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Ok, I've been rafting for three years but only on an oar rig. We are going down the Snake between Hoback and Alpine and I'm curious if I should run a paddle raft instead. I've canoed rivers so I understand the "rudder down" concept, but haven't had anybody paddle in front of me before. This stretch seems like the perfect learning ground. Any tips for learning how to run a paddle raft? I will be in a 14 foot self bailer instead of my 18 foot cat. I have the capability of running as either an oar rig or with paddles.
 

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Ok, I've been rafting for three years but only on an oar rig. We are going down the Snake between Hoback and Alpine and I'm curious if I should run a paddle raft instead. I've canoed rivers so I understand the "rudder down" concept, but haven't had anybody paddle in front of me before. This stretch seems like the perfect learning ground. Any tips for learning how to run a paddle raft? I will be in a 14 foot self bailer instead of my 18 foot cat. I have the capability of running as either an oar rig or with paddles.
I have paddle boated for 22 years and am not sure what a rudder down concept is.

Dress warm. Go big. When in doubt scream "all forward hard" and hold on.
 

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As long as you will not be the only one paddling, guiding a paddle raft isn't that hard. If you sit on the right, use prying rudder strokes to point more right, and paddle with your abs to go more left (just like a canoe only your rudder strokes can use the raft as a fulcrum point which is bad form in canoeing).

If you need big adjustments, just tell your crew what you need with a "Left back" or "Right back" command.

Unlike an oar-rig, paddle rafts very rarely back ferry. Point where you want to go and use your crew to power through things.

As for R1ing a raft, it is certainly doable but usually takes a few hours of practice to be bad at it and a season to be able to do it reasonably so good luck.
 

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Welcome to ElevationImaging.com - Eye Select Online Studio

I don't think there are many rafts flipping at these flows, but you can see for yourself how folks are doing at "Big Kahuna" (probably the most likely trouble spot right now) at the above photo site. You might select "private" to see how the non-professional paddle rafts are doing. There still seems to be some possible ducky carnage (select "Snake River Kayak and Canoe" to see the commercial duckies).
 

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Great! Thanks for the beta, photos and advice. I really enjoy this website for the great info that can be thankfully obtained. Cheers to you guys
 

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Not sure what the "rudder down" concept is, but you definitely want to learn how to J-stroke if you are going to guide with a paddle assist setup. I have done hundreds of trips in a paddle assist set up and recently started running an oar rig. The oar rig is significantly easier, particularly if the water is remotely technical, but paddle assist is a lot of fun.
 

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I have paddle captained a couple times. What I found was that I needed to be clear, concise, loud, but still calm. Screaming at folks was counterproductive. Remember that your paddlers are your power, may sure they are working with you and not against you. Balance the power in your boat, practice a few spin moves before you get to the rapids, and have fun. Don't forget a safety talk also.
KJ
 

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Get your crew to paddle in unison; put good listeners/doers up front on both sides -- they will be in unison and folks behind them can (may?) follow.
 

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I prefer to crack a bullwhip and yell "MUSH!!! You lazy freaks or we're all going to die!"
 

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Be consistent in you commands. I've gotten it down to six: "forward", "back", "left back, right forward", "stop", "hang on!" and "high side!". You don't need to bother with "right back" because you're in the perfect position to do this by yourself.

Don't use the word "go" because it sounds too much like "no".

When in doubt, T up and yell "Forward! Hard and together!"
 

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Be consistent in you commands. I've gotten it down to six: "forward", "back", "left back, right forward", "stop", "hang on!" and "high side!". You don't need to bother with "right back" because you're in the perfect position to do this by yourself.

Don't use the word "go" because it sounds too much like "no".

When in doubt, T up and yell "Forward! Hard and together!"
Actually, "Lunchcounter" is the rapid you should beware of the most in Alpine Canyon, particularly since you'll probably have an audience to witness any screwups you may make. Easy to scout from the road though. Its below Big Kahuna if my memory serves. Should be at a good level this late in the summer. Main thing with paddleboats is getting the crew to all work together and not having some know-it-all try to guide from the front. I usually put the most experienced paddler on the front right and have them set the cadence for the others to follow. Go over a few basic strokes, i.e., forward, draw (if you know how to do it, otherwise forget it), and back strokes, right after launching so they got an idea of what to do before having to make any serious maneuvers.

Sounds fun, wish I could make this run again....
 

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stuntmansteve said:
Actually, "Lunchcounter" is the rapid you should beware of the most in Alpine Canyon, particularly since you'll probably have an audience to witness any screwups you may make. Easy to scout from the road though. Its below Big Kahuna if my memory serves. Should be at a good level this late in the summer. Main thing with paddleboats is getting the crew to all work together and not having some know-it-all try to guide from the front. I usually put the most experienced paddler on the front right and have them set the cadence for the others to follow. Go over a few basic strokes, i.e., forward, draw (if you know how to do it, otherwise forget it), and back strokes, right after launching so they got an idea of what to do before having to make any serious maneuvers.

Sounds fun, wish I could make this run again....
Actually kahuna is bigger at low flows, but yeah its above lunch countet.
 

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I like to stick with the basic commands (all forward, all back, right back, left back, stop, highside). Saying something like "left turn" or "let it ride" gets confusing (I have worked with these people and they drive me nuts). Frankly if you can get your paddlers to follow commands well- you probably won't have to do much if you don't want to. That being said- if they are out of shape they aren't gonna want to paddle all the time. Give them some rest first before screaming ALL FORWARD OR WE'RE GONNA DIE!
 

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I like to stick with the basic commands (all forward, all back, right back, left back, stop, highside). Saying something like "left turn" or "let it ride" gets confusing (I have worked with these people and they drive me nuts). Frankly if you can get your paddlers to follow commands well- you probably won't have to do much if you don't want to. That being said- if they are out of shape they aren't gonna want to paddle all the time. Give them some rest first before screaming ALL FORWARD OR WE'RE GONNA DIE!
I agree when you just need some forward strokes( a small move) I use forward one( forward two if the crew isn't strong paddlers) all forward for punching holes. And remind them to stop when you say stop( even if they are at two when you call forward four).
 

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OP: If you want to scout Kahuna before you put it, there is a little parking lot with a sign/label (and short trail to overlook) -- very easy. I'm not sure if you can see the river right sneak from there -- not suggesting you need to sneak! Not sure if you have run that section, but Kahuna is a few hundred yards after you leave the gauging strait -- hard to miss the strait -- it's strait! (and there is a cable over it). After the strait, the river narrows into "blind canyon." Because Kahuna is caused by a ledge, you don't really see its size until right before you drop -- you can see white from a hundred yards or so out, but from there it could appear to be very tame -- certainly not the "Big Kahuna!". (I know you have looked at the recent photos, so you can judge for yourself if you want to run the meat -- I avoided the meat last night, but I was in a ducky and didn't really want to swim after the sun was down.) Lunch Counter is another hundred yards down and is fairly tame now -- just follow the tongue.
 

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Get your crew to paddle in unison; put good listeners/doers up front on both sides -- they will be in unison and folks behind them can (may?) follow.
Paddle bot training is important.
 

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Forward, Back, STOP....that's about it...that's all I use anyway.

If they didn't paddle hard enough to miss the rock...they deserve to swim. No "high-side" from me!!! :p
 
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