Sage Marine Blog Closes but the Discussion Carries On.

Sage Marine was founded on the principle of staying closely connected to the boating community.  We strive to maintain a deep understanding of the performance, comfort, and design features that are most valuable to our community.  We started this blog nearly 4 years ago in hopes of sharing an inside look into Sage Marine but we’ve found it challenging to foster discussions that can lead to better understanding.  We truly believe that our products are a collaboration with our customers.  We love hearing not only what you want but even more so, why you want it.  It’s the “why” that can often be the catalyst to innovation.

After careful consideration and many discussions, we have decided that it’s time to close our blog.  We greatly appreciate those who have followed our story and we invite you to join our forum to get involved in the discussions.  Our forum is not only a unique community of members with a shared passion but it also gives you direct access to the founders of Sage Marine.  You’ll frequently see Sal himself visit the forum.  It’s rare to have that kind of access to just about any company but we believe strongly in doing business in a fair and transparent manner and we genuinely believe that much can be achieved through discussion and education.

Our blog will close soon and we hope you’ll visit us at the Sage Marine Forum.  We look forward to seeing you!

Fair Winds and Following Seas!

The Sage Marine Crew

 

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Cedar Key and Home again.

Hello, Greg the boat builder here, and let me tell you that Florida is a long way from Colorado. But, in the search of warm weather and like minded  boat folk, the 4500 mile round trip was absolutely worth it. My set up was simple, I loaded up the shop truck with The our original wooden prototype up on the roof rack for use in Cedar key, and the newest composite prototype would get put on the trailer so it could be launched and retrieved easier by one person along the way. The two outboards and all the gear was kept under cover until the boats got in the water. IMG_3503

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After a straight shot almost 1000 miles due south through the dry lands of southern Colorado and west Texas, the boats, my dog Samson, and I ended up in the San Antonio area with some friends. The lake country between there and Austin provided a chance to finally get this boat in the water.

IMG_3525Canyon lake, a damned portion of the Guadalupe river, was out first stop. With breezy weather and a fair amount of weekend boat traffic to play around in I found a few things about our new prototype.  As you can see above, the current boat has molded seats with plenty of floatation, as does the forward deck area. Between this and the foam core in the hull, transom and gunnells, the boat should be un-sinkable. We will be testing that in the near future so stay tuned. The current interior lay out also has a water tight hatch on the aft side of the for deck that has a surprising amount of handy storage. Its large enough to fit dock lines and a set of smaller fenders.

The SageSport160 was running a Honda 5hp for this trip. Properly trimmed (with two people and a good sized dog) it would cruise at 15mph with out issue on flat water. When the wind waves got a bit rough later in the afternoon I found that 1/2 throttle gave me a very steady and comfortable 8mph with out the need for any wave compensation. There was no pounding and the boat took everything with an easy roll.

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After Breakfast at the fantastic Bear moon bakery, we loaded up and headed east along the gulf (There are no photos of this section due to a camera malfunction) to the Sabine pass area. This is the boarder between Texas and Louisiana. The real beginning of Bayou country.  Sabine pass has the significant commercial town of Port Arthur. After putting the Sagesport 160 in the water at Walter Umphrey state park I found it a little daunting to be sharing the lane with commercial ships while I ran out into the open Gulf and headed west along the beaches of Sea rim State park. Weather was flat and glassy and it was great to have a wide open salt water run up the coast. Despite being so close to Houston Tx I didn’t see a soul  for miles. Coming back I found my way through some of the brackish swamps, small lakes, and cut channels that make up this part of the coast.

The total distance of this trip and the time constraints I had started to press on me that I needed to make some miles, So I loaded up and headed out on the long run to the east coast of Florida and my old home town of Flagler beach. Gamble Rodgers State park FL has always been a favorite of mine since it is one of the rare places on the east coast of florida you can camp just about right on the beach. Its also less than a couple hundred yards to a ramp on the Inter-coastal waterway part of the Halifax river.

