Rafting and raft, history of a revolutionary machine

The words raft and rafting already exist in the collective unconscious but what is it really?
In fact, for many, a strong buoyancy aid that can overcome the tumult of a raging torrent. It remains vague ..
Who invented the raft? Theodore Gericault? The Raft of the Medusa? It is not so. It is first of all a boat of the American army. Allowing men and equipment to descend onto watercourses.

What is the raft?

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

The first commercial uses appeared in the sixties in the United States, mainly in the Grand Canyon of Colorado. This boat has the advantage of being able to take up to eight or even ten people on a watercourse (for larger rafts). It is not necessary to know how to handle the boat since it is the guide / coxswain who will be responsible for steering the boat.

 

Handling of the machine

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

The guide being installed at the rear of the boat, he squeezes his paddle like 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 like those encountered on the north and south continents of the Americas, in Africa, Asia. Rafts are handled by rowing. The guide then takes place on a large frame which supports the oars, secured to the raft. The role of the passenger and then that of a dead weight since this one is generally devoid of paddle.

There is also the motor raft which allows for example to cross the Grand Canyon of Colorado in record time but we suspect it, with much less charm. Everyone can of course buy a raft and jump into the course of water that will please him. Be aware that your safety will never be as secure 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.