To those pushing big rubber.... - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-01-2019   #1
 
jakebrown98's Avatar
 
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 206
To those pushing big rubber....

I think I have finally talked myself into purchasing a big (18') raft and have a few questions for those with experience or just a different perspective. I've rowed Grand Canyon a couple times in rented boats and spent a few seasons up on the Nenana pushing cruise ship passengers down big water but most of my experience is on medium and small rafts. The reason I want a big boat is to have room to take people who can't get themselves down the river on easy to moderate whitewater. I'll have all the group camping equipment and my own wife and daughters in the boat already so the 15' and 16' boats are basically maxed out.

The biggest question I have is about the longer, skinnier 18 footers, like the 176R and the Hyside 18' that is only 7'8" wide. I like that I will fit more comfortably through tight slots on the Rogue and other rivers and that I can press the frame and oars of my 16' boat into service for a while if need be. I don't like that those boats just seem misproportioned. I paddle guided some of those 18' Hyside paddle boats and they were pretty ungainly with just a guidestick in my hand. We had frames for them but I never used one. Also, unless I bought a package, I'm not sure I'd ever buy the big dry boxes and huge coolers that will fit in a full width 18er so I don't know that I need that extra 8 to 10" of width.

I've also seen written here several times how the standard ballast floor in the larger AIREs makes them more than a bit sluggish. If you have experience with that one way or another I'd love to hear it.

Most likely, if I do purchase one of these monster boats, it will be whatever comes up for sale in my area at a decent price but it would be great to hear people's thoughts that are actually out there using these beasts on private trips.

Thanks!

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Old 02-08-2019   #2
 
Lehi, Utah
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 21
I row a Maravia Monsoon (17.5') - I like the added width for stability, and the added length seems to help you roll through some of the bigger holes. I have hit stuff sideways that would have flipped other boats...and I didn't even spill my drink.

My first few trips took some getting used to, it just seemed like I had so much boat behind me when oaring backwards or navigating a turn. I was coming from a 16' cat though. Now that I have gotten used to it, I don't even notice that I'm rowing the Titanic. I can get my raft through anything that my buddies with the 15 and 14 footers have gone through...so far. I have room for days in the bow and stern. I throw two paco pads up front, and it literally is about the size of a queen mattress up there.

The biggest disadvantages are storage (barely get it into the garage inflated), if you flip it, it's going to be a pain to get it righted (will probably require a z-drag), and most gear seems to be made for boats 16' and smaller. That means special ordering some items...extra long oars, drop bags, bimini doesn't cover the whole thing, etc. - and in addition, you will be the cargo barge for all items that others don't want to carry because you "have the room"

I am setup with a frame and oars though - I can't imagine trying to move this beast with a guide paddle. I also ditched the dry boxes in favor of dry bags in combination with drop bags/pacific bag - it's a much lighter setup and the boat maneuvers easily.
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Old 02-08-2019   #3
 
MT4Runner's Avatar
 
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
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I have the Aire 156R and used to have a Maravia Williwaw 2 (16').


Quote:
=jakebrown98]I've also seen written here several times how the standard ballast floor in the larger AIREs makes them more than a bit sluggish. If you have experience with that one way or another I'd love to hear it.
I had the Maravia when it was 10-20 years old, and the floor was getting pinholes so I sold it and bought the Aire. I still miss the stiffness of the Maravia dropstitch floor.
I love the stiffness of the 156R, but I HATE the standard ballast floor in it. I couldn't imagine a ballast floor in a bigger boat.




I don't have much more to add...I like the 156, it's a great multiday boat...but I don't see myself wanting a bigger boat. I also have only done multidays with 2-3 in it, and if you had a family of 4-5, an 18' boat could make for a more comfortable ride (albeit less interesting in whitewater)
I think I'd want a 14-15' boat for regular use and rent an 18' boat for the annual multiday...unless your family is fortunate enough to have the time/schedule/budget/luck to do multiple multidays each year.