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I didn’t get much time on the boat in Flagler except a short sunset cruise around the marshes before the mosquito’s drove me back to the ramp. At least the salt breeze in camp kept them at bay.

After two days of persistent strong sea conditions precluded me from having any off shore testing in Flagler, I settled on a run up the gin clear waters of the Silver River. Only an hour and a half drive inland (and half way to cedar key)I reached the Lilly choked backwater where I put into the Silver. The Silver River is a spring run the emanates from a single artesian spring (silver glen spring) that flows at a river creating 700+ cubic feet of water per second. This great flow of perfectly clear 72 degree water creates a 5 mile long ecosystem all to its own before emptying into Ocklawaha river. Motors are allowed all the way to the spring, but only at a no wake speeds. The Honda 5 is surprisingly quite at idle, enough to hear the prolific bird life on this stretch of the river

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After a memorizing trip like this I was once again ready for some salt water. Showing up at Cedar key a day before the event has many advantages, such as uncrowded ramps and places to park a trailer. It also allows some more wide open testing in the mixed conditions of the gulf. Sal and Gail glesser (Owners of Sage Marine and the knife company Spyderco) Joined me for a couple days during the event. This was the first opportunity for them to try out the new Sagesport 160

 

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Trimming the boat is important for getting everything out of her performance. Running with a single person in the boat make her a bit tail heavy. Adding 100lbs of sand bags into the bow makes the boat trim out very well when running single. Robb originally had a 5 gallon bucket that he would fill with water, cover, and leave in the bow when going out alone. I wouldn’t call the boat tender, but small changes in weight distribution do change the trim of the boat. With two aboard she plains out very nicely.

Sal and Gail took the composite prototype on a very extended test when they missed the entrance to the bay between a couple of islands. The 20 or so miles they went north was a great test to the boat before breaking out a GPS that reminded them the way home. During that time they found a couple of oyster bars and some more off shore conditions. Despite all that the boat preformed better than they could have hoped, delivering a comfortable stable ride and very good fuel consumption. Including the 3 hour jaunt up the coast they burned about 1/2 of a three gallon tank all weekend.

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With the wooden boat at hand I tested the higher speed handling with a 6hp Mercury outboard. High speed cornering felt stable on flat water and I never shipped any water over the back end no matter what I did. The boat handled the larger wakes of the local fishing boats with glee, jumping up over the waves with almost no pounding when coming down.

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Wide open at 18 mph, the horizon looks like it could be close.

In this part of the world the warmth of the day comes on quickly, So as the days of the event started there were many boats in the water early. I had started pretty early myself and spotted a familiar boat, when I got close enough I realized it was Wes White (Robb’s son) in his dads original prototype. We beached up and spent some time discussing boats while  looking at the increasing amount of interesting boats coming our way.

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that’s Wes on the left with Robb’s OriginalDSC03983

 

For this boat builder Cedar key is a great time to see other designs on and off the water. The reason for coming here was not just to show off the new Sage, but to be more of a part of the boat community and see what she has to offer. Even Samson seemed to like looking at the boats

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Here are just some of the beauties the showed up this year.

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While spending time on the beach I had another opportunity to test the design of the Sagesport 160 when some friends showed up wanting a ride. So we packed 4 adults and one 75lb dog in for a trip around the island. The boat displaced about 2 more inches than when riding solo, but had plenty of free board when you figure she had about 1100lbs in total boat/engine/cargo weight. Not bad for an 80lb boat. That being said, suggested capacity is no more than 650lbs. The 6hp just couldn’t quite get us all onto plane. 32116233_10216405098219436_4453217015288561664_n

One of the best parts of the trip for me was having all the Rob White designed sport boats sitting next to each other showing the evolution of the design. The closest is our new Composite version (prototype).  Its a burly boat that you don’t mind running up onto the sand, and with more flotation and storage than the originals I think its destined to be one popular boat, and yes there will be a middle seat. DSC04443

Once the event was done I booked it back to Colorado to keep working on the layup design. We are finishing up prototyping the hull now and beginning to put more effort into the interior options. The production SageSport 160 should be available this summer.

