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  1. #1
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    Family in a Raft

    Who does it? Ages for kids? Setup? Use a frame? Classes run? Leash to kids under a certain age?

    I'm pretty sure you could drift class 1 with a toddler crawling around a raft. What's the next few steps?
    "Yo!! Brentley! Ya wanna get faded before work?"

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BS720 View Post
    Who does it? Ages for kids? Setup? Use a frame? Classes run? Leash to kids under a certain age?

    I'm pretty sure you could drift class 1 with a toddler crawling around a raft. What's the next few steps?
    BS...

    You raise a valid subject --

    by the time I got to the river, I had enough 'swimming lessons' I was comfortable in the water - I was five years old.

    A river is Not a party boat on a lake : With current, stuff happens.
    fifty years later, I remember the child of friends clinging to a 'strainer' ( downed tree ) Screaming. (! she would have been six y.o. or seven y.o. )


    Sure - lots of tots grow-up on rivers and survive - and you asked --

    Water Safety and swimming lessons ; flatwater Without current...

    ( I was thinking... no. northern CA and OR rivers are going to have trees - not midwest sweeper trees, but wood that gets carried into the rivers )

    I Love the idea of a raft. . .

    swimming lessons --

    finally, my personal plea : near the river / near the Water : Always a pfd. If it saves someone You love...
    especially rivers - current seems benign, But If someone is Just out of reach and being carried away...

    always, a pfd.

    And Good luck ! ! tj
    Last edited by skiJ; 05-02-2019 at 10:59 PM.

  3. #3
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    You’ll find everything you need to know about rafting with the family at mountainbuzz.com. Here’s a couple threads to get you started.



    https://www.mountainbuzz.com/#/topics/56557


    https://www.mountainbuzz.com/#/topics/86226







    good luck

  4. #4
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    If you have zero river experience , by your post I am going to assume you don’t. Learn how to boat first before taking kids on the river.

    Perfect time of year to sign up for a guide school lots of river companies will take your money to train you knowing you will not become a guide.


    You NEVER EVER tie anyone to a raft.

  5. #5
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    Reading this book would be a good place to start. It covers all aspects of rafting from class 1 to whitewater runs. Lots of good info on rigging, equipment, etc.

    Then get some personal instruction from a friend or guide on how to read water and maneuver a raft down the river.

    Kids should be in swimming lessons from earliest age possible, as was noted above.

    You see a lot of people rafting with the kids snug in their little PFDs and the parents are not wearing theirs. Thing is if your kid ends up in the water you may very well be in the water too, and in order to help the kid you need to have a PFD on so you're not fighting for your own survival. We have been rafting with our kids since they were 5 and 7 and the whole family always wear PFDs. We have comfortable life jackets from our sea kayaking days and I don't even notice having it on. I don't take it off, even in class 1 water, any more than I would take off my seat belt in a car just because I'm only going 35 mph. When you're pinned against a bridge abutment or some downed timber is not the time to learn that class 1 water actually packs a helluva strong current. I know a lot of people will disagree with me about wearing PFD all the time, based on what I see on the river. It's a personal decision, but don't ever fool yourself into thinking that having it close by is good enough and that you'll have time to get it on and secured in an emergency situation. Things can go sideways real quick on a river, any river. Every year somebody dies on the Missouri by Helena because they weren't wearing a PFD when they needed one. And it's just class 1 water the whole way.

    Anyway...I have a 14 foot self-bailing raft with a rowing frame, which works great for a family. We've rafted up to class 3 and easy class 4 with the kids and done multiday trips too. It's a great family activity, highly recommended. Just respect the river.

  6. #6
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    For kids, a pfd should be like a beacon, on at the car.

    I've seen way too many close calls with kids screwing around at the put in while their folks are rigging.

  7. #7
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    TJ’s talk about “sweepers” brought back a memory. Many years ago when I was in middle school, my brother and I got the idea about building a kayak and running “whitewater” with it. We had in mind maybe class II at most.

    So we built it, out of plywood and 1x1s. God that thing was heavy. It had a keel which ended up slightly twisted, but we did manage to get it water tight and it floated. It had a deck, but no provision for a spray skirt or anything like that. We painted it blue with the finest marine paint that we could find, and boy were we proud.

    We got it finished just before our annual summer trek out to visit the grandparents in Northern Colorado, where the usual routine amounted to child slave labor, along with the occasional fishing.

    So we somehow managed to rope the beast to the top of the car and made the trek from Bellevue to Slater Co without it falling off.

    The plan was to run the mighty Little Snake river from the Slater Post Office down to the bridge near where Slater Creek joins the Little Snake, a distance of maybe a quarter mile at most.

    I somehow drew the maiden voyage, and then my brother would go. I DID wear a PFD. Our splendid craft sucked in the water, to be honest. The warped keel made it really hard to go straight, and I was fighting it the whole time. But I do remember having fun.

    Then I came around a corner, and all I could see were limbs and leaves ahead. A tree had fallen completely across the river. There was no time to head for shore. In short order I was pinned up against some limbs, and going under.

