Bush Planes, Dualsport Bikes and Skiffs

A Fresh Perspective of the Towee Rivermaster Calusa

At Towee, our focus has always been on creating the one skiff that can “do it all” and “do it all well” which was the geneiss of the Rivermaster Calusa – a skiff that can transit easily from rocky rivers to the coast and serve the angler well in either setting with performance, quality, safety, durability and stability.  Since it’s introduction in 2010, some anglers have had issues trying to wrap their heads around just where this skiff fits into the traditional technical boat spectrum because, quite frankly, there just isn’t anything out there quite like it. So, while we enjoyed our Thanksgiving holiday this week, a couple of us had a conversation about flying in Idaho and then riding down to Baja Mexico came up and somewhere between sink rates and fish tacos, we realized that there were some serious similarities here that deserved exploring.

Besides being on the water, we love to fly when we can and there are more than a few pilots in the extended Towee family – some with serious bush plane credentials and one of their favorite conversations is the “perfect” backcountry plane for the traveling pilot. Now, this can quickly become a heated argument when simply local flying is involved but can get downright nasty when cross country travel is added to the equation. If we lived in one spot, say, the Northern Rockies, a Super Cub might fill our needs with it’s legendary ability to get into and back out of rough, off airport, terrain. However, when travel time comes, the rather slow Super Cub isn’t exactly what we would hop into for a cross country flight and if you need to bring along more than one other (preferably small) adult and a modest amount of gear then – forget about it.

We could begin to look at bigger aircraft like the Cessna 206 and 210 – which are used to carry big loads, seat up to six and can get into some really rough but longer backcountry strips. They can cruise cross country high and fast but the problem is you really start to limit yourself to longer strips and “off airport” landings are pretty much out of the picture. So once they start to eliminate aircraft as being too small or too big, a few standouts start to emerge like the Maule M5 – a well pedigreed bush plane that can land just about anywhere a Super Cub can yet has enough horsepower, payload and service ceiling to make it a serious cross country contender. If you could only have one plane to “do it all and do it all well” the Maule would be a great choice.

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Our motorcycle riders have the same dilemma; sure, you can ride your Harley Road King on gravel – thousands make it up the Dalton Highway in Alaska every year but the overweight hog with it’s low clearance isn’t going to get you very far on a lot of forest service roads. Many “adventure riders” turn immediately to large dualsport bikes like the BMW GSA – a bike with “ADVENTURE” written all over it  – that is until they drop it on a logging road halfway up a mountain and can’t get it upright by themselves. They soon come to realize that while the big BMW is plush on the interstate and has the ground clearance to get them over mild obstacles (it really does “look the part”), it can get them very close to where they want to go but can’t do a very good job of doing what they came for. After a few years and a few painful bike trades, many experienced traveling adventure riders end up with a “right sized” bike like the Suzuki DR650 – a bike that can get you into some fairly serious trail riding when needed, carve up the turns on a twisty Appalachian highway and still hit a respectable 70 mph+ on the interstate while carrying a large adult and a ton of gear. From heading out to the National Forest or heading out to Patagonia, bikes like the DR650 “do it all and do it all well”.  They can get you there and then do what it is that you came for.

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With these two examples fresh in our minds, lets turn again to the Rivermaster Calusa, the one and only real choice for a technical skiff that will get you there and then do what you came there for. Power drifting a Northwoods river for big musky – check, silently poling the flats off Big Pine for laid up tarpon – check, how about owning the marsh around Hopedale and pissing off guys in full sized flats skiffs who can’t get at super shallow fish? – check. The Missouri in Montana?, Alaska?, Pamlico Sound? Duck hunting in flooded timber? Argentina? How about mountains AND the coast in one day in Costa Rica? Check on all.  Sure, you can’t carry quite as much extra gear as you could in a huge river sled, barge like drift boat or $70K 17′ flats skiff but you can carry three full sized anglers, gear and supplies……and you can actually get to the fish when you arrive. What’s not to love about that?  This is a special niche in the technical skiff world with a population of only one. Sure, a lot of people make a lot of unfounded claims and even rather half hearted attempts at look alikes but no one touches the all around performance of the Rivermaster Calusa.

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From our now legendary stability and durability to a TRUE 4″ draft when fully loaded to our road dog of a trailer, the Rivermaster Calusa takes it place among proven adventure tools that “Do It All and Do It All Well”.  Isn’t it about time that you had a conversation with us about your new Calusa?

