Q. What are Ultralight boats?
A. Ultralights are boats that depending on their size, can be lifted up with only one finger. Dreamcatcher Boats tries to keep solo canoes under 20lbs. They are built of a skin of ballistic nylon stretched over a frame of lashed-together Yellow Cedar. Their origins are thousands of years old, just like Irish Coracles and Eskimo Kayaks and Baidarkas.
Q. They look delicate. How tough are they?
A. You can hit them with a hammer or scratch them with a kitchen knife, drag them over the barnacles or bump into a rock and not cause any damage.
Q. What are Dreamcatcher Boats made of?
A. The Dreamcatcher Boat frame is built of wood. The skin is made of ballistic nylon, the same material that bulletproof vests are made of. These crafts can resist the impact of sharp rocks and are also surprisingly abrasion resistant. The components are lashed, not glued or nailed together. This makes for a much stronger and more resilient frame.
Q. How many models are available?
A. The sky’s the limit. We have standard models but will customize any design to meet your requirements.
Q. Are they hard to manoeuvre?
A. Dreamcatcher Boats are stable and easy to handle. Handling a Dreamcatcher Boat is like tracking on rails — you can spin it on its own axis or propel it several boat lengths with one stroke of the paddle.
Q. What about safety? A. Dreamcatcher Boats are safe and they resist tipping. They are far more stable than a kayak. The skills of any novice are enough to propel them. They have a shoal draft so you can paddle them in very shallow water. They are exceptionally stable because the paddler is sitting on the floor providing their own ballast. In regular canoes the paddler is sitting about a foot above water level.
Q. Are they environmentally friendly?
A. Yes, Dreamcatcher Boats are made with no noxious substances such as epoxies. Dreamcatcher Boats also require no nails.
Q. How available are they?
A. Dreamcatcher Boats are made on demand and can be delivered to the customer within six weeks.
Q. How about advice after I buy one?
A. Brian Chandler, the owner of Dreamcatcher Boats, makes himself available to answer your questions. Help is always there at the end of the phone.
Q. Ultralight Boats — why the big deal?
A. If you’ve ever tried to haul an average canoe to the water from the top of your car or RV, then you probably know the answer to this question. Maybe you’ve postponed or even cancelled trips because you couldn’t find anybody to go with you because your boat was so heavy you couldn’t handle it yourself. Have you ever gone to the beach with your family and ended up playing Daddy Donkey while everyone else was enjoying themselves, and you were hoping your back would stay together long enough that you would be able to carry all the stuff back at the end of the day? Imagine a boat you can pick up with one finger, lives on top of your car all summer, is light enough that your kids think it’s fun to run to the beach with and is so comfortable, it’s like sitting in your very own easy chair.
If you get to build it yourself, especially if you’ve never done anything like this before, it’s enough to make you feel like a real hero.
Q. Very cool boats and I would like to build one. I am retired (2 years) and like to drift and wade-fish…usually on the Texas gulf coast. Because of my age and often windy conditions, I am wondering if anyone has modified your boats to accommodate an electric or very small gas outboard motor?
A. Absolutely you can put a small motor on these boats! I use a small electric motor, and I mount it on a 2×4 which is strapped across the boat behind me, or directly onto the side of the boat itself, the reason being that it has to be within easy reach, because you can’t stand up and run around the boat. It is incorrect to think that you need a flat back for a small outboard. The battery can go behind you out of the way. If you want to stand up, an outrigger is a good idea, unless you have the balance of a skateboarder. I have also seen a motor/rudder combination on the internet ( I couldn’t tell you where), and you can mount it on the rear breasthook and I guess you can maneuver that with foot pedals… Make sure you have enough water under the boat.
Q. What if cedar isn’t available where I live? What wood should I use?
A. There are many kinds of wood that work, including bamboo and even plastic tubing! Ideally the wood should be clear, straight grain, no knots, and good in the water (resistant to rot), but it will be oiled and varnished anyway, so it will be protected from the water. Some examples are yellow pine, oak, ash, cedar, elm, gum, mahogany. For the ribs, some woods steam well and some don’t – ask locally.