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Old 12-01-2013   #11
Barnburner's Avatar
Reno, Nevada
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by Bluefunk View Post

You aren't part of that group of drunks from Reno are you. I heard the guy that rafts with you with the yellow raft is the best, he never flips!!!!!
No worries, the bottom of the bus will be easily visible to the NPS helicopter...

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Old 12-01-2013   #12
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
Look at how many other rafts are on the trip, what size and figure out what you might be carrying. As a professional guide we carry all the same things on a 2 day as we do on a 16 day(other than the amounts of food and such), so see what will be carried by how many boats. I have personally done trips in a 143r and a 18er. The 18er is the best for such a long trip that time of year. Hope this helps, but the smaller boat is a better ride if not overloaded. See who and what you are with. Hopes this helps

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Old 12-02-2013   #13
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
You should be fine

Hey Andres, lots of great advise. You should be fine if you fave enough other boats. How many do you have? And what week do you launch? E-mail off list if you want, yours, tom
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Old 12-03-2013   #14
Dillon, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 61
Like has been mentioned, cats have a significantly lower gear capacity than a raft. So, if there aren't other 18' gear boats going, or you aren't going do a minimalist trip, then the cat isn't a good choice.
The "wet" ride of a cat in big water should also be considered carefully for a March trip, which can be cold. You (especially the front man) will be getting wet many times a day with the typical frame setup, even with solid floors. Your feet will be wet almost constantly.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the poor "downriver" speed of cats. Exactly what makes cats great playboats, good hydrodynamics, makes them terrible boats in flat water with slow currents. You will be making almost all of your headway with oar power. A raft barely rowing will be faster than the cat with you rowing full steam. You will be playing catch-up all day. Another downside to cats is the tendency for one tube to catch the "swirlies" (which can continue for miles), and hook the edges/eddy lines of the very narrow current band in these areas. Rafts tend to handle this better, and average out the opposing river forces so you go where the majority of the river under the boat is going.

The biggest upside to the cat, besides that it won't cost you anything, is that they are incredibly stable when hauling a canyon load. You will be able to run the meat of everything, except Lava and Crystal, with much less chance of flipping compared to a raft.
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Old 12-04-2013   #15
flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 89
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 148
Cat Speed

C-wire direct,

I can only speak for our MOE 18 foot Cat but I have found it to be quite a bit faster than any other boat loaded similarly. A month ago a 30 something average athletic male who had never rowed a raft ever, rowed the 18 foot Moe Cat through the Canyon. Not only was he fast enough, but regularly he had to put on the brakes for others to catch up. By the end of the trip he barely rowed but played the guitar half the time as he nipped at the leaders heals. When the 37K flood hit? Forget about it... we had to put him in the back so he wouldn't keep getting in the front mans oars. Besides our Cat(that I have always found faster) Is it a pretty proven truth out there that Cats(loaded similarly) are slower?

Sorry, I've only dealt with mine on a trip totally in the dark. Generally speaking I look at Cats load capacity as a boat 2 feet less their size. So, when someones bringing a 18 foot cat they should be able to match the carrying capacity of a 16 foot boat. A 16 foot cat? a 14 foot boat.

I was sitting at the put-in this year with a client that was rowing one of our 16 foot Avons. He said that he heard the outfitter boats are pigs? Sitting right next to his buddies 16 foot NRS I asked him why he thought someone might say outfitter boats are pigs? aren't they the same footprint more or less? Uhh not sure? was the response. Let's break it down. 16 foot Avon SB next to NRS SB hows the footprint(floatation)? Looks pretty much the same right. Under the frame? Avon -- 10 ammo cans, 200 lbs cooler, 2 bread boxes, 2 water jugs, 6 dry bags, many many cases(10+) of group beer under stern cover. The 16 foot NRS-- Front bay silver box cocktails, bread, costumes. 2 silver boxes with beer tap, personals, and beer approximately 48 personal cans. 4 ammos rear bay, 120 qt cooler(whatever that weighs). Aha!

The MOE 18 foot cat was carrying (5) 50lbs ammo cans(food and trash) in the front bay. (2) silver boxes full of trip food, cocktails, etc. 200 lbs ice chest MOE ice and food. 5 ammo cans + or beer in the back hatch. 4 personal ammos. 4 sawyer counter balanced oars, a passenger from time to time. 26" x 18" tubes. Wall to wall diamond plate, side rails and diamond plate 70" 44" half the floor. 2 to 4 dry bags.

The slowest boats of the group were 2 sloppy 18 foot bucket boats with steel frames and virtually nothing on board? I felt bad for the kayakers that got screwed into having to row the POS downriver Beware of Old Jedi Boaters!. Huge Karma Credits for the Yaks!

Do others find Cat boats are slower in general?


Agreed for a healthy individual, the Grands pretty easy to row.
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Old 12-04-2013   #16
Dillon, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 61
RE:Cats being slow downriver boats
It's impossible to have it both ways- maneuverable (easy to ferry/slow/stall/surf), and also fast downriver. It's just a function of drag in the current. There are large differences in cat tube design that affect these characteristics- blunt NRS style vs. tapered/rockered AIRE performance style.

Physics aside, my personal experience was having to row my 16' cat full steam just to barely keep up with the group, and that was with them, including a small woman, barely rowing 16' rafts. I was in ridiculously good shape, and guided flyfishing in my cat 100+ days/year on technical rivers, so it wasn't anything I could blame on me. I have had several other cat rowers recount similar experiences.

