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Old 05-19-2015   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 267
Expeditionary - high class - rafting - thoughts, & questions from a wanna-be....

While I am not a high class boater by any stretch (but the thought of it and interest certainly runs through my head constantly as I ponder things that may be imponderable) - after reading Cramers book and other info on here and in other places, a stream of questions is constantly running through my head. A few questions and thoughts.....

1) While Creature Crafts are certainly gaining "some" acceptance (I think they're pretty cool and would love to try one one day - any chance they might be making an appearance in British Columbia in the near future?) - does anyone value them /consider them as an exploratory tool? You know - you want to try running this river in a cataraft/raft but might run it in a CC first to see how feasible it is?

2) Are there any improvements or ways on the current practicies & equipment for a rafter or catarafter to improve upon them? Frame design? Tube design? Size/length? Safety?

3) Are there ways for a larger cataraft (17+ foot tubes, wider frame) to be made more manageable form a navigation/performance stand point and re-flip/safety stand point to tackle larger rivers?

4) How much differently, for those who have used them, does a creature craft perform to that of your average performance 14-15' Cataraft? Does the overhead superstructure on a CC make it a little more prone to flip? Some say they look more "clumsy" in a way for this reason. They don't look as wide as some catarafts although online specs suggest otherwise. I've heard it may take some time to get used to going from a cat to a CC.

5) What is the future of expeditionary rafting/catarafting? Are there any more who will run the Devils & Turnback Canyon (part of the "Triple Crown")? Anyone else who may want to try a traditional raft or cataraft attempt of the Stikine? Is it truly uncataraftable? Is there a more friendly level? After all the first decent has the world been lost for good to the Kayakers?

Future owner of AIRE Wave Destroyer w/MadCatr Frame
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Old 05-20-2015   #2
2kanzam's Avatar
Charleston, West Virginny
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 461
In my mind if I am exploring I want a craft that is small as possible while being just large enough to carry me and my gear.

I imagine portaging a creature craft is a near impossibility.

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Old 05-20-2015   #3
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
The exposure of swimming is ultimately the issue in any craft on any river.

I think the distinction is less [cat or raft] vs [CC]. It is more [oar power] vs [paddle power]

Rafting's limits are being pushed most successfully on the steep gradient, low volume runs that have mostly been kayaked. Oars here are a penalty not an asset. But the swims are more manageable.

The physics involved in re righting a 300 lb 15 foot x 3 foot structure are the issue. Maybe the methane rivers of Io will offer different characteristics?

I haven't seen enough of a benefit to a CC, IMO, to justify the loss of downstream vision. If being strapped into a boat in a hole you can't exit is progress in the whitewater world, I guess I don't get where we're trying to go!

Like a placebo effect, might it be possible that irrational confidence in gear simply enables people to run stuff they otherwise wouldn't, but could? Great example is the CC high water illinois run.

I dunno, I'm skeptical. But I tend to believe that gear can only take you so far and the CC isn't going to open the door to otherwise unraftable water, or make deadly whitewater casual.
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Old 05-20-2015   #4
NIMBY, Oregon
Paddling Since: Womb
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 97
Reserved... I got a little experience to share.
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Old 05-20-2015   #5
NIMBY, Oregon
Paddling Since: Womb
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 97
I guess it won't let me edit...

Anyway, I have used Creatures and they are very nimble just like a catboat. They ferry across waves and boils with ease. The uprights do cause some sway, but not enough to negate its function, and actually can create stability. It does get caught in the wind, but that just makes you stronger at the end of the day. I like to look at CC as another tool in the shed.

They do open doors to unraftable rivers and they don't weight 300 lbs. I would guess 150ish... Fact is, nobody rafts the Illinois at 20k CFS because the last people to make the mistake of getting caught there at 17k in a raft died or took a helicopter ride. Nobody rafts the Cal Salmon at 10k because you have a very good chance of dying at 7k. The same can be said for every single high water trip the Creature Crafters have been doing.

I was on that Illinois trip and it was manageable, but it taught me to scrutinize peoples experience 10x over when compared to normal rafting. In hindsight, I would say 3 people on that trip had no business being on the water that day. I will also never run a setup with my paddlers in the rear, there is nothing for them to grab on to, so they can't pull themselves up and then get waterboarded. That said, I would go back in a heartbeat and look forward to the next chance I get to the see the Illinois at high water.

If a CC gets stuck in a hole, chances of a raft making it through are slim to none. I have done my fair share of rafting and swimming as a commercial guide so I am speaking from experience. In my professional opinion, the eddy fences would kill on all of these flooded runs.

This video shows that having spare paddles to grab on the upright makes a huge difference in comparison.

Come to Tumwater this weekend, it will be a moderate 5000cfs and a great chance to see the boats.
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Old 05-20-2015   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
OK, I'm done highsiding in my chair and I'm ready for a beer after watching those videos. Holy crap, there's some pucker factor...

If a CC gets stuck in a hole, chances of a raft making it through are slim to none.
What he said. The sight of that tiny CC getting worked in the giant hole was enough to convince me.

Stay safe,

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 05-28-2015   #7
NIMBY, Oregon
Paddling Since: Womb
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Here is my run through the main drop of Exit last weekend. I would say CC's are great for exploratory runs... there's no way I would have attempted this section in anything else.

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Old 05-28-2015   #8
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
would be cool to get a camera angle up on top of the crossbars where we could see what the heck yer running!

since I'm already the naysayer and curmudgeon on this thread, can I ponder whether a roadside run that is routinely run by locals throughout the season classifies as "exploratory?"

still, must've been a rush. glad you had fun!
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Old 05-28-2015   #9
NIMBY, Oregon
Paddling Since: Womb
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Sure, it has been run by a few kayaker's and CC's at this level, but the fact remains it is an exploratory run to me. I could care less about what anyone else has done before unless they're with me in the eddy above the drop. Going big is going big...

I had never even seen Leavenworth on a map before last Friday and I have never had a road to scout on before. It is a double edged sword, basically just made me more apprehensive about running it.

I've had bad luck with Gopros getting bent down in big hits everywhere on the boats, so I go chest-mount for POV.

Having fun is the main goal and I am glad you realize that. I did, and I can't wait to do it again.

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