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Culebra Grande Frameless Cataraft

Hermit rapid run Culebra Grande
This is the first picture in a sequence. These Pictures were taken with 2 different cameras. Hermit Rapid in the Grand Canyon is notorious for its huge standing waves. At 18,000 cfs they constrict to form a harmonic celebration of big water. In this first picture we are heading down the back side of one of the smaller waves near the top. Follow these links for the sequence. In picture 2 we are clearing the top of the largest wave. In picture 3 we are coming down the back side of the big wave. After realizing that we were not going to flip, I was able to exhale. We were counting the waves because in picture 4 you can see the flipper wave. This wave is out of sync or out of phase with the rest of the harmonic. For this reason it curls back and has been flipping rafts. I thought that this was the 7th wave. Anyway after big wave 6 we started to move to the left. In picture 5 you can see that we have missed the reversal.

I would like to thank the crew that went on the Culebra Grande. Dave, Abby, Ian, and Donica never once wanted to take the easy route. We knew lava was coming up, and we had to take the big water when we could for practice. No one backed down. The boat and the people were awesome. I often talk of experiencing this life style vicariously through my customers, but this was absolutely the best. Building this little boat that was that much fun, and then getting to run it through the big water of the big rapids in the Grand Canyon. It is an experience I will have trouble duplicating. Believe me, I will try. Thanks to the Culebra Grande Crew.

How the Culebra Grande Foot Thwarts Work
This is a drawing of the standard Culebra Grande for 2007. It has foot thwarts that are situated for 3 paddlers, two in front and one in the back. There is a profile drawing with the orientation of the foot thwarts and the floor. In that profile drawing is a detail drawing that is expanded so one can see the detail.

The Culebra Grande is not a new boat. We have been working on this design for a number of years. Until we tried out the new foot thwart concept, it was hard to understand why the standard Culebra was so much easier to stay in. Then when we used the foot thwarts it became apparent. Because the floor is so long and flexible, foot cups just have too far to travel before they actually stop the paddler from going out. Therefore they are not as stable as the foot thwarts. The reason why they are so stable is because they are tied to the main grommet strip that attaches the floor on the ends of the thwart, and they are attached to the floor in two places. This gives a paddler lots of adjustment for a comfortable and secure ride.

The Standard Culebra Grande has 2 chambers per main tube, 2 cross thwarts, and 2 foot thwarts for a total of 8 chambers

Have a look at the Standard Culebra Grande set up for 4 people. The back tube is to brace off of, and the front paddlers brace off of the back tube while the rear paddlers put their feet under the middle tube.

Have a look at the Outfitter Culebra Grande set up for 6 people. We have added one more floor tube, and made the back end of the main tubes blunt. In that way we have increased capacity without increasing length. Seven people would be possible if the guide in the middle back used a foot cup on the floor.

Culebra Grande Flip and Swim Practice
On our Grand Canyon trip in 2006 we layed over at Kwagunt Rapid. We ran the rapid 7 times trying to flip the boat. We were not successful even though we lost half of the 4 person crew on one attempt. In this photo we are practicing our self rescue techniques by flipping the upside down boat right side up.

Culebra Grande on the Numbers Section of the Ark
This photo is another shot of my good friend Otis Kunz. He is captain of this combination oar paddle Culebra Grande. The row frame is simple because the Culebra Grande does not need a frame to operate, but it does need one for the oars. Along with Otis are Ray Pieroti, and Bill Palko-shara. Otis has considerable experience and was a guide on Browns canyon, but this is everyone's first trip down the Numbers. What a blast. Thanks Ray for inviting us over for the weekend.

Culebra Grande Lunch on the Salt River
This photo shows the versatility of the Culebra Grande. We stopped for lunch and I took this picture from up on the cliffs. It shows personal gear, an 80 quart cooler, a fire pan, and food box. We had our share of the camp gear, and food for a 5 day Salt River Trip.

Culebra Grande Punches the Hole in Black Rock Rapid, Salt River Arizona
This photo shows the Culebra Grande as a 2 person paddle cargo raft running a class 4 + hole on the Salt River in Arizona. Note how much of the force of the water rides under the tubes and the floor, justs like a cataraft. This is why we think that this boat has the performance of a cataraft, and the convenience of a raft.


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