Friday, November 19, 2010

Rafting festival!


Guara Steering System

A great Article, Incas and Spaniards rafting technique.

“An invention hitherto unknown to the most intelligent nations of Europe, a guara being let down in the fore-part of a vessel must make her luff up, and by taking it out she will bear away or fall off. Likewise, on a guara’s being let down at the stern, she will bear away, and by taking out of the water, the balsa will luff, or keep nearer to the wind. Such is the method used by the Indians in steering the balsas, and sometimes they use five or six guaras, to prevent the balsa from making leeway. The method of steering by these guaras is so easy and simple, that when once the balsa is put in her proper course, one only is made use of, raising and lowering it as occasions require, and thus the balsa is always kept in her intended direction” (Kon-tiki, pp. 117-118).

So, these shabby boards act very much like a keel, help the boat stay on course, and add control to bulky rafts.

PS: "Luff up" is turn into the wind or stop.
"leeway" is when a boat is pushed sideways off course due to the wind.

Excerpt from the Tangaroa Raft's blog, which rafted the Pacific.

"We also were able to carry out some very interesting experiments with the use of the guara boards, testing the speed and steering limitations of the ancient balsa raft. Our experience at sea convinced us that the craftsmen who made such rafts probably could have gone very far in such vessels, without ever being concerned about the possibility of sinking.

To maintain control of the raft, you need large sails, along with the knowledge of how to handle them. We used sails that were three times larger than those on Kon-Tiki. The idealized sketches [illustrating this article] show how the Tangaroa was equipped with several keels. In Peru they call these keels "guaras".

They are boards, about 12-feet in length, a couple of inches thick, and about 20 inches wide. They're made of heavy and durable wood. These boards have holes drilled through them spaced several centimeters apart, starting from the top and extending about half way down, through which wooden pins can be inserted. The pins are about a foot long with a two-inch diameter. The boards serve as a sort of rudder to steer the raft. They are constructed so that they can slide into specific slots between the bamboo floor and the balsa hull logs. These boards provide a surface area, which offer some resistance in the water beneath the vessel.

The Kon-Tiki raft was equipped with four such centerboards but they were "fixed" and could not be raised or lowered. However, the whole point of this clever invention is to raise or lower the boards depending upon the winds and currents. When the wind is constant, the direction and course of the vessel can be changed if you move the boards to a higher or lower position. For example, if you raise one of them 20 centimeters, the course can change 20 degrees. So by lifting them up and down, we learned how to steer the raft the way ancient man did. We discovered that we could even steer directly into the wind."

"...Vital Alsar, who organized the expedition of La Balsa raft, used guara boards on his raft in 1970 - the craft he used to sail between Peru all the way to Australia. By then it was understood how to use them....In 1953, he carried out an experiment in Ecuador with a small raft using the guara to understand how this mechanism worked. He wrote about the dexterity of the centerboards in several of his books, including "Early Man and the Ocean" (1978)."

The Tangaro Raft...

Shanty boat!

Some designs and resources..

mini shanty boat-

A few ideas --

Hull design;

Old fashion shanty boat plan:

Basic Hull design..

Balsa raft around the world...

This man floated around the globe in a little bamboo shack trying to recreate the trade roots...

The last picture is of 'the guara system', which is where you can steer by lower different patterns of board.

Construction: Logs lashed together, guara steering.

1960's raft

Just like us from St. Louis down.

Log raft construction.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miss rock a way armada- another mississippi raft

they've said it,

Project Info

The Miss Rockaway Armada is both a collection of individuals and an idea. At its most basic, the idea is this: we’re going to float down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans on rafts that we built ourselves. The crew can be called many things: artists, musicians, builders, travelers, organizers, dreamers. Ask one of the people who help build and move these crafts for the purpose, though, and you’ll get many answers. But there are some things that we all agree on. We want to create: to invent a new sustainable way to travel, to demonstrate different ways of living and moving that are friendlier to the environment and to each other, to indulge in that essential urge to make something out of nothing. We want to meet people: to learn from new folks along the way, to teach what we know, to share our art, our music and our performance, and to make new friends. Finally, for adventure: to reclaim and reinvent the old American urge to strike out and discover the vast, mysterious land we inhabit and see it for ourselves

rafting the missouri

"We rafted the Missouri which allegedly is the fastest river in North America. There are barges. There are rocks. Snags. All of these things we feared terribly (remember the guy in the comic who said "Skinned him like a grape?"). I put that stuff in there because it reflected our terror when we set out. I never finished the comic, so you didn't get to see the part where we realized all those fools were trying to scare the shit out of us. I have no doubt gnarly things happen occasionally, but people have used rivers to get around for tens of thousands of years.

Within a day on the Missouri we were swimming away from the raft, falling asleep on watch, seeing how close we could get to snags, being amused by the behavior of swirling eddies. Much of the trip was lying leisurely reading Huck Finn or sleeping in the sun or shooting peanuts with a wrist rocket, not fighting off dread dangers.

Our only power were two paddles which were sufficient. And we had a couch and a shade structure on the raft. We didn't have a keep, dagger board, rudder or a motor.

A lot of what works on a sailing craft (rudders, keels) don't work on a raft. In sailing you are constantly moving forward, so it is important to be able to control your movement. In a raft, you are just drifting. You and the water are moving at the same speed. From the water's point of view, you are standing still. So there is no steering, except where you paddle your raft. So a rudder and a keel or dagger board would do nothing while you drift.

There are people who float crazy rafts form Minniapolis down to New Orleans (look up the Miss Rockaway Armada for instance), so you could start above St. Louis if you wanted to.

