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Discussion Starter #1
I've pondered this question for several years, but never found a solid answer. And I'd like to do my part to try and lighten the mood on the "MountainWinterTimeBitchFest.com". I'll throw it out to masses here on the Buzz. Yes, it's a rafting question. Sorry kayakers, we're part of the Buzz too. It's just a fact of life.

So here it is -

Why would you want a standard floor aka bucket boat as opposed to an inflatable floor that self bails? I'm serious. This isn't a knock on anyone that has to do their own bailing. I understand that many older boats, that are still very functional, came from a time when that was the primary option in rafts before sewn-in or welded/glued floaty floors. I'm more interested in why would you purchase a bucket boat that was produced in say.... the last 15 years or so. Are they faster? Do they track better? Less flippy? Better for lake use? That much more cost effective? (on avg they look to be maybe 400-600 less than SB's) Some of the big names still produce them, and you see plenty of them on the water. So there's gotta be a market for them, but what is it? I know in races you'll see teams taping over a bunch of their holes in self bailer's to be faster, but they still usually have an inflated floor and a couple holes. Maybe I'm missing something, but it just seems that a non-floating floor that holds water doesn't make sense as the best option to me. Again, I'm not bashing those that have bucket boats. I'm more curious what drove you to select your chariot.

I shouldn't have to add this but.... if you don't have something constructive or funny to say(that's not just bitching), just save your fingers the trouble of typing it. OK? OK.
 

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I am not a fisherman but I have spoken with many and say they prefer a bucket boat to a self bailer when not on anything above class three as there feet stay dry and no water or debri in the boat.
 

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I'm more curious what drove you to select your chariot.

Money,people don't buy 2wd rangers for the handling and love of installing chains. If you have the money you buy 4wd tacoma and sotar sb.First boat was a bucket and couldn't get rid of it fast enough.
 

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I own a rafting company and we rent out non SB rafts. They are sold primarily for rental as far as I know. They cost less, and much lighter (more than you'd think) and have one less chamber to patch. Bailing them sucks, but we rent only to use on a local class II section, so no big deal. All that said we are going to be retiring the fleet and moving into modestly priced PVC SB rafts
 

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Bucket boats have their place. My dad loved his bucket boat. If youre on a big high water river with nice strieght shot rapids a little water in the bottom of your boat could be a good thing. Kinda like the Aire ballast thing but different. Pushes you through holes and stuff.
 

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as the proud owner of a nrs bucket boat, i have always said "every boat is a self bailer as long as your not the one bailing"
 

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I too love bucket boats. Living in Washington, I don't get a lot of use for one out here. In Oregon they are ideal for floats the John Day or Grande Ronde.

Why use a bucket boat? easy water tidy boat, as has already been mentioned. Another reason is in huge water you can fill 'em up and that's a lot of hole punching momentum.

I particularly like bucket boats for flatwater trips. Ever rowed against the wind on Snake Lake? You got a lot of boat hanging in the water creating friction with most self bailing floor designs. The bucket boat won't draw as much water, tracks better, rows the flats in the wind a lot easier.

You also get more cargo space in a bucket boat because regardless of where the floor is attached, they are all several inches thick. That's significant lost room in a drybox.

Best illustration of when I love a bucket boat is the Yampa. Sure, you might need to bail after warm springs or some of the split mtn stuff. But the rest of the time, it's just plain easier and lighter.

My bucket of choice is the 16' avon pro. huge 22" tubes keep the ride dry. This calculus changes a lot if the bucket boat in question is, say, an avon adventurer with 17" tubes .... that boat takes A LOT of bailing....
 

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To Bail or Not To Bail....
I thought this thread would be about ElFlaco in the drunk tank.
 

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we run 16ft achilles bucket boats at the company i guide for. they''re all from 1991 too. they still work great so what's the point in replacing them..

so as stated above, having the weight of that water at your feet will definitely give you more punch in the big stuff. makes it handle like a pig tho.

one big thing i notice on our bucket boats is that in low water they go over rocks way easier than a SB. the floors just have so much give that it takes a pretty major rock sticking up to get em stuck.
plus bailing out water gives my custys something to do when i run out of jokes:wink:
 

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To Bail or Not To Bail....
I thought this thread would be about ElFlaco in the drunk tank.
Not me. When you know all the cops, they just drop you off at the Southside Crack Shack with beer still left in your cup. :mrgreen:
 

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We own about 16 of them and they are perfect for people who just float or fish. Why not a drift boat then? More people can enjoy the river, rolled up and put in a Subaru, ect... They will always be made, even if the demand drops off the cliff. They don't have any overhead, they already have all the material and resources. In JH you see as many bucket boats as SB.
 

