Rafting and raft, history of a revolutionary machine

The words raft and rafting already exist in the collective unconscious, but what are they really?
For many, a strong buoyancy aid that can overcome the tumult of a raging torrent. This remains vague.
Who invented the raft? Theodore Géricault? The raft of the Medusa? It is nothing of the sort. Primarily it is a boat of the American army which was used to transport troops and equipment. It was used for transporting troops and equipment on the sea as well as on lakes and rivers.

What is the rafting?

A “Zodiac” type boat, therefore inflatable, but with an identical front and back and without a floor. Built in a resistant material (hypalon or pvc), it resists perfectly to the shocks caused by the obstacles met in river.

The first commercial uses appeared in the early fifties in the United States. In particular in the Grand Canyon of Colorado with the company Gorgie White, pioneer in this field. This boat has the advantage of being able to take up to eight or even ten to twelve people on a river (for the biggest rafts). It is not necessary to know how to handle the boat since the guide/boatman will be in charge of steering the boat. Nevertheless, rest assured that the guides always take the time to brief their crew. So that everyone knows what he has to do. Both in terms of driving and safety.

Evolution of rafting; The Creature Craft

Darren Vancil, the inventor of the Creature Craft wanted a raft with automatic recovery. Indeed, the capsizing of a boat can sometimes prove to be uncomfortable on certain rivers. It is inspired by the Russian rafts of artisanal manufacture (the Bubliks) and the catarafts that Vancil developed his craft. Imagine a raft covered with a hoop that will prevent it from turning over. A real tumbler of the river! A boat made of many caissons to ensure a perfect resistance to the pressure inflicted by the rapids. In addition, Darren Vancil has equipped his boat with patented thigh braces that ensure its users are not thrown out of the boat.

Handling the boat

In Europe and on narrow rivers, rafts are handled with a paddle.

The guide is installed at the back of the boat and uses his paddle as a rudder. He gives orders to his crew so that the raft describes exactly the trajectory desired by the captain. On larger and more voluminous rivers such as those found on the northern and southern continents of the Americas, in Africa, Asia… Rafts are handled with an oar. The guide takes place on a large frame that supports the oars, which are attached to the raft. The passenger’s role is that of a dead weight since he is generally without a paddle.

There is also the motor raft which allows for example to cross the Grand Canyon of Colorado in record time but, as you can imagine, with much less charm. Of course, everyone can buy a raft and jump into the river of their choice. However, you should know that your safety will never be as good as in the company of a professional guide. You can also follow the link of the international rafting federation which will teach you all about the world of competition.

The Funny Helmets.