Title:
Motorless water craft
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A motorless water craft used to carry objects, or more particularly to aid hunters and hunting dogs in the retrieval of game, particularly water fowl. The motorless water craft is utilized as a trailing vessel, to be towed by, or attached to, a hunter's lead boat. Specifically, at least two pontoons are connected together, preferably in parallel orientation, by various platforms and a tow bar. The various platforms serve as a place for the dog to drop retrieved game, to ride or rest while waiting to retrieve game, and to mount or dismount the water craft. The platforms are of a design and material, such as plywood wrapped in a water proof material, that may adequately support the weight of the dog and that are able to maintain a viable connection to the pontoons. Atop the platforms there is hingedly attached a canopy, preferably in camouflaged design, within which the dog may be concealed while waiting to retrieve game. The tow bar is of a design and material, such as steel or iron, that adequately secures a tow rope, or mechanical connection, to the water craft. In addition, there is attached to a rear, side, or front portion of the water craft, a retractable ladder system for allowing the dog to safely reenter or climb into the water craft after emerging from a body of water following a retrieval.



Inventors:
Dunn, Scott E. (North Liberty, IA, US)
Application Number:
10/285129
Publication Date:
05/06/2004
Filing Date:
10/31/2002
Assignee:
DUNN SCOTT E.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B35/00; (IPC1-7): B63B35/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WRIGHT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael W. Starkweather (JONES, WALDO, HOLBROOK & MCDONOUGH, PC 1500 Wells Fargo Plaza 170 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101-1644, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A motorless water craft (10) used to carry objects or to aid hunters and dogs in the retrieval of game, comprising: a) a flotation means, having at least two pontoons (12); b) a towing attachment portion, having a tow bar (18) and a tow ring (19) mounted atop the pontoons (12) and connecting the pontoons (12) together; c) a set of platforms (20, 35, 38), mounted atop the pontoons (12) and connecting the pontoons (12) together; d) a canopy (14), hingedly mounted atop the pontoons (12) and platforms (20, 35, 38); and e) a ladder system (16), hingedly mounted to the water craft (10).

2. The motorless water craft of claim 1, wherein the set of platforms (20, 35, 38) includes: a) a bow platform section (20), secured to a top surface of a bow portion of the pontoons (12); b) a top step platform section (35), secured to a top surface of an upper portion of the ladder system (16); and c) a riding platform section (38), secured to a top surface of a midship portion of the pontoons (12).

3. The motorless water craft of claim 1, wherein the canopy comprises: a) a collapsible frame, hingedly attached to the pontoons (12); b) a canopy skin (21), which is wrapped about the collapsible frame; and c) a canopy fly (22), which covers a top portion of the collapsible frame and canopy skin (21).

4. The motorless water craft of claim 1, wherein the ladder system (16) comprises: a) a retractable frame (30, 31, 32), which is hingedly mounted to the pontoons (12) and platforms (20, 35, 38); b) at least one step (34), which is secured to the retractable frame (30, 31, 32); and c) a top step platform (35), which is secured to a top portion of the retractable frame (30, 31, 32).

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION THE FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to a motorless water craft. Specifically, there is a pontoon-based craft particularly suited to facilitate the carrying of objects, or more particularly the riding, dismounting, and mounting of a dog for aid in hunting game, particularly water fowl.

BACKGROUND

[0002] The use of various water craft by hunters for floating bodies of water and hunting game is well known. Similarly, the use of hunting dogs, particularly for retrieving game in riparian environments, is widely recognized and utilized as an essential tool in effective hunting. Often, these dogs are forced to work from shore as their hunter/master floats a body of water in anticipation of a shot. Or, alternatively, hunters allow their dogs to ride with them within their own craft. However, there are several challenges presented by utilizing dogs to aid in the retrieval of game in these ways. For example, shore-based retrieval methods require the dog to swim along side the hunter's boat after retrieving game and to drop or exchange the game over the gun whale of the hunter's boat. After retrieval, the dog then returns to the shore. This method of retrieval is taxing on typical water dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, who have relatively little stamina, and is distracting for hunters to manage. Further, shore-based retrieval often requires the use of stationary blinds for dogs to rest under while waiting for an opportunity to retrieve. This requires the hunter to carry, set-up, and station the dog blind on the shore-often a cumbersome and time consuming process.

