Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 20 of 228 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A couple of members have mentioned shopping for one of these in the last week and it got me looking. I find the design very intriguing, but have a question or 2 for the folks who actually have them.
The tubes are tapered, and NOT just on the ends like other tapered rafts I've seen. Here's the blueprint of the 14" SL, copied from their website.




I'm not a boat design engineer, but it seems to me that this design would be awesome for quick maneuvering, but, because of the taper in the middle, maybe slow going in flat water?

What are they really like, you know, in the real world?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
186 Posts
SL

I am a fan. Not an owner but rowed one for a day on the Rogue. Doubt very much I will ever be able to replicate that experience - great feel and overall synergy with the river. It allowed me to move but also provided rock solid, stuck to the water, feel that I appreciate. Don’t be afraid to size up. These boats move. Try to keep it light.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
658 Posts
They turn easily because of the continuous rocker.
They blast waves because of the taper.
They track awesome if they have enough weight (6 paddlers and a guide for 14', 4 load for 12').

All in all, I love them. They're sporty- definitely a guides' boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
They turn easily because of the continuous rocker.
They blast waves because of the taper.
They track awesome if they have enough weight (6 paddlers and a guide for 14', 4 load for 12').

All in all, I love them. They're sporty- definitely a guides' boat.
I'm one of those looking at buying an SL. I'm switching from a cat, so the quickness and maneuverability is what caught my eye. One person who rows a 16 SL commented on issues with tracking on flat water & in wind. He did say that he saw a big improvement on another trip when he loaded the boat differently (more gear & weight forward). This leads me to the question of size choice that I posted about on another thread I started. I'm a gal rafter who mostly rows solo. My current gear load is pretty much dialed in on my 14 ft. cataraft, and I don't come near maxing it out. A 14 SL has almost twice the optimal carry capacity as my cat. Would I be better off in tracking & maneuverability with a 13.5 SL that's 6'8" wide, or a 14 SL that's 7' wide for extra stability. Will it make any difference? I want great handling & good tracking without having to add extra gear or a passenger. I'm trying to keep things light.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
658 Posts
... A 14 SL has almost twice the optimal carry capacity as my cat. .
We usually paddle with clients down the Royal Gorge. I did take one of our 12'6" SLs down Yampa this spring at low water. Since it was low, we tried to pack pretty light, and I had no problem with the weight. I think I had the group food cooler, a light kitchen box (stove, blaster, dishes/pots for 4), a table, the Throne and another 20mm rocket, and a couple dry bags. It was tiny and light and handled like a 4 load of guests.

I don't really have a good concept of how that compares to what you usually haul, but I imagine it's a bit less than the 14' cat. I have a hard time thinking of the 12.5' boats being awesome downriver boats- a little too small in my opinion. The 13.5' boats we run could haul a bunch, and if I had a group with plenty of big boats, I'd happily run one down the Grand. Now, this is coming from a guy who owns an 18' ST that recently replaced an 18' Riken. I like having plenty of space for beer, and whatever else my slacker kayak friends brought without having room for. So, I think you could be happy with a 12'6" boat, but maybe a little bigger? 13' might be good?

Hope this helps!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
113 Posts
One thing that surprised me was how they would bury down in big holes. They were sporty and fast but when it came to taking a hit it felt like the whole river was flowing through the boat. That is fun in class 3 but scary when the consequences were bigger.
I never owned one but ran both the Sotar and Aire diminishing tube 13 ft. boats, same feeling. Paddle guiding 4-6 peeps
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies, Everybody. Keep em coming.
@Cataraftgirl. I'm not so sure about the "optimal" loads you listed in the other thread. They look more like max weight while still being able to maneuver. I've had 1300 lbs in my NRS 13.5, but it's a lot more steerable at 900.
One thing that surprised me was how they would bury down in big holes. They were sporty and fast but when it came to taking a hit it felt like the whole river was flowing through the boat. That is fun in class 3 but scary when the consequences were bigger.
I never owned one but ran both the Sotar and Aire diminishing tube 13 ft. boats, same feeling. Paddle guiding 4-6 peeps


