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Old 04-23-2012   #1
Reno, Nevada
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 3
How to motor the Grand?

My brother drew out for the Grand Canyon this August and we are really excited. We would like to do as many hikes as possible and not spend all our time rowing, so we are considering using motors for the flat sections of the river and rowing the rapids. I know motors are controversial, but I'd rather enjoy more of the canyon than just what I can see from the boat.

With that in mind, is it possible to put a larger motor on one raft and tow the rest? We expect to have four 18' boats. And is it best to tow in a line or lash together? I'd prefer not to have to put a motor on every boat if possible.

Any other suggestions are welcome!

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Old 04-23-2012   #2
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 559
Four more days

Regulations allow a nonmotorized trip 4 more days than a motorized trip. Why not take your time and enjoy the experience?

Summer Launch (May August) Maximum Trip Length in Days

Noncommercial Motor 12
Noncommercial Oar 16


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Old 04-23-2012   #3
rivervibe's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 379
Don't! The magic of being on a river in a canyon like the Grand is completely lost and drowned out by the whine of a motor. The splash of the water. The canyon walls slowly drifting by. If you can schedule in more hikes, that's a fantastic bonus, but if you make the hikes and stops the destination you put every day on a schedule and totally lose the essence of what it is to be on the river. I think we all make the effort to get to a place like the Grand in order to experience life at nature's pace and sounds. There are animals there you won't see if they hear a motor.
On a personal note... I've cringed whenever I've heard a motor rig coming around a corner. You can hear them a mile away.
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Old 04-23-2012   #4
Avatard's Avatar
portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 2,188
Originally Posted by Psyched
we are considering using motors for the flat sections of the river

Think too if your motor fails, you have four less days to row it .... Think how much hiking you'll miss then ....
Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 04-23-2012   #5
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HSS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 53
We motored a Cataract trip a few years back. Believe we had 8 rigs and two motors. We had a 9hp we pushed 3 boats with, and a 25hp we pushed 5 boats with. worked just fine, alot of strapping, but worked fine. Wish I could tell you how many miles or mph we did with the motors, but the trip is a little fuzzy. We would float most of the day, then kick in the motors in the afternoon for an hour or two to make the miles. Both motors handled their load just fine. Probably couldn't get much more out of the 9hp though.
Hope that helps.
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Old 04-23-2012   #6
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883

I've rowed to Diamond in 12 days, and I've motored to Diamond in 12 days. On any given day, I'd rather be rowing.

What you've described probably would not be considered a "hybrid" trip by the Park, so you'd be limited to 12 days to Diamond. I'd say row, take the full 16 days, get on the river early, and do more stuff on shore after you got your miles in. But it sort of depends on what you want out of a trip.

When I'vc run one motor and multiple rafts, I've done what most folks do -- lash frame to frame for rigidity and improved control. BTW, there's plenty of current beyond Diamond, so you really don't need a motor for that part if you're taking out at Pearce.


Rich Phillips
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Old 04-23-2012   #7
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 321
I don't think it's worth it. In Cat, the motor barge works well because you have 50 miles of (really really) flat, then 15 miles of rapids, followed by 30 miles of lake, so you only rig the motor barge twice. In the Grand, the rapids are pretty evenly distributed throughout (e.g. every 3-10 miles) so you would be repeatedly rigging up your motor barge and then breaking it apart to row drops. There are a lot of little name rapids that don't get mentioned often, but they are big enough that I wouldn't want to go through with a rag-tag motor barge held together by 1 inch straps. Combine that with the loss of 4 days, the more onerous regulations associated with motors, and trip aesthetics, and I think you'd lose a lot more than you'd gain.

Row it and enjoy your trip! You'll be too amazed with the hikes that you do make to notice the ones that you missed. And for the ones you miss, theres always next time!
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Old 04-23-2012   #8
Grants Pass, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 5
Motor the Grand

Hi Psyched. Congrats on your draw. Your trip sounds similar to mine...
launched Aug 3,07. You will need to bring an extra motor.
We had 2 18ft SBs, 1 14ft SBer, and our motor rig was a 16ft cataraft.
Our tow method was the "Barged-Up" style. An 18ft on either side of the catraft, 14ft in front of the catraft, being pushed. Plan on separating early enough for your oarsmen(oarpersons) to deploy oars and set up. I am sure you can get plenty of rivermiles each day which will allow for some good quality hikes, and possibly a lay-over below Phantom.

Several safety issues: make sure you use a consistent method of securing
the rafts to the motored boat and make sure all POBs know how to derig
(untie) these straps or lines. While barged up and you decide to run a riffle or small rated rapid, don't allow POBs to release or tighten straps while running the rapid. Chances are someone will get there fingers or a hand badly injured. And always know your position from the rivier guide.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-23-2012   #9
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 520
What does a canyon wren sound like from a motor boat?

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Old 04-24-2012   #10
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 520
Wow! That website says a Grand Canyon river trip can be had for 200 bucks (includes food)!

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