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Old 07-06-2006   #1
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 273
14' raft vrs 16' cataraft ? ?

I am in the market for an oar boat. I am considering either a 14’ self bailer or a 16’ cataraft.

The boat will be used primarily as a support boat for extended over night trips and as a fishing rig. Any thoughts on the pros / cons of each would be helpful.

Thanks –


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Old 07-06-2006   #2
Fuzzy's Avatar
Knife Fork of the Spoon Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 365
i have a 16' SB raft that has been great. I can get lots o gear and still fish off it easy. I went with the raft deal for one main reason.... if i wanted to use it as a day paddle raft sometime which i have not in 4 years. Rafts tend to be slower in moving water but sit lower there for track better (wind) I would really focus on your layout for the frame and boxes cooler decks ect. That makes ALL the dif. Can't go too wrong with either b/c you'll soon be sitting on a sandy beach with a cold one.

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Old 07-06-2006   #3
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I had a 16' cat for 8 years and finally sold it this year. The kicker was a Middle Fork trip when it was rainy and chilly; and the continuous splashing through the cat frame all day froze my ass, even with drypants. With the paddle-rafting option, self bailers just make more sense. Better for families (if you're at all inclined), and the rigging is a little less involved than a cat frame. More passenger friendly because there's less frame to have to avoid.
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Old 07-07-2006   #4
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 273
Thanks for the comment. Does a floor help with the splashing on a cat? I have experience oaring a raft but no time on a cat.
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Old 07-07-2006   #5
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
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I did end up making a full-length plywood /resin floor for the cat, and it does help. But, it also adds weight & another 8' piece to haul to the river (again, more rigging before launch), and it's still not as dry as a SB floor. The other thing is the way gear gets loaded in each boat: the frame bottom sits higher in a cat, so all the gear sits higher as well. It can create a visibility problem. On the other hand, cats w/ floors carry 'hard' dunnage very very- ammo cans, kitchen boxes, firepans. And, a cat with a wood floor creates a very good casting surface for fishing, rather that a sloped inflatable floor. But I really didn't use the boat for fishing; just a gear hauler for multi-days. Cat tubes are also cheaper, of course, which is a consideration. Unless you're sport-rafting, I wouldn't considerany cat under 16'. I would seriously consider an 18'- the only time I felt pinched in the 16' cat was the first day on the Middle Fork and low-water San Juan. And the big cats can really carry a ton of gear.
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Old 07-07-2006   #6
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 84
Get a 15' Superbug. cheap and sweet. love mine. Cruises low and big water great. Down the poudre as an oar rig at 1.8'.
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Old 07-07-2006   #7
West of Boulder, CO
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 96
I have 14' and 16' cats and love them. Cats are much cheaper than big SB rafts. One drawback to cats are the relatively massive frames you have to haul around.
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Old 07-07-2006   #8
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 273
How are cats in terms of flipping etc. It seems they might be more prone in big holes with the weight being so high.
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Old 07-07-2006   #9
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I haven't flipped my cat fully loaded, so I couldn't tell you. We dump-trucked it on the Selway in a humongous hole, but it didn't go all the way over. The fact that there's no front tube chamber in a cat might make it harder to flip, because the wave/hole breaks over the boat instead on pushing the bow up and over. The 2 times I did flip it (Skull) it wasn't too hard to get back over, but it wasn't loaded down - and in both instances, the cat hit the hole at an angle instead of dead-on. Obviously, either way (SB or cat), if you flip a fully loaded raft you're going to need a lot of it's a little bit of a moot issue. The one thing that always worried me about a cat was that when it flips, there's usually a lot more frame coming down on you as it goes over.
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Old 07-07-2006   #10
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 10
If may ever want to take more than one passenger, that favors the raft.

Also... in strong current, I have noticed the Cats tend to straighten out and line up along the stream lines; I feel that rafts allow me to control angle better.

I suppose that's because the Cats have a longer waterline, and the submersed portion of the Cat is linear.

In either case, larger tube diameter means the boat rides up a little higher... this gives you more control. That's a big factor particularly for Cats... they quickly lose manuevarability when heavily loaded (i.e. low in the water).

Good luck ! Enjoy !

acting like a rebellious 13-year-old does NOT make you a rebel
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cataraft, rafting

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