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Old 08-23-2016   #21
Paul7's Avatar
Post Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 781
What about setting up the 14' you currently have with a light day frame? Then buy a bigger boat as that 14 will get small for multidays as the kids grow. If she's just now learning you'll be handling the gear for quite sometime to come hence the larger boat. I've got a 156D and wouldn't/couldn't trade it for a 14' even when I've got just four total on the boat I wouldn't go down in size, (regarding multiday trips.)

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Old 08-23-2016   #22
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 16
I have several different boats and my wife is a good rower. I have a Maravia spider that I love and my wife loved as well until she rowed a friends 12 sotar cat on the Taos box. She rowed it empty and all she could talk about was how much easier it was to make moves, spin, ect. It was enough lighter that she felt like she could make moves much easier.
I think it comes down to how you are going to use it. A raft or cat will work fine. I know in my situation I have no trouble taking the extra weight being either people or gear and will glady do it so my wife can have the lightest boat possible. Its more fun for her and doesn't effect me.

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Old 08-24-2016   #23
Gary F
Philipsburg, Montana
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 26
Bottom line is what are you/your wife going to use it for...........I have owned many boats, a 17 foot wooden dory, old small tube bucket boats, small self bailers, bigger self bailers, a 16 foot jaguarandi cat boat........If you are planning on multi day trips and her boat needs to take gear or a passenger(s), get her a raft....maybe a narrow 14 like the NRS boat. Without a floor on a cat boat the passenger needs to be physically agile and more situationally aware. I wouldn't take kids on a cat boat. It is hard enough staying in a raft with floors and sides in big water! Also, for me, I hated always getting so wet in my face. I like being shielded especially, in early season trips where the water is big and cold.
The 14 footer I have does great in bigger water or boney water. However, it is quite "sporty" on runs like the Grand. My wife is 5'3" and slight build but muscular for her size, about 100lbs. She has absolutely no problem rowing the 14 when it is loaded light. It is tougher on her if it is loaded with a weeks worth of gear however but she still moves it around through rapids just fine. On real low water you just have to load it light. I have loaded it to the gills and it handles great.
If you guys are going to use the boat for just day trips so, therefore, very little gear, then a cat is great. BUT, if you load a cat it will NOT handle for shit! I got rid of my 16 foot cat because, basically, I run extended trips where i carry a ton of gear and passengers.
For that I have a 16 foot NRS E series. It handles great even when loaded! A lot better than the small tube bucket boats of yester-year. Oh...if i didn't load the cat it was great. It did have a tendency to flip where a raft wouldn't...maybe, too light?
Presently, I am in the market for an 18 footer for those long trips where you need to take a ton of coolers and food, etc. Even though I have taken all that gear on my 16, I like the extra space of an 18 where the gear isn't piled so high but is spread out. I had a 12.5 foot self bailer and it was awesome in the Taos box both as a paddle boat and as an oar boat. just depends...... My vote is get one of everything..haha
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Old 08-24-2016   #24
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
As a new rower you will have a big learning curve on any boat. It is more about learning to work with the current than the subtle difference in how a cat handles vs a raft.

The cat breaks down into smaller pieces and is easier for one person to lift and haul. The cat has no floor and therefore has more splash. For the same length a cat cannot haul as much gear or people as a raft. Cats are more sensitive to being overloaded or loaded out of trim.

I have a 15' Aire Cat (cougar) and I would find it difficult to get 4 persons on it and still have room for day gear. Packed for an overnight trip I can seat 2 adults plus gear at max.

Based on your description of use, a 15' raft would handle 2 adults and 2 kids better than a cat of the same size. If packed tight you could get the whole family on an overnighter.

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