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Lodestar Press

Lodestar NSA230 & UL250


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Sailing Today June2011


Lodestar NSA230


From on of the few companies that still produce hypalon dinghies, the NSA230 is a general purpose PVC model with inflatable floor and keel, two plastic skegs and solid plastic tube end protectors for standing it up in a rack.

This is a good looking and well made dinghy with double skin under the tubes and all the important features, such as long grab lines, towing and davit rings, carrying handles, pressure release valves, luggage straps etc. It does have a fixed seat, although extra mountings are supplied to move it to a new fixed position if required. Saying that, we had no trouble rowing or motoring it.

Large tubes also made it very stable with an excellent load and engine capacity for its size. It even has a spray rail on the tube tops to keep the water out where possible.

Our 11 stone Products Editor could get this dinghy planing nicely with just 2.5hp.
 

image of ul250



Loadstar UL250

Featuring Lodestar’s new Y-beam air floor/keel, this Ultralight dinghy is ideal for duty as a cruising yacht tender that needs to be carried from car to water or stowed between visits. It has most of the features of the NSA models, but is lighter and easier to stow. The Vee hull also means it tracks very well both rowing and motoring. The oars are fitted through turning rowlocks that allow feathering of the blades or, just as usefully, stowing the blades flat on the tubes.

   

Lodestar NSA260

nsa260-sdn.jpg
Yachting Monthly June 2010

Lodestar seems to have ticked all the boxes on the options list- three hull tubes, inflatable floor and keel, over-pressure relief valves, rubbing strips round the gunwale and under the tubes and keel, a full-length adjustable floor strap to alter the position of the fuel tank and a two-position seat. Details include a spray deflector in the rubbing strap, anti-flooding transom quarter panels, and even red and green reflective strips for visibility at night. There are two D-rings forward and two transom holes for davits. The double-action hand pump was the best in the test, giving fast inflation and a second position for high pressure. Valves are numbered to ensure you inflate them in the right order.

Rowing performance was excellent with two seat positions and easy-to-feather oars. She tracked a straight course thanks a pair of plastic skegs under the tubes. Under power the 2.5hp gave 5.2knots with one man aboard and 4.3kots with two. The 5hp engine achieved 12.2knots solo and 6 knots two-up.

At 37kg it is fairly heavy but the packed size was good.

Price. At £749 with a five-year warranty it is a good price for its class.

Lodestar NSA260 

image of article

Motor Boat Monthly Best Buy February 2010

Design. Many of the boats in our test obviously come out of the same factories, but Lodestar seems to have ticked all the boxes on the options list. These include three tube compartments, inflatable floor and keel, over-pressure relief valves, extra wide rubbing bands round the gunwale and under the tubes and keel, a full-length adjustable strap in the floor to allow you to alter the position of the fuel tank and a two-position seat. Details include a spray deflector in the rubbing strap, anti-flooding transom quarter panels, and even red and green reflective strips on the tubes to tell people if you are coming or going at night. A generous-sized grab rope runs right round the boat, and there are two D-rings forward and two large holes in the transom for davit lifting points. The double-action hand pump was the best in the test, giving fast inflation and a second position for high pressure. Even the valves are numbered, to ensure you inflate them in the correct sequence and the pressure gauge is fitted in-line to show you the pressure as you pump.


Ride
. Rowing was excellent with the aid of two seat positions and easy-to-feather oars. The dinghy was able to track a straight course thanks to a pair of plastic skegs under the tubes. Under power the 2.5hp gave 6mph with one person aboard and 5mph with two, and 14 mph and 7mph with the 5hp.

Vital stats. At 37kg it is fairly heavy but the packed size was good.

Price. At £749 with a five-year warranty it is a good price for its class.




Lodestar NSA260 HYPALON

Lodestar NSA260 HYPALON

This boat will tick a lot of boxes for most people. White Hypalon fabric is a good start. Though it carries a heavy price penalty it was so easy to fold up and put away in cold weather. Along with Plastimo, who sent a read boat, it's a change to see any dinghies that aren't grey. Only the Quicksilver and the Lodestar use the 'cup and bungee' method of stowing oars, which we think is the best. Performance under power and rowing was much the same as the other vee keel boats, though I found the handles of the oars were too far apart, preferring them to almost touch. That's just personal taste though and Ross prefers the handles to be set apart. A PVC version of this boat is available for £749.

TAKEN FROM SAILING TODAY APRIL 09

NSA 230 Given Top Award

Lodestar NSA230

We tested Lodestar's tiny Billy-no-Mates a couple of months back and concluded that although it was a fun and surprisingly useful bit of kit, it is too small to use as a proper tender. The same company's NSA range of inflatable keel tenders has a much broader appeal and runs from 1.95m up to 3.2m. I opted for the 2.3m NSA23O due to the limited space on board my Karnic 2250. It weighs just 24kg but is rated to carry three adults and accept an engine of up to 5hp.

