I recieved this email from a potential customer.   This is one of the most ambitious raft trips I have ever heard of.    If there is a cat that can do it, it is a JPW,  Read on to find out why. 

I was all prepared to pull the trigger on a set of Aire Leopard tubes when I started discussing my summer plans with Ellen Dela Cruz at a party a couple of weeks ago. She informed me that she is Jack’s cousin and told me that I really needed to contact Jack’s Plastic Welding before I purchased tubes. OK, so that’s what I’m doing. This summer, I’m planning a trip down the Liard River (class III/IV, sand bars, floating trees) in the Northwest Territories, Canada. From the Liard, I’ll take the Mackenzie River (class I) to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea. My plan is to float/row the Liard, but when I get to the Mackenzie, I’m going to deploy sails, leeboards, and a rudder and sail down river. When there is no wind, I’ll row. The trip should take less than 6 weeks, but I’ll load on feed for 8. 

 I own a 72″ x120″ NRS Fat Cat frame and am modifying it to accept sails, leeboards, sleeping cockpit, etc. In looking at your offerings, it occurs to me that an El Tigre (17′x28″ blunt) might  suit my needs and the longer waterline will probably improve sailing performance when beating into the wind in waves. If the tubes really weigh 45 lbs as spec’d, the might even pass airline baggage without a penalty. Any thoughts that you care to share regarding the relative suitability of the El Tigre would be much appreciated.

This is the reason why you should consider using our catarafts 

There is another option to that is made in the USA…..  JPW Catarafts.  and in particular the Eltigre models

lighter because thy do not have a bladder, or extra coatings.  They Fold up smaller because they do not have extra coating on the surface, that can make them too stiff to roll easily.  they are made with fabric specifically made for inflatable boats.   This results in lower maintenance, and storage issues.  There is no bladder to remove and dry out at the end of the season, and it folds up into a small package to take up less space in your garage.  Simply store it away from rodents after washing off the PB and jelly from the past year. Our warranty is good for 10 years, we have boats on the water that were made in 1988.  We do not have a no question warranty.  But instead we like to educate our customers.   This is one reason why we have so few warranty issues with our boats.

I like the NRS frame.  We used it to take cats across lake powell twice in 2012, under solar power,  Once with daddy cat set and 2 cutthroats in tow, and once with an eltigre set with 1 more solar panel.  No gasoline or oars for that matter were used.  A extra long El tigre will be on the great Salt lake for the whole summer under solar power in the North arm.  This is an art adventure.  The water is pink from the brine shrimp eggs and salt.    There are abandoned oil wells up there and a sculpture of some kind out in the middle of Nowhere.    The project is a collaboration between Texas Tec, and the Univ of Chicago.   Other customers include the Alaska dept of wildlife, and Dave Jones Alpenglow lodge in Kodiak AK.  Our boats have been up in that neck of the woods before on numerous hunting trips.  look at some of the immages that are links in this blog.

I think the NRS frame is a good choice for setting up a mast situation.  Riley Dunn sailed our first 28 inch set of tubes around the Yucatan Penninsula in the early 90’s.  His frame was made of  speed rail.  Our friend Charlie took a Long 25 inch diameter set of tubes from above Minneapolis to Memphis Tennesee.  His frame was made of speed rail.  Our solar cat solar frame was made with speed rail, that is the same size as the NRS frame tubing.  Each year for the past 5 or so, I have at least 1 customer talk to me about running the length of the Yukon.  But I am not certain that has really been done, but I would not doubt that one of our Alaska customers has.  We do sell a lot of tubes to gold miners in Nome who do placer mining in the Yukon Delta.  So we have a lot of experience with all of these issues.  Motors sails, and all kinds of things.

our cat tubes used to make an air boat.   Air boats West.

one of our larger cat tubes with a sophisticated sluice box for the Yukon river delta.

this cat went up the Escalante arm of lake powell in 70+ mph winds to pick up a pack cat trip.  I should write a blog about that experience.

Riley duns boat that sailed around the Yucatan (sorry I do not have a picture of the sail.

John snyders boat – home in Fiji.  This one does have a sail.

Charlies rig he used to go down the Mississippi from above Minneapolis to Memphis.

My insurance man told me never to do this again

A 36 in dia snout type rig in the lower grand canyon

So you can not get a better set of tubes for the weight, and the warranty, and the experience of the builders.  Besides we absolutely love the idea that you have an adventure like this with our tubes.

We once had a Kodiak bear bite the end of a cat tube off.  The owner had some vise grips and some glue and folded the end over and clamped it shut so he could get home.  You can not take guns to Canada, so Please learn all you can about the Grizzley up there.  We want to see you return safely.

I forgot to tell you about our tubes goint to the summit of Greenland, and to the south pole.  Serious duty.  We learned a lot about cold weather.

My favorite setup for the grand canyon the produce rig.

Std Eltigre in Lava falls mowing down the V wave

Sam tucks hunting trip in Alaska somewhere. Note all the caribou horns

Kent Greens cataract canyon Super Eltigre.  Look at all the cargo and a fairly big motor.

Texas tec tubes with 30 ft of water line.  Longest cat yet.  These will be on the GSL all summer 2014 on a solar rig.


Finally this is the video add that the currents guys did for our boats .  You can see the solar rig at the end of it.  It is pretty cool.

Get us an order now and we can have your boat in about 4 weeks.  And we can customize it to make it work the best for your situation.  Go to this site if you would like to do that.

We already have 28 and 30 inch eltire cat designs in 12.5, 15, 20, and 30 ft waterlines,  for unbelievable cargo capacity.  The one above could easily take 2 of the NRS frames you are talking about.

One last thing.  We removed the last 18 inches of tube that did not do anything.  Now you can aim for the cliff and get bounce from the end of your tubes.  More capacity, less length.

If you want to know more about us, you may see some of the interesting projects we make by going to our news letter web site.  Jacks or better NEWS FROM THE WILD CARDS AT JPW

 A note from Carmie Hull… 

BTW, when pondering my cataraft options, I was initially concerned about

the wind resistance of the blunted tubes on the El Tigre, so I began researching

the problem and discovered something surprising. The info below applies

to nosecones that are symmetric about the central axis of rotation of the tube,

so it doesn’t exactly apply to the nose of the El Tigre which curves off axis.

Also, the analysis applies only to low density fluids, like air (not water), and to

nosecones moving at less than the speed of sound. So as long as the nose of

a cataraft is floating above the surface of the water, the analysis is suitable.


It turns out that the drag coefficients for a pointed conical tip and for a spherically

rounded tip are the same and have the value of 1/2.


The drag coefficient for a parabolic nosecone is about 0.4


But, though it is no doubt well known to those who know it well, I was surprised to

find  that the drag coefficient for a conical nosecone with a flattened tip can have

a drag coefficient as low as 0.38. Better than the rounded, pointed, and even parabolic

nose shapes.


The optimal nosecone shape was first described by Isaac Newton in volume II of Principia 

Mathematica over 300 years ago. See Proposition XXXIV on page 327. I have to admit that I don’t really follow

his argument, but evidently most of his peers couldn’t either, correct though it was.


Solution of Newton’s nosecone problem using more cogent modern analytical techniques is provided

by C. Henry Edwards:


The analysis in the references above ignore the importance of laminar vs turbulent

airflow, vortex shedding, etc, etc, etc, … but I thought you might still find the results

interesting since they suggest another (surprising) benefit to the flat nose shape.


Best Regards,



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