Anyone ever built a raft? (1 Viewer)

Tony Pro

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Aug 24, 2015
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Denver
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I want to build a raft to travel down a big, slow-moving river. The problem is I'll be doing this in Africa so there will be some limitations regarding materials.
I will have access to basic hardware store stuff: duct tape, tarps, rope, etc. Anything fancier than that I probably can't find.
Can anyone give me some pointers or ideas for designs?
Firstly, I'll be doing this in a mangrove swamp, so there won't be any logs and I definitely don't want to damage any living trees. This means I'll only have sticks to work with. Which means I'll need to make pontoons out of something. Here are the ideas I've had so far:
-Gallon jugs: tape them together with sticks to form two pontoons. About 20 should do it?
-5-gallon buckets with the lids taped on: sounds perfect but I probably won't be able to get my hands on any. Ditto for inner tubes.
-Inflated contractor bags sealed shut with duct tape. I hate to trust my life to anything that can be punctured, but this is such an easy solution, it's the one I'm most seriously considering. I'd use several bags, to float the raft, so it's not likely they'd all get punctured at once. I could even coat the bags in duct tape, or sew them up inside a tarp.

With any of these options, I'm not sure how I'd incorporate them into a flimsy raft made of sticks.

Also, any tips about rafting appreciated. Is it naive to think that if a river doesn't look dangerous, it isn't dangerous?
 
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Kim Chee

I deleted myself
If I were going to limit myself like that I'd just bring the nicest 2 man inflatable I could bring into the country along with the best patch/repair kit I could find.

Just trying to keep it simple.
 

DrewSTNY

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Gang Mills, NY
How about a hybrid floating garbage island/raft? There was an article out there about a guy in Mexico that built an island out of garbage. He basically filled up bags and nets with plastic bottles and what not until it floated. If the part of Africa you are in is anything at all like Haiti, you should be and to scrounge up a serious amount of floatation material. (SIDE NOTE- I know there are parts of Haiti that are stunningly beautiful, just as there are parts of it that are horribly full of garbage. Been to both parts of the country)

Edit:

Found it -
Richard Sowa built a pretty epic island of plastic that has/was his home.
 
A

AlwaysLost

I deleted myself
This is probably obvious but don't forget the rudder. The contractor bags is a really creative but bad idea. You will sink. I've seen rafts with buckets just make sure you use industrial glue to seal the lids. I've also seen large PVC tubes but those are expensive. I also saw a guy make a raft out of shipping pallets.

I've always fantasized about long tubes of 2 liter bottles glued together under planks but that might be horrible.

I don't mean to be a dream assassin at all but even log rafts wear out or get waterlogged quicker than you think. Then again that guy on Alone canoed around Vancouver island on a tarp canoe so anything is possible.

As to whether a river is safe just remember the Hippo is probably the most aggressive and lethal animal in Africa (do they hang out in rivers?)

Still its an awesome idea ! Please keep me posted. I'd love to see your journey. I've always wanted to float the big muddy but I'm too old now.
 
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A

AlwaysLost

I deleted myself
How about a hybrid floating garbage island/raft? There was an article out there about a guy in Mexico that built an island out of garbage. He basically filled up bags and nets with plastic bottles and what not until it floated. If the part of Africa you are in is anything at all like Haiti, you should be and to scrounge up a serious amount of floatation material. (SIDE NOTE- I know there are parts of Haiti that are stunningly beautiful, just as there are parts of it that are horribly full of garbage. Been to both parts of the country)

Edit:

Found it -
Richard Sowa built a pretty epic island of plastic that has/was his home.
I love the guy who built that the world would be a better place if we had more of him
 
Joined
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Location
Montreal
Did you check canoeing websites for infos on the river itself (i.e. is there rapids, swamps, what creatures are you expected to encounter, is fishing good, etc)
That itself should answer a lot of your questions, especially the last one.

