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Old 02-12-2013   #1
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 739
To Bail or Not To Bail

I've pondered this question for several years, but never found a solid answer. And I'd like to do my part to try and lighten the mood on the "". I'll throw it out to masses here on the Buzz. Yes, it's a rafting question. Sorry kayakers, we're part of the Buzz too. It's just a fact of life.

So here it is -

Why would you want a standard floor aka bucket boat as opposed to an inflatable floor that self bails? I'm serious. This isn't a knock on anyone that has to do their own bailing. I understand that many older boats, that are still very functional, came from a time when that was the primary option in rafts before sewn-in or welded/glued floaty floors. I'm more interested in why would you purchase a bucket boat that was produced in say.... the last 15 years or so. Are they faster? Do they track better? Less flippy? Better for lake use? That much more cost effective? (on avg they look to be maybe 400-600 less than SB's) Some of the big names still produce them, and you see plenty of them on the water. So there's gotta be a market for them, but what is it? I know in races you'll see teams taping over a bunch of their holes in self bailer's to be faster, but they still usually have an inflated floor and a couple holes. Maybe I'm missing something, but it just seems that a non-floating floor that holds water doesn't make sense as the best option to me. Again, I'm not bashing those that have bucket boats. I'm more curious what drove you to select your chariot.

I shouldn't have to add this but.... if you don't have something constructive or funny to say(that's not just bitching), just save your fingers the trouble of typing it. OK? OK.

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Old 02-12-2013   #2
gobigohome's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 152
I am not a fisherman but I have spoken with many and say they prefer a bucket boat to a self bailer when not on anything above class three as there feet stay dry and no water or debri in the boat.

Ski It, Raft It, Drink It
Loveland, Clear Creek, Coors
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Old 02-12-2013   #3
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Originally Posted by yesimapirate View Post
And I'd like to do my part to try and lighten the mood on the "".
I like it.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 02-12-2013   #4
seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 90
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 355
I'm more curious what drove you to select your chariot.

Money,people don't buy 2wd rangers for the handling and love of installing chains. If you have the money you buy 4wd tacoma and sotar sb.First boat was a bucket and couldn't get rid of it fast enough.
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Old 02-12-2013   #5
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 302
I own a rafting company and we rent out non SB rafts. They are sold primarily for rental as far as I know. They cost less, and much lighter (more than you'd think) and have one less chamber to patch. Bailing them sucks, but we rent only to use on a local class II section, so no big deal. All that said we are going to be retiring the fleet and moving into modestly priced PVC SB rafts
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Old 02-12-2013   #6
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
Bazzaro, World
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,323
Bucket boats have their place. My dad loved his bucket boat. If youre on a big high water river with nice strieght shot rapids a little water in the bottom of your boat could be a good thing. Kinda like the Aire ballast thing but different. Pushes you through holes and stuff.
Bound is boatless man
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Old 02-12-2013   #7
colorado_steve's Avatar
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 284
as the proud owner of a nrs bucket boat, i have always said "every boat is a self bailer as long as your not the one bailing"
Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
There's an old lion a roarin' n the river down below
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Old 02-12-2013   #8
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
I too love bucket boats. Living in Washington, I don't get a lot of use for one out here. In Oregon they are ideal for floats the John Day or Grande Ronde.

Why use a bucket boat? easy water tidy boat, as has already been mentioned. Another reason is in huge water you can fill 'em up and that's a lot of hole punching momentum.

I particularly like bucket boats for flatwater trips. Ever rowed against the wind on Snake Lake? You got a lot of boat hanging in the water creating friction with most self bailing floor designs. The bucket boat won't draw as much water, tracks better, rows the flats in the wind a lot easier.

You also get more cargo space in a bucket boat because regardless of where the floor is attached, they are all several inches thick. That's significant lost room in a drybox.

Best illustration of when I love a bucket boat is the Yampa. Sure, you might need to bail after warm springs or some of the split mtn stuff. But the rest of the time, it's just plain easier and lighter.

My bucket of choice is the 16' avon pro. huge 22" tubes keep the ride dry. This calculus changes a lot if the bucket boat in question is, say, an avon adventurer with 17" tubes .... that boat takes A LOT of bailing....
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Old 02-12-2013   #9
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 990
To Bail or Not To Bail....
I thought this thread would be about ElFlaco in the drunk tank.
"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 02-12-2013   #10
fat guy in a little boat
bigben's Avatar
FtC / Rancho del Rio, Colorado
Paddling Since: 8AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 378
we run 16ft achilles bucket boats at the company i guide for. they''re all from 1991 too. they still work great so what's the point in replacing them..

so as stated above, having the weight of that water at your feet will definitely give you more punch in the big stuff. makes it handle like a pig tho.

one big thing i notice on our bucket boats is that in low water they go over rocks way easier than a SB. the floors just have so much give that it takes a pretty major rock sticking up to get em stuck.
plus bailing out water gives my custys something to do when i run out of jokes


All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.
- Spicoli
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