Rigging a raft frame?
I've always been curious on how everyone assembles and rigs their rafts. I go with my frame centered on the tubes and oar stands centered on the frame, so center pivot. But, I see boats with oars forward or aft, mostly forward and mostly on Cats. I've read several books on rafting but not much is ever said about rigging. When I ask about this I usually get the "always done it that way" answer. But why? How about strapping the frames to the tubes, oar stands straight up or tilted out, spare oars hanging blade front or back. When I bought my cat used at an auction, it was riggged with a swivel seat for rowing and 2 stationary seats up front, I assume for fishing. My oar stands were too short and I banged my knees with the oars. A plywood deck hung below the frame and a home made OB motor mount hung well below the plywood. That was a rock catcher for sure. I rerigged but I don't know why I did what I did.
Mostly I tried to copy a group I've floated with outside.
rigging frames on cats
Lots of opinions are out there on this topic.
Weight forward is sometimes used by whitewater rafters who have to/ want to punch through holes. You see this a lot in Idaho on the Selway, Middle Fork and Main Salmon and more on catarafts than round boats it seems.
Farther south, like in the Grand Canyon and the Green you see mostly center of balance rigs used.
I've done both and prefer evenly balanced weight with a slight outward cant on the oarlock stands. This gives me the easiest pivot point. Loads go fore and aft equally weighted so the front/rear doesn't swing around in the wind or funny currents. Doesn't matter much on a day trip, but on trip lengths of 2 weeks or more its an issue. Keeping the load down out of the wind helps too, so an adjustable for height above the water floor helps.
For motor mounts I use a "jackass" rig, raises up and down and is spring loaded, it mounts on the rear frame member of an NRS cat frame. It's heavier than some other styles, but after adding motor and gas the extra few pounds doesn't mean much.
Spare oars are rigged blade front, don't want to waste time swinging the oar around if it's needed in a hurry.
Hope this helps.
If I was to do exactly what you are talking about I would get a cataraft with low rocker (very little curvature on the tube lenght). I would go with a 16 footer with a 9.9 to 15 horse. It's not fast, in heavy swells it's going to be one wet crappy ride unless you go extremely slow, but in my opinion safe, and it will work well for drift hunting. What it will not do is go up anything swift, and it will be a little bit big on narrow rivers, so some pushing/lifting/swearing will be involed. You could do it with a 14 footer, but as the family grows you will wish you hadn't. There are a variety of frame options to cope with seating the family, and you will be setting it up differently for motoring vs. rowing. I think it would be a good all around boat if you want to go out in the sound on nice days with projected good seas 4 feet or less. Talk around, there are people that do this, I believe it would be a good compromise boat, and with some ingenuity on frame construction would work well in many different situations.
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Last edited by Chris_Stout; 10-17-2007 at 23:13.
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Rowing from the front works for pulling yourself from large holes/reversals because you can plant your oars into firmer moving water at the bottom edge of the holes. But I don't like rowing from there. From the front it's harder to tell which way your boat is starting to swing until it gets around too far. I prefer to row from the rear so I can see most of my boat in front of me. It helps me gage direction better, and I can see what any part of the boat might hit. I have rowed from the center quite a bit too, and that's all right. On lightly loaded boats it does give you a feel of pivoting your boat in the middle, which works well. It's just a personal opinion though.
I do have some strong opinions about strapping though. I want the straps to be put on so that the tag end is pointing up. That way if I see one loose, I can give it a quick yank while standing inside the boat to tighten it up. If it's pointing down you have to lean way over and tug downward and that's not easy when riding. This seems totally opposite of logic when you're standing along side the boat rigging it, so you have to make a conscious effort to change your thinking and actions. This is not a big deal on round boats, but on a cat with 16 or more straps tying the frame down, it becomes an issue. Another trick with straps is to put two wraps around the D ring before stringing it around the frame. This keeps it from slipping when you administer that yank. I learned that from Keith Hawkings - master raft instructor at KCK.
Oar stands should be canted outward so that the pin or oarlock is perpendicular to the oar while the oar is in the water in a pulling position. This keeps binding at a minimum, and allows for the most range of vertical motion.
However, I have one boat frame that is really too wide for my 9 foot oars. I used to use 10 footers but years ago the wisdom of the locals was that Sixmile Creek was best run with "shorter than normal oars." I no longer buy that logic, but presently I only have 9 footers. Anyway, what I did was reverse the oarstands so that they cant inward slightly, but the tops where they are offset are reversed so that they put the pin or oarlock at the correct angle. This effectively brings the pivot point of the oar where it should be on a 9 foot oar and still provides the proper angle to the water. Confusing, but it works great.
