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I saw this title in another thread, and I liked it. Most of us have been there. I certainly didn't start my rafting career with an outfitter-quality self-bailer. I started it with a $150 yellow "six-man" raft--and even that was a stretch for my budget.

So where does a person start? I know, everyone wants a self-bailer. But there are so many bargains to be had on bucket boats, shouldn't they be considered as a reasonable trade-off? (My answer is YES.)

The people who pioneered the sport of whitewater rafting all used bucket boats. Is it really too much trouble to carry a scoop and bail a few gallons out of the raft from time to time? Just find one of those bargain priced Avons and go rafting. You can worry about river fashion later, when you can afford it.
 

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Re: Bucket Boats

Most boaters do what they are told to do. Since this forum is crawling with rafting appurtenance vendors, they will tell you to spend money. Kinda like fleas on a hound, they are.

A cheap bucket boat gets my vote for price efficiency. Use the money you save to put your kids thru college.
 

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If a bucket boat gets you on the water that's a great way to start. I would suggest looking for one that with the same dimensions as the boat you want in the future. This will allow you to use your frame, oars and rigging on your new boat when your significant other gives you the green light to upgrade so they don't have to bail anymore:) There is a lot to be said for not having to spend 10-15k at once. I think its always smart to look at the long game because every time I have done something on the cheap it ends up costing more time and money.
 

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My first raft was a $150 bucket boat, and I'd never have gotten on the water for lots of great trips if I'd held out for a SB. Bucket boats definitely have a place, and for the novice just getting into rafting, or someone that'll never go above Class II, they make great sense. If you're not running much Class III and just want something to get on the water with, or float and wet your line they're great. On the other end of the spectrum, lots of folks swear by them for running the Grand and want the extra momentum to get you through the big stuff. But if you want one as a whitewater boat then you better always have someone ready to bail like hell while they're getting thrown around in the boat.

Gary - I think you're being overly sensitive about vendors trying to pimp SBs over bucket boats on the Buzz - that's not what I've seen. It's been a while since I looked at pricing but my suspicion of what's actually going on is that a new bucket (or "livery") boat isn't more than about 15% or 20% cheaper than a comparable new SB. Considering that you'll never have to bail one drop of water out of a SB, the extra money you'll save buying a bucket boat over the SB just isn't enough to steer the new boat buyer to the bucket boat, especially considering how much better a SB holds resale value over a bucket boat (that's WHY used bucket boats are a great bargain after all). And if the market isn't there, bucket boats will get harder to find new, especially as cheap, used SBs are now so common on the market. I bet you can go to any of the MB sponsors and, after a few questions about your planned usage to make sure you'll be satisfied with a bucket boat, they'd be glad to sell you one (if they still carry them).

But then again, why spend $3K for a new bucket boat when you can find a comparable used SB for the same price, if not cheaper?

Also, Oarboatman's got a great point about looking at the long game in terms of frame and gear.

-AH
 

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Get the best boat you can afford that will get you on the water now.. You can always sell the old one and upgrade later with two important benefits. 1) you will probably not lose money on your original boat as you bought it at its lowest, fully depreciated value anyway, and 2) you will probably get a better on your next boat just by being part of the community and taking advantage of deals as they happen.

Most importantly, though, by getting a boat now and using it, you will gain experience and memories that never would have happened should you have waited to get your Dream Boat.

Go Man Go! Just Do It!

Peace,
The Capt
 

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Oh Yeah, I almost Forgot.

Only by bailing will you realize what a wonderful thing a Self Bailer or a Cataraft really is.

Get a Bucket Boat and a Bucket, Have Fun!

SYOTR
 

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If you learn how to drive a manual transmission from the time you're taught to drive, you're a better driver the rest of you're life.
 

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Oh Yeah, I almost Forgot.

Only by bailing will you realize what a wonderful thing a Self Bailer or a Cataraft really is.

Get a Bucket Boat and a Bucket, Have Fun!

SYOTR
Perfect. My first exposure on the river was a multi-day in a bucket boat. It taught me two things. 1. How awesome it is to be on the river on a multi-day trip. 2. How nice a self-bailer is. Would not trade the experience for anything.
Get what you can (as long as it is safe), and get on the river!!!
 

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Re: Bucket Boats

A cheap bucket boat gets my vote for price efficiency. Use the money you save to put your kids thru college.
Savings might go toward a used frame and/or maybe some used oars, but I'm not sure how much college education one can get because a few hundred bucks was saved by buying a cheap raft.
 

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Savings might go toward a used frame and/or maybe some used oars, but I'm not sure how much college education one can get because a few hundred bucks was saved by buying a cheap raft.
or a few thousand for that matter... one class? maybe two instate?

