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Discussion Starter #1
I just got another 9 foot cat and have been watching a lot of rafting videos. I still have my old 9' cat and 16' cat both about 20 years old, Ive had both since new. I see many people rigging up to run heavy on the front end or have the rowing seat closer to the front, where my friends and I always run ass end heavy with the seat back of center frame on the bigger rafts. On the 9 footers I try and keep it floating centered unless its a 3-4 day trip then I run ass heavy.

Is there an advantage to running heavy in the front?
 

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I don't have a cataraft, but for my rafts I always try to keep the boat flat and even as possible when it comes to weight distribution.

If I have to have one end heavier, I always go for front heavy. My reasoning is that it will act like a battering ram through waves and holes. It also feels to me like I get pulled through the stuff that stops me more when I have weight up front.

With more weight in the back, it seems like you'd be more likely to to nose over through big holes and waves. Not sure how true that is, but I imagine its a factor of how extreme the weight distribution difference is.

Still, like I said, I do my best to keep it as flat as possible. This seems to work by sitting on my cooler and having a drybox in front of me. I do a few rocket boxes, a few water jugs and/or a fire pan or similar up front, and my duffel pile behind me. My oar towers are +/- 6" from center and I sit behind them, so technically there is more boat in front of me then behind. I'm usually pretty dang flat in this orientation or at least within an inch or so people tell me when I ask.

In my small boat I use my drybox as a captains box, so I have room next to me and will often do my water jugs next to me instead of captains boxes. That configuration has always done me well and I don't avoid the big hits unless they are a near certainty to flip me.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That actually makes sense running front heavy.

Our reasoning running ass heavy is we can keep the front end in the shallows better around bends and depending we will go sideways into rapids and keep the hind end in the deep water, with the cats and big oars we can rotate quickly. We also have to keep watch if we have fishing rods out front.

Ive only been in a paddle raft once so you can yell at me for being ignorant on those.

I run ass heavy and depending on the hole or rapid Ill back through it on the 16'er, the 9'ers have big oars as well so I try and power through, Ill back through if Im really loaded down.

If its a shallow run I can go to the bow with the dog and try and swing it around with the big boat and still be on the oars on the big boat.

I guess I need to find bigger water and see what works better for me ass down or up.

Its been a while since Ive been on anything bigger then a class 2 or 3. I lost my glasses in the Chattahochie River 25+ years ago in a canoe.

I may keep my 16' Jag after all, I now want to run 6 Mile Creek solo on the Jag.

ETA: I run level on day trips or just fishing. I only drag my rear end when I load up for a trip.
 

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I recently bought a 16' cat,and did a lot or research/reading about weight distribution, oar placement, etc.

Here is what I learned (you probably know much of this already):

A cat's performance is more effected by weight distribution than round boats. Running heavy, weight should be as evenly distributed as possible.

Running light, you want a little more wight in the front than in the back. Two main reasons--

1. You will punch through holes waves better. Forward oar placement also helps you push through those same same features.

2. Back ferrying is more efficient if you are a little heavier in the front.

When I got the boat, the oarsman seat was a couple of feet behind centerline. I took the frame apart, put the oarsman's weight on the centerline with the oar towers about 8' forward of the center line.

The boat fells a lot better with this configuration.

I have read a couple of post about cat boaters using a water tight cooler in the front of boat to load water (weight) to trim the boat.

Happy boating!
 

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Great conversation. I agree with okscout. I keep my seat just behind center line and oar towers in front. That way, while working the oars my weight is pretty much center. I usually run multi-days so I am carrying gear. I am going to be doing some day trips on the McKenzie this weekend and might move forward a bit since I won't be carrying gear just to test the forward theory.

Enjoy the water, there's plenty of it!
 

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I like running slightly front heavy most all the time. Think about it, the current will grab the heaviest part of the boat, if its the ass you will constantly be trying to stop the back of the boat from going down stream. If the front is heavy you will notice that the boat wants to nose downstream with the current with much less effort. Try it. It seems to work for me. Other advantages have already been mentioned, hole punching especially is much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ill have to try running nose down ass up soon. It makes sense as we will run backwards through certain rapids, power though on the oars forward in others, and float sideways otherwise. Unloaded I run level. I also run longer oars then my friends. Running ass heavy we can do small channels that will barely fit the Aire Jag if we stand up and go backwards, cant row the oars just steer.

Those of you that use motors on the back, how does running nose down effect the motors performance going down stream? I have a motor but have never run it, I dont want the noise. I have a couple friends that also have a Jag and they have motors for the Little Su, if its low flow you can spend 6-8 hours pushing on the oars on the second day. Parts of the Kenai need a motor for a day run.
 

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bow heavy or bow light does not make much difference, learn how to row it and it is fine.
on a 9' cat, there is no option, load evenly.

i have 3 cats, big water boat is just slightly bow low, 14' big water/ multiday has always run slightly stern heavy. 11' boat runs even.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
bow heavy or bow light does not make much difference, learn how to row it and it is fine.
on a 9' cat, there is no option, load evenly..
Ill go with this, but running nose down may have an advantage with the oars. Been running ass heavy for 20 years.
 

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Up until a couple years ago I've run cats for most of my 20+ years of whitewater. Some of my friends have their cats set up for the rower to be right up front, with all their gear behind them. They say it helps they punch holes & waves better. I tried it and didn't like it at all. As jamesthomas pointed out above, it felt like the tail wagging the dog. I always was the most comfortable rowing from a centered position. Push, pull, spin, all can be achieved easily from a more centered position. I would load a little front heavy gear wise.

My raft is more forgiving in the load positioning department, but I still prefer to row from a more center position and try to keep things pretty level. I sure don't miss the gazillion straps required to rig my old cats :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I wouldnt like being forward of center rowing, but I will try nose down with the rowing seat just behind center, Im used to spinning the boat from there.

Running with the seat forward with the gear behind on the boat nose down it would be harder to jump up and spin the boat to bring the nose up and level out.

I dont want to scramble over gear to beach the boat, which is why I like the gear in the back.
 

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When rowing from the front, you really need to have your butt about center. Any further forward (or much) And it will feel like an elephant. You can't row from the front with a Utah or Colorado style load, it has to be smaller.
 
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