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Discussion Starter #1
Looking to add a smaller boat to the lineup. I was listening to the River Talk podcast this morning and it got me thinking about my next boat. I have 3 boys that love the river and my oldest is starting to show interest in learning to row. I have a 16' raft that is usually loaded up with gear and bodies, and the oars are heavy for a kid. Also, it would be fun to have a smaller boat to take on low-water trips or solo missions for myself as well.

What are thoughts/input on the getting a mini MAX rigged with a small frame vs a 12' or 13' cat or raft? I always thought I would go with a cat to add some versatility to my boating options, but after hearing about the popularity of these "mini-boats" with rowing frames, I think that could be an interesting option.

Anyone who has taught a kid to row, it would be nice to hear about your experience as well...Thx
 

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Looks like this guy would be able to outfit and offer some suggestions:

 

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How old are your boys?

I started with 16' boats when my girls were tiny. Super big, safe, stable to haul small kids on easy rivers, but as they got to be ~6-8 then we wanted to get out with them more on fun II stuff but they couldn't help my wife and I move a big 16' boat...so we got a 13'er. As they got older and we hit bigger water, we used the 16' boat more...and now that they're 17 and 19, we're back in the 13' on the Lochsa for class IV June fun..and I used it a ton for low water and solo overnights this season.

I don't think a 9-10.5' boat is going to give you many options for rowing with you and 3 boys, and I'd have the same argument against a small cat. OK for you and one son, but not all of you.
At least a 9-10.5' round boat could be fun for R4.

12' would seem to split the difference--could fit all the boys with oars/frame for day runs, you plus 1 for oar training, all for R4 fun...and still not too big for you for low water and solo runs. 10.5' maybe, but the 9'er that dkingslc posted is probably too small to check all the boxes--it's unlikely you'll be able frequently take just one kid and have to tell the other boys 'sorry, today's not your turn'!
 

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Thanks for your replies! I was thinking it would be a boat for max 2 bodies, but you are probably right MT4Runner, its not very likely I could shut out the other kids for a day on the river. Maybe a 12' round boat is the right call. My oldest will be 10 next season. Realistically probably a year or 3 away, but he was into it this past season!
 

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MT4Runner, you're absolutely right. That 9' is a total play/training boat.
But now that I have the 13' and 16' boxes checked, I sorta want a 9' raft.

10' dory first.


Thanks for your replies! I was thinking it would be a boat for max 2 bodies, but you are probably right MT4Runner, its not very likely I could shut out the other kids for a day on the river. Maybe a 12' round boat is the right call. My oldest will be 10 next season. Realistically probably a year or 3 away, but he was into it this past season!
Don't get in any rush. My girls have been boating since they were little, and we talked about reading water and lines their whole lives. Short stint kayaking. My oldest (18) paddle guided her boyfriend and my wife on a low water MF Flathead in August and found that taking the right lines was a LOT harder than she realized. Even when she saw the good lines before I took them this year on the Lochsa and MF Salmon ...."Gee Dad, that's harder than it looks"..to put the boat on the actual line you want.

I really, really enjoyed this video that @yardsells posted this spring of his daughter rowing on the Salt. She does a GREAT job and you can see her decision-making process unfolding.

I think we as adults have a hard time understanding what it was like to be a beginner, and even harder to be a beginner kid. There's SO MUCH information to assimilate and while those of us who learned as adults were still beginners...we were better at assimilating all that crazy information and making decisions. And even if they're riding with you in Class III, they should probably be rowing Class I where they have much more time to make decisions, make mistakes, and time to recover from mistakes with little consequence.

But what kid brains do well is learning physical tasks quickly. Your boys with their plastic kid-brains will learn to instinctively row a boat MUCH faster than a rigid old adult brain will. I didn't start rowing rivers until I was 23, but I played in my grandma's rowboat from the time I was 6 or 7, so I have "always" known instinctively how oars move a boat. This is a huge advantage your boys will have in the opportunity to learn rowing so young.
 

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Katz are for kids. This is a 12' cat set up for 2 seats. Rower in front,
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passenger in back. If you put less than 300 lbs. on it your main problem will be that they keep pushing their sibling overboard so they can row.
 

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The MiniMax is my favorite boat! I use it for everything; paddling, fishing, even a 7 day trip on the Main Salmon this year.
 

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My first raft was a 10' NRS self bailer from the mid 90's - similar size to the Hyside mini-max but with bigger diameter tubes. NRS hasn't made it for years unfortunately. I still have the raft and have used it for everything, from low water technical runs to big water, float fishing on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and much more. It's an absolute blast with a frame and without a frame. My kids learned to row on it. Super fun raft.
 

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I've got a 16' hyside that the 10 year old loves to row and show she can. She's strong as can be.
Both the 10 and 7 year old love rowing the 10.5 mini max as does the wife.
I bought another one so all could row. Gives a little more storage for more stuff and they get to row boats they can spin really quickly and maneuver easily while learning and they love it.
I can't recommend a 10.5 mini max enough, they're great for the kids an on more challenging rapids, I take my 4'28" self and cram into the cockpit and it's still kind of fun, actually lots of fun. Great for running the Poudre and having one adult/wife up front, me in the back and kids riding along for paddle raft fun and soon, I hope they start wanting to paddle in rapids
 
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