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Old 02-26-2016   #1
jspoon14's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 115
Grand Canyon Trip May, Easy Privat Boat Size Question

Hello fellow Buzzards,

I need some advice from the collective experience of the community.

We have a permit for the Grand this May and we are in the process of planning and I have a question about boat size for the trip and whether we should be 16' or 18' boats.

Some details:
We are going to have a full trip of 16 people, all taking out at Diamond Creek, we will be doing a passenger exchange at Phantom of 5 people coming and going. We are using Pro for all group gear and food prep. We will have a total of 7 boats, 4 boatmen that have rowed the canyon at least once before and 3 newbies that have a varying degree of experience but at all capable.

I would like to know if we should get 16' or 18' boats, the 16' are lighter and easier to row which will help with reaction time if someone gets in a bad spot and will be easier to row overall. The 18's are more forgiving and have a larger cargo capacity but I have heard they are tough to move around on the water.

Also would like to know about overall load capacity and if we will need the extra room of an 18'

Myself, I have never rowed a larger boat than a 14' so I don't have a frame of reference either way, I would think that a 16' would be fine if you are on you game but would be nice for some of the first timers to have a margin of error with the 18'.

Thanks for your help.

Whitewater Spoon
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Old 02-26-2016   #2
robemega's Avatar
The ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 57
Fit to rower?

Do you have to have all the same size boats? My 5'2" daughter rowed a 16' (while everyone else had 18 footers) and was glad to have the shorter boat and shorter oars. She had one passenger and a little less gear.

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Old 02-26-2016   #3
jspoon14's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 115
We can have any mix we would like, as long as Pro still have some available. We can even rent Catarafts.
Whitewater Spoon
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Old 02-26-2016   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
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Old 02-26-2016   #5
trevko's Avatar
Fort Fun, Colorado
Paddling Since: 94
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Posts: 117
I wouldn't be intimidated by an 18'er. There are only a few rapids where you have to make moves after you enter. It's a long trip and the extra capacity can be helpful. An 18' raft can make a nice sleeping platform if you set it up right.
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Old 02-26-2016   #6
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
Given that you said 7 boats, you could definitely do a few 16’ers if you want. When we used Pro we did 5 18’ers for 16 peeps. You won’t have cargo issues with that many boats.

As was mentioned, at the water levels we went at anyway, the Grand is really all in the setup. If you are in the right place up top you should have a clean run, not a lot of technical moves in the middle to need to be nimble for. I was also used to a nimble 14’er, you get used to it pretty fast and just knowing you have to use three strokes to get it to start moving and stuff. You learn how to setup earlier. The big water and fast current is just nothing like rowing in CO. Downstream ferry is a good move to have. I mean, would you rather have a more loaded down 16’er or a less loaded down 18’er? Relative to their capacity I guess. Might be more advantages to going 18’ with a less loaded down rig.
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Old 02-26-2016   #7
North Platte, Nebraska
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 6
Don't forget the "w"

That's a lot of boats. Pro has 2 18' Catarafts. I have always had at least one of these on the trip for the newest rower or to be the "Play Boat". Seen them survive Lava sideways. Don't over load them or you can't pivot in a rapid. The problem in May is the "W". After Lava you'll wish you were all in the lower profile 16' boats.

Put your good boatmen in 18', get the 2 catarafts and 16' for canyon virgins. Start early and get off the water before 2:00pm when the wind howls.

About the "play boat" concept:

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Old 02-26-2016   #8
jkr61's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 37
Did the grand in May 2 years ago. There are going to be some windy days but otherwise absolutely beautiful time of year! We were a group of 16 and used 4 18's and a cat. The cat wasn't the greatest for hauling gear. If we did it again we would definitely get the 18's again! The forgiveness for mistakes is well worth the extra size. On our trip there was no flips, I screwed up and took Hance head on with no problem. I get washed out of my boat by a lateral in upset but the boat still didn't go over. Drawback was my wife couldn't pull me in over the bigger tubes. Another passenger was able to though. Hope this helps
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Old 02-26-2016   #9
jspoon14's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 115
Thanks, everyone for the help and wisdom this has helped a lot. This has brought up some issues that we have not thought about yet, can't wait to discuss it with the group.
Whitewater Spoon
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Old 03-02-2016   #10
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Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516
Did a Pro trip last sept. Their 16' boats were worn seriously. Their 18' boats were much newer. They held much bigger coolers and if cocktail ice is important to you I'd go all 18's. Run Lava left.

No amount of money is worth your free time!
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