 

One last parting image, Where will your Sage take you?

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In search of warm water.

Enough of this cold weather, Sage Marine is heading to “The Cedar key Small Boat Rally” in Cedar Key Florida may 4th-6th! We will be bringing our pre-production SageSport160, A power canoe designed by the late Robb White. Robb spent many years refining the design in the very waters around Cedar key. It feels like taking our newest version of the design back home. Grab your small boat and join us there!Cedar-Key-Sunset-020413-1

The NEW SageSport 160

Good afternoon from the Sage boat shop,

As some of you know we have been working on a new project for the last six months or so. Some of this we have already publicized, but here it is from the beginning so far. We started out with a list of wants from Sal. Me being a long time boat geek looked through my personal files and came up with the Robb White designed sport boat. Sal also thought this would fit the bill, so I managed to track Robb’s family down and get a set of plans. If any of you are followers of Robb White you might know that of all his boats, the sport boat was the only design he ever wrote down. Those plans consisted of a couple pages of notes, a single page of hand drawn form lines, and some color copy’s of Polaroid pictures. Not to much to go on.

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This design goes back before Robb White though. He took inspiration from the wildly popular aluminum Grumman Sport boat of the 1950s. They were shorter, heavier, and very utilitarian. And long Before the Grumman’s there was a style of boat known as a Grand laker (still popular today). These were usually wood and canvas freight canoes from the Maine and U.P. areas. Never built to a single design, they suited the builder and user with different lenths, withs, and hull shapes. They were all based in canoe styles of the time, but broader and outboard ready. Many were used as guide boats to to take “Sports” into the back country to hunt and fish, or to move cargo. From this history Robb refined his design over the course of forty years. Being able to keep this process and history going by introducing modern materials and composite techniques sure makes this boat builder feel good.

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From all that, in the spare time from building the Sage sailboats, I put together the molds and modified the instruction to build a cedar strip version with more traditional methods. She came in at 16′ LOA with a 43″ beam and a bottom profile more like a touring SUP board. The very narrow cut water and hollow entry complimented the hulls dramatic tumble home in the rear. This prototype was a proof of concept to see if the boat could perform as well as we hoped, and something shiny to bring to shows before we had a production model.

As far as performance goes, we took her on a maiden voyage last fall at the high altitude Lake Dillon (9,017ft) just as winter stuck around for the season. The weather was not all we could have hopped for with 30+ mph winds, temps in the 40s, and 3 ft swells out in the open. Getting off the dock had a bit of pucker factor to it but the boat handled it better that I could have expected. At displacement speeds she handled the tall short spaced swells fine, and with out pounding at all. With plenty of stability and much less dread than when we started we motored along to the lee side of the lake. When the swells dropped by half we powered up the 6hp outboard and easily planed out onto the wave tops heading into even calmer waters. Once on the flat and glassy we were able to test performance. The SageSport160 tends to reach plane before hull speed, and with no bow wave to climb she just scoots forward onto plane around 4 mph (properly trimmed). Since we were still breaking in the new outboard we could only give about 1/2 throttle, but even that took us easily to 12-14 mph. Heading back to the dock gave us a diagonal following sea. While under power we had plenty of directional stability and she never tried to broach or pearl. Once the boat was back on the trailer it began to snow sideways and ended our testing for the season.

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All in all we were happy enough with the performance to look at making a plug and molds for a production composite version. The building of the plug started quickly since I already had the original molds set up. I again used cedar strip for making the hull shape. This went faster since i did not have to leave a varnish ready surface. With the structure roughly faired, glassed, and reinforced with the now permanent molds, I added a flange for the final molding process. Next came multiple layers of gel kote with days of sanding and fairing in between each. When we finally had a smooth shape we liked, we sprayed one more coat with a harder “part” gelkote. This surface alone took two weeks of sanding and buffing to give us a mirror finish to the plug.

