Drifting Away from Balsa
Stealthcraft, Baldwin, Michigan
Upper Michigan is known for fishing, hunting and pure outdoor adventure. Not all the waters run smooth, and when you’re drifting for trout, you need a quiet, lightweight boat that withstands the unexpected. Enter Stealthcraft Boats.
Lightweight Stealthcraft drift and jet boats are made to draw very little water, motor well, be fast under the oar, offer a ton of storage and is just a cool boat to own. The hull combines the extreme toughness of Kevlar®, the lasting strength of epoxy, the lightweight strength and sound deadening properties of Plascore PP Honeycomb and the slipperiness of an ultra-high molecular weight Duraslick bottom.
“One of the key elements of PP Honeycomb core is that it does not absorb water,” says owner and designer Mike Batcke. “If a normal gel coat is compromised, that scratch or ding will suck outside water into balsa, making it much heavier and leading to eventually failure. Not so with PP Honeycomb.”
Stealthcraft Boats has grown to offer 10 different models, ranging in size from 12′ to 20′. All are designed to ‘sneak up’ on fish, with very little draft and stealth-like colors. The larger engines make quick work of getting to your favorite spot in the river (or bringing home the catch). The additional weight of the larger outboards is another reason why Mike uses PP Honeycomb.
“In any boat design you can get rigidity and toughness with thickness, but that means weight,” says Mike. “That’s why we use PP Honeycomb core to allow for more thickness without extra weight. As a result, our boats are 100 pounds lighter than any of our competitor’s and tougher than an aluminum boat.”
GGuide, boater, fisherman, outdoor enthusiast and naval architect, Mike divides his time between a successful custom boat business and a fishing lodge on the Pere Marquette. Prior to assuming the helm at Stealthcraft, Mike was an engineer with several major yacht and sport boat manufacturers, where he grew accustomed to specifying PP Honeycomb to strengthen decks and hulls. Today, as a consulting designer, Mike always specifies Plascore PP Honeycomb wherever lightweight, high shear strength is required.
“If you’re using balsa, especially below the waterline, well, you need to rethink your specifications, I’ve worked PP honeycomb for many years; it’s easy to work with, especially scored, and gives you excellent results. I highly recommend it. All of our boats motor extremely well because we have not been stuck in traditional boat designs that draw a lot of water and are made for white water conditions,” says Mike. “We don’t need a bunch of stringers and supports, just the core. Plascore provides us with oversized sheets to help in our production. That gives us a one piece bottom, plus it surpasses any other material-design combination. The boat drifts right and holds a lot of gear; there’s not a lot of fasteners throughout the bottom.”