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Thread: Sharing the River

  1. #1
    Member Crumm's Avatar
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    Default Sharing the River

    This subject has been touched on before but thought I might kick it off here. Simple question is what do you canoe fellas and ladies like to happen when you encounter a powerboat on the river? Seems to me that the best for the canoe is if the powerboat stays on step and cruises on by leaving a 6" or less wake. Some people floating the river seem to think this is rude but when a powerboat slows down the wake goes from a small wake to a miniature tidal wave. There are many times in shallow water where a jet cannot slow down without getting stuck but what do you all like when the water is a little deeper? It is nice when everyone on the river waves and smiles rather than displaying other gestures.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Sharing the river

    Crumm,

    Thanks for opening this topic; and your title suggests a possibility that doesn't often occur to some of us. It IS possible to share the river in many cases!

    One place where this might not be possible is Willow Creek, off the Parks Highway. Here you have props, jet boats, and airboats all dodging canoes and rafts (and bank fishermen) on a very narrow, popular river. It's just a matter of time until a really bad accident happens. I think we need to look at drift only, perhaps opening the lower end to powerboats. Powerboats have access to other rivers in the Susitna drainage that are not accessible to highway drop-off floaters anyway.

    To answer your question though, I just move off to the side and let them pass. They don't know I'm there until they're on top of me, but I can hear them coming. Some of them have the courtesy to at least slow down when they see me, but others just let-er rip, throwing up a huge wake that reverberates off both banks. Courtesy on both sides is very important. I understand that sometimes the power boat has to stay on step because of shallow water, however most of the time on Willow, this is not the case. But if they slowed down every time they encountered a drifter or a bank fisherman, they'd be running at trolling speed the entire time because of the number of fishermen. It's a no-win situation on crowded rivers.

    A related issue that isn't mentioned much is the bank erosion that happens on small rivers, where larger boats are running on step. I think this is an issue that should be examined more closely.

    What concerns me is the sense of "ownership" that is sometimes conveyed by powerboaters who expect everyone to move out of their way. I think if everyone made an effort to respect others on the river, I think this can be worked out in many cases.

    Great question!

    -Mike
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    Default

    I would prefer them to slow down. As Mike said, then a large wave doesn't rebound off the bank and cause problems. And I'm not sure the comment thet a power boat on step only leaves a 6' or less wake. Its only a small minority that disregard others on a river or lake but gives a bad name to all power boat owners.

  4. #4
    Member Crumm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    Some of them have the courtesy to at least slow down when they see me, but others just let-er rip, throwing up a huge wake that reverberates off both banks.
    I think this is where there is some confusion on wake size. A powerboat on step makes half the wake as one that slows down. Most people that have never been around one don't understand this. I do notice that most canoes seem to be happier when I slow down but I don't understand why they would rather deal with the large tugboat wake rather than a small one?

    As far as bank erosion and closing rivers to power-boaters I don't want to go there. This topic will only create a heated discussion where no one will agree. I feel we can share the river and would just like to know what makes you guys happy. I have a canoe but 98% of the time I am in a boat with an engine. I use the canoe for little creeks.

  5. #5

    Default The other point of view

    Flat bottomed river boats make very little wake upon the bank and other boats when on step. When on step you travel on top of the water not through it. Now, this changes depending when if the power boat is traveling upstream or down stream.

    When a power boat is traveling upstream and comes off step the boat has to fight the current. This requires power and pushes up a huge wake. If there is plenty of room staying on step is the best case in this scenario. Of course you have to factor the width of the stream, water depth, obstacles, placement of on coming boat, and so on.

    While going down stream coming off step and idling by does not create near as much wake. In this case the current will provide enough leverage to push the boat downstream. The same variables come into play.

    I used to run the Willow in one of those god awful airboats (can you feel the exaggeration?) most every weekend during King and Silver seasons. I came acrost a lot of drift boats and we always had enough room to pass each other without casualties. In my experiences, on the Willow, traveling upstream I would stay on step, but when I was going downstream I would idle buy depending on the circumstances. There are so many factors to caculate within seconds, thats why my reasoning is best case scenario. Each passing by is different in its own way.