    I did manage to free myself from the boat, and climbed up on top of the tree. I remember that the PFD did help in that regard. But mostly, I was very lucky. I spent quite a while, maybe an hour or more, trying to get the boat free, but no cigar. It was stuck.

    Eventually, my brother appeared on one of the river banks, after having walked up from the takeout. I think half the valley was mobilizing a search party at that point. Since our one paddle was gone, we pretty much lost interest in retrieving the boat at that point. On to fishing and skinny dipping.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahman View Post
    Reading this book would be a good place to start. It covers all aspects of rafting from class 1 to whitewater runs. Lots of good info on rigging, equipment, etc.

    Then get some personal instruction from a friend or guide on how to read water and maneuver a raft down the river.

    Kids should be in swimming lessons from earliest age possible, as was noted above.

    You see a lot of people rafting with the kids snug in their little PFDs and the parents are not wearing theirs. Thing is if your kid ends up in the water you may very well be in the water too, and in order to help the kid you need to have a PFD on so you're not fighting for your own survival. We have been rafting with our kids since they were 5 and 7 and the whole family always wear PFDs. We have comfortable life jackets from our sea kayaking days and I don't even notice having it on. I don't take it off, even in class 1 water, any more than I would take off my seat belt in a car just because I'm only going 35 mph. When you're pinned against a bridge abutment or some downed timber is not the time to learn that class 1 water actually packs a helluva strong current. I know a lot of people will disagree with me about wearing PFD all the time, based on what I see on the river. It's a personal decision, but don't ever fool yourself into thinking that having it close by is good enough and that you'll have time to get it on and secured in an emergency situation. Things can go sideways real quick on a river, any river. Every year somebody dies on the Missouri by Helena because they weren't wearing a PFD when they needed one. And it's just class 1 water the whole way.

    Anyway...I have a 14 foot self-bailing raft with a rowing frame, which works great for a family. We've rafted up to class 3 and easy class 4 with the kids and done multiday trips too. It's a great family activity, highly recommended. Just respect the river.

    crud --
    Just trying to credit yeahman and I dumped my post...

    Still(,) thanks...

    like I said, my fishing and hunting friends think I am a Puss. but

    I Am an advocate of pfds around the Water... for Everyone...

    I wrote,
    Lots of people survive without (bike) helmets, but
    no one who needed one ( was injured [edit] ) for lack of Protection.

    And PLEASE be Cautious around sweepers and structures (abutments) :

    If you get trapped underwater you are dead unless you are Aquaman.

    dead is Dead.

    There is no Play Again button (!)

    Please... Be Safe.

    I have had some - many - of the Best times of my life on the river...
    ( April trips my sixty year old ass wonders what my twenty year old self was Thinking
    ( but by then, I had experience ( Thanks, Dad ) . was not thrill seeking. and I did have (some vigor of my) youth. )

    Please. Be Safe. (!)

    The goal is Always get Home.

    Thanks. Good thread.
    ( Thank you to tgr. for hosting our community of magg.s , mangs, and machetes ! !!!

    : ) tj

  9. #9
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    We all river people, like ski people, have those stories if we are actually doing these things.

    It's nice to be alive to survive to share these stories and save some more feeble souls.

    I've lost at least as many to the river as the mountain. I thread that needle. No need to go further.

  10. #10
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    watch out for snakes

  11. #11
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    The year before we bought a raft we borrowed a canoe from some friends and took it on a few rivers, wife up front, 4 and 6 year old kids sitting in the middle ("don't lean over the side like that!"), me in back doing all the steering and maneuvering. We took it down a very boney North Fork of the Flathead one day and I remember really thinking I got away with one after that was over. Saw a fishing guide friend at the takeout and he looked at me and shook his head and said, "Nice job with the canoe, DAD." in a way that made it clear I'd been kind of a dumbass to bring those kids down like that. No harrowing rapids but constant threading the needle. You just don't want kids tossed in the water, ever, and it could have easily happened that day.

    Moral of the story: Fuck canoes, get a raft.

  12. #12
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    So, I've done some whitewater rescue and kayaking, but putting the family in a boat is different. Not zero experience, but enough to know that I need more experience. BTW, when I said leash, I never said anything about tethering a child to the boat. Jesus.

    Thanks for all the feedback. It's gotten me on track.

