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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering purchasing a raft for our family camping adventures. We've been on guided whitewarer raft trips from Ohiopyle on the Yock and we are hooked on the sport now. We take family camping trips alot and I want to buy a raft that we can use on whitewater runs as well as mount a motor onto so we can use it to explore flat rivers and lakes and do some fishing from. We are taking 4 weeks during summer 2010 to travel cross country with our camper and want to raft some canyon rivers and canyon lakes out west. A couple questions: I was thinking I want a self bailing for the whitewater fun, and I was wondering how well does the self bailing raft do with a motor on it. We would be using the raft just as much on if not more on flat rivers and just as much if not more using the motor to travel some distances. We live on the chesapeake bay and have lots of places we could motor around. So I wanted to find something that best fits this bill: Inflatable for easy storing to take camping with us. Suitable for whitewater rafting III and IV, maybe a V. Big enough for my family of 4 and maybe some friends and gear, I am thinking a 14'. Be able to have a motor to move us up and down river and all around. With reguard to the motor, I was thinking a 6 to 9 hp, any suggestions as far as that goes. I'd like to do this without costing a fortune also. Does anyone have any suggestions. Thanks you.:D
 

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Run some class III and IV, maybe "a V"?

A couple of quick comments. Make sure you know what you're doing before you show up out here with the kids in your new raft. Having been on a couple guided trips on the Yak doesn't mean you're ready to show up with your new boat and run even class III, just yet. Start small and ease into it, it's a great activity and it can introduce the kids to a great culture of people, but it can be dangerous. We see super family dads in trouble on the rivers quite a bit because they wanted to take the family down some class III.

You can take a guiding class on top of the Whitewater Rescue and First Aid/CPR classes that you're going to need to take. The guide class can introduce you to a lot of pertinent information and allow you to digest it over your first thousand miles, while you learn on the river in your boat. I'll let others chime in about who to learn from, but I wouldn't suggest any class that is combined with a commercial guide training program, and it will depend on whether you want to row or have the family paddle.

As for the motor, make sure you're familiar with the regulations of the area you're boating before you break it out. I would suggest looking into your fellow New Englander, Robert Kennedy Jr. and his efforts to preserve clean water in the west as an example of someone who can enjoy human powered recreation on the river. The motor, which I'm sure you can find a quality custom mount for at Riverboat Works, would be best to just use on lakes and the ocean, so as not to pollute sensitive riparian environments.

As for the raft, get a 14' boat. You can do everything with it. I like Avon and Hyside, but plenty of people -often oarsmen- like Maravia and Aire and other plastic boats.
 

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I think Randaddy pretty much hit it on the head, but I'll add a few thoughts. First, family trips can be a lot of fun or a huge pain in the ass. A bit of homework/planning and the right equipment is the main difference between the two. The biggest issue IMHO, on family trips is keeping the kids comfortable, entertained and above all else - safe. How you go about doing that depends on the age and sex of your kids. I know it sucks to buy new gear for growing kids, but when it comes to insulation, flotation and footwear for the kids your first priority should be good fit. Saving money on used gear is great, but only if it fits and works. 50 bucks for a used wetsuit may seem like a good deal, but it's money wasted if it's too big and doesn't keep the kiddo warm. You get the picture.
 

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I would lobby for a 15-16 footer as four people, with the possibility of others, is going to max out space on even a weekend trip pretty quick. That said this formula heavily depends on how many rafts/other people you will be boating with during trips. More boats=less gear per boat. Self bailing is the modern standard, though people oarsman vary on its strengths. Recommendations about make and model are going to vary as wildly as personalities. Study boat geometry from each company before getting too set.

Keep an eye out for used boats right now, many people and companies seem to offload during the fall. Even then don't expect to pay much less than $3k for a boat and frame. Expect at least another $1k plus for all the standard equipment. I can only say spend as much money as comfortable up front for a good boat that meets your needs instead of turning it over a few years later. Will save you money in the long run.

Be safe getting into the sport and have a good time on trips with your family!
 

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...it's a great activity and it can introduce the kids to a great culture of people...
:p

A 14' boat would be just fine. If you are going to be doing quite a bit of white water i would ge a self bailer for sure.

Start slow. If you have never guided your own boat then i would suggest taking some sort of class to at least get down the basics, like how to reading water, and how to paddle/oar, etc.

Good luck, have fun, and be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I appreciate the advice and safety concerns for my family and me. I will check into a class as mentioned earlier, but can you elaborate on what you meant by not using any class that is combined with a commercial guide training program?

I totally understand what you mean about comfort and proper fit, it really is essential and I know this from experince in other sports as well. I will start keeping my eyes open for used equipment.

As for the comment regarding using a motor, we have a canoe and are familiar with paddel power to explore creeks and coves, but would like something more to be able to really set out onto our local rivers near the chesapeake bay and also explore some big lakes.
 