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The amount of tumble home in the hull shape requires the boat to be molded in a two part mold. For this reason I made a temporary divider of the plug shape. Basically a mohawk down the center of the plug with plywood and gelkote. This allowed us to spay and lay up fiberglass for the first half of the hull shape, then remove the mohawk, and spray and lay up the second half of the mold directly to the first half. Once they both cured we were able to pop to two apart and off the plug very easily.

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The molds needed some fine polishing and surfacing before we made a part in them, but that only took a few days. During this final sanding we began to do some test layups with some of the new materials that we will be using in the SageSport160. Different weaves of carbon fiber, kevlar, and various core materials and thicknesses all need to be tested before we put them in a boat. The transom layup was especially tested to make sure it would stiffly support the 55lb 6hp outboard and all its thrust. On an 18″ panel with 12mm of core we achieved a deflection of less than 1/8″ at 225lbs of weight. Along with motor cheeks, this is plenty strong for the rated outboard size.

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Skipping ahead, we are now in the hull testing stage. We have made a lightweight hull with exotic fibers and one with more run of the mill fiberglass. These boats had standard non structural canoe style seats. In testing we found both to be more flexible than we would have liked in the overall hull shape and the tendency for the bottom to oilcan. Production versions will have a molded front and rear seat with greater contact area for stiffness. We will also be laying up and testing other versions soon with more and lighter weight core material to improve stiffness while keeping the overall weight low. The combination of more core and structural interior components will yield a stronger over all hull form that will preform better under power and still hit our cost and weight goals.

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The final design of the boat will include two longitudinal supports through the middle six feet of the boat at seat height. Attached to these we are going to install a pin rail system for modular accessories. Such as a cooler mount, sliding seat rowing adapter, fishing insert, or a third seat. We are definitely open to ideas about what these accessories could be. Please let us know if there are any accessories you would like to see available. There is even talk of a sailing kit down the road. While we are still testing and planing, we are hopeful that we will have production versions available by late spring.

for now it is back to the shop and more testing. stay tuned.

All the sanding pays off! Its time for some Layup testing.

The pair of split molds for the SageSport160 are all wrapped up. We spent a couple of weeks laying up lots of glass on both sides and giving them a balsa core for stiffness.

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Once both sides were done and cured, we were overjoyed to find that they both easily popped off the plug when we wanted them too. Note the orientation blocks, this makes the molds much easier to line back up when the time comes. IMG_3256

Once the plugs were removed we once again had some sanding ahead of us to make sure the surface was good.

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The finer the sanding, the better they looked. Then we buffed and waxed them….now they look really good!

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With the spray booth cleaned up and the molds waiting, we will be laying up the first composite prototype in the next week or so. But before that, we need to test our materials and layups.

With careful study, we have laid up some test panels including the Carbon fiber, Kevlar, and core materials we will be using throughout the SageSport160. Below is a 18″ wide Transom section test, that’s 7/16 thick with 225lbs of lead on it and almost no deflection. A step in the right direction.

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Testing continues to find optimal materials and layout. Stay tuned…

Sanding … sanding … and when you think you have done enough SAND SOME MORE!

The plug for the SageSport 160 is now nice and shiny and we have begun the process of making the mold!

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Shinny plug that is ready for gel coat!

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Spraying gel coat – this will be the surface of the mold.

Here the first of many layers of fiberglass are layed over the gel coat – skin coat of gel coat

Balsa is added create a strong and stable mold. NOTE: the hull of the SageSport 160 WILL NOT be cored with balsa!!!!  This photo is of the hull mold NOT a boat.

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And more glass is put over the balsa –
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Here is a link to more pictures of the hull mold being made: –>CLICK HERE<–

Next the second half of the mold will be made and then the first fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber SageSport 160 hull will be made!