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FREE DELIVERY TO CALIFORNIA – ATTN: WEST COAST CUSTOMERS

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Towee Boats will be heading to The Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton, CA in February. This means that there will be a unique chance for a West Coast client to get free delivery of a well appointed skiff by picking up at the show.  We get tons of inquiries from Cali so don’t miss your chance to save the $1800-$2500  cross country delivery charge on your new skiff. Give us a call at 931-224-8181 to discuss your new skiff build.

 

 

Towee Kicks Off Building Project To Improve Customer Experience.

 

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November 2, 2017

For Immediate Release

Towee Boats has announced that they have broken ground on a new rigging shop and customer pick up facility with the aim of providing a more enjoyable customer visit experience. The new Towee rigging and visitors facility will afford visitors the opportunity to see new boats in the final stages of construction along with completed boats in a clean environment away from the fumes that can go hand and hand with the composite lamination process.

“We want to make the buying and pick up process as pleasant as possible – which has been a challenge due to the nature of the construction process and the limitations of our current building” says Towee owner Todd Gregory. ” We have always had this concept of a customer/visitor facility in the back of our minds but it just wasn’t realistic until now” The new facility will be located just outside McMinnville and feature a new 3,000 sq ft building alongside a rehabbed barn that is being converted into modern shop space on the inside. “We love the property, it’s in the country with mature trees and a view of the mountains that back the Collins River.  When we saw the old barn on the property, we knew that it had to stay as well.  It’s just going to be a great environment to talk skiffs.”

Towee will be relocating their lamination process to a new building in a nearby industrial park. As of this writing, 700 feet of road have been installed, the barn rehab is well underway and the slab for the new building is scheduled to be poured within the next 48 hours. The new customer facility will open in early 2018.

 

 

 

Towee Boats and Midwest Waters Roll Out New Sherpa Jet Sled

June 6, 2017

For Immediate Release

Early this Sunday morning, the worst kept secret in technical river craft quietly rolled into the Chicago suburbs.  The long awaited Towee Sherpa Hull #1 had made the trip from the Towee facility in Tennessee to its new home at Midwest Waters Angling Co.

Eight years after introducing the the Rivermaster hull series that invented the “crossover skiff” category, Towee has released the Sherpa a “full sized jet sled’. While the Rivermaster Calusa holds down a unique place in the market as the only real choice for a go anywhere, do anything small technical skiff, the Sherpa was designed for one thing – a river jet that could move large loads of anglers and gear while still operating in reasonably boney waters.   With an overall length of 17 feet, the Sherpa features an array of massive  aluminum dry hatches – the largest literally big enough to hide a full grown man in – that give guides and anglers ample room for the longest multi day trips. The floor is a full 60 inches wide with 74 inches at the gunnels from the transom throughout the cockpit and much of the forward deck.

While each Sherpa will be available with a custom interior layout that is hand built to the client’s specifications, Hull #1 was ordered with a simple front deck, rear deck and rod tube layout.  Fully enclosed rod cabinets on both sides with locking doors are also available along with coffin boxes, seating and casting braces. If you can dream it, Towee can probably do it.  The massive front deck is a full 8 feet long and features 3 large, lockable dry storage areas with custom built aluminum hatches. Towee also included a pair of smaller molded hatches to gain access to the rod tip area.

The 4 foot aft deck is clean and provides ample room for running the 60/40 Mercury  jet or fishing multiple anglers.  A giant storage tunnel houses the fuel tanks and provides load of additional storage – it is large enough that the Towee crew were actually inside the tunnel during the rigging process.

The innovative hull brings together elements of both the traditional flat bottom jet sled hull and Towee’s own design features. The Sherpa has both an aft flare that allows the sled to get up quicker but also a properly sized tunnel that feeds the jet with clean water with fewer power robbing air bubbles than other designs.  A one piece, heavy duty rub rail trims out the entire gunnel completing the ultimate river war wagon. And best of all,  it still floats in less than 5 inches of water – loaded.

The Shepa’s hull combines the Towee’s tough, super light proprietary lamination with their new  T2 River Armor Coating, not just on the bottom but on the entire hull, to create the most durable and maintenance free hull in the industry.  The hull rides on a newly designed custom trailer that features all of the innovations of the Towee Pro trailer in a larger size.

