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Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

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Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Kirt321 » September 16th, 2020, 2:09 pm

Looking to get a winter rig for fishing Keaton to econfina area, usually going out of fenholloway or spring warrior. Does anyone have experience with both jet and surface drives on seaark or similar boats in particular this area with the rocks and oysters that time of year on low tides? Wondering which has the best performance and durability. I have a larger rig for other times of the year that I just got but am getting rid of an action craft that I used to run during the winter carefully. Just wanting something that you don’t have to worry about running shallow. Don’t really want airboat although I know it would perform best.

Thanks!
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby silverking » September 16th, 2020, 2:24 pm

Steve Stinson used to run a jet on his SeaArk. Hopefully he'll chime in.

Check your private messages for a question about another matter.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby FishWithChris » September 16th, 2020, 3:01 pm

16 - 18' tunnel hull Sea Ark, stripped down, super light.

40 - 60hp Tiller / Bob's hydraulic auto kick-back jackplate (hit something heavy enough and will kick motor up, just need to reset and you're good to go)

prop, no jet. shallow water = mud/grass = clogged jet. Prop = Chop.

Go slow early, learn your rocks, map your zones, learn your rocks, and wear your panacea nike's so you can get out and push when necessary. :beer: :beer:

*edit* I obviously didn't fully read the post or title, lol. Go over to Jacks and grab one of their gator tail duck boats and hold the f on. Oyster bars become ramps!
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby rockyg » September 16th, 2020, 4:17 pm

This is about the coolest Sea Ark build I've ever seen. It's exactly what you need. It could easilly be a center console model if you don't like the tiller deal.

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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Kirt321 » September 16th, 2020, 5:04 pm

Thanks, definitely gonna be a center console, been fishing there for twenty years, very heavily up until five years ago so know pretty well just want a rig that can still run around when very low that can take a bump and keep going. Don’t want a traditional outboard with foot but would consider mud motor type.
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Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby flatsbroke22 » September 16th, 2020, 6:32 pm

I like this idea. Fiberglass air boat hull with jet ski motor. Pretty cool. Image


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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby SHOWBOAT » September 16th, 2020, 7:56 pm

Chris is right. A well set up, light weight prop boat is the answer. I have a surface drive gator trax and would never run it in salt. I have a buddy with the same boat and he incurs the cost of replacing parts each year due to salt spray. I’ve fished the same area as Stinson for years. His jet drive didn’t go anywhere I wanted to be that a GT with 90hp Yamaha wouldn’t. While airboats are cool, they’re obnoxious. There are several folks on this site that could put you in a properly set up aluminum prop boat that would blow your mind!
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Kirt321 » September 16th, 2020, 9:14 pm

Thanks showboat, I met you at fenholloway, had to be almost 10 years ago. Was in the grey action craft 1720, you recognized me from a picture. Just having trouble seeing how a surface drive wouldn’t be more durable bumping rocks than a regular ob, disregarding salt related maintenance. Can’t remember the guys name but there used to be a guy I saw at rockys all the time that put in at fenholloway that ran a 20 express. He ran a 150 Yamaha with a jet during winter and a regular foot other times of the year, he knew the grass line better than anyone I’ve seen also.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Steve Stinson » September 17th, 2020, 8:04 am

If I were making the same decision as you, the main question I would ask myself is "How often will I be running in weeds or floating grass?" Either option will serve really well in shallow water. The mud motor will do much better in weeds, but will not hold up long term to the salt.
I had a 2003 Mercury 40 hp Jet that was really a 60 hp powerhead, but Mercury rates it at 40 hp because you lose about 1/3 of your horsepower due to the jet vs. a prop. (More slip/less efficient). The Mercury was definitely dependable and tough. Keep in mind also the weight of the motor. My understanding of the 90 hp jets is that they are not very fuel efficient and take more water to plane off due to the weight. I was able to push an 18 foot hull with the 40 hp jet with no trouble, even fully loaded with people and camping gear. I would recommend either going with Mercury or Yamaha for a jet foot motor.

As for the hull - with a jet foot, you need a smooth bottom on your hull. The jet has to feed on clean water with no air bubbles in it. Sea Ark makes a jet tunnel hull specifically designed for this purpose. I ran my jet foot on a Monark hull, then a Bass Pro Grizzly hull after I split the Monark. Do not buy the Grizzly hull. I ended up having to force BPS to take that one back under warranty via attorney, then selling the new one they sent me as a replacement the same week I received it. (The fight with BPS took so long that I purchased a Sea Ark before getting my replacement hull.)

