14 footer or 16 footer - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-07-2009   #1
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 52
14 footer or 16 footer

New member here. First time posting. Planning on purchasing a new NRS Expedition boat but having decision throes whether to get a 14 footer or 16 footer. Here's how we plan to use it:
Family trips 5-6 people including over nighters, mostly in Colorado but with plans to float the Middle Salmon, San Juan and WestWater. And some paddle adventures on smaller rivers such as the Taylor
Boating Skills: My son is a kayaker and comfortable in Class IV conditions I run a duckie comfortably in class III water and will run class IV sections of otherwise Class III water, such as the Slot on the Taylor. Other adult members of the family can handle a duckey in class II-III water
None of us has much rafting experince. Experienced guides will be available until we are comfortable in class III water with the raft.

So, some gear questions: 1. 14 vs 16 footer?
2. expensive Sawyer oar safts with Dynalite blades?
3. trailer(type, brand) suggestions would also be appreciated

Thanks for the feedback


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Old 07-07-2009   #2
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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Posts: 1,849
with 5 to 6 people you will want the larger boat.
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Old 07-07-2009   #3
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 173
If its going to be a family boat then going bigger would be a good idea. As for the trailer i would just try making one. Any old trailer would work, just screw down some planks to make a flat surface and there you go.
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Old 07-07-2009   #4
Avon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 503
My opinions:

1. 16 footer (no question)

2. Sawyer MX-G with VG blades (tougher) no need to go ultra lite with the liteweight shafts and Dyna blades if you're not a Dory. Your 16 footer will be a people/gear hauler

3. like mentioned, buy a utility trailer and strap boards to it, cause raft specific traielrs are nice but too pricey and one dimensional

have fun. That will be my next purchase, 16' NRS expedition
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Old 07-07-2009   #5
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Mesa, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 266
I bought a 15' nrs last year. I use it for both paddle crew and overnight solo trips. I have run it with as many as eight people on class III water, worked fine. It is big enough to carry an extra person or two for overnighters although i have not done so yet. I am glad it is not smaller. With the boats you have already you will have more than one craft for overnighters, yes?
Whether U Think U Can, or Think U Can't; U R Right!
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Old 07-07-2009   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
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Clavey Oars

Thanks for this thread, Bob. I'm considering a similar purchase with similar uses in mind. I think I'll eventually go for a 16' boat.

My questions are these: Do any private (non-commercial) rafters use wood oars? Why or why not?

Eleven years ago I guided stern-mount oarboats on the Tuolumne and our company used Clavey solid ash oars. I don't recall one ever breaking, and I loved the feel of wood. But I've seldom seen private rafters using them. I've been out of the rafting scene for quite some time, but thinking about getting back in with my wife and kids. Any advice re wood paddles?
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Old 07-07-2009   #7
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,888
As others have said, go with the bigger boat. Once my other kid is born we'll have four plus a malamute on the boat, and I can't see doignt hat with a 14'. My friends who do had 14ers and are having kids are looking to sell and upgrade to bigger boats. (I have the Aire 156R). If you're going with a trailer regardless, the additional weight of 16 footer will be a non-issue; and almost all Colorado rivers are still manageable & fun in a bigger boat.

I'd also look at the Sawyer Polecats before dropping $400/ea on oars. Sweet deal for the money IMO - Unless you've still got the budget for it after spending $3000+ on rubber. I bought Cataracts and I like them, but I've also rowed my buddy's Polecats and thought they felt great too. They come ready to go w/ shaft, blade, counter balance, rope wrap, and oar stops. A lot of that stuff are add-ons to the Sawyer & Cataract shafts. Just something to think about.
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Old 07-07-2009   #8
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 69
Another vote for 16' - I had a 14' first and it was just not big enough for long trips with several passengers and gear - felt really overloaded and sluggish. My 16' has never felt overloaded and I have run it on Westwater at 1000 cfs with no problem. Love my Cataract oars and have friends who swear by wood - I think either is great - not a fan of the Carlisle oars - ok if you want cheap, but heavy and lousy flex. As for a trailer, I bought an ATV trailer, cut down the ramp to be the same height as the sides (like a tailgate) then put wood decks over the top so I can fit cooler, dry boxes, bags, etc. below. Probably only spent about $500.
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Old 07-07-2009   #9
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 156
I was in a similar situation and decided to go with a 15'. We did 7 days on the San Jaun with 2 adults and 2 kids, with enough room that when the kids grow up they will still fit. At 15' we are still able to raft most of the rivers around here, (I have done the filter plant run on the Poudre at 850cfs). I would not want anything smaller then 15' for over nighters.

I also went with the Sawyer Polecat oars (10') with the weighted handles. I got the whole package, shaft, rope wrap, donuts, blade and handles for about $150 each, and so far I have been happy with them.

For a trailer I bought an old boat trailer and put on a plywood deck.

good luck...
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Old 07-07-2009   #10
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
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Big boats are user friendly. Loading a bigger boat with all the gear is ten times faster and easier. Plus long days on the river with more room to move around is very pleasant. Not having to dig around for everything and not tripping over all the gear is safer in a larger boat. They hold more boozzz too. 16++ foot boat would be nice also.
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