Nauticraft

Interview with Curt & Lost Lake Radio

July 11th, 2014

Check out this interview with Curt Chambers (owner of Nauticraft Corporation) and Bob Norris of Lost Lake Radio – and learn some history and fun facts in regards to our pedal boats. Enjoy!

Escapade in Thailand

April 30th, 2014

Hi Mary, Curt,

 Sorry for the delay but been running around quite a bit. I successfully have had two very nice excursions in my new Escapade. I really love it and I’m quite impressed on several fronts. The overall quality, fit and finish etc. is shall I say, “top drawer”. The rotational molding approach really seems to work out well. Comfortable motion and everything functions reliably and predictably. The quadritwist works brilliantly. The storages areas are simple and work ok. I was worried about the “built-in” flexibility of the rudder and prop but that seems unfounded as they work perfect. The bilge pump works great. After washing the boat with fresh water it’s amazing how much water hides somewhere down there!

 The design is outstanding. Pedals effortlessly and moves through chop and 2-3 foot waves with ease. Dry and seems to not lose any momentum through swells and the directional tracking is nothing short of phenomenal. The seat is quite comfortable and the steering is nicely responsive and easily controlled. Ok, I’m sure you’ve already heard all the accolades from other customers.

 Let me tell you about my first two outings. My primary home is in Sri Racha which is a seaside community. Quaint and at the same time a bit busy with nearby fishing and mussel farms. The later should give some indication of the coastal depths. Very shallow. Launching and retrieving really is only feasible at fairly near high tide. After about an hour of just getting familiar with the boat we anchored and visited a friend for lunch. I didn’t calculate very well the tide movements and as you can see by the photo we were left literally high and dry! Drank a few beers and waited about 4 hours until the tide returned. No damage to the boat but just a bit longer visit than we’d planned. The coast there is like knee-deep for hundreds of yards. But once well enough offshore we really got a chance to learn the boat. Fun but not the ideal coast.

 Yesterday I took the boat to our beach property in Rayong, Oriental Beach Village, which is only about 1:20 minute drive. We live there about half time. In the picture it’s a few houses back from the beach. Ironically the coast line there is perfect for the Escapade. The slope is angled so that launching and retrieving is a breeze and tides don’t make much difference. Many little seaside restaurants places to explore. It was/is delightful. We pedaled around for about 5-6 hours and really really enjoyed it. Granted a bit sore to be truthful, but that’s a nice pain if you know what I mean. Good exercise and badly needed. The only somewhat negative was the temperature! This is the hottest season in Thailand and now in excess of 100 degrees most days. It was pretty hot out there! (We have 3 seasons; hot, hotter, and hottest). J I think I might experiment next time with the windshield removed. But it looks so awesome with the windshield in place. The water is like bath water warm so getting in and out of the boat is not uncomfortable. You can see some small islands off the coast that are really nice for picnics and just goofing around. Only a few miles offshore but once there it seems like a million miles away! I’ll keep the boat stored near the beach house with a guy who will launch/retrieve as often as I like, clean, maintain and keep ready for about 30 bucks a month. I’ve had “boatboys” with my other sailboats and it still amazes me how inexpensive this service is. I just phone up and tell him I’m coming and everything will be all done and ready to jump in and pedal away when I get there. When I return I hand it over and he does the rest with clean-up, washing and storing etc. One of the nice benefits of living here. Good cheap labor that makes things really convenient. (Live-in maids, cooks, drivers, gardeners, etc its cheap to have a personal staff. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

 I made a few additions that were simple and are working out well. I have two types of anchors and both function nicely. A sand anchor that screws into the bottom (you can see in one of the photos) and a standard small Danforth. Both very easy to use. On my anchor line I’ve added a Danik Hook. Nice little adjustable device that makes anchoring even easier. When not in use its attached to a small eye strap on the right side that you can also see in one of the photos. You can see my waterproof Bluetooth speaker (A33 from TDK) up in the bow for some music. Its mounted on a shelf made from one of my wifes cutting boards! Now instead of serving up tuna its serving up tunes! J  I added two drink holders, an emergency paddle, a throw flotation cushion, whistle and horn. (Waterproof GPS on order). Fishing rod holder being considered. A small portable cooler holds the drinks we take such as Gatorades etc due to the heat. Now the escapade is truly customized and it feels like “mine”! Hmmm,,,,now just for a name??? My next ride this weekend will likely be with my little buddy Boston Terrier dog. He loves the water and he is so excited with the boat too.

