Thanks to Frank from TarRiverPaddleSports (and special mention to the Triangle NuCanoe fan club - aka Brannons64) for getting this boat to Raleigh today and letting us know about it. I made it down to Lake Johnson and spent some time in it and talking with Frank, Brannon and FerggieJ. Nice day for test drives in shorts and bare feet. The NuCanoe Frontier 12 that Frank brought today is a pre-production demo model. I think he's expecting them to arrive for sale in late February.
I was very impressed with the boat. There was a pretty brisk wind pushing across the lake and my sense was that the boat got pushed, due to high gunnels and my raised position, but didn't seem to spin as badly as a longer, straighter kayak does. It was a far better paddling boat than I expected to find. I tried it both on a raised swivel seat and on the bench seat (the bench has a concave side for sitting, and flips over to host a standard slide-in pedestal base). I was worried about the width affecting the paddle stroke, but hardly noticed the sides with the 275cm paddle. Especially from the raised swivel seat. I was worried about pushing a lot of water with 40" width, but the boat cut pretty nicely. I was worried about sashaying back and forth in a shorter (12'), wider boat than I'm used to - I didn't notice that at all, but I didn't go any miles either. Need a longer trip.
I did some standing - easy up, easy down. I definitely found it to be a better standing platform for me than the Ultimate or the Redfish have been. I did some stand-up paddling - I don't really have the hang of that yet as flipping the paddle from side to side was awkward and I got a lot of paddle drip, but no issues with balance, even in a pretty strong breeze. I assume there's some technique that would develop over time and make stand-up paddling smoother. I took my most awkward 7'+ baitcaster along and made casts in 360 degrees with a 1oz lipless crank while standing. Did some ripping up from the bottom and some fast reeling. No problems with balance on casting and retrieving. Couldn't get a fish to cooperate in my dozen or so casts to find out about fighting
I did play with a surfboard style footing, one in front of the other, but did not try to spin my feet all the way around. I'm pretty sure its doable, but I wasn't ready for that much chance of a dunking today.
I had been thinking I'd like to add a stand-up paddleboard, but now I'm thinking this might be a much more functional choice for covering that kind of water, plus rivers, shorter trips, tandem trips. Somebody with a dog had gone for a test ride before I got there - this boat is so perfect for a fishing dog that I might have to get one of those too.
Some of the negatives were that the front and rear mounting plates are really way too far out to be useful in a single paddler config, but I can see them working in tandem mode. We didn't have any slide track accessories to play with and see how fish finders, rod holders, and other accessories would work and allow for paddling. I'm still thinking on that, but now that I've been in the boat the pictures will make more sense. Also it is a wide boat which makes it a heavy boat. You'd want a cart or trailer to get them to and from the water. I didn't see it loaded into the truck, but you definitely couldn't get two side-by-side in a truck bed. It looked nicely set up for stacking though. Not much interior access - only a front hatch and a rear drain plug. But with integrated track system, you don't need to do much drilling and cutting.
I did not make a distance paddle - will see about getting one from Frank when the production models arrive and going on a multi-mile trip down at the coast with it this spring.
I think Frank will be bringing them to the Fly fishing show in Raleigh in February. Don't know if he'll have production boats by then or not, but it would definitely be a great fly fishing platform.
600lbs capacity. Infinite leg room. Raised seat platform with back support and options. This boat screams biglenr too! (In case you don't know Len, he's big. 'nuff said)
I'm glad I got out there today, glad I got to meet Frank, see the boat and talk "shop" with the guys. Pretty good add to my Fishing Expo experience this weekend.
Some pics and commentary below:
For this pic, I slid the swivel seat to the back and used the bench seat to check out the lower paddling level.
Here's a closer view of the molded bench seat. The underside hosts a receiver for a standard square swivel seat.
Swivel seat in a more normal fishing location
Close up of the swivel seat
Here's the swivel mount on the backside of the bench seat. Same seat base, two functions. Pretty nice. The seat in these pics is the one you can get from NuCanoe, or you can get whatever seat you want from BPS or other.
Here's a view for Big Len. I'm "only" 6'4", but I had plenty of leg room and could slide the seat back farther too.
Here's a pic of the slide track and ledge. That's a cup holder inside the handle. Anchor rope cleat in front. Paddle holder behind.
I expected to find a strong keel and chines or pontoons, based on the way it paddled and balanced, but I was really surprised at the underside, compared to how it traveled in the water. Very deep grooves, very little keel. Reminds me a bit of the Redfish, in widescreen, on steroids.