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In 2008 I got invited on a Grand Canyon trip for 2009. A friend of mine who had done several trips hooked me up with a guy who was moving east and wanted to sell an 18' twin tube cat with flat frame and four oars for $1,000. It had a few nicks and patches but held air well. I built new decks using the old ones as templates and took it down Westwater and Cataract in April of 2009, and finally the Grand in June.

It was an amazing boat: fast, super stable, and nimble. Research suggested it was a Chinese copy of the Aire, and probably from the early to mid-90s based on the valves. It charged straight through massive waves, no problem. But it was a wet ride and took a ton of straps - the lower decks between the tubes were hung a couple inches above the water using just straps. I'm not sure it would have been easy to right if I flipped, but I never came close to that.

Here's the boat at Lava, coming in at 0:40. Lava Rapid Grand Canyon June09 - YouTube and Bedrock at 1:05, Bedrock Rapid Grand Canyon June09 - YouTube, Crystal at 0:38, Crystal Rapid Grand Canyon June09 - YouTube Upset at 0:41,Upset Rapid Grand Canyon June09 - YouTube . I carried my share of the group stuff and picked up my girlfriend at Phantom; there was plenty of room for gear and I felt the boat was a lot less vulnerable to flipping than a raft with less tube for a wave to grab onto. They just came right through and out the back. I had to rig a strap up front for my rider to hang on!

I loved the boat but it was a bitch to rig, so for most rivers I used my 14' Otter. The big cat was set aside in a garage in Arizona for several years, and the heat and dryness ruined the glue. I tossed the tubes but kept the frame, decks, and oars. Someday I want to put it back in service. The only tubes I see that would work are these: Cataraft 18 Foot Double Tube Expedition Class 5 QuadCatt Does anyone have experience with QuadCatt?
 

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Yeah, rigging the 18' quad cat was a chore, maybe four hours to inflate, strap on the frame, hang the lower decks, and then strap in all the gear. I tried sooo hard not to be a ramp hog! In big hydraulics on extended trips it was far superior to my Otter. On 'normal' rivers like Yampa, Salt, Middle Fork, Dolores, etc. the Otter is a better boat. But I'd still like to run the big cat again on some multi-days with big waves, and it was the ideal boat for the Grand Canyon, better than the PRO 18' rafts the rest of the team had, or the 16' NRS single tube cat that was the only other private boat on my trip.
Not worth doing for less than a couple of days, but it was an effortless boat to put through big, tough water. Holes that could potentially flip my Otter were nothing to the cat. I took the Otter through Warm Spings on the Yampa at 17,000 cfs and was seriously worried. The big cat would have lapped it up.

Want to sell me your tubes? ;>)

I never have understood asymetrical oar positions, my boats have always been rigged to be as perfectly balanced as possible, basically no real forward or aft as far as the oar station goes. My cooler and dry box are rigged so either one can be the oar bench with the geometry as similar as possible. I've only tried a stern rigged raft once and hated it. I pulled a fore rigged cat off of several rocks on a Lodore trip and could not fathom the logic behind that set-up. Not to start a pins/clips type thread, but seriously, what is the argument for setting an oar station way ahead or behind the boat's CG? I get the stern rig is better for guided trips to stuff on more passengers, hand them a paddle, and let them pretend they are boating, but the foreward station on cats... what up?
 
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