Small, efficient, affordable are ways to describe Unlimited Glasswork’s Low Tide 25 or LT 25 for short. Based on father Harley Gheen senior’s original design from the late 1960’s. Son Harley “Pugar” Gheen Jr. produced unquestionably one of the most popular microskiffs on the market today. Along with a following of supporters as passionate about their boat as the family building them.
Harley Gheen Sr. was a senior designer with Bendix Launch Support Systems at the Kennedy Space Center in the late 1960’s. He spent his off time carving one-eighth-scale boat models and used the family bathtub as his test facility. Four years later Harley Gheen Sr. found his perfect design. Crossing the efficiency of the canoe with the stability of a wider beamed small boat, the Gheenoe was born.
Growing up in the Gheen family “Pugar” Gheen tended to be the family maverick. In 2003 Pugar took a side path and started Unlimited Glassworks, developing his line of Gheenoes including the LT 15, LT 25 and NMZ 15’ 4” (no motor zone).
Construction follows a tried and true method for cost efficient boats. Due to its shape the mold is two parts. The two mold halves are bolted together and then the construction process starts with a line of tape down the keel. This is simply prep for the next step. Gel Coat is applied then chopper glass is blown into the mold. Finally the false floor, decks, hatches and storage boxes are glassed into the finished boat. While the process may not be the latest and most hi-tech process it has a proven track record. Today combined with father Harley’s original Gheenoe brand there are approximately 45,000 boats emblazoned with the “Gheenoe” moniker according to Pugar.
I met up with Pugar early AM near Unlimited Glassworks test facility, the famous Indian River Lagoon in Titusville. In tow was a classic example of what the average customer purchased. The 2009 LT 25 “Standard” included only the most basic of essentials to fulfill a successful day on the water. Average package including trailer and motor is in the high $7000 range depending on customer build requirements.
The standard LT 25 included their front low deck, center storage box, rear seating and poling platform. Power was supplied by a new four stroke Tohatsu 15hp tiller outboard. This package along with safety gear, tackle box and rods would hit a top speed of 23.1 MPH WOT on an OEM aluminum 9 pitch three blade prop and two persons.
Designed mainly for streams, rivers, lakes and protected salt waters like marshes and lagoons. The LT 25 has very predictable handling characteristics. Though in tight turns the skiff will heal over on it’s side. For folks who have never driven a skiff like this it might take a little while to get use to but once mastered the handling feels organic.
Stability is superb due to the hulls incorporation of the Harley Geen Sr.’s outrigger theory. The design was an answer to the inherent instability of canoes. Still it’s best to walk the keel line when moving about the boat.
Once up on the platform the skiff’s lightweight and relative shallow draft lent to a skiff that was easy to push. However would crab sideways and not track well in a light breeze. Spinning the boat from the poling platform was more work than I had hoped also. Instead of rotating on its axis it tended to slide while spinning. While easy to move it was hard to keep on tract and I worked harder than I had hoped. This was the only blemish I could find in an overall amazing package.
Popularity of the Gheenoe brand is undeniable. With boats plying the Alaskan waters halibut fishing or cruising through Belize, Chile and Japan Gheenoe has fans worldwide. A testament to their desire to build small, efficient, affordable boats without hyperbole.
625 Childre Ave., Titusville, Fl 32796
web site: customgheenoe.com
SPECIFICATIONS AS SUPPLIED BY MANUFACTURE
BEAM – 56″
TRANSOM WIDTH – 44 & 41 1/2″
LENGTH – 16′
FREEBOARD TRANSOM – 16″
FREEBOARD CENTER – 11″
FREEBOARD BOW – 13″
DRAFT – 5″
MAX HP – 25
CAPASITY – 3
FUEL – Portable/Built In
MSRP: $7000 depending on build.