    The only way I would support dift only on the willow is if the traffic became too much for the creek to handle and there was another economical launch accessable to the Big Su. Even runs on the 4th of July the traffic wasnt bad. Who has launched at the Deshka landing recently? MY GOD the prices to park and launch are OUTRAGEOUS!!!! We used to park and launch on the Willow for $5 a day. Whats the Deshka up to now? $50 for park and launch?

    Also, keep in mind, there are drifters who just dont care how small of a wake you push or how curteous you are they feel they have ownership of that body of water. It can go both ways.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Wake size

    Quote Originally Posted by Crumm
    ... A powerboat on step makes half the wake as one that slows down.

    As far as bank erosion and closing rivers to power-boaters I don't want to go there. This topic will only create a heated discussion where no one will agree. I feel we can share the river and would just like to know what makes you guys happy. I have a canoe but 98% of the time I am in a boat with an engine. I use the canoe for little creeks.
    Crumm,

    For starters, I really appreciate the respect you apparently have for other users, and hope we can see more of that. I could tell you stories...

    Overloaded boats also generate big wakes as do some hull styles. Furthermore, it takes more speed for some hulls to get up on step; speed that might be too dangerous on small, twisty rivers like Willow Creek. I don't think this is an easy issue to solve. But the fact that you're aware of it and are trying to be conscientious says a LOT about the sort of person you are on the river. Thanks for what you're trying to do.

    I agree with you on the bank erosion issue. Murky waters there. That was the claim that was used when the 35-horse restrictions were placed on the Kenai, and there has been lots of debate at to whether that really worked or not. Another tough issue. I would like to see at least one of the road-accessible streams in the valley go drift only though. It could prevent an accident, and would certainly improve the quality of the experience for the drifters anyway. This is a classic example of the head-on collision between power users and others.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member Crumm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    Crumm,

    For starters, I really appreciate the respect you apparently have for other users, and hope we can see more of that.
    Thanks.. All I was wanting to know is what makes you guys happy. When out on the river I am enjoying myself and hope everyone else can too. When you see a disgruntled canoe passing by because you stayed on step trying to create less wake it just confuses me as to what the guy wants..

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    I agree with you on the bank erosion issue. Murky waters there. That was the claim that was used when the 35-horse restrictions were placed on the Kenai, and there has been lots of debate at to whether that really worked or not.
    It is a tough thing to prove either way which is one of the reasons it is such a controversial issue. Here in the interior it seems to me that all summer during the peak of boat traffic the erosion is minimal but in the spring during break-up when the flood waters come down the erosion is at its peak. But like I said before that is another issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Gremlin
    While going down stream coming off step and idling by does not create near as much wake. In this case the current will provide enough leverage to push the boat downstream.
    Don't forget in a jet-boat when you come off-step while going down stream you are then just along for the ride. The current will provide enough leverage to push the boat on down stream wherever the current takes you..

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Good points-

    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Gremlin
    Flat bottomed river boats make very little wake ...I used to run the Willow in one of those god awful airboats (can you feel the exaggeration?) most every weekend during King and Silver seasons. I came acrost a lot of drift boats and we always had enough room to pass each other without casualties. In my experiences, on the Willow, traveling upstream I would stay on step, but when I was going downstream I would idle buy depending on the circumstances. There are so many factors to caculate within seconds, thats why my reasoning is best case scenario. Each passing by is different in its own way.

    ...Whats the Deshka up to now? $50 for park and launch?

    Also, keep in mind, there are drifters who just dont care how small of a wake you push or how curteous you are they feel they have ownership of that body of water. It can go both ways.
    Water Gremlin,

    You make some good points. One thing I've also noticed about the air boats is that they blow my gear all over the gravel bar if I'm on a corner. Hate to sound like a whiner, really... but it is a problem. I've had life jackets blown into the river, kids blown over, etc. Not a pretty sight...

    I had no idea the Landing was up to $50. That's ridiculous. The State needs to buy those guys out and do it right. That's gouging at it's finest. I don't doubt that it's expensive to maintain the place, but $50 seems more than steep.

