but there are other inflatable kayaks big enough.
    7) I know of one boat that actually meets your stated requirements, maybe. But you can't buy it- you have to build it. It's ugly, and doesn't even look like a boat. Search for "Bolger Brick", or go to http://www.instantboats.com/brick.htm
    The size here is marginal, but since it's just a plywood box with one side curved it's easy to expand by a foot or two. If you make one of these, PLEASE build in adequate flotations.


    And of course- lifejackets for everyone who even thinks they might step into the boat.

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    Default Fishing/Hunting Boat Suggestions

    Everyone, thank you for your advice. I realize I was over-reaching a bit with my list of requirements. EBrown, you're right -- there is little reason to stand up in a boat. That was my rather un-necessary oversimplification of my requirements. Here is the rest of the story:

    My wife and I have a decent amount of experience in small boats, especially canoes, kayaks, and small aluminum row-boats. I've taken several multi-day canoe camping trips in Canada and I'm fairly comfortable in a canoe. We have a toddler whom we've taken onto a few small rental boats on a small local lake. He loves it. A square stern canoe would seem like a pretty good choice, except that I think it's too tippy with a toddler in it. We've actually tried this in a rental canoe at the local lake, and it was ok, except for a bit of wobble when he shifted his weight suddenly when he saw a duck. So that's the reason for more stability. Would a square-stern canoe be inherently more stable than a traditionally-shaped one? I've seen a few for sale online that have a 40" beam. In your experience, would that be secure enough for this purpose?

    The other thing I'd like the boat to be able to do is to be able to get into water with some small chop, not just completely flat water. During my canoeing trips, I've crossed a few windy, choppy lakes and I wouldn't want my toddler with me in that. I know the big inflatables are more stable, and that's why I mentioned them.

    Also, thank you for mentioning the porta-bote -- I just discovered these myself and it looks like it would actually do most everything I'm looking for. I'm going to try to check it out in person. They make some hefty claims on their site!
    Last edited by zavodizhevsk; 02-20-2014 at 10:17 AM.
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    No, a square-stern canoe is just as tippy as a regular canoe. But one with a 40" beam should be pretty stable. That's a big canoe. Check the weight- a 17' Grumman has a 36' 5/8" beam and claims weight of 85 pounds. At that size, getting it onto a roof is not trivial. I wouldn't want to have to get one much larger onto a car. Maybe if you had a rack on top of a pickup that wouldn't be bad up to 120 pounds or so with a little hardware. That would get you to the Grumman 19 foot, with 40 inch beam. That's large for paddling, but your toddler moving around isn't going to make anyone nervous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebrown View Post
    No, a square-stern canoe is just as tippy as a regular canoe. But one with a 40" beam should be pretty stable. That's a big canoe. Check the weight- a 17' Grumman has a 36' 5/8" beam and claims weight of 85 pounds. At that size, getting it onto a roof is not trivial. I wouldn't want to have to get one much larger onto a car. Maybe if you had a rack on top of a pickup that wouldn't be bad up to 120 pounds or so with a little hardware. That would get you to the Grumman 19 foot, with 40 inch beam. That's large for paddling, but your toddler moving around isn't going to make anyone nervous.
    What do you think about the Wenonah Backwater square stern canoe? It's pricey, but the specs seem to be pretty decent: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/64033...e-by-we-no-nah

    At 79 pounds, it's not bad for a car-top, right? But I wonder about its "waterline width" stat of 37.5 inches versus the stated beam width of 41. Is it more properly a 37.5 inch beam?
    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." -- Winston Churchill

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    Maybe research the Topper series by Tracker. They may have one that suits your needs. I own a 1236 myself and find it to be a great boat. I have a small trailer but have been known to just throw it in the truck bed at times. Also easy to paddle but i also have a 9.5 horse outboard that gets her underway when needed.

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    Live2hunt is offline Forever Hunting Kiss The Ring
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    Here is the gear you need.

    http://boatloader.com/

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