I see you're here in Cali. I assume this wouldn't be your first choice for a gear boat on "The T"?
My favorite runs are technical class IV, and I'm wanting something as nimble as my NRS E136 (31" of rocker, 6'-5" wide, short waterline) but able to carry a bigger load. I was thinking the SL15 might just be the perfect compromise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
I'm going by what the manufacturers list for optimal carry capacity (1/3 tube submersion?), not max load. Just a reference point to compare. My 14 X 24 Maravia cat is around 980 lb. and a Sotar 14 SL is 1800 lb. With all my own gear, cooler, 2 dry boxes, and some group gear (fire pan, ash can, 2 dutch ovens, 2 tarps, 2 water jugs, table, sometimes a groover) I was not overloaded on my cat. So a 13.5 - 14 raft wouldn't be anywhere near overloaded. I'm just wondering if I'd need more weight in a 14 to achieve optimum performance? I've always thought that a lightly loaded bigger boat handles better than a heavily loaded small boat. But I'm new to rafts, with 16 years of rowing a cat.

Justkip. I'm attaching some pics that were posted of a 16 SL. In the Raft Porn thread on the last page is a pic of a 15.5 Aire diminishing tube raft. Hope this helps with a visual.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
658 Posts
One thing that surprised me was how they would bury down in big holes.
Well, now a big steep sticky hole I can see the SL kinda diving into, but also could see its rocker allowing it to slide over. But I also like to skip that kind of hole.

When we have 4-loads if they're big folks I like to put two up front and two in the back row, right In front of me. It distributes the load better to prevent big submarining.

On big waves, haystacks And even wave-holes i like that the SL blows through them. I feel like when the untapered tubes hit that much water they like to blast off up into the air, exposing the bottom to the foamy water and dipping the stern into the fast glassy water- the makings of group swim time. The SL stays lower, toward the faster water longer without getting blasted off onto a bad line or bad angle.

Cataraftgirl-
I don't think you'd need to add too much weight to that for a 14', but I think you could also get away with a 13'-13'6" SL. I notice the 12'6" SLs getting piggish when I've got 5 really big folks or 6 kinda big people, so that would be around 1000lbs. The 13'6" SLs start to get piggish with 7 kinda big folks, or 6 really big folks, so I'd guess around 1400-1500 lbs. When your feet are in the water in the self bailer is when it starts to get slow to react.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
Well, now a big steep sticky hole I can see the SL kinda diving into, but also could see its rocker allowing it to slide over. But I also like to skip that kind of hole.

When we have 4-loads if they're big folks I like to put two up front and two in the back row, right In front of me. It distributes the load better to prevent big submarining.

On big waves, haystacks And even wave-holes i like that the SL blows through them. I feel like when the untapered tubes hit that much water they like to blast off up into the air, exposing the bottom to the foamy water and dipping the stern into the fast glassy water- the makings of group swim time. The SL stays lower, toward the faster water longer without getting blasted off onto a bad line or bad angle.

Cataraftgirl-
I don't think you'd need to add too much weight to that for a 14', but I think you could also get away with a 13'-13'6" SL. I notice the 12'6" SLs getting piggish when I've got 5 really big folks or 6 kinda big people, so that would be around 1000lbs. The 13'6" SLs start to get piggish with 7 kinda big folks, or 6 really big folks, so I'd guess around 1400-1500 lbs. When your feet are in the water in the self bailer is when it starts to get slow to react.
Thanks. Sounds like I'm going to like the SL. I'm used to getting wet & so-so tracking on flat water with a cat. Leaning towards a 14 footer, as I primarily do multi-day trips as an oar rig. I don't see myself paddle rafting with this boat much. Would a 14 SL be an adequate Grand Canyon boat? No plan to do the GC anytime soon, but maybe someday?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
658 Posts
I would definitely take a 14' SL down the Grand provided my group didn't need me rowing my 18' for capacity. It would be sporty, a hell of a big ride. I'd put the over/under on flips at 1.5, and shoot for the under! Out of 4 Grand trips, each one has had one flip- first two were 14'ers and the last two were 16'ers. The 14s flipped at Lava and 24.5 mile (not t-ed up). The 16s both flipped at Hermit at ~25000- it felt like a 50/50 wave in my 18' boat both times. HUGE wave. But yeah, 14' in the Grand is definitely doable, especially if you can fine-tune your lines.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
358 Posts
A couple of members have mentioned shopping for one of these in the last week and it got me looking. I find the design very intriguing, but have a question or 2 for the folks who actually have them.
The tubes are tapered, and NOT just on the ends like other tapered rafts I've seen. Here's the blueprint of the 14" SL, copied from their website.




