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Discussion Starter #1
What Would Jesus Rafter Do?
Ok, maybe that's a bit blasphemous, but trust me, a lot of prayer has been involved in trying to make this decision. Unfortunately the big guy upstairs hasn't sent me an e-mail on this yet.

I know this should be easy. However, since I have way too much time on my hands after an accident eliminated my rafting this summer, I am over thinking this to the max. I'm selling my 14 ft. cataraft and switching to a raft. I've studied a ton of specs, and I know I want a Sotar SL raft. The size choice is driving me crazy.

About me - Female rafter. Have rowed cats for 16 years. Usually row solo on my boat. Occasionally take my dog along. Moderate gear load. Usual trips are Deso, San Juan, Lodore, Westwater, Main Salmon, Middle Fork Salmon, Rogue, parts of the Payette. Would like to do Yampa, Cataract, and Grand someday? I do currently own a 12 ft. Hyside raft, and a 10 ft. Outcast Mini fishing cat. The 12 ft. raft may need to be sacrificed to finance the new raft. I don't want to, but I have medical expenses to deal with as well.

Choices - #1 - Sotar 14 SL. 14 ft. long, 7 ft. wide, about 120 lb., 40 inch center compartment. I think I can repurpose my 66 inch NRS frame for this raft. #2 - Sotar 13.5 SL. 13 ft. 6 inches long, 6 ft. 8 inches wide, about 112 lb., 38 inch center compartment. Would need a new frame, but this raft would cost a bit less $$$ than the 14 footer. Whichever raft I choose, I'll be using the 34 inch wide X 13 inch deep dry boxes off my cat, and the 105 Qt. cooler.

My rafting buddy has voted for me to get the 14 footer. I'm worried that the 14 is overkill for me, and the 13.5 would be more fun, especially if it ends up being my only boat. But the 14 would cover all bases and be more stable in all conditions. Which one would you choose & why?


KJ - Looking for some "divine"guidance. Oh, and yes, I do want to switch to a raft, so don't try to talk me out of it.
 

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There's probably not a whole lot of difference between the two boats except for the initial cost but it sounds like you'll be doing a lot of 4+ day multi-day trips with some big water boating, up to running the Grand. Based on that my suggestion is to go with the 14' boat for gear hauling and stability. You may be glad you did it when you are bringing the dogs and a bunch of gear. If you can keep the 12' raft, you'll be set for shorter runs or day trips.

Curious - will you be rolling the boat for transport and storage or trailering it? This also may influence your decision.

-AH
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There's probably not a whole lot of difference between the two boats except for the initial cost but it sounds like you'll be doing a lot of 4+ day multi-day trips with some big water boating, up to running the Grand. Based on that my suggestion is to go with the 14' boat for gear hauling and stability. You may be glad you did it when you are bringing the dogs and a bunch of gear. If you can keep the 12' raft, you'll be set for shorter runs or day trips.

Curious - will you be rolling the boat for transport and storage or trailering it? This also may influence your decision.

-AH
For transport -Trailer, either fully rigged & ready, or rolled with gear & frame on the trailer.
For storage - Rolled & stored in my boat shed. Wish I had garage space to keep it inflated on the trailer.
Thanks for your input Andy.
 