Both the design and build quality are excellent for such a comparatively inexpensive craft. Details like the slide-shut drainage valve, spray deflector, stainless steel lifting rings, double-skinned tube bottoms and all-round rubbing strip make this an unusually well-thought-out and durable little workhorse. It has been subjected to hours of abuse from assorted family members rowing, motoring, towing and even dragging it up pebbly beaches and has nothing but the odd scuff to show for it. As the photograph shows, I even let the local marine police borrow it to inspect a couple of suspected stolen boats that had drifted into the shallows near my boat's mooring.

I can't pretend that it's terribly comfortable with three big blokes on board (if you've got the space go for a bigger one) but the fat tubes means it's surprisingly stable. Unlike many small tenders, the oars and rowlocks are tough enough to use in anger and perfectly positioned. The airdeck floor is solid underfoot and raised above the inflatable keel so that water drains beneath it. With a suitable engine and light load, it soon lifts up onto the plane. Minor niggles include a valve cap that occasionally pops off unnecessarily and the unavoidable wrestle it takes to pack it away into its bag. In all other respects it is as close to the ideal tender as I've come across and at a remarkably good price.

Value for money 5 stars, MBR rating 5 stars

NSA 230 Mini Gear Test

NSA 230

Read the 2006 Yachting Monthly mini gear test on the very capable NSA 230.

Apart from a brief encounter with a sagging, old, ex-charter Avon inflatable dinghy, piebald with patches, I have never owned an inflatable and have always used a rigid dinghy as a tender.

The three-man LodeStar NSA 230 was a revelation and proved invaluable. It inflates simply — five valves are marked in order of inflation, including the keel, and it took me just 15 minutes to pump up.

The rowing seat needs to be installed before inflating: you can't insert it in the webbing brackets afterwards. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to row the LodeStar against a Force 4 sea breeze and the tide, aided by the inflatable keel. It will take an outboard engine up to 4hp.

The oars come in two sections and are secured on the hull over spindles. They are quick to remove, but tough to insert into their rubber hull clips. The inflatable floor is a real boon, and kept me and my camera bag bone dry. The mudbanks of the Thames Estuary are soft, but treacherously peppered with oyster, mussel and cockle shells. Inevitably, I landed on foul ground, yet the tough fabric was only superficially scratched. The LodeStar is easily carried, but I may have looked like a giant hermit crab as I walked up the causeway at Harty Ferry.

Towing the inflatable behind my Contessa 32 only cost me 0.3 knots of boat speed - half as much drag as my old rigid dinghy. But the whole point of having an inflatable is that you don't have to tow it - you can stow it on deck. At 27kg (60 Ib), the LodeStar was at the limit of my lifting capacity, so I used a spare halyard to hoist it on deck, where it stows neatly, upside down, on the coachroof, ahead of the mast. It is clear for tacking the high-cut No 2 genoa and leaves room on the foredeck for anchor work.

NSA 230

Deflated, the LodeStar is awkward to squeeze into its bag and stow in the quarter berth, even using the pump to deflate the last breath of air inside. But now I've discovered the conveniences of a modern inflatable, I'll never go offshore cruising again dragging a rigid dinghy behind my boat.

NSA 260 Yachting Monthly Best Buy

Inflatable-NSA260

Yep we've done it again! Read the extract taken from Yachting Monthly September 2005........

As well as building to a high standard, this manufacturer has given thought to detail too - typical of a Dutch manufacturer The aluminium seat angles down to make rowing easier and a pressure valve is incorporated in the tube structure to protect the boat from sudden impact and over-inflation. We also liked the reinforcement and fendering of high-wear areas, such as the lower tubes and keel. Further pluses were handholds and the multi-becketed lifeline.

Underway

With two people aboard it felt safe, sturdy and dry - thanks to the bow's flair. This was the best of our tested tenders to row thanks to well-positioned oars, and the angled seat meant rowers could brace themselves without catching their knees. With one occupant it took coaxing to plane but once settled she provides a highly competent ride.

Verdict

Very well built and thought out, it ran cleanly and is competitively priced - difficult to beat

  • Weight 29kg.
  • Max engine power 6hp.
  • Test speed loaded (3/4 throttle) 4.8 knots.

NSA 260 MBM Best Buy 2005

inflatable-nsa260

Read the article extract below taken from Motor Boat Monthly August 2005........

As well as building to a high standard, this manufacturer gives thought to detail too. For instance, the aluminium seat angles down to make rowing easier and a pressure valve is in the tube structure to protect the boat if it gets a thump. We also liked that reinforcement and fendering covers high-wear areas, such as the lower tubes and keel. Further pluses are handholds and the multi-becketed lifeline.

Underway

With two up it feels safe, sturdy and dry; mainly due to the bow's flair. To row it was the best tested thanks to well-positioned oars, and the angled seat means the rowers can brace themselves and not catch their knees. As a runabout with one occupant it took coaxing to break free of the water but once it did the throttle could be eased back to provide a highly competent ride.

Verdict

Well built and thought through, it runs cleanly and is competitively priced. Difficult to beat.

  • Weight 29kg.
  • Max engine power 6hp.
  • Test speed loaded (3/4 throttle) 4.8 knots.
  • Flatout 12.4 knots.