    You made an excellent point at the end too. There ARE two sides to this, and sometimes both sides take ownership. Then we all lose.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default My perspective..

    I run rivers both ways. I float a 14' Achilles down many of the Parks hwy streams as well as others, and I have a 16' jet boat with a 40hp jet. We used to make several trips down the Little Willow in the raft and would curse the jet/air boats. Then I bought my own jet. To this day (6 years after purchasing the jet boat) I have only run the Little Willow below the hwy. one time. I run the upper for the big bows many times a year but there are no drifters up there.

    I still remember the days as a family we were having such a great, quiet time on the float trip, then the knucklehead with the big jet boat would come by. If I remember my "rules of the water" correctly, I believe the boat coming downstream has the right of way as well as the boat that is NOT under power. It is hard to convey these rules to a guy you meet on a blind corner, running a 20' inboard, going balls out trying to keep it out of the log jams. More often than not I would risk a puncture by burying my raft in the log jam rather than waiting to see if the guy was going to be able to avoid the big red raft.

    On another trip we saw some justice. We came around a bend to find a 20' North River high and dry in the middle of the river. He had found a sand bar and was trying to get the gravel out of his intake. We just smiled and waved as we floated quietly by. I wish I could have thought of something witty to say, but I'm not the quickest wit most of the time. Basically he had absolutely no business being where he was.

    Mike, you talk about a stream for drift only along the Parks hwy. I believe the Little Willow is the best choice. There are no cabins that would lose access below the hwy. bridge. There is only one you can see from the water and he can drive to his. Leave the upper part open to motors so cabin owners can maintain access. The drift is great, a nice 8-10 hours (depending how long you fish)and pull out at the mouth of Willow creek. It is a very pretty stream and bank erosion hasn't been a problem so far (yet). I agree, it would be nice to know of a float or two where there is an assurance you won't have to dive for the log jam to avoid being run over.
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  11. #11

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    Michael Strahan while I was reading your post I was thinking the Little Willow would be an excellent choice for drift only. In fact it would be a great compromise. The times I have run the Little Willow there have been NO other power boats. Heck, I have never even seen another boat or a floater on this creek. Maybe I am just lucky.

    For the most part, while running the Willow, the gravel bars are on the inside turn of each corner. This is typical of any river or creek that has almost or has started to bottom out as far as digging goes. Sorry, its been awhile since I have taken Geology, I have forgotten the term. There are a few corners I can think of that do not apply but for the most part prop wash would be pointed towards the woods.

    I used to be a private pilot when I was younger. I still hold many of those teachings today. The type of transportation that is less manueverable has the right of way. For example a glider would have the right of way over a cesna 150. I use those teachings on water as well.

    My posts, replies, and thoughts are from experience only. When we ran airboats they were small airboats, 14 feet in length with small aircraft engines. We didnt produce nearly as much prop wash as a 454 CSB 18' enclosed cab airboat would.

    I have lived in Alaska most of my life, and I consider myself to be an Alaskan. I have used most types of transportation you can think of. That ranges from track rigs, big rig vehicles, atv's, canoes, kayaks, RUV's, trucks, cars, boats, and my own two feet. I am open to any type of contraption that can traverse the land, and I have met many people with there own opinions. To me it seems some people just hate particular types of transportation. It doesnt matter how much or how little it impacts the land, or the evironmentally consceince the driver is.

    I hate to get off topic, and maybe I should start a new one. Until now the Soprano's are on. :-)

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    Correction: I ment the chevy big block. :-)

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Little Willow

    Little Willow might be a great compromise. Farley's operation at the upper end of Willow Creek really relies on a powerboat fleet to drop folks off and pick them up. Then some of the airboats on that one are really disturbing to someone looking for a quiet relaxing trip.

    Thanks for the insights!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  14. #14

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    I will let this topic get back on track. I am going to start another thread in the power boating section.

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    Member Crumm's Avatar
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    Default

    I met a half a dozen canoes on the Chena today and they all waved. I just stayed on step and left them a little 4" wake to jump. None of them had any bad gestures they just waved. One couple held there paddles up high and waved them so I would not run them over but not to worry I try and drive with my eyes open most the time

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