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Old 01-13-2016   #1
Carbondale, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5
San Juan with a 16' raft?

Any suggestions/advice/beta for rafting the San Juan with a 16' raft? I know to not boat it too low as there are sandbars & its better suited for canoes @ lower flows.

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Old 01-13-2016   #2
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,046
you'll be fine.....

think Mexican hat adventures runs 18' for there motorized trips sand island to Mexican hat.
We had a 16' cat Mexican hat to clay hills this march, he thought it was about as low as he wanted to run it in that boat( 800- 1000???). If you run to clay hills you most likely will do some dragging towards the end regardless, remember to, that more displacement can make you ride a bit higher for your weight, middle of the river tends to be worst for sand bars down there.

Some other good info for low water san juan boating from discussions this spring, can be found on a search also.

Have fun down there! Wouldn't worry about it to much unless it's dirt low.

" I wish I were a headlight, on a North bound train..."
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Old 01-13-2016   #3
Pblastic's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 15
Great float with a 16"!!! two years running, looking for a third. Love the last day!! Winding down the sandbar filled water never knowing if your going to stop dead in the water. You must feel the flow of the deep water. Having said that,, I busted a nice cataract oar by pinning it in between a sandbar my Bimini and a 3 year old sleeping too close to all the action..Ok maybe I freaked out and snapped a 200$ oar because I was so spaced out on that sweet river !! Click image for larger version

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Old 01-13-2016   #4
Basalt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
16' on San Juan

No problem with 16' at 900 cfs. Having two people minimum per raft is a good idea to more easily push off of the occasional sand bar. I took an old Avon Pro BB last May. Have fun! Hanspeter
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Old 01-14-2016   #5
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
It helps if you have some peeps in duckies to be your "scouts." Have them lead the way and find the deeper channels on the last day. They can also help out when you get stuck to push you off the sandbars (their punishment for leading you astray).
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 01-14-2016   #6
mattman's Avatar
Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,046
Having someone along that gets stuck more then you is also good, makes ya feel better when you do get stuck.
What section and time of year are you planning on? There are tons of cool stuff to check out down there as far as hikes and petroglyphs/ river houses.

River maps does a good job with guides for the juan, and they cover section above sand island also.
" I wish I were a headlight, on a North bound train..."
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Old 01-14-2016   #7
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 338
Rowed a 22 foot snout through the Government rapid at 3500. A little tight but doable you'll be fine in the 16
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Old 01-14-2016   #8
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
On the last day in the sand bar hazard area keep ALL BOAT WITHIN VISUAL RANGE. If a boat gets really stuck you will need help getting it off the sand. In some cases this means dragging the boat upstream several hundred feet to take an alternate channel. If a boat is all alone this can take several hours, with all hands on deck it just takes a few minutes.
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Old 01-14-2016   #9
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
As a general rule, the channel runs on the outside of the bends on that last day. The trick is to find the channel as it crosses from one outside bend to one on the other side of the rio. Have seen a heavily loaded 16' raft not get stuck/grounded at 600- down there. A kayak or duck probe is a great idea. Government rapid is a pinball run at that level but doable with creative use of pillows and spinning off of one rock that I can't describe with words. Totally worthy low water run, IMHO.
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Old 01-14-2016   #10
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
I've been down at 5000 cfs and 1000 cfs and had more trouble at 5000. At 5000 the sand bars are submerged and you mostly need to "feel" the water getting shallow and move towards to the direction you think will get deeper. If you don't pick right, or move fast enough, you quickly can ride up on a submerged sand bar with less than 6 inches of water over it. Pushing upriver is difficult with that much current so there was some seriously exhausting dragging. Lots of moving gravel/sand on the riverbed so you need to keep your feet moving. At 5000, we also got to experience "sand waves" which are really cool.

At 1000, you need to pick the right channel. Usually running near the side of a sandbar that is "calving" is a safe bet but sometimes it will throw you a curveball.

Both levels are really fun!

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