This new drift boat from Reliance Wood Craft rowed like a dream. We tested out the 14/’6” model with three grown men. The aesthetics of this boat is beyond what normal driftboats offer. This boat is a work of art. You can tell it is bench made and took a great deal of effort by people that know what they are doing.
The most important aspect of rowing the Hiwassee for me is being able to slow the boat down in fast water and then be able to surf across the shoals without being pushed downstream. Surfing is equally important to set the boat up for your run through the rocky rapids. With that being said, I don’t want to have to dig and wear myself out doing it. The combination of the design of this hull with the smoker oars from Sawyer, made this an easy task. I could pull the boat to a complete stop in very fast water and actually pull my blades out of the water and the boat would just sit there. It surfed across shoals and rapids with ease and very little effort.
Being able to float a driftboat in very shallow is the second most important quality I look for. We tested the draft on a shallow gravel bar and it was amazing to me that we didn’t rub in less than three inches of water. I had to keep rowing shallower before I could get a rub on the bottom. I’m not sure that water would go over a wading boot. The Kevlar bottom proved to be very slick which is important when you are forced to slide over rocks or wood.
The third challenge for me was if this boat would keep you dry in big waves. I have been in many boats that will splash water in at the big waves of Towee Shoals. I pointed the bow right into the biggest wave and not a drop of water came over the sides anywhere in the boat. This is a three foot standing wave and this boat popped right out of it with a heavy load.
I can’t wait to row the next boat which will be the 16’ model. That is the size boat that I guide out of so I will have a really good comparison to make. This particular model in the smaller size is perfect for the recreational fisherman. Two people will have plenty of room for all their gear and for casting. However, it can also handle 3 people comfortably and safely. Somebody is going to be very happy when they purchase this boat!