If you use pins & clips instead of oarlocks and stoppers, and your stands are too short, you can get an extra long pin (12"), and put a piece of plastic pipe between the stand and the stirrup. Use the same material as the pin liner/sleeve for this and cut into 1 inch sections so you can use pieces above or below the stand holes to adjust the pin hight. Drill a small hole in the bottom of the pin and use a clevis to keep it all together. A large nut at the bottom only makes adjustment more difficult. Always pack an extra clevis. Long bolts for this can be purchased cheaply at Lowes or Home Depot. Another trick with pins & clips is to take the sleeve that is between the stirrup ends (the part the oar rides against) and cut in in half. Then place very large/heavy washers at the new break you just created. Now you can row from the bottom position (below the washers) when you need the best power position to row for distance, and comfort, but use the "upper birth" (oars resting on top of the washers) for rougher water. The reason for this is that when the boat starts rocking violently you often can't get the oar out of the water when it's rocked the wrong way (one side always is it seems) and the shafts keep banging into your knees while you try. I learned this from Pete Trion - long time local boating legend.
Since I row from near the back I want access to the spare oar close to me. The way I arrange them is to have the blade near the back where I put a strap at the narrow part between blade & shaft handle, and this keeps the oar from sliding forward or back. The handle is then forward, tucked into a strap or a ring, but loose so I can pull it free after removing only the rear strap near the blade. There are plenty of other ways to do this, but you want fast access to this spare no matter what else you do.
Copying others isn't a bad idea, but choose wisely the people you copy from.
Raft Rigging Right
These are some good questions!
Originally Posted by Partner
Rowing from near center (either just your row seat, just oarstands, or entire oar-station) on more coventional shaped rafts and Cats is the best overall "IF" you are only on oar power. The exceptions all being paddle-assist boating like stern-riggin'. You will find Cat drivers having oarstand forward positioning in various forms of forward... it works well... but this is a more specialized application typical of certain whitewater conditions, likely little to no extra weight in the boat, or dynamic loads where the actual load is active weight "people" instantly mobile for weight distribution, high-siding, etc. Other features of forwarding oarstand mounts include enhanced steep-water visability, very fast stalling capability, quick eddy outs, surfing/playing amoung bigger holes, holding along waterlines, and the ability to delay (sort of hold-over if you will) in very skilled manuvering above tight, big drops in elevation leading into a hole-shot & punch type scenarios. Forward Oarstand rigging or stern rigging is not advisable when hauling tons of baggage!
Strapping is a little to each there own... However, this is food for thought.
Frame fit to your particular boat is a key ingredient. Yet another is inflate the boat to shape, strap, then top off and do a hands on visual to see that all is tight and in working order. Get into a good groove of good habits!
Along the lines of how to equip and cam-strap on a typical NRS-type buckle first make sure the strap, stitching, and buckle is in good condition. What I do next is is to obviously lay out all the necessary straps and where they will go on the boat. Now... here is one of the best, clean line, & safest ways to go! (I strongly disagree w/ a few responses I've read here so far... particularly the pulling up let's see how things are looking enroute method!
On Self-Bailer type boats w/ D-rings & on the outside D rings of Cats... I place the strap around the frame by taking the tag end and slipping it underneith the bar going from inside boat to outside, leaving about 3" of strap before the buckle... I then take the tag end and run it through the buckle just "behind" the Cam making sure all is dressed flat, then follow through the same path as my tag end that had gone preiviously before, underneith the frame bar again (This creates a hitch-type effect) - Now I go through my D-ring and place the tag end into the cam. Squatting w/ knees pushing into the boat --- I use my own pull down strength, plus gravity w/ my weight, including the equal/opposite force of my knees pushing into the boat. Top off the boat at this point and it makes for a set-up that will stay put. The reason behind the hitch-type part of the seaquence is four part.... #1 Safety!!! Even if the bar tacking or buckle has any surprise failure when rigging... it is impossible to have the cam buckle come flying back at you like a bullet and posibly whackin' ya a good one!!! #2 Strap can't slip doing that annnnoying back & forth!!! #3 Your own power/strength ratio is multiplied significantly!!! #4 You'll be far less likely to loose staps, never have them loosening up mid-trip, they will stay in better condition, lasting longer... protecting your investment!!!
I'm not gonna go into the towing (angles) of oars & oarstands all that much... to many variables here. Frames, stands, locks, oars... etc.
Flooring and suchlike also too many variables... Loads, class waters, transport to & from waters... etc.
Your inquiry regarding spare oar is another good one tho!
Spare oar should go strong-side... I'm right handed so for me oar goes right side teatherd up high against frame w/ Blade back!!!! Blade goes facing backward to the stern to "draw" it out like handgun from holster or sword from scabbard and lock it into place. NOT forward where it can "walk/swim out and away" from the oars-person & oar-station.
Work with what you have, gain from experience, find, make, or obtain improvements.
- Best Wishes