I don't know much about building rafts, but if I were you, I'd make sure to have a front piece that's really solid to protect your floatation devices from punctures, especially on a long journey. A piece of tin could work.
Also, in case shtf, I'd wrap a plastic bag full of food inside a floatation vest. In case something happens to you boat, you'll still be able to make it to the bank, and have food for your journey to the closest village or something.
 
A

AlwaysLost

I deleted myself
I told u not to use the bags bro lol. I second @FrumpyWatkins with the buckets. As I said before seal them with strong glue.
 

nastynaty

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I built a raft out of scrap pallets and an inflatable mattress. It worked great but i attached a manual pump to inflate it a little every couple of days. It was sturdy enough to hold two people a dog and gear plus a 30 rack of beer. Made myself up stream and down stream the mississippi on it and was very reliable. Im sure it would tear to shreds if it hit sharp metal but it would just bounce over rocks.
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2011
Messages
521
Location
Westernville, NY
This is the raft that I built recently to live on, which was stolen by the police department in Easthampton MA. Really simply design: Swiped a couple of blue barrels (55 gallon, 4x) and lashed them to two 4x8 pallets with rope. Nailed down a floor, bught a cheap-ass canoe on Craigslist for $60, and proceeded to hang a mosquito net and put up a sheet of plywood as a roof. I was kinda in a stagnation funk when I built it so it didn't get as built-up as I wanted it to, but then again, it's probably better because the pigs would have illegally repossessed it any-fucking-how.
If I was going to do it again, however, I would have made it bigger. In fact, I would have bought two heavy-duty canoes, filled them with walmart air mattresses for better buoyancy, and then lashed two big-ass beams across the gunnels of each boat. That way I'd have a directional track instead of a directionless float, which is what this raft had. On those beams, putting up an 8x8 square would be doable, and tossing up a sail and a rudder you'd be living the dream. Even buy a scrap Sunfish and put up that rigging. Maybe pedal power? Or a weedwacker engine? Probably would be a choice rig for doing the NYC-to-NOLA via inland waterways route. That's a dream I'll pursue when I'm too old to ride a bike.
img95201707029518225814695hdr-jpg.38882
 

Eyegor

Newbie
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
34
Location
New York
If you have access to tarps or plastic sheeting Google brush boats and/or folding canoes. These are time tested designs.
Good luck. It sounds epic!
 

Hobo Mud

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Joined
Nov 25, 2015
Messages
363
Age
43
Location
Columbia, Tennessee
How about a hybrid floating garbage island/raft? There was an article out there about a guy in Mexico that built an island out of garbage. He basically filled up bags and nets with plastic bottles and what not until it floated. If the part of Africa you are in is anything at all like Haiti, you should be and to scrounge up a serious amount of floatation material. (SIDE NOTE- I know there are parts of Haiti that are stunningly beautiful, just as there are parts of it that are horribly full of garbage. Been to both parts of the country)

Edit:

Found it -
Richard Sowa built a pretty epic island of plastic that has/was his home.
Wow! That is so cool. Thanks for sharing this video.
 
A

AlwaysLost

I deleted myself
I shit you knot , I just saw a pallet raft on the northern bank of the Missouri. They must know what they are doing or have a death-wish. Pretty cool though. If those woods weren't full of dangerous homebums I would have wanted to seek that dude/ette out.
 

nivoldoog

I'm a d-bag and got banned.
Banned
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Messages
400
Location
Everywhere, No where
Yo ride it like 's hot!

View attachment 38883

Much respect nice rig...
It is hot! Besides being awesome.

There is a fucking car battery on it. The electrician in me is both concerned and excited! Is that battery for fishin? Cause i think that is a felony in some states...i have always wanted to try it... the potential for electrocution always excites me.
inflatable mattress.
We had an inflatable raft with an inflatable mattress in it.. in our pool. And woukd charge money to sleep on it.

5 bedroom 3 bath house with still no space to sleep because too many squatters. The pool bed helped pay bills.
 
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