Just like all the different rafts you mentioned, the bottom/tube design can have a large effect on the handling. No doubt there are performance differences between similar length/shape rafts, but probably not that large. I remember Avon fanboys claiming something about the floor design making a big difference. I think it's also generally agreed that bucket boats with their smooth floor are more hydrodynamic, so slower downriver, but easier to slow. The bucket boat lovers also claim they track better, due to tubes acting like rudders, which is probably true. In my cat, it was like having a motor on the back when I set a ferry angle in fast current above a rapid.

One more annoying thing about cats is the hard line for being right at max load, or being overloaded. As soon as anything on the boat goes under water- straps, bottom rails, floor, etc.; the boat becomes very sluggish (but faster downriver). Front to back weight distribution is also much more critical in cats. For the tapered cats, there is also a gradual reduction in performance as more of the rocker is in the water.

As for the guy in the 18' cat, your cat is likely the "blunt" style, which is closer to the performance of a raft, but still much slower downriver than a raft would be. As for why he was faster- the rower can make a huge difference, even for identical rafts. Staying in the current line will greatly increase your downriver travel speed.

I personally won't ever take a cat down there again. The slow downriver speed, wet ride, tubes hooking eddy lines and swirlies, finicky weight distribution, less load capacity, more problematic securing loads, etc.; are more than I want to deal with. However, it was fun hitting the meat of everything. I still wish I would have run the hole at Crystal (I chickened out), because after hitting everything else (except lava, but including 209), I think it would have easily made it.
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Old 12-04-2013   #17
flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 89
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 148
Catskills Mountains and Valleys

Great to hear your input.

I totally understand different strokes for different folks.

I told myself after this last run that I would never "not" take a cat on my trip again") They are fun. For the record, I also prefer 5 min boats at least 16's or greater and prefer 6 or 7 boats for fun factor, and weight distribution.

Here's a few of our cat runs.

Most of the folks that take the Cat down, return requesting to take it again?!? Go figure...the world is a diverse place. No right or wrong answer. Thanks for the input.


Good Luck in 2015 Lottery!
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Old 12-04-2013   #18
Dillon, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 61
Originally Posted by moetown View Post
For the record, I also prefer 5 min boats at least 16's or greater and prefer 6 or 7 boats for fun factor, and weight distribution.
By that, I take it you mean a bunch of other rafts to haul your share of the load that won't fit on the cat (by the looks of the video). If the trend catches on, cat boaters will be be the new kayakers.

I feel 16' is even pushing it down there, unless the oarsman is both strong and experienced. The guys taking smaller boats than that are just a liability. Probably why most small boaters go solo, or as part of a small boat only trip.

Originally Posted by moetown View Post
Most of the folks that take the Cat down, return requesting to take it again?!?
If I could get away with a 1/2 load on my cat, I might be all over it, too. Not in the shoulder seasons, though- too much splashing and cold wet feet all day. And the person in the front of that cat? How many ejections?

Originally Posted by moetown View Post
Go figure...the world is a diverse place. No right or wrong answer. Thanks for the input.
Personal preference still doesn't change the physics. Cats are slower downriver for similar waterlines/load capacities. My 16' cat had much less drag than even an unloaded Super Puma. Like you say though, cats are mighty fun/forgiving in the rapids. I submarined mine over my head for about 50' on the right side of Lava. Friendly water at lower flows makes a big difference as well. When the 2 mile long post-rapid swirlies kick in at higher flows, it's no fun, at least in a heavily loaded 16'.

As an aside, on my last trip with virtually identical boats and loads, I was able to go close to 1 MPH faster than the group just by picking good lines, and following the (ever-changing) current band. I barely even rowed, except to steer, and tried to only forward row to do that. That may explain some of your newbies faster progress- newbies seem to only want to forward row, which works on the Grand, but not on technical rivers.

My latest idea is to use a 14' cat as a safety/play boat for 2 people to take turns on. I find kayaks to be a bit worthless as safety boats down there, not to mention the 'tude of many maggots. An empty 14' cat with a person in front to assist with rescues seems like it would be a much better safety boat than a kayak, especially the squirt/play kayaks they all seem to want to take these days. I can row/maneuver small cats across/upriver as good as most kayakers, except for in tight/small eddies, which isn't an issue down there. Another advantage is allowing newbie rowers a chance to get some oar time without any consequences.
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Old 12-04-2013   #19
floatingk's Avatar
Waha, Ida'maho
Paddling Since: 01
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 93
Originally Posted by cwiredir View Post
newbies seem to only want to forward row
Simply in between swims
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Old 12-05-2013   #20
Wheredat, USA
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 75
What do you think the boat load would have been like without the 3rd and 4th person you had at Deso? A 16' cat is fine for Grand Canyon, but you need to objectively think about the gear load you both need.

Discuss with your group what group gear they expect you to load onto your boat.

Originally Posted by ateene View Post
We have the opportunity to get on a Grand Canyon trip in March. I've only been rafting a couple of years and this would be my first time down the Grand. The rest of the group is fairly experienced and have done the Grand before. Me and my buddy have a 16' Down River cat and have been debating on whether this would be big enough for us. We did a trip down Deso last year and we were somewhat overloaded, but we we had four people on the raft. There will only be two of us on the raft for the Grand but we are somewhat concerned if our 16' will big enough for us and all the gear (and beer) for the 3 weeks, so we are considering renting a bigger raft.

Would the 16' cat be big enough or should be rent a bigger raft?

Since I've only done warm weather trips it looks like I will need get a dry suit or dry top/pants. Any other recommendations on personal gear I'd need?


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