Class IV update
An update to my earlier post:
Took my RMR 14 down westwater canyon last monday 8/22. Flow was approx 5000 cfs. I had a stern-mount row frame (same one in photos of my previous post/report), 2 strong paddlers in the front, and 3 other passengers in the middle. My wife was on the oars in the RMR, and I was following in my other raft, so I got a good view of how she went through the rapids. Bottom line - they made it all the way through with the blue side up. With a beginner on the oars, they hit a few of the class III's, and even sock-it-to-me, sideways but no flips (partially atributed to the strong paddlers in the front). A little ways above little D, in a riffley area, there are some shallow rocks that are hard to see until you get close. So, one of the passengers wanted to take a turn on the oars while we were in mellow water, and he went right over the rocks. The raft got hung up and spun a few times before they could get off. At the take-out, after we got the raft unloaded, I lifted it up to inspect the bottom. You can see the scuff marks where it scraped, but no gouges or holes in the bottom. Like I said earlier, I'd rather have the extra weight if it means thicker and stronger material. I love this raft, and the fact that I got a brand new 14' self-bailer for $2,400 (btw - I don't think you can get them for that anymore, as that was the introductory price).
As a side note: I was on the oars of my other raft, and got thrown off going through sock-it-to-me. The strong left-current after the rapid was takiing me straight to the rock wall (aka "magnetic wall") with the captainless raft a few feet behind me. Just as I stuck my arms out to brace myself for the inevitable blow, I got sucked under and was kept under, while being taken downstream, for a good 15 seconds. That was the longest 15 seconds of my life. I was completely helpless during that time (aside from a good PFD). My 2 daughters that were in the raft witnessing this, thought they had seen the last of their dad. It probly saved me a crushed noggin getting sucked under before I hit the wall, because the raft did hit it. I didn't have a helmet, and that's the last time I will be without one on anything bigger than class II. IMO, no one should go through the westwater rapids without a helmet. I got off easy that time. I know kayakers wear them, but most rafter don't. We should.