I'm not a boat design engineer, but it seems to me that this design would be awesome for quick maneuvering, but, because of the taper in the middle, maybe slow going in flat water?

What are they really like, you know, in the real world?
Boats are made for outfitters running low flows. Every wave burys the bow, soaks crew, kills momentum and makes class 3 exciting. Ive run sl's and d's, a total splash boat for customers. No way would I ever pay to run one in my free time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,607 Posts
I think I've mentioned it before, but most long time sotar owners that I spoken with about this issue (when planning first low water mf) say they inflate the loading capacity of rafts. perhaps inflate is 't the best word, maybe overestimate. I would agree, I don't want to get anywhere near that on our 14'st. Low water mf trips we've kept it at 1200lb. 1500 is my preferred max for regular flows.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
113 Posts


I see you're here in Cali. I assume this wouldn't be your first choice for a gear boat on "The T"?
My favorite runs are technical class IV, and I'm wanting something as nimble as my NRS E136 (31" of rocker, 6'-5" wide, short waterline) but able to carry a bigger load. I was thinking the SL15 might just be the perfect compromise.

Probably not. I am thinking when it is down to 1200 and u are trying to get through Pinball. It is challenging in 14 or 13 ft. boats+ the carry out at the bottom. They might be a good R2 boat, but I am not a big fan.
I am a huge fan of the T and I am very worried about what the Rim Fire did down there. Could be the end of the crystal clear water for a while + the Forest Service will have a hard time keeping the road down open if we get allot of landslides. Winter could be hard on her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Sotar 13'6" SL

Just got off the Lower Salmon - first trip with my SL. Boat before this was a 14'3" Avon (19 years). Snow hole was all white and a couple of other drops were a little intense. The boat did not bury its nose in the holes. It handled extremely well. Was not as wet as other boaters had predicted. I'm 76 years old and got this raft because I felt it would be easier on my tired bones - it was. I see no reason to go for a 14 footer even if you are doing the Grand Canyon. In my view it's a great boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Just got off the Lower Salmon - first trip with my SL. Boat before this was a 14'3" Avon (19 years). Snow hole was all white and a couple of other drops were a little intense. The boat did not bury its nose in the holes. It handled extremely well. Was not as wet as other boaters had predicted. I'm 76 years old and got this raft because I felt it would be easier on my tired bones - it was. I see no reason to go for a 14 footer even if you are doing the Grand Canyon. In my view it's a great boat.
I've put quite a few miles on an Avon 14'3" x 7'3", before I got the NRS E136. Loved them both, and the 136 is very sporty compared to the 14'3".
If you see no reason to go for 14, what size did you get?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
Just got off the Lower Salmon - first trip with my SL. Boat before this was a 14'3" Avon (19 years). Snow hole was all white and a couple of other drops were a little intense. The boat did not bury its nose in the holes. It handled extremely well. Was not as wet as other boaters had predicted. I'm 76 years old and got this raft because I felt it would be easier on my tired bones - it was. I see no reason to go for a 14 footer even if you are doing the Grand Canyon. In my view it's a great boat.
Can you post some pics of your 13'6" SL. I'm trying to decide between a 13'6" and 14 SL. There aren't many pics out there of either size with a frame and gear. Since I'm in Utah, I can't pop over to Sotar and look at these boats, so pictures of them in action would be very helpful.