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yesimapirate--I assume you do not own a bucket boat. I do, a 1988 12' Achilles, and although it has its limitations I sure do like watching the ladies bend over to scoop a bucket full every once in awhile!! P.S. my other rig is a 16' cataraft which is even better than a self bailer except in strong winds
 

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I still have and row a 15' Rogue Inflatable raft.
22" tubes, full skidguard floor under the 4 bay frame.

OK, I only use it a couple of times a year, I've got a Hyside SB raft and a Sotar Legend cat, but with the 2" of ethafoam under the frame it's easy for a couple of passengers to keep it bailed out in even class VI water. I think it rows as well as the Hyside, Not even close to as well as the Legend.

I only use it when taking extra folks on one of my trips (summer), and when it goes, I row it (it's the boat I learned in). If not overloaded, this standard floor boat is NICE to row.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #16
yesimapirate--I assume you do not own a bucket boat. I do, a 1988 12' Achilles, and although it has its limitations I sure do like watching the ladies bend over to scoop a bucket full every once in awhile!! P.S. my other rig is a 16' cataraft which is even better than a self bailer except in strong winds
You would assume correctly Slim. I don't even think I've had the opportunity to sit in one. I've often times thought about adding to my fleet by taking the floor out of one and using the donut-of-a-boat with my cat frame, but I still haven't formulated that thought into action as of yet. Two boats is enough for me to maintain right now.

So far it sounds like the two main reasons people have gone with bucket boats is weight and cost ...with some manual lady labor enjoyment sprinkled in there. I could see the point that was made about having extra weight in big water, but it would be too inconsistent and varying for my liking.

El Flaco, I'd bail you out if you're in dire straits. Ironically, the Dire Straits are from the era that bucket boats remind me of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvQ-IJihrJM

Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing - YouTube
 

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One other reason for buying a bucket boat: as others have stated, they do roll smaller, and this can really come into play if you need to get your raft on a prop plane (Alaska, low water Middle Fork, or any wilderness fly-in destination).

One of the first boats we ever bought for rentals, way back in the early 80's, was an Avon Explorer bucket raft. This was several years before Avon made their first self bailers. It was 12'4" X 6'7", with small 17" main tubes. And the previous owner, Jim Cassidy, had taken it down Cherry Creek a couple times with one friend in the front swinging the bucket. I have seen the photographic proof myself.

A friend, Paul F, who was a regular part of our boating group, still has an Avon Adventurer bucket boat to this day, and it has been down lots of difficult stuff including the Forks of the Kern. Again, a lot easier for the mules to deal with. More importantly, I've rowed his Avon a ton myself. It handled fine, nothing earth shattering but I never had any complaints. Then, around 86', when I finally rowed the same exact raft with a self bailing floor (two other friends bought those), I could not believe how much more sluggish it was. A huge night and day difference. People get used to any boat eventually, but being able to do an A-B on the same rivers was very enlightening.

As long as they remain empty of water, the bucket boats will always out-handle something with a bumpy underside. Consider too, a ripped bucket floor is the easiest possible repair. A tear that runs across - or close to - and I-beam is a total pain in the arse. And if you blow an I-beam, be prepared to shell over several hundred dollars.

No one wants to go back to the days of having only bucket rafts to chose from, but so many fisherman and others who live in what I call "low gradient" states don't run more than low flow class II. No point in them dragging around extra weight and extra bulk.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
BoatPeople, you make several good points. And exactly the kind of experiences I was hoping someone would speak of.

And I just thought of another plus for said bucket boats. If turned black side up on a nice beach with a decent angle to the water, a buck boat slip-n-slide would be a nice smooth surface! I know it can be done with SB's too(we've stacked several to make a longer slide), but that smooth slide might be a bit nicer on the slip-n-sliders.
 

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Not me. When you know all the cops, they just drop you off at the Southside Crack Shack with beer still left in your cup. :mrgreen:
Not if you're my brother in law or if you happen to get shook down by Two Scoops
 
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