Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on the following questions (my own thoughts are below):

1. All other things being equal, is a heavier raft less likely to flip when it smashes into a large, tall wave or hole?

2. What is the best way to distribute weight in the raft to give you the most stability when hitting big water?


I first had personal experience with this when I was with a group of friends in a non-bailing 14-foot paddle raft in Westwater at around 4,000 cfs. We were having a blast and running everything really aggressively. By the time we got to Skull, our boat was nearly full of water, which is a huge amount of weight combined with the 8 paddlers. We decided to run the hole. Our boat was so heavy that it hardly even tilted--we literally just went right through the hole, submerged, and came up on the other end. Obviously that was just one run with probably some good luck involved, but it made me realize that more weight probably helps you smash through big water without getting pushed around as much. The less weight you have, it would seem the more the wave will be able push you back, sideways, or upside-down.

It seems logical to me that for max stability you would want to follow two rules: put as much of your weight in front as possible, and put the weight as low down in the boat as possible.

Would love to hear any experience or thoughts you have on the matter.
 

·
no tengo
Joined
·
1,876 Posts
I would rather have maneuverability than stability. less weight = easier to get where you want to be.

Also I tend to center the weight - I like to put myself just behind center with a bit of extra weight forward such as a cooler or passenger. This makes turning easier and allows gives you equal hole punching weather you are pointing forwards or backwards for maximum flexibility.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,261 Posts
I would rather have maneuverability than stability. less weight = easier to get where you want to be.

Also I tend to center the weight - I like to put myself just behind center with a bit of extra weight forward such as a cooler or passenger. This makes turning easier and allows gives you equal hole punching weather you are pointing forwards or backwards for maximum flexibility.
I find this to be the best general approach for rigging a raft for whitewater. In most situations I do this because of what Mania described. If I need something a little extra I just go paddle assist with two passengers in the front bay.

The only time I deviate is solo for hitting big features at medium to high water. Then I rig alot of weight in the front bay knowing it might reduce how fast I can maneuver. I did this in my solo rig in the Grand after dropping my passenger at Phantom. Seems to help me with pushy water in this particular context.

Just too many variables for me to get more strategic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
446 Posts
When you say "weight" do you mean mother in law, gear, or either?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
My answers to your questions....
1. Maybe, but not necessarily. More weight in the raft will make it less maneuverable. If you are on the right line, that extra weight may be helpful. If you're not on the right line, it will be more difficult to get yourself sorted out with that extra weight. If you are on a more technical river where you need to make moves, being more maneuverable is better. There's a fine line where the weight is helpful vs not helpful. That fine line will differ based on the length, width, and design of your raft, and the type of river you are on.

2. Yes, low & a little forward is desirable for gear weight distribution. I row solo most of the time, so my set-up is kind of backwards that most oar rigs. My fat butt sits on my larger dry box to row. The larger dry box holds heavier stuff like food, fire pan, dutch ovens. In front of me I have my cooler, smaller dry box with medium-heavy stuff, and gear load up front under the net. This gives me a good balance with a touch more weight up front. It still keeps me pretty well centered for the reasons Mania pointed out.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
When you say "weight" do you mean mother in law, gear, or either?

LOL, depends on the mother in law. I meant either.

Totally agree that the trade-off of weight vs. maneuverability has to be considered based on the nature of what you're running. Due to some circumstances with the other boats on the trip, I once had to row 9 adults plus a ton of gear through Cataract, and we pretty much went where the river wanted us to go. Had to start like 300 feet upstream if you wanted to make a move.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
I once had to row 9 adults plus a ton of gear through Cataract, and we pretty much went where the river wanted us to go. Had to start like 300 feet upstream if you wanted to make a move.
This describes the downside to a heavy raft. Going where the rivers takes you is usually not a great idea.
 

