10 Mar

Happy 20th Birthday to Nauticraft’s Escapade Pedal Boat!

Nauticraft Corporation, a leader in manufacturing of pedal and electric boats, is excited to be celebrating the birthday of their premier Escapade Pedal Boat.  It was 1996 when Nauticraft first began building the rotomolded version (It had previously been built by Hoyt-Harken as the Mallard).

A look back at the long success of the Escapade:

  • Early 1980’s – Garry Hoyt, renowned yacht designer from Newport, Rhode Island, designed a pair of pedal boats.
    • The first of these boats was the “Waterbug” of which the Harken Brothers (makers of yacht hardware) then built. And while the performance of the Waterbug was outstanding, there were some shortcomings to this boat (i.e. the small, tight cockpit made it unbearably warm in the summer, it was very heavy, it was expensive to manufacture).
    • Hoyt addressed these shortcomings of the Waterbug by designing the “Mallard”. This was a larger and more open boat with a stunning avant-garde design, but the fiberglass process was still costly.
    • Unfortunately, both of these boats were ahead of their time and Harken pulled the boats out of production.

mallard and waterbug pedal boats

  • 1994 – Curt Chambers, a custom injection molder from Michigan, became aware of the Waterbug-Mallard project and the tooling and inventory for the two boats, along with a license to build, was purchased by Chambers and transferred to Muskegon, Michigan. The Waterbug project was set aside and focus on making the Mallard more cost effective began. The drive unit was replaced by an entirely new one which was developed around the rotational molded housing.
    • At that time the rotational molding manufacturing process for small boats was evolving, and it was determined that this could be viable for the Mallard. Molds and manufacturing equipment were contracted for and a new and simplified pedal drive system was developed.  The Mallard name was then changed to “Escapade” to reflect this evolution.
  • English Channel Crossing1996 – The rotomolded Escapade goes into production.
  • 2002 – The Escapade Pedal boat earns a Guinness World Record for the fastest pedaled-powered English-channel crossing!
  • 2005 – The low windshield Escapade is offered.
  • 2016 – Nauticraft has molded and manufactured over 350 Escapade Pedal boats since their inception. We continue to receive rave reviews from happy boat owners. Pictures of the fun adaptations individuals have made to their Escapade can be seen at the end of this post.

In regards to developments made to the Escapade over the years….it really is basically the same boat. The same mold is used & therefore the design is the same.  The material is similar though in recent years black specs have been molded in with the white material – which in turn helps to hide dirt/smudges.  And the windshield arch is now removable for a more open feeling.

Escapade Customers’ Customizations:

18 Sep

Pedal Boat and Erie Canal Part 2

Our thanks to John for this  update of his trek:

Dear Folks:  Here is an “end of trip” summary of my Erie Canal Escapade with emphasis on the boat and our performance.  The trip, from Tonawanda (Buffalo) to Waterford (Albany), 324 miles took 20 days at about 7 hours or less per day. During that time, there were two additional down days due to weather (rain).  Nine of the days were last summer, when I interrupted at Lock 25 near the Cayuga-Seneca Canal junction.  I picked up again at that point this year on August 15th.  After 5 days of 90 plus degree weather and bright sun, I was close to heat stroke.  I docked at the Holmes Marnina at the east end of Oneida Lake and went back to “home base” at Canandaigua Lake for 7 days.  I then completed the trip over the next week.

The Escapade performed magnificently throughout.  The so-called “prevailing westerlies” never materialized.  On only two of the 20 travel days was there significant west wind, with virtually no pedalling.  (John installed the sail kit from Sailboats-to-go).  On many days there was significant east wind, and the rest NE wind.  With the east wind, the boat, without the windshield and with bimini up, penetrated easily.

I noted the cadence: with minimal effort I could maintain 60 cycles/minute for long period-about 3.5-4 mph.  Reducing the rate to 55 cycles/minute- no effort, which I could maintain indefinitely, I still went more than 3 mph.

15 Mar

Earth Fair Expo to Feature Escapade Pedal Boat

Nauticraft will have a display of the Escapade Pedal Boat at Muskegon’s 6th Annual Earth Fair Expo .  It will be located at Montague High School, and is scheduled for April 22nd from  11am to 3pm.  The Escapade is the boat which crossed the English Channel in record time & helped Paul Tucker make it into the Guinness Book of Records. Come check it out and visit all of the festivities!

Escapade Pedal Boat
Escapade – 3 persons
Escapade with Bimini
4 Jan


We are often asked what makes our boats special and different from other pedal boats out on the market.  Though we feel inclined to think it is enough that they have a way of evoking a deep love for them by their owners – including being enamored by their sleek design – realistically there are some specific answers to this question.

One of the most important things that Nauticraft pedal boats have over others on the market is operating function.  Their carefully crafted designs focus on enabling them to move through the water smoothly and efficiently, and this functional efficiency carries over into their aesthetic shapes, as their forms present an eye catching and welcoming view.  Although pedal boats don’t necessarily attain a high speed (compared to a powered boat), Nauticraft boats give the operator a pleasing sense of performance relative to input effort.