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It prolly don't matter too much what Jesus would buy, as You won't be walking on water, and any wine you drink will need to be carried in the boat.
One thing I'm sure JC would do is better 'rithmatic than Sotar. Their blueprint of the 14 shows 85.3 inches of width (including handles) while the description says it's 80" wide, with 22" tubes and a 40" center compartment and that adds up to 84"...which supports the blueprint version.
There is no 13.5 foot SL listed, but the 13 is said to be 80" wide, with 21" tubes and 38" interior = adds up, but only 13 feet. I know with cat tubes they will add or subtract 6" at no additional cost, but don't know about rafts.
The 14, only 1 foot longer than the 13, but looks like it will take 16" longer frame. Again, no specs for a 13.5, but to me the longest frame you can fit is an advantage when tying down a load.
To me, the advantage goes to the 14. You will never be using it lightly loaded, or as a paddle raft, and the 1" bigger tubes and 4" extra width will make a difference in rigidity and stability, while carrying a load higher in the water.
Nimble is nice, but when my NRS E136 gets a little overloaded I start wishing I was rowing a 14' X 7'3" Avon again.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It prolly don't matter too much what Jesus would buy, as You won't be walking on water, and any wine you drink will need to be carried in the boat.
One thing I'm sure JC would do is better 'rithmatic than Sotar. Their blueprint of the 14 shows 85.3 inches of width (including handles) while the description says it's 80" wide, with 22" tubes and a 40" center compartment and that adds up to 84"...which supports the blueprint version.
There is no 13.5 foot SL listed, but the 13 is said to be 80" wide, with 21" tubes and 38" interior = adds up, but only 13 feet. I know with cat tubes they will add or subtract 6" at no additional cost, but don't know about rafts.
The 14, only 1 foot longer than the 13, but looks like it will take 16" longer frame. Again, no specs for a 13.5, but to me the longest frame you can fit is an advantage when tying down a load.
To me, the advantage goes to the 14. You will never be using it lightly loaded, or as a paddle raft, and the 1" bigger tubes and 4" extra width will make a difference in rigidity and stability, while carrying a load higher in the water.
Nimble is nice, but when my NRS E136 gets a little overloaded I start wishing I was rowing a 14' X 7'3" Avon again.
The Sotar website specs for the 14SL should list the width as 84 inches. The blueprint is correct. It has a flat area of 90 inches, and the tubes are 22/17 diminishing. The 13.5 is a custom size with 83 inch flat area and 21/16 tubes. My 4 bay frame (2 dry boxes, one cooler, rower bay) would fit either raft, but just by a few inches on the smaller raft.
Thanks for your thoughts. Gotta have room for those loaves & fishes I suppose.....but I don't want to end up carrying other people's wine or disciples if I get the bigger raft. ;-)
 

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bigger is better

JC says go big or go home. All other posts also say that you should have at least a 14' , carefully listen to all that is being said. Best wishes.
 

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If I could only have one boat it would be a 14 foot raft.
Big enough for the family and the Grand, small enough to paddle boat tight technical rivers. ( I had only one boat for years. A 14er).
Also, repurposing your frame will save money.
 

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well im sure this will start a boat brand battle lol...I am a fan of sotar boats but have been pretty hooked on maravia for awhile now,i honestly think the best all around 14 foot raft out there is the williwaw 1,i row a 14 maravia ranger which is my second choice its a little narrower
 

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i don't know what jeebus prefers but im thinking he agrees that no matter what brand you buy going with a 14' will be the best decision lol
 

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Go with 14'. Especially, if you have big water in your future. Most people I've talked to wish they had bought a bigger boat. I've never met anyone who wished they had bought a smaller boat. Plus, the difference between 14 and 13.5 in my opinion is really not worth losing your mind over. For any multi-day use, I bet 14' will be more maneuverable than 13.5 with the same load. Width-wise, you are talking only 4". My vote goes to 14. How about get a 14' raft now, and 13' play cat down the road?
 

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Two things;

If I had to roll my boat up, I'd stay with Hypalon. I have a 14' Sotar raft, and I HATE to roll it up. The raft bag you get with them is like a cheap tent bag, good luck getting it back in there. I started in Rikens, my Dad just had his out all weekend with me. It rolls up Waaayyy better, and is rolled up for long periods with no affect. His raft is from 1997, no patches, repairs, or leaks. I don't like to paddle hypalon boats since they flex a lot, not much of an issue if you are rigging a frame every year.

If you stick with Sotar, get a frame chafe. Mine is 5 years old, no chafe, and it needs them. The guy who had it before me took it on a lot of big trips (Middle fork, John Day, Rogue, Grand Canyon) and you can see some cam strap marks where the straps dug into the material. I'd like some sort of rub strake like my Dad's Riken has too, seems to be useful on his boat. I've been emailing Sotar about it, I might be hauling it down there this winter to get some added protection. I want this boat to last.
 

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Three things, lol, I like having a 14. I have a wife and 2 kids, and I think this will be a minimum size for us. I think if I were rich I'd have a 13' paddle raft and a 15" expedition rig. My Dad's Riken Pioneer is 12'8", and he has done the Rogue with his wife and her daughter with only that raft. It's quite a bit narrower too, fits between my oar towers barely.
 