·
Jared
Joined
·
733 Posts
I think the water you are running has a lot to do with the answer to your question. I like a boat as light as it can be in most cases, but I like weight in the bow when I know I am hitting big waves and holes in big open whitewater.
On day trips I've seen paddle rafts with lots of meat spread out in the boat make it through steep waves that were stalling rafts with light day frames and only a rower in the boat. I like to run forward in the bow if I paddle with 2 people in my 14' Sotar raft. My Dad has a 12'8" Riken raft and we tend to paddle from the center when it's just the two of us.
If I row my raft solo in bigger whitewater My raft wants to turn climbing up the steeper wave faces, and I've been dump trucked out of it in that situation. I've observed the same thing from similar setups.
On the Rogue river last November I had a pretty good load and one passenger and felt like I could smash through everything, and I did smash through Black bar pretty well where some kayakers and a cataraft got surfed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
343 Posts
My answers to your questions....
1. Maybe, but not necessarily. More weight in the raft will make it less maneuverable. If you are on the right line, that extra weight may be helpful. If you're not on the right line, it will be more difficult to get yourself sorted out with that extra weight. If you are on a more technical river where you need to make moves, being more maneuverable is better. There's a fine line where the weight is helpful vs not helpful. That fine line will differ based on the length, width, and design of your raft, and the type of river you are on.

2. Yes, low & a little forward is desirable for gear weight distribution. I row solo most of the time, so my set-up is kind of backwards that most oar rigs. My fat butt sits on my larger dry box to row. The larger dry box holds heavier stuff like food, fire pan, dutch ovens. In front of me I have my cooler, smaller dry box with medium-heavy stuff, and gear load up front under the net. This gives me a good balance with a touch more weight up front. It still keeps me pretty well centered for the reasons Mania pointed out.
What size is this raft?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
Too many great answers! I believe that the key is maneuverability(which has been previously stated), which includes evenly distributed weight along the entire length of the raft as much as practical, but if that is not possible trying to keep more weight center to forward. The other thing that I have learned over the years is to pack heavy gear towards the floor and lighter towards the top of the gear stack.....again, when possible. Low center of gravity and even distribution works the best at keeping the bottom side down. However, water really doesn't care how you pack and there are times that shit will just happen.

Hope this helps!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
What size is this raft?
It's a Sotar 14 SL. 14 footer with diminishing tubes. My dry boxes are both 34 long X 13 deep. One is 16 wide and the other is 14 wide. They started river life on my cataraft so that's why they are a little less deep and long as a standard raft dry box. My cooler is a Canyon Sailor 105.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,174 Posts
Lots of folks swear by bucket boats for big water because the extra weight helps punch through holes and they survive where lighter boats would stall and flip. That said, I have a self-bailer and like to run as light as possible so I can get where I want to be on the lines and be able to move around to avoid gnarly stuff (yeah, I run the chicken shit lines...). Usually prefer to be evenly weighted bow to stern, or with just a little extra weight in the front if I'm going to have to run holes or big waves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
343 Posts
It's a Sotar 14 SL. 14 footer with diminishing tubes. My dry boxes are both 34 long X 13 deep. One is 16 wide and the other is 14 wide. They started river life on my cataraft so that's why they are a little less deep and long as a standard raft dry box. My cooler is a Canyon Sailor 105.
I asked because I am looking at a smaller Pacific River Bag and am not sure how well it will fit in the rear of my raft.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Mountain Buzz mobile app
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
124 Posts
experiment

I suggest you experiment with your packing. I like to put heavy stuff right in the center of my boat so I can spin easier. Almost always that means my fat ass. A lot has to due with where you position your oar stands. I have my oar stands about 6 inches back from the center of my 14 ft. Riken. On rivers that demand a lot of maneuvering I like to be a little butt heavy so I can pivot on the rear of my boat. On big water rivers such as the GC I put more weight forward. If you have the lightest boat in your group, and you aren't blind, crippled, or senile, you may wonder why you didn't get invited back on other trips. Always carry your weight plus some.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
I asked because I am looking at a smaller Pacific River Bag and am not sure how well it will fit in the rear of my raft.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Mountain Buzz mobile app
The diminishing tubes give me a little more room in the bow & stern for gear. I just use a Stitches -N-Stuff cargo net most of the time. On low water MFS I add a cargo platform.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top