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Old 04-11-2016   #1
Darby, Montana
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 9
# of people vs #of boats

My first permit and wondering a few things. Main trip, 6 day trip, 4: 14 ' boats, 1 14' cat, 1 hardshell, 4 IK. 17-18 people on trip. Shared gear on boats, all boats should have coolers and dry boxes, IK people may want to ride in boats a few days ( to much sun, worn out, ect )
1: Is there a standard boat per people ratio?
2: if a boat owner invites a few friends is he responsible for carrying them on his boat or does everyone help out to carry passengers that he invited? his wife and sons girlfriend are also going.

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Old 04-12-2016   #2
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Bazzaro, World
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,323
There is no golden ratio of ppl to boats. Every float is different. Are there separate gear boats and passenger boats on this trip? Are gear and passages spread across the all boats in the party? When the trip leader allowed friends of friends on the trip how did he/she allowance those guessed?

The leader may very well be putting 6 or 7 ppl each on two 14' paddle boats and all gear in the other 2? Using cat and kayaks as scout boats. IDK

I think you should just call your trip leader and just ask those questions. He/she should have a solid grasp on your questions. If your not getting any answers to those questions, you may want to rethink the trip. If the TL don't know what he/she is doing it could be a free for all shit show real fast for 6 long days. Just saying.

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Old 04-12-2016   #3
zbaird's Avatar
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If someone is bringing people/gear that they can't carry, they should absolutely talk to other rowers and clear the passenger/ gear dump first. I absolutely hate getting people pawned off on me unannounced, gear isnt as big a deal but I'd rather know in advance either way. People on my long trips often swap around on boats as the trip develops which is fine, but dumping passengers for a whole trip unannounced is completely unacceptable. Having someone who talks incessantly, is annoying, needy, PITA can really put a damper on a rowers vacation. Dealing with other peoples passengers puts extra stress on a rower no matter what, doing so without notice can change their attitude for the trip.

The number of people per boat is whatever the boatman is comfortable with. Another thing to talk to rowers about. For example, the cat may only want one passenger, or none. That could put 5 on a gear boat, which would suck to row, if someone else only wants 2 . On longer trips I dont really want more than two passengers but if I have 4 or 5 in my boat on a day trip no big deal. It comes down to comfort. 3+ people sharing the bow of a gear boat for a week isn't that fun to be in or to row.

A paddle boat is a good way to get a bunch of people down the river. Sounds like the guy bringing 5+ people should bring a paddle boat. Maybe you guys could swap duties of paddle guiding and rowing (Again, something to talk with the rowers about in advance) It gets passengers involved, takes weight off of gear boats, gives rowers a little more "time away from work", and tends to be the best way to manage people heavy/ boat light trips.

IK people should think if they really want to IK or not. Ive definitely had people want to ducky and then it turns out that the thing is adding 40 lbs of weight to someones boat as well as 160 lbs of passenger for all but six hours of the trip. Hopping on the boat a little bit is fine but if they want to "ride in a boat a few days" , leave the ducky behind unless you want the extra bulk and weight. It sounds like you'll have enough to carry without 4 extra IK's to load up.

If the hard shell and IK's are full the whole trip, 5 rafts should be fine for the 12-13 people. If you end up with everyone and the kayaks on gear boats it is doable but wouldnt be ideal in my world. That said, we did the Omo in ethiopia for 40+ days with two resupplies on 4 rafts with 15-19 people. It is all about the type of trip you are running. On that trip we had a ton less "group gear" (no groover,stove,propane,firepan, etc,etc) , no coolers, bulk style food pack, hot weather, etc. Boats were heavy as hell but I didn't care a bit. Trip was amazing.

Pretty much anything can work if you talk with people ahead of time. If it doesn't work, add boats, dump people or bail on the trip if they are making it harder on you than you'd like on vacation.
zach baird
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Old 04-12-2016   #4
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 427
1. For multi-day trips I use 3 people/boat as a starting ratio. This is for 16-18' boats. 14' boats with gear in them get heavy, and full, with 2 passengers. For only 14' boats on a multi-day trip, I'd start thinking more like 2 people per boat, so you'd want more like 8 or 9 boats. This might be a little bit of overkill, but a good starting point. If you can get your hands on 1 or 2 18' boats, you'd be in much better shape. If the IKers and the hard boat will paddle the whole time, you're close, but those 14' boats will be about maxed out. Start adding paddlers who are tired, and things will get overloaded in a hurry.