 I better stop here or I’ll just keep rambling on!

Used Drive Units

April 23rd, 2014

Attention: Home Pedal Boat Builders
We have a limited supply of used drive units priced at $250. These include a 2-blade propeller. Shipping not included. Please contact us at inquiry@nauticraft.com if you are interested in purchasing one of these. Thank you!

Encore Electric – 10% Discount for a limited time, only

April 17th, 2014

Nauticraft is currently offering a 10% discount off the Encore Electric boat.  This is for a limited time, only, and while supplies last.  Call or E-mail us for more information!

Deep Cycle vs. Dual Purpose Batteries

August 20th, 2012

Finding the right information is key when purchasing a battery for your electric boat.  Take a look at the following explanations of deep cycle vs. dual purpose to see which is best for the application you are using it for.   For the Encore Electric and Pedal/Electric models, there isn’t a need for a starting type battery at all as the motor is run by battery alone and doesn’t start any sort of gas powered motor.

Deep-Cycle Batteries

Trolling motors and other accessories sip power at a slower rate for extended periods. Batteries that power them usually aren’t recharged until the end of the day. These deep discharges are hard on battery plates, so deep-cycle batteries have fewer yet thicker lead plates than cranking batteries and are built to withstand deep cycling.

A deep-cycle battery’s reserve capacity (RC) rating indicates how long it can carry a specific load before falling into the dead zone. The higher the RC number, the longer the battery will power your accessories. Remember this when choosing a battery. Typically, a deep-cycle battery will have two or three times the RC of a cranking battery. A deep-cycle battery also can withstand several hundred discharge/recharge cycles, while a cranking battery is not designed to be totally discharged.

Dual-Purpose Batteries

It’s usually best to install separate cranking and deep-cycle batteries. If your boat is small, however, and there’s only room for one battery due to space or weight restrictions, consider buying a dual-purpose marine battery specially that handles starting and cycling. Bear in mind, however, most dual-purpose batteries won’t start an engine quite as well as a true cranking battery and won’t endure as many deep discharge/recharge cycles as a dedicated deep-cycle model.

How is the Encore Self Bailing?

August 8th, 2012

One of the first questions a new Encore owner asks is “why is there water in the boat?”.  Reassuringly we say, it is supposed to be there!   Water comes through specifically designed holes in the bushing on the keels.  This allows water into the drive shaft channels at all times while the boat is in the water.   The level of water within the channels is dependent on weight within the boat.  Unmanned, the water will stay at its natural water line; if it rains you may see accumulation for a bit but once it stops it will drop to the natural waterline level within minutes.  The boat is self bailing in that sense and an advantage in areas that get rain more often.  As weight is added in the cockpit the boat will float a bit lower and the water in the channels will rise a bit.   If weight disbursement is uneven, you may notice a bit more water up and around the drive unit on the heavier side, this is completely normal and acceptable.  When the weight is taken out, the waterline will adjust to its natural state.  When the boat is taken out of the water, the channels will drain out the holes in the bushings.

The Polyethylene Advantage

June 28th, 2012

All the boat hulls at Nauticraft are made using a polyethylene compound in a rotational molding process.  Positive attributes include natural buoyancy due to it’s specific gravity being lower than water…it floats! There are UV stabilizers added by the resin manufacturer to ensure long life even when sitting in the hot sun.  It is impact resistant in that it will withstand little bumps on the dock without cracking or crazing, and if it does get scratched the color is consistent throughout the wall thickness.  It has natural resistance to salt water environments. The walls of the hull are thick enough to allow structural integrity without adding weight, thus allowing a larger boat that weighs less than a typical counterpart.

Keep in mind that it is not indestructible!  We’ve heard of  scenarios of dragging the boats on rocky terrain and ramming them full speed into a rocky shore, and it didn’t bode well for the boat.  Using the guidelines listed, you can have years of enjoyment with your Nauticraft Pedal boat.

Pedal Drive Unit: Quadritwist Belt Drive

March 23rd, 2012

We are asked from time to time by prospective new customers just what our drive units are like and what is meant by the term “Quadritwist”.

As far as what our drive units are like, the first impression on seeing one in a Nauticraft boat is that it “belongs there”.  This visual impression comes from the drive unit housing being made from the same material as the boat – a white plastic with black specks (we had the black specks incorporated into the material a few years ago).

