Cat or Self Bailer FAQ
Which type of boat should I get, a Cataraft or Self Bailer?
3 Passenger to guide ratio:
The reason why cats can do a higher class of water is the amount of surface area that a cat presents to the river. The less surface area that is presented to a reversal, the less effect that reversal has on the boat.
Cat boats can easily be loaded top heavy. We suggest that if you are carrying very large gear loads to put much of the gear load up high in a shallow basket or on a deck board on the front, and drop the load down in the back to keep the overall center of gravity low. The deck board is a great place for passengers, and on milder stretches they can mount their lawn chairs on top. We have used plywood decks for years this way. The people on the front off set the gear load in the back that is low to the water. Passangers can easily "high side", and actually find cats a drier ride than conventional rafts. What happens when the boat hits a big reversal is that the majority of the wave is taken below the deck. Add to this the momentum that you already have from going down stream, and when the back of the boat hits the reversal, the momentum and center of gravity (having half of the load already down stream from the reversal) help to push you over the top. Cats as a result are labeled with a less thrilling ride, yet can run higher class of whitewater and get into more diverse river systems.
If you are looking to get a cat, please remember that it is only as good as it's frame. Use designs that have been proven. Pick frame builders who know what is going on. If you are still interested, write for a list of frame builders, and I will send it to you.
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