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Thread: Floating a Zodiac w/ Outboard

  1. #1
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    Question Floating a Zodiac w/ Outboard

    Has anyone floated a Zodiac like you would a river raft? If so which would be better; a rowing frame or permanently mounted oar locks and oars? How well does it handle and respond with oars?
    My thought is to run upstream under power and float back down. Also would like to float the upper Kenai to Skilak Lake and motor around to the boat launch.

  2. #2
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak4dr4x4 View Post
    Has anyone floated a Zodiac like you would a river raft?......... My thought is to run upstream under power and float back down........
    I've done it; unintentionally. I ran upriver until my motor died. No problem, right?

    Almost. We floated back down until we got to tidewater, keeping the boat away from sweepers with the oars.............but the tide was coming in. We had to row the rest of the way (oh, a couple of miles) downstream, but against the current.

    It was a Zodiac Mark II with the standard oarlocks. They worked fine, but I wouldn't want to do it for a long distance.

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Not a real great setup for rowing

    You asked about running a zodiac (sportboat) the same way you run a raft with a rowing setup. Well, it just doesn't work as well, for the following reasons:

    1. The sportboat has a flat stern and if you row with the bow downstream, you are back-rowing against that flat stern and will push a lot of water.

    2. The transom is the lowest part of the hull and you'll impact rocks in shallow water, damaging the floor of the boat and the transom.

    3. If you row with the bow upstream (which allows water to flow along the hull properly), and the stern impacts the riverbed, the boat will rotate around and be out of position to meet the next obstacle.

    Sportboats are designed to operate under power and travel in a forward direction. They are not designed to be back-rowed in moving water.

    Sport boats can be rowed short distances with the rubber oarlocks supplied with some, but this is not a long distance solution, because there is too much flex to provide an efficient oar stroke. Get a raft and a regular rowing frame "use the right tools for the job".

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 03-20-2008 at 07:44.
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  4. #4
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    Default

    There are/were a few sport boats with inflatable transoms that might be better as a dual purpose boat, but I've never tried to row one. I think Metzler put one out.

    Several of us have tried powering catarafts with limited success. You can do it, and get them up on step pretty easily, but there is generally a lot of water spraying around - especially in the middle, between the tubes. I had to wear a drysuit when driving my beast. I ended up tarping the whole boat, and still got wet.

    I did run Skilak Lake a few times with this rig. The Lake can be a lot rougher than the river though. Once my motor died and refused to restart, so I raised that tarp on a couple of oars and sailed back to the take out. Telling the story was more fun than living it, but most stories are.

  5. #5

    Default Rowing an inflatable sport boat in the upper Kenai

    I have several customers that row their Alaska Series Alaskan Ranger sport boats on the upper Kenai with no problem. http://www.alaskaseries.com/520AR.htm The upper Kenai is a deep, (Class I to Class II) River and a pretty easy stretch of water.

    These are the things youíll want to keep in mind,

    Youíll want to keep the floor system in and the keel inflated, but not rock hard, 3psi is about right. The keel extends 6-8 inches below the tubes and is the deepest part of an inflatable sport boat and does catch the effects of the river current. http://www.alaskaseries.com/420A.htm The deepest part of the keel is several feet forward of center of your boat and is about where the oars man should sit because it will become the center of pivot when youíre rowing your boat. The bottom of the transom on my Alaskan Rangers only has only a 5^ V and the center of the V is at the same level as the bottom of the tubes. So it doesnít extend below the bottom of the boat but being on the downstream side the transom tends to be the first to reach the shallow water. I heavily reinforce the bottom of the transom with extra moldings so the transom will handle a pretty good rock hit without adverse damage.

    Youíll want to keep the bow pointed up stream so the keel splits the water and use the tracking of the keel to control your ferry across the current. Keep your ferry angle shallow to the flow of the current to keep the current from spinning the boat. With your rowing position being farther forward then you normally would be in a river raft youíll have a good view of the downstream part of the boat so you can easily judge the ferry angle of your boat.

