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Old 04-09-2007   #1
Carbondale, CO
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 132
Self-Bailing Floor Height?

While researching purchasing a new raft this spring,I noticed that a few manufacturers list the height of the floor as a feature. Some say their floor is high so it doesn't create as much drag and the boat tracks better. Some say their floor is laced/glued lower so there is more leg/gear room and since the floor doesn't drain as fast, it handles better in big water.

I do most of my rafting on the Roaring Fork and the Colorado in G-Wood Canyon. Also, some Westwater and I hope to hit the Middle Salmon at some point.

Can anyone relate their experiences with floors of different heights w/ regards to tracking, etc?

It seams that even if the floor is attached higher that the weight of people or gear would push it down and create drag anyway. Any thoughts?


Ryan Kinder

Carbondale, CO

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Old 04-10-2007   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Well, I'll chip in a small comment.

If you're setting up for paddling only -- no heavy gear-hauling -- then it may make less of a difference in flip-proneness, and tracking may be improved. However, if you are rigged for carrying lots of gear, the higher the floor is, the higher your load will be. (Due to wear considerations, I don't actually let my load rest on the floor, which indeed would push it down a bit.) And to me, that higher center of gravity will mean increased likelihood of winding up upside down at an inopportune moment.

So, like many things in life, it's a matter of tradeoffs.


Rich Phillips

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Old 04-10-2007   #3
oarbender's Avatar
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nothing is on the floor of my boat, it is all suspended from the frame. They way you load your boat will have a lot to do with the way it tracks. My floor is lace in, and i preferr that over any other method.

Im curios as to the speed in draining of different boats know that you've mentioned it.

I am of the opinion that water in the boat in the big stuff helps. Although, i don't think the time that it drains actually makes all that much of a difference. There was a day, when bailing was the only option, and the water wasn't gone, till you were done bailing.

If your planning on any "gearboat" trips,

scratch STAR of the list....... It may not be on your list, but it came to mind when i read your post.
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Old 04-10-2007   #4
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Boulder, Colorado
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Boats like the Stars with a significantly raised floor will perform somewhat like catarafts when lightly loaded. Although they obviously won't punch holes in the same manner due to the raft front end. And like Cats when loaded down they will get considerably more sluggish and act more like "normal" rafts.

The raised floor does mean lower cargo capacity inside the boat - but with straps you can just keep pilling it on - the actual displacement (how many cubic feet of air the tubes hold) of the boat is the determining factor of load carrying capability.

I have a older commercial series Hyside with the lace in floors - I have rarely seen enough water in the boat to make what I consider a difference in hole punching ability. It is true that greater mass equals more momentum which generally increases your odds of getting through big waves and holes upright. And as was previously mentioned a lower Center of Gravity is almost always better than a higher one.

For my two cents I would say this: go with the best deal you can find on a quality boat - if you decide that something like a Star is right for you make sure you get to paddle or row it before you buy it.
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Old 04-10-2007   #5
Carbondale, CO
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Hi... Thanks for the responses.

Oarbender, here are a couple of quotes about drain speed.

This from Clavey's site:
"Avon Self-Bailers have floors that sit lower than most others, allowing for more gear and/or legroom. The floors are also designed to bail more slowly, adding to the rafts stability in big water."

I found this on Sotar's site:

“SOTAR’s unique self-bailing system gives you the chance to choose the self-bailing speed you desire for optimum performance.

I emailed Sotar to find out what exactly this means. Here's the response:

"This applies when you buy your boat and have it made. We have a non bailing boat, we have our standard self bailing boat with standard drain holes, or we can do a double drain hole system where we punch extra holes in the grommet flaps, and can punch them in the protection flap also if you want.
You can’t add and take away drain holes. Once they are punched they are permanent.
Our floors are laced in with ¾” tube webbing. We have grommets punched ever 4” down the side sections (with drain holes punched in-between) and then they continue around the bow and stern."

Star boats aren't really in the running, since I do want a boat that will carry plenty of gear.

Last spring I sold my NRS SurfCat (14'x22") because I didn't have a good spot to park the trailer, and I want to upgrade components. Now I may have a place for the trailer and am jonesing for a new raft. I haven't made a decision on what to buy, yet. I like the handling of a cat, and the people/gear/dog hauling ability of a regular raft. Right now I'm leaning toward a Maravia Diablo. I haven't had a good chance to check out a Maravia boat in person, tho.

I'd love to hear any pros or cons to Maravia and Sotar rafts. I'm pretty familiar w/ NRS & Hyside & somewhat w/ Aire.

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Old 04-10-2007   #6
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Ryan, good work! although the info from SOTAR really isn't what i was after, they are just kinda telling how they build there boats.

I guess what I was after was more of a " lets fill that thing up, and break out a stopwatch"

Like I mention before, I had really never thought about it until your post, it had just not made that much difference to me.

As far as boats go, It sounds like you know what the good companys are.
I won't post any, as I wouldn't want to offend any proud owners of boats I don't list..

I row a maravia willawa 2 Its 15'9, and its the boat I row on mult-day trips.It came to me by accident really, I was shopping for High end boats, when an offer came from a buddy, that he was going to part with it. The price was right, it was in perfect shape i bought it. after learning more about maravia, Im sold, and would be hard pressed to buy any other boat, unless it was a similar situation. Custy service, warranty, quality..Its just sooooo fine.

I like the larger than "normal" ( normal being 14' ) I like the extra space, and i pack a certain way. I use either a 4 or 5 bay frame, and everything has its home. 14's , as popular as they are, are kinda limited for me, and the way i like to pack. I have seen a lot of 14's on multi day trips, and they are fine, and honestly the size to go with if your going to have just the one boat.

My choice came from already having a small catboat (12' hyside) so, i thought getting a raft 2 foor longer would be kinda silly.

so, I have the 12' to play with, and the 15'9 for gear trips. IMO, best of both worlds.

I think all in all, get a boat that is something that is going to work for you what ever you do, although kinda like kayaking, no one boat is going to do it

Hope this helps.......( buy a maravia)........

Let us know what ever you decide

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