Pedal BoatNauticraft boats are propelled through the water by large, relatively slow turning propellers  (two propellers on both the Encore and Sprite models).  Over the years it has been repeatedly test proven that a propeller drive is still the most effective means of moving a pedal boat.  The Nauticraft propeller was specially designed to push our boats at an effective pace that ordinary humans (non-olympic type athletes) are able to comfortably maintain over an extended period of time.  Further, the completely submerged propeller pushes the boat quietly through the water, not disturbing or upsetting underwater marine animal/fish life, and also is comforting to the boat’s occupants.

Boxy commodity market (inexpensive) paddle boats are usually driven by paddle wheels and have the advantage of simplicity, but the noisy splashing they make when throwing water in unwanted directions is not at all efficient.  Almost everyone has had the unsatisfying experience of peddling one of these boats at one time or another.

With Nauticraft boats, the high freeboard enables you to feel comfortable in hopping in and going with just street clothes on.  Canoes and kayaks have their appeal, as they are generally inexpensive and easy to use, but with some of them their low sides can let errant waves wash in over the side.  The paddle operation of canoes and kayaks requires the use of hands/arms, as opposed to the stronger leg muscles used on pedal type craft.  Also, the paddle requirement of arms/hands precludes their other uses, such as handling field glasses, eating/drinking, waving to other boats/shore people, etc.

Another feature of Nauticraft’s Sprite and Encore boats is that two (pedaling) people sit next to each other in a companionable side-by-side position.  When canoes/kayaks are multi-seated it is in tandem – one behind the other – in a less personally comfortable mode.

sprite-pedal-boat3Nauticraft boats are rotationally molded of plastic polyethylene material (as are many canoes and kayaks).  Polyethylene is a material of “soft stiffness”, and the production process of rotational molding naturally gives outer edges and corners of the molded part a thicker material cross section.  This added thickness gives additional impact resistance when a boat inevitably comes into contact with the elements.  And, as rotational molding material has its color integrated throughout, scratches and scrapes show less than other boat materials.

Nauticraft boat seats are ergonomically designed to contour fit the human body in a recumbent style, giving both seat and back support. As individual seats they are rotationally molded of the same plastic material as is used for the boats.  A 1 ½ inch thick layer of cushioning foam is adhered to the seat facing, followed by a cover of weather resistant marine vinyl, all of which combines to give comfortable full body support.  To give the proper pedaling position the seats have a fore-aft travel adjustment of 12-13 inches (in one inch increments), which will accommodate most adults and older children.

Nauticraft boats are controlled with large steering handles which fall readily to hand.  Rather than cables these handles operate push-pull rods to control a large spade type rudder (two rudders in the pedal Encore).  With the rudders located in the slipstream of the driving force of the propeller this system gives quick and immediate steering.

There are many different choices of boats out on the market, and each has its own appeal, but here at Nauticraft we love the boats we build and use ourselves.  The testimonials we get from our customers – that we call our Nauticraft family – indicate that owners (virtually around the world) love and enjoy them too.  This gives us great satisfaction in performing the jobs we do – to make our boats the best boats we can.

12 Apr

How To Buy

Sales Contacts

We sell direct from the factory. Contact us at (231) 798-8440, via E-mail at “inquiry@nauticraft.com” or fill out the form below for ordering information.

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10 May

Escapade Videos

7 May


Pedal Boats

All of Nauticraft pedal boats use a specially designed drive unit that mates bicycle pedals and crank arms with an industrial toothed belt and molded sprockets.

The Quadritwist belt transfers the motion of pedaling into the turning of the drive shaft and propeller.  Two large and two small sprockets, providing a 4:1 ratio, are supported by a robust rotationally molded drive housing.  The propeller’s axial extension transfers forward thrust directly to the keel of the boat.

The Escapade has one of these drive systems, the Encore has two, each of which perform independently from the other. This “separate action” allows the two Encore operators to pedal at their own cadence or rhythm.

Check out our full line of Pedal Boats.

Electric Boats

The Encore E uses a Minn Kota trolling motor as its only propulsion method.  The Encore P/E uses both the Minn Kota trolling motor and two of the pedal drive systems as discussed above.

View our line of Electric Boats.

17 Apr

Useful Links

Interesting Sites and Sales Partners

17 Apr


United States Coast Guard Small Boat Test

These boats have been through the rigorous United States Coast Guard small boat tests.  Polyethylene, the material used in the rotational molding process, has a natural buoyancy.  This, along with cast-in flotation foam gives Nauticraft boats additional contingency flotation.

The Escapade’s deep keel gives protection for the propeller and rudder. The ballast filled keel gives ultimate stability making it exceptionally seaworthy. The sailboat-type hull positions the operator down inside the cockpit, providing a comforting feeling of safety, security, and privacy. The Encore has twin keels that protect both propellers. It’s massive size in length and beam gives it both stability and safety.

Environmentally Safe

Lastly, all Nauticraft boats are safe for the environment.  The manufacturing process utilizes clean technology — no hazardous pollutants are released into the atmosphere during or after the manufacturing process.  And, of course, there is minimal effect on the environment while using these boats.  Also, when the useful life of the boat is over, the polyethylene plastic has the potential to be recycled.