As the Sherpa was nearing the prototype build stage, Kurt Nelson and Mike Allen of Midwest Waters Angling Co. were searching for a new, full sized jet sled.  After diligently reviewing everything on the market including fiberglass, plastic and aluminum hulls, Nelson contacted Towee and suggested a partnership to take delivery of Hull #1 and partner with Towee in prototype testing. Towee owner Todd Gregory says “Im really pleased to have Kurt and Mike working with us on the prototype hull. Both have previously owned Calusa’s and certainly know there way around the river. The hull design, material and power plant are there but there are dozens of details, like the anchor system, that we will be trying some mew things out. There will be a lot of collaboration as the guys from Midwest shake her down over the coming weeks and we will make a lot of improvements based on their feedback along with the feedback of our existing Towee Pro’s that have had the oppurtunity to review the Sherpa in our shop. ”

Towee will be releasing full details and photos in the coming weeks.  Questions should be directed to Gregory at todd@toweeboats.com.  Shop and delivery photos are included below.

 

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Towee Releases “T2 River Armor” Coating For Your Drift Boat or Jet Sled bottom.

May 31, 2017

For immediate Release

Towee Boats and Towee Marine and Industrial LLC have released their new “T2 River Armor” coating for your drift boat or jet sled. Developed in conjunction with a major coatings company, T2 River Armor is the first coating developed specifically for adding significant protection for river craft that operate in rocky, harsh service environments.

Towee owner Todd Gregory explains that, like most great ideas,  T2 River Armor was born from a great need.  “Owners of drift boats and jet sleds, whether they are fiberglass or aluminum, have always faced the same issues.” “First, the hulls themselves can only take so much abuse due to the nature of both the materials themselves and the construction techniques – this had been the state of the art so to speak for a long, long time”. “After a few years of service, the owners are usually forced to bring the boats in for a bottom service or to have tears welded on an aluminum hull” . “The problem here is that not only is this expensive and inconvenient, It only brings the boat back to “original condition” at best and will need attention again in a few seasons. At Towee, we chose to address this issue by developing our proprietary hull material lamination schedule that produces a far tougher and lighter hull” .  “However, we routinely receive requests to repair great boats built by other builders that just weren’t quite so resilient. The second part of the problem, according to Gregory, is that there just weren’t any good options available. Builders and owners have tried most everything conceivable from heavy HDMW sheets to epoxy mixed with various fillers to bedliner sprays, air boat bottom coatings and the like. Each have their own issues and none have adequately addressed the needs of the hard core river angler.

Over the past year, Towee has worked directly with one of the worlds largest industrial coatings manufacturer’s Research and Development departments to develop the first coating designed specifically to greatly improve the protection and performance of boat bottoms in harsh service applications. “From the beginning, we didn’t want an off the shelf solution, we wanted something specifically formulated for what our clients do” said Gregory. “We had to have it meet all four of the basic criteria: Extreme impact resistance, abrasion resistance, light weight and low drag coefficient (slickness)”.  The team at our partner supplier really knocked it out of the park on all four criteria and provided us with a proprietary product that will change what is possible with river craft .”  “We have actually had a sheet of simple 1/8′ fiberglass in the shop all winter that was treated with an early variant of T2 and I’ve been just wailing on it with a 2 lb hammer for visiting Pro Staffers and collaborators.” ” It has had to taken at least 500 hammer strikes and I finally got a small crack with an 18 inch pipe wrench the other day – the crack was in the fiberglass, not the coating.”

After a winter’s worth of R and D and Spring testing, Towee is ready to add performance and reliability to your drift boat or jet sled and add years to its life. For traditional fiberglass drift boats and sleds, Towee will repair existing damage, build up the chines with additional layers of material and coat the bottom and chines of the boat to provide the owners with  super tough hull protection system for little more than a traditional “rebottom” service from one of the major boat builders.   In addition to improved service life, the slickness of the coating combined with the reduced surface area achieved by the glass smooth crinkle finish result in a hull that not only takes the abuse of a rocky river but slides over rocks and logs with ease without reducing motoring performance.

Available only from Towee, T2 River armor is applied in a two coats, a base coat and a top coat then baked at a specific temperature to ensure a proper cure. Gregory can be reached directly with questions and inquires at todd@toweeboats.com.

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A close up of the T2 River Armor Surface 

 

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An Early Prototype Application of T2 River Armor Applied To One of The Test Boats