On our original drive unit (which we now also call our “inboard unit”) the driving belt twists four times going through its path, from the pedaling sprocket to the driven sprocket, over the idlers, and then back around to the start – hence the term “Quadritwist”.  We have a very positive regard for this system because it gives us the required directional change as well as the required speed increase (a 1:4 increase) with no energy robbing torsional or axial side effects; with this type of layout the twists of the belt are actually “natural” ones.

Looking further at the drive unit it is obvious that the pedal cranks come from the bicycle industry, and this is so, as we purchase these cranks as well as its axle assembly (known in the industry by the unlikely term “bottom bracket”) from a bicycle parts supply house.  The pedals also come from there and, because they are often used that way, are of the “barefoot” type (some sophisticated customers, familiar with upscale bicycling, sometimes change these pedals for their own particular choice).

An even closer inspection of the drive unit shows that the mechanical aspects (all of the moving parts) are located on the outside of the drive housing.  Our drive unit is designed this way because the mechanical parts (particularly the belt and sprockets – being of plastic materials) do not need oil or grease lubrication as do metal parts (the plastic materials also are not susceptible to water corrosion as are metals).  Also, because all mechanical assemblies need care and maintenance from time to time, it is far easier to service an assembly that is out in the open.  For instance, although it will serve for a long time, the drive belt can be changed for a new one without removing the drive unit from the boat – and without requiring any tools.

We designed this system ourselves (using the quadritwist philosophy originally proposed to us by Phil Thiel, a marine engineer from Seattle) and have been happily using it in our boats for over 15 years now, with only incidental changes.  We manufacture it right here in our own shop – from rotational molding the housing through all of the subsequent assembly steps.

Next time I’ll talk about the “swing down” drive unit used in our Sprite model – why it doesn’t use the quadritwist system, but how it is similar to it as well as how it is different.

Printable View

Pedaling the Potomac

March 20th, 2012

Escapade on the Potomac

I bought my Escapade in the spring of 2001 as a 50th birthday present to myself. I named my pedal boat RiverSong, and now—as my 12th boating season begins—I still love it as much as ever.

I lease a slip near the Pentagon from April through October and pedal the Potomac within view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. I usually take my first ride of the year while the cherry trees are still in bloom and my last as flocks of geese are migrating south overhead. Sometimes I pedal past the Kennedy Center and ride as far as Georgetown.

Because I have a demanding job in DC, I don’t get out on the river every day, but I try to take at least one evening ride and one weekend ride each week. People are always commenting on my boat, and tourists ask where they can rent one.  The cleverest remark from a passerby was: “Oh, a two-stroke engine!”

Like most boaters, I appreciate the beauty of the water and sky at least as much as what’s on shore. The scenery is perpetually changing, as is the play of sunlight on water. Occasionally I have trailered my boat to state parks and enjoyed pedaling on gorgeous lakes. As my husband Don likes to say, “The purpose of a boat is to take all the water up there… and put it back there.”

Sometimes Don comes along for a ride, but usually our dog is my only passenger. Our cairn terrier Boscoe accompanied me to Michigan when I bought the boat to give it his “paw of approval.” Boscoe passed away six years ago, but our young dog Skruffy enjoys boating even more than Boscoe did. He thinks we own the Potomac.  

 

Trish

Alexandria, VA

Charging Battery after it has set all winter

February 21st, 2012

Nauticraft recommends using an AGM sealed marine grade battery in the electric boat models.  The AGM has advantages over other types of batteries being it is more stable under charge than a Gel Cell, it is less likely to lose it’s charge when setting unused as a flooded wet cell does and it is maintenance free.  Even so, it is possible to have some charging difficulties with the AGM battery.  If your battery has been sitting for a few months or if it was depleted to less than 25% on the LED  Meter it may be helpful to put it on a trickle charger for 24 hours.  When you connect the higher amperage charger to a less than charged battery, the charger is unable to read any level at all coming from the battery, and it won’t process through the cycles.  If you’ve used a trickle charger and give it a good boost, the 6 amp charger will recognize there is a battery connected to it and do what it is designed to do!


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Nauticraft Corporation
5980 Grand Haven Road • Muskegon, MI 49441
(231) 798-8440 • Toll Free (888) 709-7097
inquiry@nauticraft.com