Mark's Report

The car is a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5I, All Wheel Drive. We got about 29 MPG on the trip, which is about 200 miles each way. The car gets up to 34 MPG on that kind of a drive (average speed 45-50 MPH) when we are not towing the boat. I estimate the boat, motor and trailer weigh about 800 lbs.


We get between 15 and 18 MPG with the boat when cruising - 15 MPG is maximum consumption at somewhat sustained speeds of 20+ MPH, 18 MPG would be cruising at 17-19 MPH or so, with a 400- 450 lb load, which includes my wife and me, gear and 6 gals. of fuel, but does not include the motor weight. Mileage at slower speeds increases, but I haven't got any averages because our slow speed outings are so varied. On cruising trips we plan to go 50 miles on a 3 gal tank of gas and have not been surprised yet - we always cover more than 50 miles on that tank. The motor is a 2003 Honda, 20 HP tiller - I think its ideal for the 14 because its light enough to tilt manually, the boat planes fast and can hit 25-26 MPH at full throttle in a tailwind. 

I found your addition of my latest photo to your gallery and the comments you added. I've been advertising how affordable and economical (and fun) it is to boat light. It's also much more versatile than some people think, but you have to know your limits - for us, many years of canoe tripping and lake rowing have been the best teachers for that. 


Editors Note:  One of the things we brag about with Duroboat is the ability to keep on plane to get home in  rough water so we thought twice about printing the balance of this story since it recounts an instance where the operator being prudent backed down to a non planning speed.  We believe all of our boats will stay on plane longer than almost all other similar boats and we have kept larger Duroboats on plane in conditions similar to those noted but it is indeed a rough ride.    We have decided to publish the story because it illustrates that even the best of boats has a limit and it illustrates that a prudent operator knows what the limits of his boat are and acts accordingly.


Mark’s story continues


Our timing wasn't great for our trip to Maine. The weather had changed from the usual August pattern for the 3 days of our excursion. The wind blew hard and cold from the north and there were numerous rain and some hail squalls all during the first and second days - the third day it just blew. The day we toured Richardson Lake we had a tail wind and there were whitecaps and squalls as we motored the 18 miles from the north to the south end. I knew what we were getting into from lots of experience on Lake Champlain and was prepared for the trip back up the lake, but that did not make it easy. The trip back up the lake was a rough 3 1/2 hour slog into 3+ foot whitecaps at about 5 MPH. In an inland lake, heading into wind driven waves like that you can take a pounding, and 5 MPH is about the limit. It's not that we took on much water from the waves (the squalls put more in the boat) or that the boat couldn’t be run faster and still be controlled -  it’s just that you want to keep your teeth and be able to walk again when you get to shore. I was determined to see the whole length of Richardson Lake because it has a lot of water access camping, for future reference - otherwise I wouldn't have deliberately set out to pound ourselves like we did on an outing. As I said, we have done this on Champlain plenty of times, but that's because we’re out a lot and get caught sometimes in unforcasted storms or high winds, far from the launch. I'm also always ready to land the boat if I think we are at risk and am scouting for opportunities all along the way, just in case. Although not really relaxing, having the confidence to continue slowly and steadily in rough conditions is great fun in a challenging way, for me, if a little less so for my wife - she has the best time when we get back to the launch when she looks back on the adventure, successfully completed.


A few words on the subject of touring with a light powerboat:


We have been using our 14 at least as much if not more than we anticipated when we bought it. We had a larger powerboat for over 10 years but sold it when it came time to replace the tow vehicle because we decided not to spend the money on such a big gas consumer. We also had a smaller 14’ aluminum boat with a short shaft outboard which we traded in to the Duroboat dealer. The larger, deeper and more seaworthy Duroboat is more versatile than the smaller 14 we had and it’s much less expensive to tow and run than the larger boat we sold. It’s also a lot quicker to launch and can be launched in many more places than the larger boat. One frustration is that we have some friends who have big sailboats, some with 26' and 28' powerboats and some with canoes and kayaks, but none with a light powerboat like ours and we haven't been able to convince any of them to purchase one yet, so they could accompany us. There's also a certain snobbery amongst sailors and canoers/kayakers, which can make powerboating seem an unsavory choice to some. Although we love and use hand powered boats and own a 17' canoe and a 16' Whitehall rowing craft, I now have a hard time considering the longer excursions we used to make with them, given the much more limited range within a set time and greater chance of being stuck in bad weather. If you can’t, or don’t want to afford to own and operate a large boat and the vehicle to tow it, a light powerboat can still provide you with a lot of touring opportunities on water that is appropriate for them. Although not for offshore use or for very big waves in freshwater, a light powerboat is a very efficient means of travel and if you are willing to deal with the weather in an open boat, it’s the obvious choice when you want to cover more water faster than hand powered boats will allow. Also, our 14' boat is surprisingly maneuverable when rowed and this feature gives us many more opportunities to land on varied shorelines. We carry oars and a pushpole at all times on our boat; both as emergency back up and to allow us to get into rocky or shallow areas where it isn't safe to motor, or to get on or off the shore in high wind and waves. With these attributes a light powerboat is navigable in most all water profiles, and we feel confident on larger lakes when the waves pick up as long as we stick close to shore.


With the cost of fuel today the light boat and smaller vehicle required to tow it make an affordable option for many who are interested in exploring waterways - especially those who see the flexibility of traveling light as an advantage. In our experience, if you are enthusiastic about learning to use a light powerboat to its full potential for travel, you will find that tremendous opportunities exist.