I'm glad you liked the SL. How was the 13'6" for gear space and how many people were you supporting? I usually run solo on my boat. Due to several knee & leg surgeries, and being a gal boater, I'm looking to make life easier on myself. If a smaller SL will get the job done and be lighter & quicker that would be great.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
(from this thread;http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=334272)
Cheryl sent me pictures of that boat. It is nice, but it's an ST and I want an SL. I do like that color combo.

I wish I was close enough to pop over and look at their boats. I think that would make my decision easier. Maybe I need an Oregon "personal shopper." Anybody near Merlin want to run over and take a look and take a few pictures for me? Help a river sister out....good karma. :)
I misspoke in your thread. The teal and black one on the sales hotsheet was not the boats I was referring to, and you're right. That boat is an ST.
The boats I was talking about were upstairs in their showroom and were 13 and 14 foot SLs. It was only the design I was talking about that I liked the looks of, and I like it a lot ! Both boats were light blue.
As for your dilemma regarding 13.5' vs 14', if this frame will fit the 13'6" SL...



You'll have 3" less boat on each end, and 3" less main tube diameter at the middle. With the 14, the raft will be the same length as your cat, but still 2" smaller diameter side tubes. You will also have a floor supporting weight and tube wrapped around the end. The cockpit will end roughly where the end of your spare oar blade is, equivalent on both ends of course. You should probably be able to load the drybags and smaller items into the bow and stern, with maybe an extra foot of space on each end of your frame, but narrower. The load will definitely fill the boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
It's hard to see with the gear, but I use a 96 inch long frame on my cat. Max length for those tubes. Cooler up front, then rower space, then a flip seat over the 16 inch dry box, then a cargo bay, then a 14 inch dry box in the back. I use every inch of that frame to get the extra dry box in. On a raft I won't need the cargo bay, so it will be an 18 inch cooler bay, 14 inch dry box, 19 inch rower space, and 16 inch dry box = 67 inches + 10 inches of cross bars & LoPros = 77 inches. So I'll go 80 inches total to give me a few extra inches of wiggle room. Depending on how you like to say it, it's either a 3 bay or 4 bay. I count the rower space as a bay, so I call it a 4 bay.

On my 12 footer I had the 16 inch dry box and a smaller cooler, so a 3 bay. I was able to load all my dry bags & loose gear in front of the cooler, in the front of the raft. So, load forward for balance, and it worked great. This gave me the empty area behind me for easy egress from the boat. For landing the boat, I could either back row in or flip around and sit on the cooler and forward row in. Nice. At camp, I'd spin the boat & unload gear, then spin it back for easy in & out of the cooler & dry box. Nice. No jumping or balancing on rocks, or getting wet feet to get back on the boat to get stuff like with the cat. I'll attach a pic of the little boat with gear. For the new raft, I'd load the soft gear forward again with just me in the boat and no passenger. On the cat, the heaviest weight (me & the larger dry box with the heaviest stuff) was pretty well centered.

My question is still....will the 13.5 raft get the job done? Right now on the cat, there's about 2-3 feet of empty space fore & aft that are lost, due to it being a cat, with just tubes & no floor. The 13.5 SL will have 82 inches of flat tube & the frame will fit, but just barely. It's wide enough at 38 inches to fit my 34 inch wide dry boxes & cooler. Weight capacity wise it won't be a problem. It's a matter of ......will it all fit easily? Will I have too much room to fill in a 14? Will everything fit perfectly in a 13.5? If Sockdalger posts a pic of his 13.5 supporting two people & gear easily then my choice is still up in the air?

Cheryl at Sotar has sent me a ton of pictures of 13.5 and 14 SL rafts. But those are just pics of them at their warehouse & showroom, not loaded up with gear & people. Two more weeks to decide, and more importantly, find the money to buy. :confused:
 
1 - 20 of 228 Posts
Top