My experience:

I started as poverty boater and have remained the quintessential poverty boater until this year... My first boat was a beat down 20 year old wood driftboat. A summer of sanding and painting and I was on the water for $800 with a trailer. My first raft (purchased the year after) was a $50, 12-foot eclipse bucket boat with no valves purchased from the bike shop I worked at. All the valves had been scavenged to keep other rentals afloat. But for another $50 or so in valves (from NRS, the only rafting gear company that had sent me a catalog at the time) it was sea worthy. A couple of drunken college paddle trips latter I stumbled on a frame, cooler and two oars for $150. I ran that rig as is (plus some patches) for the next 5 years, before getting a retired raft company 13' hyside for $1000. I guess I added a used NRS stern frame in there somewhere for a rear fishing seat (after trying many DIY set ups). I ran the "new" boat and old frame for a year or two then bought my first new boat purchase ever to date: a $550 NRS bighorn II frame.

I gave the old leaky boat and rusty frame to a friend bought some new oars and ran that rig until last year (adding a few coolers a drybox and some plywood along the way. That's almost 18 years of boating in 3 boats for less than a $2500 initial investment. When I decided to "upgrade" it was going to be a used boat and I almost bought a 7 year old aire 156D for $2500 with frame and oars, but alas Sotar's SL design had sunken it's teeth in me by that point and I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I dropped more money on that rubber than I'd paid for every other floating item I'd ever owned combined. My marriage would be much improved had I not spent that $, but I'm completely ecstatic that I made the decision and adore the boat. I still consider my self a poverty boater, a poverty sportsman for that matter. Everything I buy is used, I've never even owned a car with less than 100k miles.

As far as bucket boats, in some situations they are superior to SB'ers. They track great and lightly loaded can row like no other (that is back row, for fishing folks). My next boat will be a used (of course) cheap, small self bailer for fishing small streams and jump shooting ducks. If I win the lottery, it will be a narrow 12' SL bucket boat...(I think Sotar knocks off $1000 for a standard floor).

So needless to say I suggest getting what ever will get you on the water too. I will say however that one of the reason I buy used, is so I can get a better quality item for the same price as a cheaply constructed one. I believe that you get what you pay for and a brand new $1500 raft is worth far less than a 15 year old $1500 quality boat - you all know the brands. I'm that way with everything, I might buy a $50 used snap on ratchet over a $15 Kobalt, I'd buy used dewalt over new black and decker and so on.

Long live poverty boaters and other cheap bastards!
 

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During our 2007 Grand trip, my friend and I (16 years old at the time) rode in bucket boat for most of the trip. We had a great time bailing that boat. Of course this was a summer trip in AZ, so I imagine if the water was cold it might not be as much fun.

I agree, get what you can afford at the time. I find for myself, if I wait too long to purchase something I am saving for, I will loose interest. If you can get an old boat for a few hundred dollars, use it for as long as you can while you save up for something better. At least that way you will stay interested, you will have more experience and you will more likely have a better understanding of what you really want when it you have enough for your next boat. Sounds like a win win to me.
 

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Shoot, even an inner tube is fun when you don't have anything better. That and canoes were my introduction to rivers. Whatever makes your tail wag....
 

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Shoot, even an inner tube is fun when you don't have anything better. That and canoes were my introduction to rivers. Whatever makes your tail wag....
Yup, inner tubes can be had for almost nothing. I got my Aire Rocktagon for $130, and that is one of the more expensive ones. Actual tire inner tubes can be found for like $20-$30. They are a lot of fun. Another cheap way to go if you have friends with rafts, buy a use IK for $350-$500 and let your friends carry all your gear. ;)
 

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NRS Bucket Boat....$500. Materials for home made welded steel frame....$200





Bimini off Ebay for....$120. Oar towers from river swap....$35. Used coolers....$100. Plastic Ammo Cans....$100. Decking material....$40. Drybox....$200

 

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In praise of the bucket boat
It has been my experience that not only is the bucket boat a less expensive start into rafting, they can be more forgiving as both a little water on the floor adds some low weight and the suction effect that a bucket boat has that seems to hold the boat down a little longer.
All that said I run a Sotar self bailer because I am old and lazy.
Michael
 

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$75.00 16' Military boat with no bow oar stern rise, super thin rubber (half patches after 8 years) piece of plywood with I rings to hang a paddle frame, six wood paddles, wool socks, wool sweaters, Glad bags for splash jackets, always high water... Yep, They were some good times. I think the rivers ran down hill both ways back then.
 

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My first bucket boat. 12' Udisco. I had a lot of fun with this raft. The rubber was free, but I had at least $500 into a frame, oars, straps etc... by the time I sold it for a few hundred bucks.

A little too big for the dirty devil, and a little too small for everything else except the gunny gorge.

In hindsight, I wish I would have saved the extra money and bought somebody's used package deal raft for a few thousand dollars.

But then again, its hard to pass up a sweet deal!
 

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Udisco for the win!

Sent from my HTC One using Mountain Buzz mobile app
Not so fast, buster! The aforementioned recent poverty boat thread that inspired this one regards converting the leaky floor in a..........wait for it...............



FOURTEEN FOOT ODYSSEY!

I know it's a tough call as to which one is more of a poverty boat. I think it's absolutely hysterical that the heretofore enduring poverty boat legacy is thanks to a troll. Bet he didn't see that one coming.

LONG LIVE THE POVERTY BOAT!
 
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