Friday, September 28, 2012

NuCanoe Frontier: Swiss Army Kayak by Ric Burnley

As written in Kayak Angler Online Magazine NuCanoe Frontier: Swiss Army Kayak




NuCanoe Frontier: One Kayak That Does it All
NuCanoe's Frontier pushes the boundaries of kayak, canoe, and boat.
P1000757.2sm
NuCanoe Frontier
Ric Burnley

It was still dark outside when I crept into my daughter’s room and gently poked her sleeping shoulder.  “Let’s go fishing,” I whispered.  “Ok,” she mumbled.  Saturday morning, an hour before sunrise, isn’t the best time to propose a fishing trip to a pre-tween girl, but Dasha was ready to go before she was fully awake.I packed lunch and Dasha grabbed warm clothes then we sneaked out of the house without waking her comatose mother.

A week earlier I had received NuCanoe’s new and improved Frontier and I was anxious to put the hybrid canoe-yak to the test.   Dasha agreed to be the crash-test dummy and the first cool days of fall signaled speckled trout and puppy drum to serve as target practice.  We headed to Little Creek Inlet in Norfolk, Virginia where I planned to find open water and cooperative fish for a proper boat test.

With the sun lifting off the horizon, Dasha took the front seat of the Frontier and I pushed us away from the bank then settled into the back seat.  Our Frontier came with custom Surf to Summit seats that clipped easily onto the elevated multi-seat base.

The lime green Frontier is only 12 feet long but 41 inches wide – making it extremely stable yet surprisingly maneuverable.  As a hybrid between a canoe and kayak, the boat has a 70-inch long deck that is 20-inches wide with a small hatch in the bow that houses a tackle locker and gives access to the inside of the hull.

We paddled in tandem to our first fishing hole using Frontier’s super-long 275 cm paddles that reach the water without banging the sides of this super-wide hull.  We were traveling light. Dasha had stashed lunch in the bow hatch and I wedged a standard 9 by 14 tackle tray on the crate space behind me.

At our first stop, my first cast was met with a steady thump and a stubborn pull – the calling card of a feisty puppy drum.  The mean little booger even pulled Dasha and me around the marina in the Frontier.  That’s a tough little fish.

I swung the bronze fish into the boat and Dasha got a quick picture.  Her next cast resulted in the same dogged fight and short sleigh ride.  She swung the fish in and I took the picture.  The
Frontier is so wide and stable that I was able to scoot to the front and help Dasha unhook her fish.  A few more casts went unanswered and we paddled on to our next spot.

 The elevated seats kept my old legs from cramping and seizing up. Dasha felt so comfortable, she took to paddling and fishing like a duck to water.  I was even able to stand and fish while Dasha paddled me along from the front – man, I could get used to this!

Because I could move from the bow to the stern, there was no need for an anchor trolley.  I simply chucked the anchor over and tied it to a cleat.

We continued to work our way down Little Creek then headed out the inlet towards the
Chesapeake Bay.

The rock jetties that border the inlet were lined with boats and kayakers, everyone catching puppy drum on almost every cast.  We worked our way around the crowd and headed to a hole that I hoped would hold glory.

The tide turned and started to flood as we worked our way down the jetty picking up more puppy drum.  Then Dasha hooked something bigger.  The fish grabbed her jig and shook its head madly. When it came to the surface swinging its orange mouth in the air I yelled, “Speckled trout!”

Dasha worked the silver and spotted fish to the boat as gingerly and carefully as possible despite me yelling and shouting instructions and encouragement from the backseat.  My excitement didn’t help. She got the fish to the boat and lifted it out of the water, but she hadn’t left enough line to grab the fish.  The fat trout swung from the rod tip like an amusement park ride.  It hit the deck, the gunnels, flew through the air, went back in the water and back around our heads with me shouting and Dasha panicking.  Finally, it hit the deck and Dasha pounced on it.  I tested the Frontiers stability with a happy dance and we both started laughing.

Fishing sure is fun!

That’s when the wind started to blow.  The steady breeze kicked up to a gusty headwind and we beat our way back down the inlet and into the creek.  Although our progress was slow, the boat handled the steep chop and wind-blown white caps well.  Dasha and I hooted and hollered as the boat slammed through waves and threw up spray.  As we cut across the inlet to hide in the lee of the rocks, the Frontier barely rocked through the two-foot slappers.

It was a long, slow paddle back, but working together and singing Katie Perry songs, we made it to the launch site tired and safe.

Riding home, Dasha asleep in the passenger seat, I reflected on the pros and cons of the Frontier. 

The two of us were able to fish comfortably and safely from a stable and ergonomic platform.  The boat is laid out to accommodate a variety of rigging options only limited by the creativity and budget of the angler. 

The elevated seats kept us off the deck, out of the water, and very comfortable.  The Frontier’s biggest attribute is stability – this boat is rock solid.  I could confidently move from the bow to the stern and gunnel to gunnel and fish 360 degrees with barely a wobble.   Even in snotty seas, the Frontier solidly blasted through the chop.

Of course, the width of the boat and the height of the angler make the boat tougher to paddle into the wind and waves compared to a low, narrow kayak.  The short length and relatively flat bottom does affect tracking, but the Frontier is designed with four deep channels running down the bottom and a short keel in the stern to keep its crew on course.  The Frontier may not be the fastest horse in the barn, but the boat will get you to the fish and back in comfort and style.

In short, Nucanoe’s Frontier is perfectly suited for the angler who is looking for a comfortable, ergonomic and stable platform to fish flats, backwaters, and hidden fishing holes solo or with a partner.  This is a perfect boat for older or larger anglers looking to get on the water with confidence and ease.  As we proved, it makes a great tandem for father/daughter fishing trips and will even accommodate two full grown adults.  Limitless options for mounting electronics and accessories means the boat can be rigged with everything from a depth finder to a trolling motor.  Rod holders can be sunk into the hull, mounted on the deck, or affixed to the long track system. 

  NuCanoe supports the Frontier with a long line of aftermarket bells and whistles; I recommend the 275 mm paddle and Surf to Summit seats.  The boat can be configured to fish solo or tandem, hunt, and even outfitted with oars for rowing.

While no boat can do it all, NuCanoe’s Frontier combines the best attributes of kayaks, canoes, and small boats, making this hybrid the best of all worlds.

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