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It is time for a new ride, the last one is getting up there in age and I'm ready to transition back to an inflatable. I built this back in 91 and am going to sell it with the trailer.



The thing is that we now have three teenagers and packing gear for five into my dory sucks along with the necessity to stick a couple of kids into another boat/ducky when we are fully loaded on week-long trips.

I'm ready for the next boat to take me 20+ years into the future. I've rowed plenty of rafts over the years for various reasons and did a short stint as a guide in my misspent youth. Considering that I will do more long multi-day trips than day-trips, I'm strongly leaning toward a 16' boat.

Storage is an issue for me and I don't have room for an inflated boat in the off season. I'm going to buy a new boat and am down to the following decisions:

PVC vs Hypalon; Diminishing tubes vs continuous diameter; do I really need a 16' boat. I'm looking at NRS, Aire, Sotar, Maravia.

Pitch in with advice and thanks in advance.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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It was me I'd go Hypalon, mainly cause that's what we had, and I think it tolerates being rolled better than PVC. I've never dealt with PVC. If you're looking at 5 people and gear for multi day, I might think about even an 18'.

Or, you could do what I did and go to the dark side; get a ski or cruising boat. I enjoyed it almost as much, but about 1/10th the work, longer season, low water years don't hurt as much, and more comfort.

4 of us would hit the water on Friday night and not touch dirt until Sunday. My kids grew up on the damn thing. 20' SeaRay I bought for $8,500 and sold for $9,000. Course, I put another $8,000 or so into gas, various pieces, props and toys over the 10 years we had it.

Nah, get yourself an inflatable.
 

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Jared
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I'm with Schutzie on the Hypalon thing. My Dad keeps his 90's Riken rolled up in a very tight ball, while my Sotar takes up a lot of garage on a trailer. I could probably roll it up, but not nearly as tight as my Dad's boat. My frame doesn't break down either.
Size wise, I think a 14' raft would be better for day trips and a 16' for overnight stuff. I have 4 in my family and I am still not sure how I'll fit enough stuff for a week with the wife and kids. (My raft is a 14') I love the 14' for day stuff, and actually a 13' is a good size for 5-6 people. I think with that large of a family, and the kids are teens, I'd be trying to kick them out of the raft more. (IK's, Mini Me rafts, etc)
If I was going to buy a Hypalon boat I'd go with Hyside. That said, I don't think you can go wrong with NRS. There are a few other Hypalon boats on the market, but I don't think they are as good in design or material.
I don't have any experience with the tapered tube boats, other than they look cool, lol
 

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Hypalon for rolled storage without a doubt.

SOTAR will tell you their boats roll for storage and that that is how they store them. You can roll AIREs too, but they are HUGE! My buddies 156D is twice the size rolled as my old Avon Pro.

I love my Hyside. I would go with their 16' model if I was buying new. I think that is what you'll need, a 16' boat. That should get you a week with five people just fine and despite their size you can still paddle them just fine. I would also recommend an Avon Pro, but I don't know if you can find one new and that is what you said you wanted. I guess NRS are fine, but I have little experience with their new boats.
 

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There are pros and cons to each brand for sure. I would highly suggest that you rent a hypalon and PVC boat with both I-beam and drop stitch floors before you buy one. I personaly hate hypalon and I-beam floors. Hypalon feels very soft and unresponsive to me. I like stiff boats with drop stitch floors. I bet your dory rides more like a maravia than a NRS boat??

I really enjoy the flexability I get from maravia boats. You can run them stiff or soft depending on water conditions. The same goes with the floors. If your running a tight floor the boat spins better and floats higher. Low floor pressures give better tracking and hold more water to blast through big holes and waves. Maravia boats are more "tunable" than any Hypalon boat on the market.

So, again rent a couple different types of boats and identify your personal boating style and preference. Because the boat you buy will cost a $5000+ and its the one you'll have for a long time.
 