  13. #13
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    ever buddy I see buying rafts to carry the new families of young kids are using them for fun outings on really easy class 1 or 2 rivers, I think you wana error on the side of discretion

    I did shuttle some Idaho fireman on a remote multiday 3+ or 4 river who had their families but the kids were all teenaged or pretty close, everybody had the right gear and the fireman were all raft guides & SWRT's


    I Kayaked some grade 4 with my 14 yr old kid back in the day, I definatley remember thinking if shit goes sideways I can't get to to him but acutaly he was paddling better than all my 20 or 30 something newbie paddler friends
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  14. #14
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    I knows this hudge fisherman bro
    puts his fam in the raft
    1 fer clean in 3 trys in class 2 rapids
    on our annual green float

    but he rows backwards pretty goods
    I thinks one time we needed to get the grom out fore gittin off the rocks
    if he don't run er clean this year
    im takin pics
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
    ski on in eternal peace

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by skifishbum View Post
    I knows this hudge fisherman bro
    puts his fam in the raft
    1 fer clean in 3 trys in class 2 rapids
    on our annual green float

    but he rows backwards pretty goods
    I thinks one time we needed to get the grom out fore gittin off the rocks
    if he don't run er clean this year
    im takin pics
    Ahem. I’m 2 for 5, and I believe that rapid is a III. Not saying it’s difficult, I just seem to fuck it up most of the time. Looking forward to my next shot at it this year.
    Yes that was last year that G switched boats at the top of the rapid.

    OP, I’ve had my kids on class III since they were 6 months old. Just keep it mellow and be careful.

    Dry boxes are excellent for nap time.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Underoos View Post
    Ahem. I’m 2 for 5, and I believe that rapid is a III. Not saying it’s difficult, I just seem to fuck it up most of the time. Looking forward to my next shot at it this year.
    Yes that was last year that G switched boats at the top of the rapid.

    OP, I’ve had my kids on class III since they were 6 months old. Just keep it mellow and be careful.

    Dry boxes are excellent for nap time.

    used 2 be all commercial boats had to portage dudes
    and all the cool kids went right
    a few dozen times in i decided to let the old man stay in
    blew the crux
    slammed and crumpled the nose into the wall
    and barely pulled it togather to not get boat eatens by the dragons tooth
    but watching the wife with a non swimming mother and aunt in law up front and dork dog in back
    ,not to mention a huge amount of my flyflinging shit, fighting to get an oar reshipped while trying to pull up the anchor i told her to drop under any but back eddy situations at 10 k cfs and pull her shit togather before a simple class 1 was spooky
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
    ski on in eternal peace

  17. #17
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    My youngest getting buried by her first wave, I think she was 8...the expression on her face pretty much says it all lol. Middle Fork Flathead.

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  18. #18
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    I boat with a bunch of friends that take their kids. Most are ex MFS guides or rescue dudes and all are skilled oarsman. I've had their kids on my boats on multi days. I've backed away from trips with kids too even if they won't be on my boat because of what I thought of their parents as boaters or their judgement. It's all skill level, judgement, and risk and reward.

    Kids on the river are great until they start asking questions about what's in Uncle Conundrum's little pelican case.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conundrum View Post
    Kids on the river are great until they start asking questions about what's in Uncle Conundrum's little pelican case.
    LOL. Hey C, I ended up with a 14' a la NRS. Let's hit the river together. I'm happy to receive river trip invites. I'm anxious to see what this gravy-train-comfort-rafting-boating thing is all about with Mrs. RTR. Hopefully see you again some time before the Global Warmingz dry up all the rivers.
    Click here to increase your vocabulary.

  20. #20
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    Indeed. Nice on the boat. Tough to go wrong with those. Remember Ian P? He bought the Diablo so it stayed in the family.

  21. #21
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    Yea, this is something I have started wondering about since my youngest is now almost 3. Though I was contemplating between a cat or raft. Raft seems more comfy fo them, but cat seems easier to manage

  22. #22
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    Second mountainbuzz, the TGR of boating, a great resource.

    We’ve had our daughter on rivers since she was very young. Her first float was a multi day on the Yellowstone below yankee jim at 10 months old.

    I can’t emphasize enough how important getting comfortable on the sticks is (obvious right?) Make sure your SO can handle her own too. Research each river thoroughly before you run it. Go without the kiddos multiple times to get a feel for your boat on different rivers.

    Find other families into rafting as well. Learning tips and having extra eyes hands and minds can be very helpful.

    PFD for everyone car to bar / camp no exceptions.

    Raft is definitely more comfortable for the little ones, and I feel safer with them in the boat in comparison to a cat where it feels like they are more on top of the boat. Cats are great for hauling a shit ton of gear for once you get to camp, but not the best for little kids. I had a 14d aire and sold it before I moved to Ak. I bought a 16ft aire cat with a frame up here. I miss the raft.

    The bottom line is this. Boating is fun. And dangerous. It can be a whole new stress level when you throw kids into the mix. Being on guard at all times feels necessary for the survival of your progeny. A lot of people don’t like that aspect of it. Preparation and calculation will get your family home at the end of the day. When in doubt, line the fuckin boat
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  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahman View Post
    "Nice job with the canoe, DAD."
    My in-laws took my now-wife and her brother on a canoe trip on the Bitterroot ON NEW YEARS FUCKING DAY. They dumped. It was cold.

    Fuckin' dads, man. I feel like there is a joke about people who made it through Ranger and Airborne school in there somewhere, too.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conundrum View Post
    Kids on the river are great until they start asking questions about what's in Uncle Conundrum's little pelican case.
    This is how I also feel about my own children around the house.

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