Precautions for overweight rafters? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-04-2013   #1
 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 2013
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Precautions for overweight rafters?

My friend and I are doing a school project in which we're going to raft from Morgantown to Pittsburgh. I don't think there are really much of rapids on the way, though I may be mistaken about that. I've gone out on boats before, but I've never rafted. I have a few months to prepare.

My question is this: I weight roughly 300 pounds, and while I'm sure I'll be fine (I hike often, am very strong and toned, and have a lot of stamina), I'm worried about weight distribution on the raft. I don't want to sit in the wrong place and throw off the raft (12 foot) if we do have any issues. My friend is only about 120 pounds, and our combined gear is going to be about 60 pounds.

Do I need to worry about weight distribution or where I need to be sitting? Also, does anybody know about rapids on the Monongahela?

Thanks so much for your advice.

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Old 02-04-2013   #2
 
Horserump, Colorado
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I have no idea about rapids on the Monogahela but they may have some low head dams. Those will kill you dead. Do some more research on dams along the river over your route. As far as the weight goes it depends on what type and size raft you are going to be in. Do not use a walmart special. Get some good PFD's and wear them the whole time you're on the river. Have fun, be safe, and explore.
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Old 02-04-2013   #3
Jared
 
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Dundee, Oregon
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rafts

It's got a lot to do with the craft you run. If you are running a cheaper raft like something from Wal-mart then you will probably have one person in the front and one in the back. I used to weigh as much as 340 lbs, so I have some real experience in this area. You will want to be the guy in the back, a front heavy boat is no fun.
If you are running a whitewater style raft, you won't notice much of a difference if you sit side by side. If you do, have your friend sit towards the front and load your gear towards front as well. I typically paddle rafts with my Dad, he is around 200 and I'm at 280 now. I have a little stronger paddle stroke, so that helps tote my extra tonnage. We sit directly across from each other in a 12'8" Riken or a 14' Sotar.
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Old 02-04-2013   #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I'm 110 and my boyfriend is about 300 lbs. As far as weight distribution, I can tell you slightly more weight in the front is better than the back. But really it is ideal for you to sit more in the middle so boat is not too stern or bow heavy. Do not sit on the side, or the boat will tilt and not track right - be more centered in the middle if you can. Once you are both seated, place the gear where it will balance the boat, and bring more water than you think you'll need. Good for hydration AND weight distribution.
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Old 02-04-2013   #5
 
bruceton mills, West Virginia
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the Mon... really?

well.. I work in Morgantown.. .and out of all of our beautiful rivers here, it is suprising to hear anyone actually being interested in floating on the disgusting sewer overflow that is is the Mon... BUT...

Regardless of your motivations... there are no low head dams or real rapids on this stretch, but there are both commercial and recreational vessels that require registration for their use on this waterway... and then ofcourse u have the lock system...

So, if you have not already researched the 9 dam/lock passes on the stretch from Fairmont to Pittsbrugh... and the corresponding restrictions, laws, permits and fees... it might be in your best interest to do so....

As far as weight disto.... I have R2ed in my Aire Super Puma with a 300-325# fellow a few times... it isnt the worlds greatest arrangement... but it is manageable... particuarly on flat water, like the Mon... ( except for those lock outflows/eddies swirls - be careful there)
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Old 02-04-2013   #6
 
Red lodge, Montana
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As a former river guide (whatever that's worth), I"d agree that a front or side heavy boat can be unruly and harder to steer. That said I've had a few big guys and gals fall in the drink...now the work begins. It can be very hard to get em back in the boat. That I always felt was the hardest part of the deal, especially if there is a feature approaching. Keep your PFD properly adjusted and buckled, or you may be wearing it around your head as they pull you in.
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Old 02-04-2013   #7
 
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Summit, Colorado
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There are a lot of variables if there is whitewater and you are running oars instead of paddles weight up front. If you are paddling then you will be able to move around and figure it out on the water. Like said before make sure you know about the dam sitch, and wear your pfds if you spend decent money on one it will be comfy and a good investment when you devote your life to being river trash. Welcome to the gang
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Old 02-04-2013   #8
 
River City, Oregon
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To add to what has been said here. If this longer trip is going to be your first trip out with your gear, before you head out on a multiday trip perhaps try it out on a day trip first. Even if it's just for an hour or so. Rig it how you think it will work best, then move things around. You didn't mention if you will be paddling or rowing with a frame. If your just paddling with 2 it works pretty well to sit on the sides, just behind the front thwart. Then put the Heavy gear in the middle. You can throw light stuff in the very back if you need the room. If you are using a frame, maybe have the cooler up front as a seat for the lighter person. But on mostly flat water you can get away with some unequal distribution. With only 60lb of gear 2 people are going to be the biggest ballast in the boat, and really easy to adjust as you move your positions around the boat.

But try I out on a short trip before you go. Have fun.
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Old 02-04-2013   #9
 
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Charleston, West Virginny
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I have to ask...what sort of school project is this? I went to WVU and I thought I had some cool classes?

There is approximately 100 miles between morgantown proper until the Mon meets the Ohio River in Pittsburgh...all flatwater (no rapids whatsoever) with 6 or so locks and dams. THAT WILL BE ALOT OF PADDLING/ROWING IN A RAFT! In a kayak or even canoe it would be doable but still a crazy distance on such slow water.

Are you staying on the water? The Mon is very developed and pretty much all of the shore is private-so camping will be an issue unless very well thought out.

Oh and watch out for commercial barges, especially if you aren't profecient at paddling, they can and will run right over you.

As mwunder alluded to, we here in WV have hundreds of good safe floats to choose from that would pretty much all provide better scenery, fishing, water quality and possible camping options...but again I don't know what the point of the project is.

Lemme know if you would like other suggestions.
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Old 02-04-2013   #10
 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2kanzam View Post
I have to ask...what sort of school project is this? I went to WVU and I thought I had some cool classes?

There is approximately 100 miles between morgantown proper until the Mon meets the Ohio River in Pittsburgh...all flatwater (no rapids whatsoever) with 6 or so locks and dams. THAT WILL BE ALOT OF PADDLING/ROWING IN A RAFT! In a kayak or even canoe it would be doable but still a crazy distance on such slow water.

Are you staying on the water? The Mon is very developed and pretty much all of the shore is private-so camping will be an issue unless very well thought out.

Oh and watch out for commercial barges, especially if you aren't profecient at paddling, they can and will run right over you.

As mwunder alluded to, we here in WV have hundreds of good safe floats to choose from that would pretty much all provide better scenery, fishing, water quality and possible camping options...but again I don't know what the point of the project is.

Lemme know if you would like other suggestions.
Wow, all of you guys are so helpful! Thank you all so much!

I go to a small college in Pittsburgh and they let you design your own courses if you're a responsible student. I really just love picking projects I really love and then "applying" some sort of learning opportunity to them (like when I did a documentary, or a photo exhibit). The point of the project is to chart a course and then rely on river maps and geographical area maps to safely and efficiently navigate 100 miles of river. I chose the Mon because it seemed like a low-risk river that was easy for me to get to (I need to bus down to wherever we're starting, and it's very easy to get to Morgantown.)

I'll be paddling, so now I'm a bit worried about my weight throwing off the side weight. I suppose I could put the gear next to me, but then we'd be very back-heavy and my friend would be in front with no weight. What do you guys think about this?
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