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I went through something similar recently. I had both, a 13' raft and a 16' Greg Tatman wood driftboat. Sold the DB about 5 years ago and ran the raft exclusively. I was in the raft about 90% of the time, prior to selling the hard boat, which was why I sold it. The drawback is self-bailer's just don't row as efficiently as hard boats, especially for fishing (light loads) and I spend most of my time rowing for fishing

When we finally decided to get a bigger boat for our growing family I did a ton of research and found the Sotar SL, which long story short, my research indicated would row most like a DB. I bought one and am extremely happy with my decision. It rows incredibly easy, ferries like a dream and has more space than I know what to do with (15'). During my research I thought long and hard about NRS's Riken designs, an Aire D boat and the SL, in the end I liked the constant curve design of the hull on the SL (lots of rocker) over the other two. Didn't look hard at Maravia's, mostly as their D hull design still has really long straight tubes and no rocker.

I was coming from a 20 year old Hyside hypalon boat and had a hard time leaving the material but went for design over material. The urethane in the SL is super nice, I haven't found it as slick underfoot as some folks say, but it does slide on and off my trailer nicely (much better than the neoprene chafers on the old hyside). It may not roll up as small as hypalon, (my 15' SL roll is probably twice the size of the 13' hyside) but in reality they both take up similar ground space (both end up taking about the same number of square feet, the difference is in the height of the roll). Either way, roll size for me is moot because I store mine inflated on a trailer in a barn. The urethane is much stiffer than hypalon, both in terms of rolling it up and how it rides inflated. I definitely like the stiff, ridgid feel of the SL on the water and I don't have to inflate deflate as much on the trailer as I did with hypalon. I put 1.5 psi in the urethane when it was 50 degrees out a couple months ago and I haven't touched it since. It got up to 2 psi the other day in the 80 degree garage (3 psi is max working pressure). With hypalon it took a lot of pressure (didn't have a gauge then, but probably 2-3 psi to be moderately stiff) so when you took it out of the water, there was no room for expansion, thus I was constantly inflating-deflating.

That's my thoughts anyways...
 

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I second dirtbagkayakers advice. You won't truly know it until you try it. When I decided to go to the darkest side and buy a raft I pulled the trigger on a 15' maravia zephyr. We currently store it rolled up when not in use. Sure, it ain't the smallest raft roll you've ever seen but it's not huge either. 2 years so far and no problems. I do plan on storing it partially inflated on a tray tray(trailer) in the future, but that's a garage rebuild away from me. Sotar's are great boats too. My experience with them however has been leaky floors and a less than desirable thwart attachment (if you plan on going paddle rafting too). I have never had to add any air to my maravia floor once pumped for the trip. Longest float only 6 days thus far. Longer trips in the works, c'mon lottery gods... The thwart attachments are a breeze. Plus, if you leave in the through bolts, you have an attachment point on the inside of the tubes for your frame. For your numbers I would think that you would need a 16' or bigger. The typhoon would give you extra storage with the diminishing tubes. I guess it's obvious that I'm partial to maravia. I can do 4 total people on my boat for a week but it's tight and someone has to either ride in the back up on the gear bags or hang out opposite the rower, with two in front. Maybe you guys pack super light and don't have as much junk as us. Whatever you decide, it'll be great because ultimately you're buying a RAFT! I'd be curious to hear what you end up going with. Best of luck. No matter what, it'll float, and that's what we want.
 

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I think all the advice here has been very sound and rightfully no one is hating on any particular brand. I just bought a new NRSE and sometimes think I should of went with a Sotar and sometimes I am sure I should of bought a Maravia. I know I have a great boat but there is always something to keep me second guessing. I think trying different boats is a good idea. I also think you should go bigger rather than smaller. I have rowed a fare number of different boats and once you get used to the one your in they are all pretty easy to handle. You can always use the extra space. Especially with a family such as yours. I think a large enough raft will handle much better than an overloaded smaller raft. I would look at 16' and up.


Jim
 

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How much do you want for the dory? ;). (I'm somewhat serious)

Sounds like 16' would be perfect for you. That said, I found that the 17' dory I used to row carried as much or more gear than a 14'-16' raft and was a hell of a lot more fun. Also, no strapping down gear- just throw it in the hatches and when you're done there's no deflating or derigging- just put it on the trailer and go.

What wasn't fun was smashing it on rocks and the expensive and constant repair work that followed. But I'm sure you already know all about that. Rafts just bounce off. Despite the easier maintenance, there's no ride like a dory, and there's plywood in the shop waiting to be transformed....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How much do you want for the dory? ;). (I'm somewhat serious)

Sounds like 16' would be perfect for you. That said, I found that the 17' dory I used to row carried as much or more gear than a 14'-16' raft and was a hell of a lot more fun. Also, no strapping down gear- just throw it in the hatches and when you're done there's no deflating or derigging- just put it on the trailer and go.

