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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering upsizing my boat from 14'. I want to hear from people who have run the MF on an 18' cataraft ---

what size tubes, etc. I'm considering either a Leopard or an 18' maravia (Although for the price I could probably get a custom 16' maravia with 26" or 27" tube diameters ...)

where were the tricky points where you had issues due to the length of the boat or the mass of your boat ...

thanks
 

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18 ft aire leopard

mine is 5 years old, not sure how the new Aires go but my bet is pretty close to mine performance wise.

Bottom line is, they are just great boats. Mine has been down Yampa, Westwater, Middle Fork, San Juan and Grand Canyon.

First day's run on Middle Fork was a bit tight but the boat did fine, just had to be where I needed to be. Other noted rivers are nice and wide and no problem.

I put a marine plywood deck on mine and set the boat up to haul a lot of rocket boxes. Problem with the 18 Aire is it looks like a gear hauler and it can, but it is easy to over load this boat.

I gave a lot of thought to going with the 16 Aire cat boat and that is a great boat. I just like bigger tubes. I am very satisfied with the 18 Aire Cat.

Lightly loaded the Aire 18 is very responsive. Medium load it is truely a great performer - maybe the best all around setup. Loaded to the max, it is a hole punching boat but is a bit harder to get turned so plan ahead.

On the middle fork, like I said, first day is a bit tight but doable just do not go to sleep at the oars. After that it is a ton of fun and really comes into it's on during the last day big water drops.
 

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Middle Fork Cat

It also depends on the time of year you are going. I do mostly late season low water trips, and I like having a 14ft. Cat with a slightly narrower frame. My friend does the low water trip every year in a 16ft. Maravia self-bailer raft with little trouble. I'm a loyal Maravia owner, love their boats!!!! Maybe you'd like the 16ft. with the larger tubes. As the previous person said, just be aware of your load. I upgraded from a 14 X 22 to a 14 X 24 Maravia Cat last year. Love it. But I load it the same as I did the smaller tubes.
Have fun with what ever you get. Ain't new stuff great!!!!!
KJ
 

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JPW

If you are looking at tubes, Aire and Maravia and both are good, also take a look at Jacks Plastic Welding. They do custom work and they make a snub nosed model that really does look good to me. IE hi load and still row decently.

I have an Aire 143 self bailer for those lower rockier runs. My bet is a low water middle fork trip in a cat boat would be a lot of get out and push off pin rocks. Self bailers can just hit and slide off rocks that would pin cat boat frames solid.

bottom line tho at reasonable water levels the big cats can do well on the middle fork. I have seen bigger JPW cat boats than mine do just fine on the Middle Fork.




I'm considering upsizing my boat from 14'. I want to hear from people who have run the MF on an 18' cataraft ---

what size tubes, etc. I'm considering either a Leopard or an 18' maravia (Although for the price I could probably get a custom 16' maravia with 26" or 27" tube diameters ...)

where were the tricky points where you had issues due to the length of the boat or the mass of your boat ...

thanks
 

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I would really take a hard look at tube shape. A constant curve (aire) spins faster. A flat bottom is much easier to load (the constant curve has to be perfectly balanced or you feel like you are doing a wheelie in a clown car...I'm sure you can figure out what happens when you hit a hole like this).
 

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Seemed like 16-18fters were the norm there last year. Course there was 4.5ft when we were there in mid June. I had some size envy sitting in the eddy below the ramp. And obviously all levels are not equal,depends on when you're there.
 

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I took my 18' Riken Shoshone (I know, it's a raft, not a cat) down MFS several years ago. I recall the water being pretty low- as in, we were about to cancel and go to Cataract before we left Denver- and the 18'er did fine. It was pretty loaded down. Only real trouble I remember was the first day, like Okie said, just had to be where you need to be. We'd polished off 2 kegs with the ranger the night before, so I wasn't seeing straight on put-in day. . .but I still made it. 18' shouldn't be too big for MF, as those above said, water level dependent. I feel like we were at 2.5' maybe??
 

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I want to hear from people who have run the MF on an 18' cataraft --- where were the tricky points where you had issues due to the length of the boat or the mass of your boat ...
I have only done the MFS at low water (< 2ft). The rapid where I have seen the most big cats stuck and worries me the most is Sulphur Slide. The Chutes gets my second place vote. You should be fine in any of the boats you mentioned....if you can row. Just remember as you contemplate how you are going to get through a seemingly impassable rock garden that a giant sweep boat made it down just ahead of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thanks everyone for you 2 cents. I wound up trading up my 14' NRS for the Aire 16 lion. The tubes are 2.5" fatter, waterline is probably 20% longer. For the same amt of gear I should draft a lot less in the water plus I'm guessing my frame will sit about 3" higher. Seems like sulphur was the only place I got stuck last year at 3' --- it was the floor of my frame getting stuck on a rock ...

I don't believe however Aires weight capacity comparison between the lion and the leopard. Unless they are saying this is the point that the boat starts to handle like a pig ...
 

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I rowed a Leopord for years with a DRE daimond plate decked frame, a t-box, another very large dry box and 2-123 qt coolers (5 bay frame) with an aluminum table, kitchen and my family and gear, on many rivers including the MF at 2'. Never once did I have any issues, ever. Had to be awake at the oars and read the current, especially as I ran lead boat on most trips.

For my circumstances during that time period, this was an amazing set up. Now that the family has grown up and I'm getting a bit older and lazy, I drive a 15' self bailer, my first.

That being said, I prefer moderately loaded cats, they punch holes much better.
 

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I have a 16.5 JPW El Tigre. It's a battleship, with equal weight it drafts less than an 18 Aire Leopard. However, I took it down the Lochsa at cranking high water with me and 2 passenger, and nothing else the thing was squirrelly as hell, spent at least 30 seconds in Lochsa Falls surfing, spinning, and systematically ejecting, 2 of 3 people, but never flipped. On the other hand with a load it has, knock on wood, punched any hole I have ever put it in.

I'd recommend a big diameter cat with blunt nose cones, an 18 foot cat with pointy tips does nothing for load capacity compared to a 16 foot with blunt ends. 2 more feet means you are more prone to starting to graze rocks and start spinning off line in low water rock gardens.

here's a pic: 700 beers, 180qt cooler, 4 kayakers gear, huge drybox, propane, etc... I am guessing in the 2000lb range without the passengers. 12 foot frame, and still had 6 inches from frame to water. Thing was a pig, but all I had to go was go straight.
 

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