Phoenix Poke Boats, Inc.

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The Engineering of a Phoenix Boat:

The Measurement of Quality

Selecting the proper boat is one of the most important decisions you will make concerning your boating equipment. A good decision will make your boating successful and enjoyable. Phoenix presents this information guide as a straightforward discussion of the criteria you should consider before selecting your boat.

Strength and Weight: The Functional Necessities

The engineering problem facing a small boat manufacturer is extremely complex. The challenge is to make a craft which will be strong enough to perform in the most rugged of conditions, yet light enough to respond to subtle movements of paddle, body or oar.

The boat must also have a blend of rigidity and flexibility. The manufacturer must select materials and reinforcement techniques to yield a hull which is rigid enough to maintain its design integrity in rough water. Achieving this functional rigidity is complicated by the fact that the boat, in order to be both strong and light, must flex on impact with any unyielding object such as a rock, tree stump, or log. This flex on impact (or bend and then return to its original shape) characteristic must not compromise the weight or the hull's functional rigidity.

Phoenix boats are among the lightest in the world, weighing from 14 to 58 pounds depending on the model. Our boats have been selected for use by schools, guides, expeditions, and thousands of recreational small boaters because of the combination of great strength and lightweight. This is unique to all Phoenix boats because of our superior design, materials and construction.

Materials and Construction

Fiberglass-Because there are so many types of fiberglass available, selection of the proper material is extremely important. The choice of fiberglass, weave, weight, and finish is critical to the integrity of the final product.

Phoenix, after extensive testing, selected a specially woven, aircraft-quality fiberglass cloth. This cloth is made of tightly woven continuous fiberglass filaments. Phoenix chose this cloth to maximize the benefits of the high tensile strength of fiberglass and the high strength-to-weight ratio of a flat, closely woven cloth. Furthermore, when saturated with resin, the closeness of the weave of the Phoenix cloth maximizes the reinforcement of the final laminate. This high reinforcement ratio and low resin content significantly reduces weight while adding strength.

Nylon-The chief advantages of nylon are its great tear strength and its high "elongation". Phoenix uses a ballistic nylon cloth that is ideally suited in weave, weight, and cost. The composite laminate of plastic, fiberglass, and nylon achieves a unique blend of tear and tensile strength, "functional rigidity," "flex impact," and overall light weight and strength.

Plastic Resin-The plastic in Phoenix fiberglass/nylon small boats is a very complex, flexible, high-elongation isophthalic resin, originally developed for rocket motors. We modified this resin for use in our boats. Its strength and durability surpasses any other product that can be used.

Selective Reinforcement-Selective Reinforcement strengthens the areas most vulnerable to damage and reduces overall weight. Figure 1 illustrates the construction of the hull of the fiberglass/nylon Phoenix Poke BoatŪ. The gray areas designate the sections of selective reinforcement, and the number indicates the number of layers of reinforcing material in each section.

Fig. 1-SELECTIVE REINFORCEMENT- The numbers above each gray area represent the layers of material used to reinforce the hull.

NOTE: The other boats have similar reinforcement, some with even more materials.

Seams-The deck and hull of the Phoenix Poke BoatsŪ and Vagabonds are joined together on the inside of the boats with several layers of fiberglass cloth and resin. Heavy-duty black tape is applied to the outside for cosmetic finish only.


If super light weight is what you're after, Phoenix will custom build you a boat with Kevlar, a Dupont aramid fiber at an increased cost. This well-known and tested fiber will lighten your boat by about 6 pounds with the same durability, making our already light weight boat even lighter.


Phoenix boats are provided without flotation to maximize your options for storage of gear. Optional inflatable air bags, which are designed to fit our boats, are available from Phoenix. These optional air bags provide flotation for the boat in the event that the boat capsized or turns over. No amount of flotation can guarantee that the boat will not sink under all circumstances.


The Poke BoatsŪ and the Vagabond have extremely low centers of gravity due to the below water line seating position. They are intended to be used in a sitting position.

Boating safety on any type of water is ultimately the responsibility of the individual boat user. Any type of water (lake, river, and stream) can be dangerous and swift or rough water can be very dangerous. It is the responsibility of the boat user to know or learn the basic rules of boating safety and to assure that the boat user's skills are adequate for the conditions in which the boat is being used. A Coast Guard Approved Personal Flotation Device should be used at all times. Seek expert instruction or advice if unsure of your boating skill level or if you have any questions about boating safety.

Phoenix Poke Boats, Inc.