    Be sure to use white water river rafting oars. Most oars that come with inflatable sport boats are not strong enough for river currents. You always want to carry a spear oar as well. You should also use an oar lock system that will handle the stress of rowing in a river. Whether you use a rowing frame thatís strapped to the boat or if you use a mounted oar lock system such as the Alaska Series Heavy Duty Oar lock system http://www.alaskaseries.com/heavy%20...k%20system.htm or Oar Saddles, Makes very little difference in an easy class II river like the upper Kenai. The biggest difference between a frame and a mounted oar lock system is that with a frame the oars man can brace them self with their feet on the frame and become one with the boat they are rowing. With a mounted oar lock system it is tougher to brace yourself when you row your boat. Itís kind of like driving a car without a seat belt. If youíre driving slow and easy, (class II) it makes little difference in controlling the car. If youíre driving fast with sharp turns (Class III+) you have better control of your car when youíre belted in.

    With all this being said, Keep in mind weíre talking about rowing a sport boat on the Upper Kenai River and not the rock gardens of the Gulkana River or any were more than a deep water class II or less river.

    A sport boat is affected more by the current then a well designed river raft or Cat.

    Everything is a trade off and when it comes to dropping the motor and crossing the lake an inflatable sport boat will outperform a raft or cat hands down and is a very good choice for floating the upper Kenai if you plan to drift past Jimís landing.

    Good Boating

    Jim King

    Alaska Series Inflatable Boats,
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  6. #6
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Here is a photo of my Jet Ranger with a set of whitewater oars. It handles well with the oars. I like to motor up stream and float back. I power it with a 20hp jet.



    Steve

  7. #7

    Default Bad

    That Jet Ranger looks bad as h3ll.



    I like it.
    Marc Theiler

  8. #8
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Oar Saddles

    Someone mentioned Oar Saddles in this thread. I think the product was well engineered and ideally suited for its intended purpose. Sadly, I have been hearing rumors that it may be facing some production issues, and may not be available any time soon, if at all. If you can get your hands on a set, I'd grab them.

    Anyone got any intel on this? I'm not hearing anything official, just comments from "someone who knows someone...". Just rumors, but not a lot of facts.

    -Mike
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  9. #9
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    Default Thanks

    Much thanks to all of you for the input and valuable information.

    Randy

  10. #10
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default

    I've floated the Deshka, Chilikodrotna, Mulchatna, and the Tikchik lakes/Wood river system with a 13' Bon air (much like a Zodiak). We used this boat with a 3hp Merc. to handle the slow water we encountered on those trips (also it was the only "raft" we had....). It worked pretty well, but like Mike said, you will smack the transom on rocks occasionally. It was sure nice having the motor to push through the slow water (especially the Tikchik lakes!). We didn't use oars, just two guys on opposing front/rear corners with paddles and had plenty of control.

    ps... Don't forget to pack an extra oar/paddle. On our Chilikodrotna/Mulchatna trip my dad lost his paddle in the middle of Twin lakes (while motoring across) where we were dropped off. He cut a 6" spruce and spent a LOT of time by the campfires at night whittling some of the extra weight off. He had a pretty decent paddle by the end of the 8 day trip!
    AKmud
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  11. #11

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    I've rowed the upper Kenai, (Kenai Lake to Skilak) several times in a 14' Zodiac. It gets the job done, but I did sell it and buy a cataraft.

    Dustin

  12. #12
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default 20 years ago

    we paddled a 65 mile river that had several miles of Braided shallows,
    I ended up with the Transom on my old Zodiac torn completely out. (This is the place you will always be dragging the most.). the v area of the rigid transom is the lowest place on the raft, and eventually no matter the material its made from, will be destroyed if you are in a river that is shallow.
    I floated about 30 miles of river with the transom ripped loose, the inside of the raft had about 6 inches of water in it, and it was near impossible to steer,,, what a trip.... two guys in a 12 foot Zodiac, a moose and gear... the boat full of water, and trying to drag that thing over the braided shallows....
    The fellow I went with convinced me it would work great....
    what really worked was our backs, as we dragged and dragged,, and then when the water was deep enough to float,, we paddles harder than a man should ever be asked to do..
    but,,,,, I did sleep pretty good on that trip,,, I did not want to get out of my bag in the mornings either....... and I found out that Advil is only so good at helping with the aches....
    My suggestion is that you know the river you are going to be paddling is deep enough for a V-style inflatable sport boat, so you never,, ever,,, have the chance that you will drag.... then make sure you put a set of rowing oars on the unit, and then realize it will never respond like a round boat or a cataraft.....
    I do like the looks of that Jet ranger... It is used to go through very shallow water, so it would work much better for rowing than a V-style sport boat.
    We have a 13 foot sport boat now, and I use it on the Kenai from Skilak to Bings landing alot. i motor up river and then drift down through the trout fishing places using the oars.. it works great for that...
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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