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My spouse and I get into these crazy heated arguments, usually at the launch ramp, about how long it takes to load and unload our raft. And, why rafting is not that relaxing because it takes so much effort to get out on the river or lake. We can't "pre-load" the raft as our utility trailer is not set up for a good dunk and our van is only front wheel drive so if we couldn't get enough traction (wet, muddy or sandy) things would get ugly fast.

We have a 16ft raft with frame that is decent at accommodating 2 adults, 1 teenager (she watches the pups at the launch- not able to be a physical helper), and 2 medium size (40+ lb) pups- if set up with a "plan". We are desert rats so we freeze easily (aka- large sleeping bags, the tent is a necessity, warm clothes, etc). We tend to hang a lot of dry bags off of the sides (which prevents the dogs from falling out), and strategically set up for pups to walk around a bit. I admit we bring a lot of cargo, but if we didn't 40-60% of the occupants would be too much too deal with. Because we are newer to rafting we also tend to bring our motor with just in case (for winds or injury or when we leave 3 freaking hrs later than anticipated!!), which also requires set up time. We usually go for one to three nights and can't seem to spend less than 2-3 hrs loading the dang raft. At least 90% of the bags, coolers, dry box, etc. are set up prior to the launch ramp so really it is a lot of moving (from inside the raft on the trailer, under the raft, in the van), strapping the bags (we only do Class I-II), and leveling the pup areas. (Call me anal retentive, but I have also made up a diagram of where things should go on the raft so that my spouse and I don't get into another argument and also the raft than is mostly balanced.)

Is this a normal timeframe?

Does anyone do anything differently when they bring their family with to make things easier? Are there any sort of attachments to make things easier? (I bought the NRS drop bag which we use for our 7 gallon waters in the middle bay, and we have the NRS Raft Cargo Platform- which I can't figure out where to use since our raft is so full). Although sometimes I dream about it ...leaving my family at home is not an option. I appreciate any sort of advice because I am really starting to dislike my happy place ...the river.

Thank you ahead of time for your insight and experience!
 

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You should post pics of your setup or compare to the raft porn thread. I have a wife and 3 kids. I do all my setup at home over the course of a few days. I top off the tubes and am off the ramp in 5 mins. What kind of put ins are you using? Where are you based out of? Hours with a wife, grown kid and dogs seems outrageous to me. How you have your setup done will help people answer your questions.
 

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I didn't read the full post but am just replying to the question: I could spend all day.
 

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Yes, way too long. I have wife, teenaged daughter and 2 dogs as well.
mutiday trip at put in, we’re on in 20 minutes, breaking camp on river, 45 minutes if we’re solo. We’re efficient but enjoy a cocktail or 2 while rigging. Not a huge rush. Same deal with bro trips. I don’t preload my boat as well, but I have everything ready in back of truck for the quick transfer.
Couple thoughts..
-If you have a schematic for where your gear goes, you bring way too much shit.
-I’d lose the motor if your using it just to catch up to people, wake up earlier or something. That stresses me out just thinking about it.
-Dogs, I wouldn’t bring my dogs if I was worried about them falling in or them being good boys at the put in. Sounds like they might be pampered. But I do appreciate you having kid watch them at put in if they can’t chill by themselves, tons of bad dog owners with bad dogs running around at put ins. My point is, get the dogs lined out and you’ll have that extra body to help.
-Finally, you say “heated arguments“ at the boat ramp with the wife. My wifes job at the put in is keeping my drink full and chatting with other groups. At boat camp she and kid pack their personal dry bags and help with the kitchen, that’s pretty much it. Point being is you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen, one of you is slowing the group down with over packing and over thinking.
you said you’re relatively new, you’ll figure it out, or not. I agree with James above, I have a buddy that has done hundreds of multi days and is just as slow as his first time, pretty sure it’s a untreatable disease.
good luck dude
 

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I have a checklist. I made it on google sheets. It’s divided into:
Raft/Camping/Kitchen/Food Pack/Personal Gear

It’s 6 pages long and goes in a clipboard. I’m always messing around with its contents. There’s 2 columns: Have and Packed. Do we have it, and is it packed?

It takes me about 5-6 hours to get propane, shop for groceries, pack all our group and personal gear, load most of the boat(or boats; on a trailer) and put the rest on the truck. This is whether the trip is 1 day or 9 days. If it’s 10-15 people and I’m doing the group cooking, and the menu is set, it adds another 4-5 hours.

I have never forgot anything super critical (but some small stuff) due to using a checklist. It’s only as good as your ability to use it. It keeps things really civil between my wife and daughter, friends and families. I share copies with my family and friends prior to the trip.