I am not going to get in a lengthy argument about running shallow, but those who believe a tunnel boat will run as shallow as a jet have never owned a properly set up jet outboard. Keep in mind that anything can be pushed to the limit. Jet boats sort of push a cushion of water in front of them which will ride you right over a sand bar or an oyster bar. However a well placed rock can still bring you to a stop since it doesn't have enough surface to support that cushion of water. I had to have my jet foot repaired a couple times due to rock damage.

If you set up a jet foot boat, put your driver's position up high, your gas tank and batteries either mid-ship or forward, and get a good pair of polarized glasses. You will be running so shallow that you can see most of the rocks before you hit them. I mounted my console on top of the rear casting deck in both of my boats and that worked well. Gas tanks were directly beneath me, two batteries for the trolling motor in the front and one cranking battery in the rear.

I hope this answered some of your questions. If you have more, P.M. me on this forum and I will send you my cell phone number.
Good luck with your new boat set up. There is no perfect boat, but some of them come very close. :thumbup:
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby SHOWBOAT » September 17th, 2020, 9:12 pm

Don’t disagree with anything Steve said. He has owned a ton of boats and runs them to their strengths.

I think I remember our encounter. I may have been with my father. Believe in my Xpress?

Steve, why did you move away from a jet? Guessing more room/practicability for near shore? Or maybe grass. I have no idea, just wondering what you decided to trade for extra shallow.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Kirt321 » September 17th, 2020, 9:39 pm

Perfect Steve, thanks a lot for the info, Also, no wouldn’t be running in grass or using as a duck boat. Kinda confirms my thoughts on a jet for what I’m wanting to do. Have a Simmons 23 with a cat hull that runs very shallow on plane but something to beat around on low winter tides.

Showboat, yep, you were in your xpress and with your father that day. Had more time in those days, was at fenholloway at least once per week and twice most.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby onefishtwofish » September 18th, 2020, 2:06 pm

Gator Tail, ProDrive, GoDevil and Mudbuddy are just not made for the salt. I have owned 3 of the 4. My favorite being the ProDrive but they just don't hold up in the salt. No matter how much maintenance you do.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby STMU » September 19th, 2020, 8:13 pm

So this thread has me curious as to how jets perform here. I used to run a 250 johnson jet when I lived in Idaho. Would glide right over rapids on plane and loved it. Caught a ton salmon in places only rafters could go...but as soon as i put that boat in water without flow it was like driving a bar of ivory soap. Used to take it out to local lakes for lake trout but had to run a high idle just to keep it straight. How do folks here keeps jets operating in true direction when not on plane? I've got a 20hp short shaft tiller on a 16' tunnel hull now and it does great, but I'd love to know how the jets perform. I feel like I glide over just about anything now but I certainly know the benefits of a jet and am curious of how it works here.
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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Steve Stinson » September 20th, 2020, 6:36 am

Brian - My move away from jet power was unintentional. I had to fight BPS for more than a year to get them to honor a 5 yr. hull warranty on a Grizzly boat that was 3 years old. BPS sent my hull to a local welding shop several times to have the leaks fixed. Finally the folks who owned the welding shop told them there was nothing else they could do. The leaks kept showing up where the original factory welds held the bottom of the bench seats to the floor of the boat. We would fix several of them, then several more would show up. I think the metal content of the weld and the hull were different enough that it caused quick corrosion in the saltwater.
BPS had me bring my hull to their local store where they loaded it on a trailer and sent it to their headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. I stripped the jet motor and all the electronics off the hull and gave it to them. Then they told me I should not be using the hull in saltwater. At the same time, they had the same Grizzly hull sitting in front of their store here in Tally fully equipped with a flounder gigging platform and lights. My attorney sent them a letter and they agreed to replace the hull.
All of this took more than a year. About 3 months into the fight, Big Bend Marine had a used 2013 Sea Ark / 90 hp Yamaha for sale so I bought that rig and the jet foot motor stayed in my barn for a few years. I ended up giving it to a marine mechanic in Wacissa named Donnie Hightower. In exchange, he rigged a Yamaha outboard on an Alumacraft hull for my son Andrew.

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Re: Seaark with gator tail vs jet drive

Postby Steve Stinson » September 20th, 2020, 6:48 am

STMU - I don't have a good answer for the lack of steering control on the jet foot boats. Both of my hulls were hard to control during loading / unloading. They also slide sideways through turns in creeks and rivers, so you are a bit broad-side to the direction of travel when turning on plane. I would suppose that swift current or rapids would only make things more difficult.

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