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I'd say budget for a bigger garage and get one of every size!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
well im sure this will start a boat brand battle lol...I am a fan of sotar boats but have been pretty hooked on maravia for awhile now,i honestly think the best all around 14 foot raft out there is the williwaw 1,i row a 14 maravia ranger which is my second choice its a little narrower
My raft search criteria was a 13.5 - 14 ft. raft, that was at least 6'8" wide and 120 lb. or less if possible. I have owned Maravia cats and love them, and I looked first to Maravia for a raft. The Willy One was my rafting partner's first choice for me, but it weighs 138 lb. and the Maravia Diablo with diminishing tubes weighs 117 lb. but is only 6'3" wide. The weight thing is because I'm a gal rafter who has to deal with the raft for loading & storage by myself, and after repeated knee surgeries & now a femur fracture, I'm a bit of a gimp. I want to make things as easy on myself as I can. That's another part of looking at the 13.5 ft. raft. at 112 lb. It's only 6 inches shorter than the Willy One and the same width (6'8"). Maravia would make me a custom sized boat, but to stay anywhere near 120 lb. is would have to be a 13.5 footer and it would be very expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Two things;

If I had to roll my boat up, I'd stay with Hypalon. I have a 14' Sotar raft, and I HATE to roll it up. The raft bag you get with them is like a cheap tent bag, good luck getting it back in there. I started in Rikens, my Dad just had his out all weekend with me. It rolls up Waaayyy better, and is rolled up for long periods with no affect. His raft is from 1997, no patches, repairs, or leaks. I don't like to paddle hypalon boats since they flex a lot, not much of an issue if you are rigging a frame every year.

If you stick with Sotar, get a frame chafe. Mine is 5 years old, no chafe, and it needs them. The guy who had it before me took it on a lot of big trips (Middle fork, John Day, Rogue, Grand Canyon) and you can see some cam strap marks where the straps dug into the material. I'd like some sort of rub strake like my Dad's Riken has too, seems to be useful on his boat. I've been emailing Sotar about it, I might be hauling it down there this winter to get some added protection. I want this boat to last.
Definitely will get the Flex Tuff frame chafe on the Sotar. I did look at Hyside rafts. They have the Outfitter 14 XT that's 14 ft. X 7 ft. and 122-125 lb.? The one downside on that raft is that the straight section is listed at 76 inches. I need 80 inches to fit a 4 bay frame.

I'm hoping that the Sotar SL diminishing tube design with a shorter foot print will give me some of the maneuverability I'll lose from the cat. If anyone out there rows a 14 SL, I'd love it if you'd post some pics of it with a frame & gear.

Looks like the MB river faithful are all voting for the 14 ft. wider raft so far. I have talked to a couple Sotar dealers, and another Sotar owner who vote the opposite and think the 13.5 would be perfect for me. Hmmm? Any other smaller boat folks out there want to chime in. I have noticed a lot of 13 ft. rafts being posted up on the Raft Porn thread lately.
 

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I think either one will be just fine for the rivers that you are talking about except for a Grand trip. It would be a little small for my taste on a Grand trip although you would probably do just fine, and you shouldn't buy a boat based on an occasional GC trip.

"Gotta have room for those loaves & fishes I suppose.....but I don't want to end up carrying other people's wine or disciples if I get the bigger raft." The smaller raft will insure that will have less people whining about not having enough room on their 15' boat and thinking that your 13.5' raft should have extra room to carry their stuff.

Good luck with your recovery!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think either one will be just fine for the rivers that you are talking about except for a Grand trip. It would be a little small for my taste on a Grand trip although you would probably do just fine, and you shouldn't buy a boat based on an occasional GC trip.

"Gotta have room for those loaves & fishes I suppose.....but I don't want to end up carrying other people's wine or disciples if I get the bigger raft." The smaller raft will insure that will have less people whining about not having enough room on their 15' boat and thinking that your 13.5' raft should have extra room to carry their stuff.

Good luck with your recovery!
That's always been my saving grace on my cataraft. I don't have room for extra stuff.
 

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I had a 13 1/2 foot hyside years ago and I loved the boat but always wished I had just a little more room constantly
 
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