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Here's an example. A hypothetical raft company, let's call it Rusty Mustache Adventures, will train you to guide a raft in 4 days. However, you will be mixed into a class, 20 deep, of aspiring professional raft guides. The class will naturally shift toward the needs of the masses and turn into a class on what you need to know to guide customers down the river that the company runs. Let's call it the Schmooder. You'll miss out on the aspects of river training that private boaters need to know; buying and maintaining equipment, rowing, oars, frames, and private boater whitewater safety information. If you check into a private school that teaches private boating skills - I know there are at least a couple of companies in Idaho offering rowing instruction - you'll learn what you need to know for what you're doing.

About the motors, I'm just saying that the world would be better without them on its rivers and you have a chance to make a decision here. Buy a good pair of gloves and row your family down the river. Hell, go sailing on the ocean, the wind is free!

Power your recreation with your arms and legs man. That's what Jesus did and he was a smooth pimp.
 

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run a duckie for a year...that will teach you how to read the water...they can get out of trouble well and if not you swim not your whole family...fun too...
 

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I won't get preachy about the safety issues with kids, I think the point has been made.

For the type of use you're talking, I would recommend a cataraft. They perform much better with a motor (less drag and better tracking). Do a full floor (diamond plate or mesh) for the kiddos and you'll be rockin'.

Suggested beginner rivers-
Ruby/Horsethief Canyons of the Colorado
Pumphouse-Dotsero section of the Colorado
Escalante-Whitewater section of the Gunnison
just to name a few
 

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run a duckie for a year...that will teach you how to read the water...they can get out of trouble well and if not you swim not your whole family...fun too...
I definitely disagree with this. A novice in a ducky trying to save swimming kids who are cold and scared is a recipe for disaster. Anyone who has spent time on a river can tell you that duckiers spend a fair amount of time in the water.
 

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You probably don't want to go any bigger than a 5 or 6 HP for the raft. A whitewater raft can only be made to go so fast with a motor and anything over 6 HP would be overkill (and that is a big motor). look at the Honda 5 HP.

For boating around the Cheasapeake and big lakes I would actually look for a large Zodiac type raft. I know you want an all-in-one setup but a huge whitewater raft won't do too well on the bay. You could always putz around in it though.

If you want to put 4 people in the raft for overnighters I would go with a 16 footer. A 14 footer would be way too cramped (assuming you have it set up with an oar rig frame). For training I would just learn the basics of rowing and river reading and just get out there and do it. There is always plenty of stuff running within drivable distance of MD. The Potomac, Yok, Cheat, Lehigh etc... all have good sections to train on.
 

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For the type of use you're talking, I would recommend a cataraft. They perform much better with a motor (less drag and better tracking). Do a full floor (diamond plate or mesh) for the kiddos and you'll be rockin'.
If you are remotely interested in Catarafts I would suggest starting no smaller than 16' and large tubes, something by Jack's Plastic or AIRE Lion series. Cat load capacities are much less than their raft equivalents. Two adults, a couple kids, and a fully platted floor on 14' tubes and the are already close to maxed out. Look for tubes that carry 1600 lbs plus.
 

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If you are remotely interested in Catarafts I would suggest starting no smaller than 16' and large tubes, something by Jack's Plastic or AIRE Lion series. Cat load capacities are much less than their raft equivalents. Two adults, a couple kids, and a fully platted floor on 14' tubes and the are already close to maxed out. Look for tubes that carry 1600 lbs plus.
On Jack's Plastic Welding website they used to have this hilarious video of a guy with a 25 horse outboard flying around a lake.

p.s. I agree with the 16' comment. (mine is a 16' NRS river cat)
p.s.s. I honestly never looked at my load capacity, but I've also always been the gear pig and held way more weight/gear than the other boats (the largest being a 16' NRS E series raft)...am I lucky to still be floating??? Maybe.
 

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I definitely disagree with this. A novice in a ducky trying to save swimming kids who are cold and scared is a recipe for disaster. Anyone who has spent time on a river can tell you that duckiers spend a fair amount of time in the water.
you obviously missread this probly due to my lack of phonics and punctuation...the idea is not to have your kids with you while learning
 

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http://www.jpwinc.com/index.php?page=photo&photo_category=MOTORIZED+CATA RAFTS



I couldn't find the video of the other cataraft under power, but I found this pic. Sweet beard (Alaskan style). This thing will tear a Zodiak a new one when it comes to rivers and against all advice they opted for a 30 horse and had to suffer the side effects of extreme smiling.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
My preference is for a raft instead of a cat. We go camping alot and I want something easy to store when not in use. I have been reviewing alot of other posts on this site, and am learning alot. The most cost effective way for me to get into this would be with the 14 foot Saturn and a frame set up from RM rafts. Please feel free to offer your opinions on that statement, I welcome them.
 
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