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!
Hi Mary, Curt,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in purchasing one of these. Thank you!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!