One thing that surprised me about every river I've been on is how few towns there are on the river. There are towns near the river, but they have long since turned their backs on it. First the railroad then the highways became the new vogue method of travel and shipping. It is a bummer because I too had dreams of pulling into towns and having people say, "What the hell?" and saying, "Fuck it all, I'm outtie," and hoping on. Still though met plenty of neat people."

from a previous email:

Hello again!

We did the Missouri, the Willamette, and the Sacramento twice.

We've only built one type that worked so well, we stuck with it. Innertubes lashed to plywood. The tubes are so bouyant, even fully loaded, the raft was hardly in the water.

The funny thing is that created some problems: Since we had so little drag, the current moved faster than we did and we were susceptible to upriver wind. We were like a ball bearing rolling in place on a conveyor belt. Also, since the raft had no keel but had lots of mass, moving it across the river was like pushing a truck around.

The floating neutrino's are totally wack. Have you seen the documentary about that guy? Funny and crazy and a little charming.

Have you seen our flickr sets of punk rafting?

What other projects are you engaged with? Where did you get the idea to do this? What river are you thinking of? What time of year?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

A head of the head.

Reply from Neutrino's:

Here's the deal with the toilet. Official Coast Guard policy is that you
have to have an official APPROVED marine portapotty IF you have a toilet
onboard. You don't have to have one. But if you do, it better be
approved. You can claim that you always go ashore. THis can be hard to
pull off if you are sleeping onboard every night, often away from towns.
That's from the CG point of view. Then there's the local, state, county
and city points of view.all of these can have their own regulations,
most of the time it's something along the lines of "no discharge" and
they are likely to figure if you are living onboard, you need to have a
"gotta do it right."
actually, from my point of view, there's doing it safely, and doing it
with ease and enjoyment, there's no "right."

I wrote:

Hey there!
Thanks for getting back me, this is so exciting. The links are pretty empowering, especially the pictures of you guys in the locks. woah. so brave.
I'll keep on researching. :-) gotta do it right. I've been struggling with what to do about having a head on the raft. Brainstormed a couple designs, I'm thinking a saw dust composting toilet, but it might get gross. Thinking about caving and buying a $30 marine toilet Hefty fines for pollution in the river. Did make stops along the way? I'm hoping what we need to do will become apparent when we depart.
Rafter solidarity,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gear list

(my list)
-strap sandles
-rain coat
-long underwhere
-layers layers layer
-wool socks
-sun screen
-cold meds.
-good flashlight
-soap, and detergent
-nail clippers
-mess kit
-good knife

(I'm trying to pack for cold and hot.. north and south)

MUST BRING OWN LIFE VEST. (recomend type 3) I will pantz anyone on the water caught without it.

Things needed for our lovely raft

-VHF radio- to call other boats
-Marine rated fire extingushier
-out board engine (or two) hoping for a 4 stroke.
-spare parts^^ (cannot use auto parts on marine engine, unless we want to explode)
-Running lights, one 360arc white 90red 90green
-A big bell, horn, or air horn. (I'm thinking we can impromise)
-solar panel rig some kind of energy source, recharge batteries off motor
-two marine batteries (one running lights, two engine start)
-mosquito netting
-good tarp/canopy
-lots of rope/lines
-tool kit
-charts, chart box
-Library (wouldn't that be fun)
-Head (some sort of composting toliet?)
-first aid kit
-water barrels

As I think of more I'll just add it right on.. I've been saving up a little, but these things all add up. If you see something on creigslist or somewhere cheap we should jump on it. I want to get a radio new. A good radio is necessary if we get in a jam.

Good news about the law.

Just talked to a big wig coast guard man, and when I asked him about getting hasseled by the po, he says not to be worried. "there isn't much down there.."

He just warns us about basic saftey and barges.

Got it. We will not drown.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Angola bound. "Alcatraz farm"

We will be floating right on by the" largest maximum security prison in the US".

32 people die a year on average, and were buried in cardboard boxes until someone fell through the bottom. Today, modern times, prisoners make their own coffins...

Several people have drowned trying to escape by swimming across the mile wide Mississippi river.

Burl Cain, warden, "you've got to keep the inmates working all day so they're tired at night."

I stumbled over this while looking at the charts... it takes up the majority of chart 114... a mile wide. They are making a replica off highway 119 as a "tourist attraction" with a petting zoo. "Hey kids lets go look at the bad guys!"

Reply from the rafting Neutrinos

Thanks for the kind words. You are quite right not to underestimate the
power of the "Mighty Mississippi." Below you will find some links to
parts of our site that you may not have seen, which will answer most of
your questions so far.
If after reading all this, you have further questions, please feel free
to write again.
1. basic raft construction for the river:
2. photos of how we built the Mississippi River raft:
3. log of our Mississippi trip, starting at St. Louis. The log reads in
an upward direction, but there is a link at the end of each entry, to
jump you to the next entry.,%202000,%20a%20few%20miles%20below%20St.Louis,%20MO
Best wishes in your dreaming and doing,

I wrote:

Hey there!

Sweet rafts. Grand adventures. A solid crew and I are heading down the Mississippi this spring, from St. Louis on (no dams from there down), and was wondering if been down that way or have any pro-rafting tips for us. I admire your courage and all your work.

We're thinking of constructing a caravan of pontoon boats out of whatever we find in Detroit. We have a small budget, so enough for some basics like life jackets and a motor.. I would love to do without power, but its a tricky game when having control means being faster than the river. Control seems to be a valuable thing when up against a beast like the Mississippi.

I'm so curious. What do you recommend for a raft build? What are some of the challenges that you had to overcome on your adventures?

In rafting solidarity,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rule of the River.

Below is a power point from my US Coast guard class, what are they doing off the coast..

This is kind of useful. give it a good peruse

and a not as useful study guide...

gotta get up on our Aids to Navigation (ATONS).