Bunch of Beginner Raft Frame / Oar Questions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-06-2009   #1
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 229
Bunch of Beginner Raft Frame / Oar Questions

So I bought a 15' raft, and after doing about 10 trips this past season (4 time down the Gorge, 3 down Browns, Westwater and others), we are wanting to progress to bigger water and multiday trips. So the next step seemed to be getting some kind of frame. I have read a bunch of past topics on frames and oars, and I had some questions for some questions I couldn't find.

I can get a good deal on a stern mount frame. Looking at the videos from 4-Corners, it looks like you can run some pretty big water with this setup(in my world that will be Browns/Royal Gorge around 2-3k and Westwater during June). Would this be a better frame to do this with, if I still wanted to have 2-6 people in front paddling compared to a typical center mount frame? How much gear could I put onto the frame if we wanted to take this for an overnight trip with 5-6 people?

Is this a stupid idea and I should just stick to paddle rafting? I have never oared before, and I would definitely start on some easier Class II/III- runs to try and get the hang of it.

The third part is about oars. Seems to be a lot of discussion on Carlisle vs Cataract, with most people saying Carlisle is not that good. For 50% more, would Cataracts be good for someone staring out, or should I go for the cheaper Carlisles? I guess what I want is something strong that will be able to take my "learning curve". Is someone with no rowing experience going to be able to tell the difference?

Last part. The frame I can get a good deal on is a 66" inch frame, and my boat is 62". The guy who sold it to me says that this isn't a big deal and will fit. And he recommended getting 9.5' oars. Does that sound good? Would that be good for both a stern frame along with a center frame if I ever step up. I found a good deal on 9 and 10 foot oars. Which one would be the better one to get with my setup?

Sorry for all the questions. Please let me know if you have any knowledge - BS

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Old 12-06-2009   #2
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 95
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 109
Give Ron at RiverboatWorks in Salida a call, he can answer all your questions and build a custom frame for you if you want one. I can definitely tell a difference between my back up Carlisle and our Sawyer composite oars, the Sawyer's are more fun to row and feel alive in your hands (I know, they are just oars.).

my $.02

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Old 12-06-2009   #3
West By God, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 326
You should get a center mount frame, it will be way more useful and versatile, although you will probably be hard pressed to put more thanfour paddlers in your boat, two in the front and two in the rear.

Premium oars are nice but Carlise oars are sufficient for your needs.

There are some good threads on here about oar/frame sizing. Generally, 9.5-10ft. oars will probably work for you.
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Old 12-06-2009   #4
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C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,782
For your first oars, I'd recommend Carlisles too. You'll always need a spare set in the future as some rivers require two spares. Carlisles are good beaters and much cheaper to loose or break. I use them for rocky runs like Browns Canyon or the Ark in general. I save my Cataracts for bigger rivers like the Green and Colorado.

I've never seen a stern mount frame used for a gear boat. I'm sure someones done it. I think it would be really tough rowing one into a headwind.
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Old 12-06-2009   #5
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Carbondale, Colorado
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Center mount is the way to go for overnight use, as stated above. Stern frames really just hold oars - that's it. No infrastructure for gear, perfect for taking eight tourists on a day run.
Furthermore, an oar's forces are applied to the boat at the oarlocks. Application of these forces at different points fore/aft makes a giant difference in maneuverability. Imagine being a 20' tall giant and leaning over to grab a boat's oar towers to pivot the boat. It is easy to twirl the boat if you are grabbing oar towers at the boat's center. Leverage works against you if those points you grab are at one end or another.
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Old 12-07-2009   #6
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Durango, Colorado
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It sounds like you plan to row with paddle support most of the time. If that is true, then a stern frame works well. I used a stern frame for 8 days on Deso two years ago with two people up front and all of our gear and for the most part it worked fine. With a stern frame, you really need people up front at least as ballasts if not paddle support.

We also use them for commercial trips which, as a guide, allows you to have really bad paddlers on board-versus paddle-guiding.

If you plan to row solo or with non-paddling passengers, a center frame is a must. It's really hard to get forward momentum from the back of the boat. I don't see much difference in maneuvering as long as you have adequate weight in the front.
"There is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?" -Wind in the Willows
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Old 12-07-2009   #7
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Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
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Posts: 223
The stern frame will work as a gear hauling set up in a pinch. You will be able to take more of your friends down this way, however I really doubt you will be able to take all of your friends and their gear. With a center mounted gear frame, you not only have a better angle for your oars on the water, but you gain the ability to hold your gear in the frame, and not on the floor of the raft.
If money is the problem with you buying a center mount frame, I have seen many many home made frames built from 2x6 lumber. While not as light and sexy as a custom aluminum frame, it will definitely give you a few good years of use while you save for a fancy riverboatworks custom frame.
I guess your other option is to have one of these 6 "friends" of yours partner with you and buy a frame to go on your raft. I bought my first set up with a couple of friends and it worked out quite well. Just remember that the best partner to own river gear is not the guy with the most river experience, but the one with the best job and the most money. He inevitably will have less time off to use it.
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Old 12-07-2009   #8
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Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 330
Stoked to hear you are looking into a frame. Keep all this knowledge handy, as I'll be asking you all these questions in the spring when I get mine!

To contribute to the thread: it seems like self supporting an overnight trip with the crew you roll with will be pretty hard. I could see you and your better half, but the rest of the crew will more then likely push you over the limit since every body also adds more gear. I'd say get the center mount as carrying gear will not be a problem with such a set up. Can't wait for next season, we need to throw down a few overnighters. I'm hooked.
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Old 12-07-2009   #9
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Join Date: May 2005
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Learning to row with a stern mount would be harder than starting in the center.
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Old 12-07-2009   #10
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Everyone, thanks for the info. Just to explain a little more about what I want to do. I first want to make it safer for everyone in the raft. Most people that I go with are now somewhat experienced, but when I become somewhat proficient at rowing, I assume it will be safer for everyone else than if I was just paddling. Is that right?

While it would be nice to have a big center mounted frame, I am more interested in making it safer, then having the ability to multiday and strap stuff to the frame. I guess I would be a little scared having two people behind me if I was rowing from the center and not knowing if anything happened to them. If I could take me and three others for 4 or 5 days, I would be happy. I don't plan to use the raft/frame solo, so a lot of the concerns people had hopefully won't occur.

TakeMeToTheRiver, would you have any pics of your raft when you took 2 people for 8 days? Was it insanely packed on the boat?
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