I don’t have a diagram of where things go. That’s a changing target. In general if you know you have the gear you need with you, it’s less stressful. Bummer you can’t rig them on the trailer. I have a dedicated raft trailer and it’s a rare day I need 4wd or need to dip the axles. I just shove it close enough and drag it. 16’ fully loaded, with my wife.

A checklist doesn’t make you not fun or nerdy. It keeps things fun by taking out the need to rely solely on our brains, which are already having to process transportation, navigation, meals, group dynamics and weather.

Give it a whirl!
 

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I'd say from the time I roll up to the ramp to push off on a multi day trip...........3 to 4 hours. 16 foot Avon with motor. Take an hour or so off that if someone is helping me. Lacing in the beaver tails is one of the more time consuming jobs. I've found that overnight or multi day trips require taking about the same amount of gear along, just less food and cooler space to worry about.

Pretty much the norm for me on any rafting multi day trip is to arrive as early as I can. I'm talking at least a day early, especially for Deso or San Juan. Nothing like pulling in at night and blowing up boats to help unwind from the drive.
The next morning its fun watching all the confusion and tension of the group's trying to launch that day. As soon as they all leave..........bring your boats and gear down from camp to an empty beach and finish rigging for an early morning launch. 😎
 

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A few strategies to make things go easier would be to pre rig loop straps for strapping down things. an everything bag and some hatches can really speed things up. Adding a motor is Definitely going to complicate things at the put in and take out. A 16 foot boat has room for 2 hatches a cooler and dry box bay. If you are spending a ton of time rigging boxes and coolers into your frame you could speed things up by having tabs welded on your box and using a canyon prospector or navigator.

Last thing to remember is you are on vacation enjoy the river, no need to argue or get frustrated at the put in or take out.
 

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Not sure what the ramps look like where you're boating, but having a dedicated raft trailer would greatly speed your rigging time at the ramp. I can't remember the last time I've need 4WD to put my boat/trailer out. If you absolutely can't have the dedicated trailer, I'd make peace with it, get there early (maybe the day before?) and have a drink while rigging. It's better than being at work.
 

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Wow. That much rigging for class 1-2? My first day of a multi day takes a bit to get it all figured out but after that not so much. Your 16 year old doesn't help except to watch the dogs? That sounds like a guest not a participant, send the wife to walk the dogs and make your kid help. Maybe send them both away and just do your thing. In terms of the arguing at the ramp...there can be only one 'captain'. You rig until you are happy and that is that. If she wants to help great. Have stuff there when it needs to be. Maybe let her do the rig and you assist but there really shouldn't be an argument about it before you even start. You have a diagram FFS, how hard can it be?

I do find that color coding straps does help me. All my four footers are green, sixes are dark blue, 10 footers are light blue etc. I also pre-rig straps in their locations even if I am not tying the gear on before travel. Good luck, it can be a life long battle to get rigged, but take the stress out...it is what it is.
 

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After many years sitting on the ramp at westwater watching people rig for class 3 and 4, I'd say most of them get it accomplished in 45 minutes to an hour. Husband and wife teams usually have a system, the husband rigs the wife brings. Now Ruby horse thief people de-rigging at the ramp can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, because it seems they bring everything they own! Huge piles of gear for an overnight trip. Never seen anything like it.

I would suggest pairing your load down to the absolute necessities, and some things that would be nice to have. Take a trip see how it works out, make a note and eliminate what you don't use but brought anyway. Agree with other people's observation that your wife should be taking care of the dog and your kid helping to rig. Spend a lot of time telling the kid where things go and when they end up there praise them by saying good job, repeatedly, it'll instill a sense of ownership into them, and make them want to do it again, and take pride in doing it correctly
 

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Early in my rafting days I was invited on a Gates of Ladore trip with a group of retired raft guides. They had been boating together for decades and had it down to a near perfect plan. On the ramp the boats were loaded and in the water in less than 20 minutes. During the trip they were loaded in less than 10 minutes. It was a thing of beauty, like watching a well oiled machine.

On the other hand I have friends that will take 4-5 hours to load and rig for the same trip. The difference is simply good organization and planning.

The experienced boaters showed up with all the dry bags and coolers packed. No rearranging at the last minute. They knew where the straps were stored and had them pre-sorted by length and size. They had a rigging plan (written down on paper!), they new where each piece of gear was to go. And one person was in charge of loading, the boat captain.

One of the best purchases I have ever made is a big 'everything bag' similar to this: Everything Bag Cut my loading time in half.