[0003] Similarly, boat-based retrieval is distracting for the hunter because it requires the supervision of the dog while preparing for shots. Boat-based retrieval also requires the attachment of a dog ladder to the hunter's boat. These ladders typically call for making alterations to the body or gun whale of a boat, impairing value and requiring additional work. More important, however, are the space limitations imposed by carrying the dog within the hunter's own craft. The availability of space within typical crafts used for hunting is minimal at best. In this manner, hunters, dogs, supplies, and retrieved game are forced to compete for space, effectively limiting hunter maneuverability and effectiveness.

[0004] To date, the above mentioned methods of game hunting and retrieval in riparian areas have been commonly utilized. As a result, much of the boat-based prior art is focused on providing after-market dog ladders or climbing devices designed to be attached to the stern of a boat. Alternatively, stationary shore-based dog blinds are disclosed in the prior art to facilitate shore-based retrieval methods. The present invention, however, seeks to solve the problems presented by the two present methods of retrieval by disclosing a motorless water craft, able to be towed by, or attached to, the hunter's lead boat, thereby providing the benefits of preserving space within the hunter's boat, providing for separate game storage, preserving the energy of the hunting dog, concealing the dog's presence from birds, allowing for the safe reentry of a dog into the water craft, and providing for a collapsible design to accommodate easy transport and storage of the water craft when not in use.

[0005] The following United States patents are herein incorporated by reference for their supporting teachings: U.S. Pat. No. 6,273,774 is an improved aquatic flotation device particularly useful for dogs. The preferred embodiment of the device includes a relatively flat rectangular platform supported by two floats located on opposite sides of the platform. U.S. Pat. No. 3,891,053 is a ladder adapted to be mounted on a boat to facilitate a dog climbing into the boat from the water. U.S. Pat. No. 5,515,806 is a boat entry system for dogs that clamps on to any boat transom, and still allows room for a motor to be present. The platform is angled to allow the dog to swim onto it and has an arm with a pivot point to allow it to be stowed up into the boat when not in use. U.S. Pat. No. 5,829,380 is a new boat boarding system for dogs for allowing pets to safely and easily exit and enter a boat. The inventive device includes a folding platform comprising a pair of platform segments hingedly secured together in a linear arrangement. U.S. Des. Pat. No. 408,552 is an ornamental design for a blind for hunting dogs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention, or general field of the invention, relates to a motorless water craft to aid hunters or boaters in the carrying of objects, more particularly the retrieval of game which: preserves space within the hunter's boat, provides for separate placement and storage of game, preserves the energy of the hunting dog by reducing required swimming and running distances, conceals the dog's presence from game, allows for safe reentry of the dog into the water craft after retrieval, and provides for a collapsible design to accommodate easy transport and storage of the Dog Boat when not in use.

[0007] Therefore, it is an advantage of the present invention to incorporate the use of a separate motorless water craft as a trailing vessel, to be towed by, or attached to, a hunter's lead boat; wherein, at least two pontoons are connected together, preferably in parallel orientation, by way of bridging platforms and a tow bar. The various platforms serve as a place for the dog to drop retrieved game, to ride or rest while waiting to retrieve game, and to mount or dismount the water craft. The platforms are of a design and material, such as plywood wrapped in a water proof material, that adequately supports the weight of the dog and that is able to maintain a strong connection to the pontoons. Above the platforms there is hingedly attached a canopy, preferably camouflaged in design, within which the dog may be concealed while waiting to retrieve game. The tow bar is of a design and material, such as steel or iron, that adequately secures a tow rope to the water craft. In addition, there is attached to a rear, side, or front portion of the water craft, a retractable ladder system for allowing the dog to safely reenter or climb into the water craft after emerging from a body of water following a retrieval.