What wasn't fun was smashing it on rocks and the expensive and constant repair work that followed. But I'm sure you already know all about that. Rafts just bounce off. Despite the easier maintenance, there's no ride like a dory, and there's plywood in the shop waiting to be transformed....

Cookie,

I've been mulling over what I would sell it for, and really haven't got it figured out. It isn't like there are a bunch of them out there to compare with. Have you got any idea what an old dory with a trailer goes for? It has a new floor and spray on Line-X bottom. Perhaps this is a good topic for another thread. When the rain stops around here in a couple of weeks I'll get some good photos and put it up in the gear swap. Maybe then I'll have an idea of value.

I have to say that comparing a raft to a dory is just plain silly. They both have oars and carry gear, but after that, the similarities end. A dory is flat out sexy. They are the "Harley Davidson" of the rowing world. I'm tempted to keep it, buy a 15' raft, and have the 14 y/o boy row it half loaded, (the raft, not the boy). When it comes to punching a giant hole, nothing does it like a dory.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I've been scouring this forum and others on boat differences and right now Sotar and NRS are leading the pack. If I could pick up a Sotar for the right price, I'd drop the cash now. I'll be calling dealers tomorrow looking for the right boat.

Rob.
 

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Looks like a ~17' Briggs Colorado River Dory? Any obvious damage or wood rot? I dunno... decent condition maybe 3-5k. If I were you I'd keep it and let the boy row the raft. Shame selling that beauty, especially after so much hard work to build it, so many river miles, and yes, dories are downright sexy. Looks like she needs a name though.
 

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your dory is sexy!!! ps. check the hot sheet on sotars website!!! they always have screaming deals!!! if you haven't all ready. but they have rafts at like 20-25 percent off and I don't think you can find a better deal on a sotar!
 

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Fishnfowler,

I don't know values of dories persay, but I do still follow wood DB's and they have very little resale value... Fishing geeks don't want the hassle of wood and they all think wood is heavier (which is of course not true). I had mine decked out and originally asked what I thought was more than fair ~4K, I ended up selling it after a year for like 2200. In hind site it wasn't worth selling and I really wish I still had it. If it's possible to keep it, do! You will only regret selling it!

As for Sotars, you can find dealers that will custom order you a boat at 10-15% off if there's nothing on the hotsheet that strikes your fancy. Cheryl at Sotar is incredible to work with too!
 

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It was me I'd go Hypalon, mainly cause that's what we had, and I think it tolerates being rolled better than PVC. I've never dealt with PVC. If you're looking at 5 people and gear for multi day, I might think about even an 18'.
Agreed. I've always had PVC boats, but they don't roll/store well.

16' minimum if you're still boating with teenagers, or a pair of 14's. :cool:

Or, you could do what I did and go to the dark side; get a ski or cruising boat. I enjoyed it almost as much, but about 1/10th the work, longer season, low water years don't hurt as much, and more comfort.
Absolutely! I love mine in the late summer when the flows are low, but the sun is hot. I live nearer a huge lake than the rivers, so it's stupid easy to take out on a hot summer night after work...and keep my weekends free for floating when the rivers are still flowing!
 

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All Good

I live in Alaska and have the NRS 14'E series - love it. Performs well in big water, skinny water and everything in between (assuming it's been loaded appropriately). My rafting partner has the AIRE 15'6"D - also a great boat. I've rowed both a lot and actually prefer the AIRE. It's a bit narrower on the inside due to bigger tubes but same overall width. Both boats are double tough. Neither ever been holed. And we row some pretty bony stuff. Both roll up just fine - we both store our boats rolled in the winter. Either can be rolled up by yourself.

All that said based on your needs I'd get the AIRE 16'DD or NRS 16' E series. The NRS is a bit wider but both have same size tubes. AIRE doesn't list it's "carrying capacity" but NRS lists the 16'E at about 1900 lbs - take with grain of salt. Both will serve you well and both very versatile - paddle or oar. They won't row as well as your Dory but they do other stuff better - life's all about choices.
 
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