If you do like Dirtbagkayaker suggests, and have 2 paddleboats, then you might be close, as well. 2 14' gearboats will be FULL and HEAVY. I'd want a 3rd, or a 3rd boat that's 18'. 14' cat is nice, and all, but won't carry much gear, or people- it'll act more like a 12' raft, in terms of capacity.

2. As far as who carries what, I guess it depends on your group dynamic. Is he bringing a boat? Does anyone else get to bring extra guests? Inviting friends on a trip that's not yours is kinda like bringing your friends to another person's party. It needs to be done in good taste, and with consideration to the host.

There are all sorts of ways to divy up gear/people/cost/responsibility on these trips, and basically boils down to you and your group's sense of community vs individual responsibility. Same goes for who pays the cost of rental gear. Does a boat owner need to pay for a 18' boat rental that carries group gear? What about if the owner brings a 14' boat to a Grand trip and everyone else is rowing 18' boats? What about the boat owner's spouse? It's a tough question, and is tough to achieve equity on that point. There are several threads on this question.

There are good rental services for the Main. Might be a good idea to look into renting a 16 or 18' gear boat. Probably costs $50 a person to rent a rig for the week for a group of 18.
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Old 04-12-2016   #5's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 498
Each boat owner should decide how many people he/she will carry based on his/her gear and food load he/she has. He/she is in the best position to judge his/her rowing skill level and his/her strength to run a safe boat. I would say 3 per raft for planning purposes, but still you need to discuss this with each oarsman as well as gear load per boat. Rowing an over loaded a boat is risky and not a fun trip. But if the hard side and IK's run the rapids 17-18 people should work..
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Old 04-12-2016   #6
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
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whoever invites the newbies is responsible for getting them down the river. whether that means taking them on his boat or finding others willing to take them AHEAD OF TIME. He is also responsible for educating them, assigning them camp chores etc. But If its not your permit you should be open to some extra gear or a passenger if the TL asks.
"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 04-12-2016   #7
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
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I'm picturing a lot of soggy butted ducky crews latched to overloaded 14' boats. Get an 18'er to be safe. And hey bambam, im in Darby too. Welding shop just south of town on 93 with boats out front ,if you want to talk boats. Can talk logistics too.
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Old 04-12-2016   #8
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Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
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I am a pretty easy going guy, but I've been bitten on the ass a few times. I don't want to take someone in my boat I don't already know. I don't want a pig of a raft on a long trip. I agree with other's remarks on the IK's, are these people who are borrowing/ renting IK's, or are they people who IK all of the time? I had a bad experience on the Rogue a few years ago with a guy who started in an IK and ended up on my raft at Rogue river ranch and stayed on my boat until the end of the trip. I will never boat with him again. Or talk to him. It was me with a 14' raft, two hardshell kayakers, and him. So I had gear for four guys for four days and everyone brought too much stuff. Then I added a person and a rolled up kayak. It sucked. Sounds like a paddle raft could really help your trip.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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Old 04-13-2016   #9
Darby, Montana
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 9
Thanks for the good advise. The Ik people are capable to row but may want to just float for a couple of the days. All Ik rowers (owners) have a significant other who is rowing one of the rafts and are part of the group. All boats will have gear divided evenly and passengers will probably switch around different boats. A paddle boat or 16 footer sounds like it might work. Trip is late season so don't want to big of a boat. we will be getting together soon to talk about things I just wanted a few thoughts on this because I was seeing to many people to few boats. I will stop by Spider
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Old 04-13-2016   #10
The Box, ~
Paddling Since: 1992
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Originally Posted by BAMBAM View Post
A paddle boat or 16 footer sounds like it might work. Trip is late season so don't want to big of a boat. we will be getting together soon to talk about things I just wanted a few thoughts on this because I was seeing to many people to few boats.
As per your original post, I assume you’re running the Main Salmon late season? The main Salmon has plenty of water to easily run 16ft or 18ft rafts late season. What month are you going?

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