Interested to read the responses in this thread.
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Old 02-08-2019   #4
 
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
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Rowling the 18 ft. will not be that much different than your 16 ft., just more room for you, like you want. They start to become pig boats when you really, really start to add weight, shit load of grill kits, water bottles, 4 to 6 coolers, cases of beer, luggage etc. Than the ability to read the river at different levels, pick the correct lines when it becomes very technical ( rocks, bigger rocks, rapids, eddies etc.) Because the very heavy pig boat doesn't like to move, so the set up is very important because you will zapp all your energy quickly, than it just becomes a big shit show. If just used for a little more room for a few extra passenger's and gear the transition will go smoothly for you and with your back ground you will have no problems adjusting to the bigger boat eather way you want to use it. You will definitely enjoy the bigger boat. Have fun.
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Old 02-08-2019   #5
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymo View Post
They start to become pig boats when you really, really start to add weight, shit load of grill kits, water bottles, 4 to 6 coolers, cases of beer, luggage etc. ... Because the very heavy pig boat doesn't like to move, so the set up is very important because you will zapp all your energy quickly, than it just becomes a big shit show.
I stopped running my 16' raft on daytrips because I ended up with too many drunk passengers who were just dead weight. haha.

OP, I'm assuming this doesn't pertain to your daughters.
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Old 02-08-2019   #6
Never enough free time
 
Red Lodge, Montana
Paddling Since: 1998
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My previous boat was a 16'8'' Incept. I didn't notice it when rigged with stuff for just my family (which is a lot. 4 people 2 dogs). No problem sneaking down tight water.

I could keep it rigged nice and flat and it moved just fine... but it never failed that on multi-day trips with bigger groups there was always someone in the 14' boat that started throwing stuff my way because, hey, you've got a big boat and your stack is barely above the tubes.

I'm apparently too nice of a guy to tell my friends to pound sand so I always ended up with everyone else's overflow. Then it was a a HUGE pig that took a while to get moving so setting up early was key.
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Old 02-08-2019   #7
 
jakebrown98's Avatar
 
Portland, Oregon
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Thank's a lot for the responses, guys. I looked up the specs on that Maravia Monsoon and it looks pretty sweet. I wish I had the barn to store it in. I know Maravia makes a quality product, but I've seen how well they roll up... or don't roll up. It can't be good for a boat like that to be rolled up for 350 days a year. It is very similar in size to the big skinny 18' Hysides and the 176R so thanks especially for your input.

Fortunately, I do get out on mulitiple multidays per year. Currently we have three scheduled with the kiddos for this spring and summer and are planning at least one more. Most of these are three or four day trips and I never feel like dealing with the hassle of renting for trips that long. Also, I don't know anyone in Oregon that rents boats that big. But, it would be worth asking a few more outfits if I'm actually contemplating the purchase.
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Old 02-08-2019   #8
 
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Portland, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT4Runner View Post
I stopped running my 16' raft on daytrips because I ended up with too many drunk passengers who were just dead weight. haha.

OP, I'm assuming this doesn't pertain to your daughters.
Not for a long time. At this point I just need enough space for them to both fall asleep at nap time with one sprawled out to either side of my wife. . So maybe I should be looking for the widest boat I can find as last year I had to choose whose sleeping feet I would be splashing from time to time.

We actually fit great in either my Avon Expedition or old Pro bucket boat, but I just can't haul the weight of another family (even though they are pretty small people) or my parents in those boats.

I've got no problem telling people to pound sand and mostly I tend to paddle with those friends on the weekend and not on family floats.
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Old 02-08-2019   #9
 
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Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
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You might consider the NRS Hualapai design as well. AIRE modeled their 176R after it but used traditional round tubes. The Hualapai uses a diminished tube design with a skinnier width that makes for a really maneuverable large boat. I've ran them commercially for years and they are by far one of my favorite designs. Go anywhere bring anything. Plus it's hypalon and you can roll it up easily to store.
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Old 02-08-2019   #10
 
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Portland, Oregon
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Thanks for the Hualapai suggestion; that's one I hadn't thought of. Also, there are still a few of the original Rikens that pop up used every once in a while. Now I know to take a close look if that happens.
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