[0008] Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate by way of example, the features of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] In view of these objects which will become more readily apparent as the nature of the invention is better understood, the invention consists in the novel combination of parts hereinafter more fully described with like numbers corresponding to like elements between drawings, illustrated and claimed with reference to the appended drawings wherein:

[0010] FIG. 1 is a side view of an illustrated embodiment of a motorless water craft 10;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of an illustrated embodiment from FIG. 1;

[0012] FIG. 3 is a rear view of a motorless water craft 10 of FIG. 1; and

[0013] FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a rear portion of the motorless water craft 10 of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT

[0014] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and any additional applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

[0015] The present invention is used in the typical environment in which boats, or other flotations devices, are utilized by hunters to aid in pursuing and hunting game, particularly water fowl, but where it may be advantageous to: preserve space within the hunter's boat by providing for separate placement and storage of game, preserve the energy of the hunting dog by reducing the required swimming and running distances for retrieval, conceal the dog's presence from game, allow for safe reentry of the dog into the motorless water craft after retrieval, and provide an overall collapsible design to accommodate easy transport and storage of the motorless water craft when not in use. The advantages over prior art lie principally in that the present invention accomplishes the aforementioned tasks by employing a separate trailing vessel to be towed by, or attached to, the hunter's lead boat.

[0016] Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a side view of an illustrated embodiment of the motorless water craft 10. Specifically, the motorless water craft 10 is comprised of two elongated buoyant pontoons 12 which are preferably parallel to each other in orientation. The pontoons 12 are connected by a U-shaped tow bar 18, a bow platform 20, and a riding platform 38, which are each fastened to a top side, or sky facing side, of the pontoons 12. The tow bar 18 may be constructed in the general shape of a ā€œUā€, and includes a tow bar ring 19 for attaching a rope or cable leading from a lead boat (not shown), or for securing directly to the stern of a lead boat (not shown). The bow platform 20 may be attached to a top side of a bow portion of the pontoons 12 with conventional fasteners, and allows for placement of retrieved game by the dog, also serving as a potential jumping platform for the dog to dive from. The riding platform 38 may be attached to a top side of a midship portion of the pontoons 12 with conventional fasteners, and allows for a resting place for the dog while anticipating a retrieval.

[0017] FIG. 1 also shows a camouflage canopy 14 in its upright and standing position. A frame of the canopy 14 consists of metal, plastic, or wood tubing or poles (not shown) which are hingedly attached to the pontoon(s) 12 allowing the canopy 12 to be placed in an upright standing position (as shown in FIGS. 1, 3, and 4) or in a retracted folded position (as shown in FIG. 2). The canopy's 14 exterior consists of a skin 21, which may be constructed of canvas, nylon, cordura, or a similar strong and flexible material, preferably maintaining a camouflage pattern to disguise the motorless water craft 10 and concealing a dog (not shown) within; and a fly 22, which may be constructed of a similar strong and flexible material. The fly 22 covers a top portion of the canopy 14 and shelters a dog (not shown) within. The fly 22 may be rolled and pinned with fabric hooks 24 to keep the desired window(s) 36 of the motorless water craft 10 open and clear for the dog to work there through. The canopy 14 may be attached to the pontoons 12 with snaps or similar fasteners 28 via the skin 21.

[0018] FIG. 1 additionally illustrates a retractable ladder system 16 upon which the dog may reenter or climb into the motorless water craft after retrieving game, which is comprised of: a top step platform 35, steps 34, stringers 32, and stringer support 30. The top step platform 35 and steps 34 may be constructed of metal, plastic, wood, or a similar material, and is secured to the stringers 32 by an appropriate fastening device as would be recognized by one skilled in the art. The stringers 32 may be constructed of tubular steel, aluminum, or a similar metal, and are hingedly attached to the pontoons 12, which allows the ladder system 16 to be folded or retracted to a flat position resting atop the riding platform 38 when not in use. The stringer support 30 may be constructed of tubular steel, aluminum, or a similar metal, and is fixedly attached to the under side, or water facing side, of the stringers 32. When the ladder system 16 is in use, the stringer support 30 rests on the top sides, sky facing, of the pontoons 21, thereby providing a stop for the stringers 32 to secure the ladder system 16 and to bear weight.

