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Old 07-06-2013   #1
Lehi, Utah
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 12
Newb Questions

Okay - so I've been lurking on the forum for a while and decided to get into rafting. I just bought my first boat (about 5 hrs ago) and have never rafted before. I picked up a 16' Hyside cat.

I have some basic questions that might seem super simple to most of you, but to someone who hasn't even been on the water yet - they seem a little perplexing.

#1 (or should it be #2) - I just found out what a "groover" is - Now the newb question - how do you use it - ok, maybe not use it, but empty it and keep everything sanitary. It kind of grosses me our thinking that there will be a box of shit riding the rapids with me. I don't want to be too graphic, but... lets say nature calls. That's fine if your the first person to use a clean, empty can, but what is the method to keeping from vomiting when your the second guy and there is just a pile with some paper that has been sitting in a sealed, steel box that has been baking in the sun? Is it really that vile, or is there a method to it? I was reading about wag bags, which makes everything a little more bare-able, but what do you do with the bags? Where do you get rid of them? They wont fit in an RV dump will they? If you have the expensive groovers with the hose, were back to the "how to keep from vomiting" issue. Perhaps someone could explain this to me?

That was enough of #2, so I'm going to skip to ...

#3 - Life vests. I have a life vest from our power boat days. Is that good enough for rafting? Is there something specific I should be looking for? What are the recommendations out there?

#4 - What kind of pump should I be looking for? These 16ft tubes look like they will hold a lot of air - is there something better than my air mattress pump I should be looking at?

Well that should be it for now - I'm sure I'll have more questions soon enough.


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Old 07-06-2013   #2
colorado_steve's Avatar
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 284
1. wag bags are worse in my opinion. using a groover is kinda like using a pit toilet at a campsite, its not as bad as you think so stop being a wimp about it. I think your playing this up in your head to be a lot worse then it is. shit, i got a full groover in my back yard from a 10 day trip with 9 people that ended 2 days ago..... today is my lucky day to pump it. gonna get good and drunk for that...

2. your power boat life jacket is not worthy of the river. time to buy a new one. check out astral, stohlquist, kokatat

3. Carlson Barrel Pump or combo of air mattress and k-pump

enjoy your new addiction and watch your bank account suffer

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 07-06-2013   #3
Bayfield, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1
Rafting answers

You'll get used to using a groover or you'll never really love running rivers. It's a small inconvenience for the opportunity to enjoy days on the riva.

You'll need to get new jackets. Most rivers, and their accompanying rangers, will not allow you to float with motorboat pfd's. So don't wait on those. Quick way to ruin a trip is to have a ranger tell you too late that you can't use your old jackets and thus, can't float.

You'll definitely need a raft pump, either single or double barrel. Just check on here or head to a local river store. Air mattress pumps are fine until you have a mid-trip emergency and need air fast or want to get a repair done quickly.
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Old 07-06-2013   #4
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
Best place for newbs is big south of the poudre. Gannon has all the beta
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Old 07-06-2013   #5
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
#1 - We use RV toilet deodorizer in the groover. We keep it in a Mrs. Dash shaker with the other groover supplies and you sprinkle a little on each time you make a "deposit." Keeps the smell down. There are some deodorizer/enzyme powders that break down the waste also. Some people like the wag bag idea, but they aren't excepted on all rivers, and you still have to have a water tight container for the used bags. Groovers are just something you get used to with river running.

#2 - Go to REI and try on a bunch of PFDs. Find one that fits well. Make sure it's whitewater rated. Rangers are very picky, plus you're betting your life on this piece of equipment.....don't skimp.

#3 - I have three pumps. Electric that plugs into my 12 volt outlet in my truck (or battery on some models). This is used to get the tubes inflated from flat. This pump gives you high volume, but not pressure. After the tubes are fully inflated but still soft, you'll need some sort of barrel pump to get them firm. These pumps provide the pressure needed. You can spend a lot (Carlson, NRS, AAA, etc.) or a little (double action plastic pump). I used a double action plastic pump for years and it worked fine. My third pump is a small K-pump that rides on my boat for top offs.

Enjoy your new cataraft. You'll have years of memories with it.
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Old 07-06-2013   #6
Beardance42's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 238
You'll get used to the groover, we use powder deodorizer but the liquid stuff is okay too. The powder is easier for packing on long trips - they come in single-use envelopers. Rafting stores or RV supply places have it - our local hardware also has it.

Agree with cataraftgirl - don't skimp on PFD's. Your powerboat PFD probably isn't rated for swiftwater. Do a search on BLM river running, they're pretty explicit about what they require. Do your research - good PFD's aren't cheap, and cheap PFD's aren't good; you want to do this right the first time.

My recommendation on pumps - get a truck-battery connection one, definitely, but I went through three double-action pumps in as many years and I've become a big believer in large-barrel single action pumps. Again, don't skimp. My problem with the double actions (at least the ones I tried) were that they failed pretty quickly and they were short, thus you're bending over further. At my age, anything a little easier on the lower back is helpful. YMMV.

You didn't say how big your tubes were. I have two double tube cats (17.5' '95 Aire Cougar and a 15' '00 Aire Panther). By today's standards, the tubes are fairly small. I have found that both are pretty load-sensitive. An overloaded cat is no fun, especially with upsteam winds, so once you start doing long trips, be mindful of weight distribution and overall load weight. Cats are nimble and very responsive, but they can be sluggish and belligerent when overloaded. Your manufacturer's weight recommendations are probably a good guide, but I would typically not exceed 80% of their maximum weight spec for a long trip, especially if there's a lot of flat water and/or the likelihood of big winds.

Enjoy! There's nothing like the feel of a new raft on the river.
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Old 07-06-2013   #7
El Chupanibre
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 128
Get an electric pump-buy the best PFD you can, and learn to love the groover.
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Old 07-06-2013   #8
boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 36
On multi day trips, we share gear carrying duty. If you build a nice kitchen in a dry box with stove and dishwashing and handwashing station and you always volunteer to bring that along; your group will not make you bring or service the groover.
On the other hand, most of us that have done this for a while, think groover duty is the easiest duty in camp and I'll volunteer to do groover duty anytime over some more time consuming duties in camp
Get an Eco Safe for multi day trips and figure out something simpler for day trips. A wag bag or, hell, you can shit on a paper plate and tie it up tight in a plastic bag and throw it in your garbage for a day trip. It is not OK to "cat hole" your way down any river in the lower 48.
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Old 07-07-2013   #9
Lehi, Utah
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 12
Well we had a storm move in today, so I didn't get a chance to hit the water. I did take some of the above advice though. Picked up a NRS PDF and barrel pump, then practiced putting the raft together in the garage.

The electric pump I use for my air mattresses work great. I then topped it off with the manual pump and was totally inflated in less than 5 or so min per tube (16' x 24").

So now another newb question - how to launch.

Do you guys (and gals) use a trailer like a regular boat? I'm trying to avoid a trailer if possible. I'm assuming you assemble the raft near the launch site with tubes and frames, put it in the water, then load the dry boxes and cooler?

I want to be careful to not drag it on the ground, if your significant other is pretty weak, what do you do? Are there "carts" or something to use or techniques to avoid damaging the tubes while launching?

Thanks again for all the info.
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Old 07-07-2013   #10
dork, confusion
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 204
casper mike is funny douche

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