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Old 05-03-2011   #1
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
Umbrella for your raft...

Rolling through Sam's Club yesterday and saw they have their yearly umbrella offerings out. 8 foot beach umbrella for $26.86 is a pretty sweet deal.

8' Beach Umbrella with Adjustable Tilt - Sam's Club

My local Sam's Club had several other colors in addition to the rainbow.

FWIW: I have a River Sombrero and, in retrospect, I think buying 10 of these umbrellas would have worked out better for me... and cost the same.

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Old 05-03-2011   #2
Bayou's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 198
Just curious, how do you plan on mounting it?

Fluvial Geomorphology Blog
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Old 05-03-2011   #3
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 136
You can get a frame mount from cascade outfitters they have two options. A friend of mine used that umbrella on CAT last year and it worked ok. It would catch wind under it and buckle but it never broke, not bad for the price, it looked huge on his 12 ft raft as well.
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Old 05-03-2011   #4
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
There are any number of commercially available umbrella holders that work pretty well (I'm always surprised how much they cost though). I've also had good success just strapping the umbrella to the side of a 5 gal drink cooler.

When I finally abandon the River Sombrero, more than likely I will build my own umbrella holder out of aluminum pipe and U-bolts. If it ever happens, I'll post some pictures...
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Old 05-03-2011   #5
Summit County, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 153
Just curious, as we are about to purchase a Sombrero, why are you switching back to umbrellas? We have used umbrellas in the past as well, however decided to investigate the Sombrero because our umbrellas just didn't hold up well. If a strong gust came along while they were opened, it would turn them inside out and pieces would break. Sometimes they were even pulled from their holders (holders specifically designed for umbrellas and for our frame). It was a constant game of opening and closing them, taking them out and putting them back in, all while dealing with the wind, and sometimes even having to make an evasive manuevure to rescue an umbrella from the river. We've always thought the Sombrero would be easier to deal with. Our Sombrero would be going on a 16' Aire Lion cat with a DRE double rail frame. Any insight you could give would be appreciated, since as you know, the Sombreros are not cheap.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-03-2011   #6
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
Two tips for umbrella longevity - One: make sure you buy an umbrella with fiberglass spars/ribs (or at least plastic - aluminum and wood's rigidity mean they break instead of bend). Two: rig it with bungees holding the sides down and the main umbrella to the boat - more flex means more resistance to wind and gusts. I have been using this umbrella for a couple seasons without issues: Tiki umbrella $69.95

pierce - I am also curious about your decision. On several trips I have noticed that the Bimini Covers (Somberos) provided a lot of very wind resistant shade with what appears to be minimal fuss. While motoring in and out of Cat I've seen people hanging sheets/traps off the sides/front of the biminis to make in essence a cabin to get out of sun/rain.
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Old 05-03-2011   #7
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
I had a Cascade Outfitters umbrella that lasted hardly a season before breaking some pieces off, the little plastic pieces that hold the "ribs" in place. It still worked with a little duct tape fix but hardly any coverage.

Then for the wife's and my combined 30th gift from my siblings we got a River Sombrero 8'er. I thought to myself after using it a dozen times: How the EFF did I ever raft in the desert without one of these! I am very fair skinned so I enjoy my shade once the outside temp reaches +75. Plus you can drink way more beer when not in the sun all day long...

The sombrero was a savior on Cat last October as we had a few days of wind and heavy rain. Everyone on our trip was huddled underneath it and it held up to all the wind. We did put it down for one Red Squall that we saw come around a canyon corner. That squall hit us good and our 4HP motor couldn't even make any ground on it...

Sure, you could buy 10 umbrellas for the cost of one sombrero but you will be putting them up then taking them down when the wind picks up or your passenger farts or you could just buy one Sombrero and leave it up as long as you want shade. And it will be an on-river shelter when the rain hits.

One of these days I will get the wife to sew some velcro on the sides so we can hang side panels and enclose the whole thing and sleep on the boat...

good luck!
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Old 05-03-2011   #8
Summit County, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 153
calendar16, we're doing Cat in August and that's why we're looking into getting the Sombrero. Thanks for the input!
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Old 05-03-2011   #9
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262

You really can't go wrong with a Sombrero. The only thing I don't like about it is it sticks out proud of my tubes on my raft which has always concerned that if I broached a rock or had another raft slam into me that it could get mangled but so far no problems. Although, I don't think you would have this problem with a cat.
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Old 05-03-2011   #10
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
I will attempt to address some of the reasons that I am thinking of switching back to umbrellas from a bimini top (River Sombrero) but several of the reasons are specific to the way that we boat and might not apply to everyone.

First of all, we boat with young kids. We run our bimini top with it attached to the frame in front of the oarlocks. This provides the most shade in the “passenger area” at the front of the boat where my wife (or I) sits with the kids. I recognize that some of the irritants that I list below could be lessened if we attached the top behind the oarlocks, primarily shading the rower’s cockpit instead of the front passenger area.

With the mounting points in front of the oarlocks, there is a bit of dancing around (i.e., stowing the oars etc.) that needs to be done when putting the bimini top up or down.

One of the things I like about an umbrella is that it can be stowed in such a manner that it is completely out of the way (in a drop bag, dry box, or my “easy access” favorite is folded up right behind my cooler in front of the gear pile). Up or down, our bimini top always seems to be a little bit in the way.

With it up, getting on or off the boat is limited mostly to the front. It is possible to squeeze between some of the bars and straps and access the boat from the side (always a little difficult when the oars are shipped along the sides) or climb over the gear pile, sneak under the bimini top, and monkey walk near the side rails up to the front seating area, but it’s kind of a pain especially for young kids. An umbrella eliminates some of this hassle.

When the top is down, access to the side of the boat is improved but access to the rear is more difficult. The bimini crossbars fold down on top of our gear pile and form a “fence” (see picture). This makes it almost impossible for my kids to get on or off the boat from the back. In the picture the bimini mounting point on the frame has been moved all the way back until it is just in front of the oarlocks, usually it is closer to the front. If we weren’t trying to shade the passenger area, we could mount the bimini behind the oarlocks and possibly fold the whole thing down aft of the gear pile.

Additionally, before purchasing a bimini top I loved to strap things along the side rails (ammo cans, pumps, pelican cases, etc.). This isn’t really feasible anymore since the bimini folds down along the side rails. I really miss the side rail space. Again, this problem could be slightly, but not completely, alleviated by moving the top further back on the frame.

I have also found that the bimini top is inconvenient when loading and unloading the boat at camp, for all the reasons mentioned above… except now you are carrying heavy stuff to further complicate things.

I don’t really think that umbrellas are the ultimate solution, but they seem to fit our needs a little better. As mentioned by others, umbrellas are not as durable as a River Sombrero, nor do they perform as well in the wind, but I like to take down either one when I’m rowing in a stiff breeze so I don’t look like a sail boat blowing upstream.

Where bimini tops really excel is providing shade while motoring. In that case, an umbrella can’t compete.
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