[0019] Referring now to FIG. 2, which is a top plan view of an illustrated embodiment of the motorless water craft 10 with the ladder system 16 and the canopy 14 retracted and folded to their stored positions, the ladder system is shown laying beneath one side of the canopy 14 in its folded position. Portions of the ladder system 16 are revealed through one window 36 of the canopy 14, with concealed portions below outlined by dotted lines. It is noted that one skilled in the art will easily realize that the stringers 32 of the ladder system 16 are hingedly attached to an interior side wall of the pontoons 12 via a typical axle hinge or similar method of attachment.

[0020] Referring now to FIG. 3, which is a rear view of a motorless water craft 10 with the ladder system 16 extended for use and the canopy 14 standing upright for use, the stringers 32 are shown in their in-use positions with stringer contact points 31 resting atop the top surface, or sky facing portion, of the pontoons 12.

[0021] Referring now to FIG. 4, which is a top plan view of a rear portion of the motorless water craft 10 with the ladder system 16 extended for use and the canopy 14 standing upright for use, the steps 34 and top step platform 35 are shown in their in-use positions with stringer contact points 31 resting atop the top surface, or sky facing portion, of the pontoons 12. VARIATIONS OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT(S)

[0022] It is understood that the above-described arrangements are only illustrative of the application of the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the appended claims are intended to cover such modifications and arrangements. For example, in addition to the illustrated shape, it is noted that the canopy 14 may also be dome or box shaped. Similarly, variations in the number, size, and location of the windows 36 are also contemplated.

[0023] Variations in the number, size, and shape of the platforms 20, 38, 35 are also contemplated. For example, the bow platform 20 may be box shaped or basket shaped to more securely hold retrieved game. Or the bow platform 20 may be shaped to include a slotted space for holding food and water bowls for the dog to eat and drink from during use. The platforms may also be secured to the pontoons 12 at varying elevations. One skilled in the art would recognize that any number of conventional fastener types or shapes would be appropriate for these types of connections-metal to wood, plastic or metal; plastic to wood or plastic; or wood to wood. 100241 The illustrated ladder system 16 may also be modified to include greater or fewer steps 34 and/or a larger or smaller top step platform 35. In addition, as one skilled in the art would easily recognize, variations in the method of folding and retracting the canopy 14 and the ladder system 16 are contemplated. For example, the ladder system 16 may be retracted atop the folded canopy 14 or vice versa. In addition, the location of the ladder system 16 on the motorless water craft 10 may be altered. For example, the ladder system 16 may be mounted to a side portion of pontoon 12, or to a front portion of a pontoon 12. Although only one embodiment is illustrated in the drawings, the shape, number and orientation of the pontoons 12 are contemplated in various configurations. For example, a three pontoon water craft 10 is also contemplated for larger, or multiple, dogs. Or, alternatively, two pontoons 12 may be connected together by a midship section of perpendicular pontoon for stability, creating a pontoon configuration in the general shape of an ā€œH.ā€

[0024] In addition, variations on the density, type, and color of the various elements are contemplated. Thus, while the present invention has been shown in the drawings and fully described above with particularity and detail in connection with what is presently deemed to be the most practical and preferred embodiment(s) of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications, including, but not limited to, variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use may be made, without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth in the claims.

[0025] Although the illustrated embodiment has generally been discussed using the hunting dog example, a skilled artisan of the water craft art will easily contemplate many other applications. For example, the present embodiment could easily be used for carrying picnic items, such as food and drink coolers etc., for river and lake floating trips or activities.