Having a bad time on the ramp can really be stressful and is a poor start to the trip. Here are some things I do to make the rigging a bit stressful
1) If possible I like to arrive the night before and get a good nights rest. Or at least be with an hours drive.
2) Arrive early, less crowd and less desert heat improve the ramp experience.
3) Have a good meal before rigging. Hungry, tired cranky folks don't get along as well. I always pack some snacks for the ramp, feed anyone that seems cranky.
4) Have good group coordination so everyone is ready at the same time. Communicate clearly, we will arrive at the ramp at 8:00, we will rig and launch by 9:30. So everyone is on the same page.
5) For me rigging is a work in progress. Each time I load the boat I get a little better at it. I have started taking photos of the well rigged boat to use as a reference on the next trip. I also wrote down my strap usage, no more guessing.

Want to have the worst day on the ramp? Arrive late, drunk or hung over. Drive 5-6 hours non-stop and arrive tired and foggy headed. Time it so you can be on a concrete ramp when the desert temperature will be well over 100 degrees. Pack in a rush and leave critical things at home. Don't use a list, just wing it. Skip lunch because you are running late. Forget to gas up so your shuttle driver has to do it for you. Don't pack things ahead of time so you can be sorting cloths, food and gear on the ramp in huge 'garage sale' pile while your stuff gets mixed in with other groups.
 

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Early in my rafting days I was invited on a Gates of Ladore trip with a group of retired raft guides. They had been boating together for decades and had it down to a near perfect plan. On the ramp the boats were loaded and in the water in less than 20 minutes. During the trip they were loaded in less than 10 minutes. It was a thing of beauty, like watching a well oiled machine.

On the other hand I have friends that will take 4-5 hours to load and rig for the same trip. The difference is simply good organization and planning.

The experienced boaters showed up with all the dry bags and coolers packed. No rearranging at the last minute. They knew where the straps were stored and had them pre-sorted by length and size. They had a rigging plan (written down on paper!), they new where each piece of gear was to go. And one person was in charge of loading, the boat captain.

One of the best purchases I have ever made is a big 'everything bag' similar to this: Everything Bag Cut my loading time in half.

Having a bad time on the ramp can really be stressful and is a poor start to the trip. Here are some things I do to make the rigging a bit stressful
1) If possible I like to arrive the night before and get a good nights rest. Or at least be with an hours drive.
2) Arrive early, less crowd and less desert heat improve the ramp experience.
3) Have a good meal before rigging. Hungry, tired cranky folks don't get along as well. I always pack some snacks for the ramp, feed anyone that seems cranky.
4) Have good group coordination so everyone is ready at the same time. Communicate clearly, we will arrive at the ramp at 8:00, we will rig and launch by 9:30. So everyone is on the same page.
5) For me rigging is a work in progress. Each time I load the boat I get a little better at it. I have started taking photos of the well rigged boat to use as a reference on the next trip. I also wrote down my strap usage, no more guessing.

Want to have the worst day on the ramp? Arrive late, drunk or hung over. Drive 5-6 hours non-stop and arrive tired and foggy headed. Time it so you can be on a concrete ramp when the desert temperature will be well over 100 degrees. Pack in a rush and leave critical things at home. Don't use a list, just wing it. Skip lunch because you are running late. Forget to gas up so your shuttle driver has to do it for you. Don't pack things ahead of time so you can be sorting cloths, food and gear on the ramp in huge 'garage sale' pile while your stuff gets mixed in with other groups.
A hearty second third and fourth and fifth for the everything bag, worth every last penny, toss it in the bag cinch it up throw a strap over the top of it and you are done. For what it's worth I think your pooches will like sitting on top of it as well because they can grab into the mesh with their toenails and it won't hurt a thing
 

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Sounds like a goddamned shitshow.

Before we had a trailer we were at about 1.5 hours to inflate and rig for an overnight trip.

Have a general idea where things will live. Though your mention of "hanging dry bags off to the sides" has me puzzled. Do you mean you're hanging dry bags to the outsides of your tubes? Like dangling near the water??

Anyway, have an idea of where you'll rig everything. Then, my approach for rigging is that Boat Captain is in the boat in the water and Assistant is ferrying gear from shore. "Ok, now hand me the green dry bag. Now the stove. Paco pads will be next, then the red dry bag..." Once you get some practice at it (particularly on, say, day 4 of a multiday float), Assistant should have a good idea of what bits come next. The approach avoids asses-and-elbows on the boat, and should cut down on all arguing.

As for how things are setup in my boat: Bow is for passenger legs and a couple snack drybags attached to internal D-rings. Front bay is for heavy things (water, metal), covered by a table, covered by pacos for a passenger seat. Then a big drybox (food and kitchen, plus other sundry shit). Then captain's foot bay with a day cooler to one side, first aid/pin/misc. captain's box to the other. Seat over cooler in Bay 4. Stern has a floor, it gets the soft things + sometimes propane bomb, covered by a mesh beaver tail.
 
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