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Thread: Load placement

  1. #1
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    Default Load placement

    When floating do you prefer nose heavy, tail heavy or level? What differences in performance will you experience with the different placements?Am I correct it thinking that when floating the nose is downstream and the tail is upstream?

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Based on what little I know, the nose (bow) is downstream, and the tail (stern) is upstream in most rafting scenarios. For load placement, my goal is to distribute weight as evenly as possible. Weight being people and gear of course. I would be worried to have an overly heavy bow or stern. Also keep in mind that the exact placement of the frame, particularly the placement of the oars, will make a big difference. Some like oars in the middle, some a little back of middle, but this is something you would want more insight from more experienced rafters than I. I am just learning myself. I did notice recently that with others in the raft, frame was a bit back. While going solo, raft performed better with frame forward a bit (in dead center) of the raft. Lots of variables, but do be aware of the placement of the oars in relationship to the weight (and its placement) in the boat.
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  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default load distribution on rafts

    I prefer to be slightly tail-heavy, especially in shallow water. This allows my bow to float over the shallow spot before my stern grounds out and stops the boat. I can ship my oars, jump out and push through, and when I climb aboard my bow is still pointed downstream like it should be. If my bow grounds out first, the current pushes the stern around (because it is still floating) and I ground out sideways. This puts me out of position to deal with upcoming obstacles once we float free. Of course if the boat is loaded totally level, the bow will ground out before the stern also, with the same negative effect.

    One thing to pay special attention to is the SOAR canoe designs (of all sizes). Most of them are built with the bow and stern lower than the rest of the boat. If you want to look at this, inflate one and put it on your garage floor; it has an arch to it. Unless you load heavy in the middle on these boats, your bow will ground out first and the current will swing you around. This can be very dangerous in a canoe because the boat is narrow and susceptible to capsizing more than a conventional raft or cataraft with a wider stance. Not bashing SOAR here; this is a known issue you should be aware of if you're using one.

    Hope it helps.

    -Mike
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  4. #4
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    If you are doing any serious whitewater you should load the bow heavy. The reason is that if you get delayed at all in a big hole you do not want that bow to come up on you. That's an invitation for a flip.

    This happened in our group a couple weeks ago. One boat that was a little too light in the bow briefly surfed Little Bear rapid in the Lowe River. The front end waved around in the air for a few seconds and then the boat just flipped sideways. Fun to watch, but a little more weight up there would have prevented it.

    Most rafters on this forum aren't into playing in class III and up, and don't usually run such light boats, so this may not apply to you. Otherwise, I like Mike's plan.

  5. #5
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    Michael,
    Thanks for the info you have been posting here and I do appreciate it. I have recently bought your book and have been studying it religiously. Thanks again.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    I prefer to be slightly tail-heavy, especially in shallow water. This allows my bow to float over the shallow spot before my stern grounds out and stops the boat. I can ship my oars, jump out and push through, and when I climb aboard my bow is still pointed downstream like it should be. If my bow grounds out first, the current pushes the stern around (because it is still floating) and I ground out sideways. This puts me out of position to deal with upcoming obstacles once we float free. Of course if the boat is loaded totally level, the bow will ground out before the stern also, with the same negative effect.

    One thing to pay special attention to is the SOAR canoe designs (of all sizes). Most of them are built with the bow and stern lower than the rest of the boat. If you want to look at this, inflate one and put it on your garage floor; it has an arch to it. Unless you load heavy in the middle on these boats, your bow will ground out first and the current will swing you around. This can be very dangerous in a canoe because the boat is narrow and susceptible to capsizing more than a conventional raft or cataraft with a wider stance. Not bashing SOAR here; this is a known issue you should be aware of if you're using one.

    Hope it helps.

    -Mike

  6. #6
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default load distribution...

    In big water I always like to be a little (...not much) bow heavy, which makes it easier to backstroke and pull away from problems.
    On skinny flat water I'm happy if I can get the front and back level.
    And my weight distribution preferences apply to both catarafts and "round boats".

    Now what I really do not like is to have a 300 pounder sitting on the front of a cataraft tube. Having a large passenger on either side of a cataraft seems to make the whole day awkward on any class of water, and dangerous in big water. This applies to both while I'm on the oars, and while motoring across Skilak lake.

    ...just my prefs...

    Dennis

  7. #7
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I just got off a 5 day float on the Gulkana. The only real whitewater is the class III Canyon Rapid. Last year I unloaded everything and ran through unscathed. This year, after portaging only essential food/shelter items and careful scouting I ran it with my 2 kids in the bow and the rest of the gear with the weight biased in the rear. I had another clean run including hitting the center tongue of water at the bottom to avoid the ledge hole on river right. However, the lower water his year caused even this line to be sticky at the bottom and we got surfed for a good 5 minutes. We finally flushed out and pulled in with only my ego bruised and a small donation to the river gods of a mixed 12 pack of beer and sodas. Everything else stayed put and dry.

    As posted earlier, I probably would have had no issue if I'd reloaded the boat bow heavy or just ran the last hole backwards with the heavy stern first. My 12 year old wanted to ride again in one of the other 3 boats in our group but the 9 year old decided once was enough for that day. He did say "Wow -that self-bailer stuff actually works. The raft was full of water". The other boats portaged everything after seeing my performance and had no issue.

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