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Video of culebra in a rapid in Guatemala

by Jake Szympruch

"Just a quick note to say thanks for getting my Culebra back to me before my Guatemala trip.  It performed well and was easy to transport.  The whitewater industry is in its infancy in Guatemala and they had not seen anything like my culebra.  In fact, there are only 12 ancient battle scarred rafts and one oar rig in the whole country.  Our guide was very skeptical when I pulled the Culebra out of a duffle bag and started assembling but he seemed to be impressed when he saw what we could do with our little cats. It looks like the culebra is going to become my traveling partner.   The next trip is to the Salt and if all goes well, India next year."

Note form Jack- The culebra is just the craft to fly around the world with and do extreeme expedition boating. Jake had us do some work on his because it aparently gets used a lot, and he wanted to take it to places like this. This is just another reason to purchase a boat from a US Manufacturer who has an interest in your life style!


Culebra Frameless Catarafts

Culebra picture of the year for 2012

"Here is a picture of a challenging drop down here in Brazil.   This one is called Duas Quedas on the Cubatão River…my local run.

Love the Culebra."

Geoff Steeves

I think this is a picture of Geoff Steeves and Paul Yelda. I like the way they have the straps on the ends. no loop but something to grab on to. A chalenging run is a mild statement. Can not wait to see the video.

Small Rowing Frame for Single Person Operation
This pictue shows a break down rowing frame used on the Culebra. This frame is built by NRS. The mesh sling system is built by JPW. The sling system can stand alone if one wants to paddle the boat with gear. The frame is tied to the grommet strip on the inside of the boat, so there is no need to have extra D rings. On the front and back there is an optional net that can be used for cargo, or a passenger can place his feet in the mesh net. Some weight is necessary to counterbalance the load of the oars person who is sitting back of center on an oar seat. We have the parts at our shop to make this frame. We recomend 8 ft oars wih this setup. This is an idea that many of our customers wanted to see developed, so this boat could be more versatile.

Drawing of the boat with the frame frame prices and all the details you will need
Drawing of the boat without a frame and with mesh slings.
A computer model of the culebra with cargo slings and a comparison between 8 and 8.5 ft oars.

Straight Ahead Shot of the Boat at Pillow Rock on the Upper Gauley
This is a photo of the 10 ft long Culebra. The new production model is now 11 ft long, 65 inches wide, and weighs 46 lbs. It rolls up into a package that can be smaller than 33 X 12 X 24, depending on how well you roll it. Remember to take the cam straps off between the cross tubes and the main tubes.

In the photograph you can really see how the floor is attached to the bottom of the cross tube, and how the raised cross tube allows for more river flow beneath the tubes. The cross tube actually lifts the floor up in the front. This helps the boat glide over more of the rivers hydraulic action. You will note that the floor on this boat is attached at mid line on the 19-inch tubes. However the cross tube raises the front of the floor another 5 inches in the front and the rear. On close inspection, the d ring system attaching the cross tube and the main tube can be seen. The tension between these d rings, that is provided by a cam strap, makes the whole structure ridged.

Profile Shot at Pillow Rock on the Upper Gauley
This photo will give you an idea of how much flotation the 10-foot boat had in extremely aerated water. It also shows more of a side view of the cross tubes and how they attach with grommet strips to the main tubes at the top of the main tube.

Drawing of the Culebra with the Parts Named
There are two 3d perspectives here. One has the foot cups visible, and the other has a foot brace/rest pillow visible. The foot brace/rest is used as a foot rest for the back leg, or as a brace to push against with the back foot. The d ring cross thwart attachment system is not shown.

Culebra Assembly Instructions
Use these drawings to aid in the assembly of a Culebra Frameless Cataraft. The drawing associated with the picture is the same as the 3 d perspective shown above. This drawing will give the assembler a gereral name recognition of the parts so the instructions are easier. Please follow these directions in order. Some may have to be printed in landscape if you want to have a hard copy to read while working on the assembly. Click first on General Grommet Strip Assembly Instructions. This will tell you how the grommet strips should look and how they should be laced together. All grommet strips lace together in the same manner. Click on Part 1 to see how to lace the floor to the main tube. Click on Part 2 to see how to attach the cross tube to the floor. Click on Part 3 to see how the cam straps attach between the D rings on the Cross Tubes and the Main Tubes. Click on Part 4 to see how to lace the Cross Tube grommet strip to the Main Tube grommet strip. Remember to inflate the main tube after lacing all the grommet strips. Then tighten the cam straps. Finally inflate the Cross Tubes last. This pulls the whole boat together tightly. Remove the Cam Straps during transport of the boat so they do not wear a hole in the boat.

Search and Rescue Culebra
This Culebra was custom built for the Gresham Oregon Search and Rescue. Our customers looked at the Culebra handle configuration and came to the conclusion that this would be the best swift water rescue boat they could get only if it had some more handles in a different location. The custom lettering on the side of the boat is another option that we are capable of.

Grand Canyon Culebra
This picture is of John and Elise. This is Elise's 2nd full day on the Culebra, and it is John's first. On this day the Culebra under their direction successfully ran the drop at Specter Rapid that flipped the cutthroat. Then they were able to rescue the Cutthroat that had become stuck in an eddy only half way down the rapid on the right. We were all gatefull for this accomplishment. It has amazed me how easy it was for paddlers to grasp the concept, wedge themselves in, and perform difficult tasks that seemed routine to them. The learning curve on this boat is amazing. Be carefull with it. It is easy to get over confident.

Jake's Multiple Portage of Kwagunt
It was so much fun to have Jake as my paddling partner at Kwagunt rapid. Especially since he did all the work of carrying it up to the top of the rapid. We must have run this 5 times. We did not design the handles to be there for inflated portage, but it sure works well. What a fun day it was.

Entering Kwagnut, Going for Hole
The following pictures are a sequence of Jack and Jake going for the hole in Kwagunt. This is not a small hole, but it is not the monster that Dave and Jake hit later at Basalt either. It was just a lot of fun, and amazing to me how well the boat handles.

Before Hitting the Revesal in Kwagnut
Notice how the water is pushing on the front cross tube. It is not running over. The boat is about to climb out of the hole and because it has a raised floor, and cross tubes, it acts like a cat.

Clearing the Hole in Kwagnut
The reversal pushes the boat side ways. It looks as if we may get turned and fall back into the hole and flip. This is what you would expect a raft to do......

Exiting the Hole in Kwagnut
The boat is a bit sideways, Jack is taking a power stroke to straighten it out. Jake is a bit off balance because he just went through the meat of the hole a bit sideways. There were no swimmers we wedged ourselves in tightly. After this rapid was run a number of times, Dave and Jake became our best product testers to date. They bombed every hole and big wave they could. It was fun to watch them get thrashed in a couple of them, like Basalt, and Socdolager.

Alaska Culebra Adventures
I love this picture. It shows the extreme of what our customers are willing to do to play in the ourdoors. The ice gives it a nice touch.

Please read the entire story in our River Running section by following this link - Alaska Culebra by Todd and Laura Kelsey.

Wilderness Aware Rescue Culebra
This craft was designed by the folks at Wilderness Aware in Buena Vista, Co. They are using it now on the Salt River as a rescue craft. It can be paddled, or rowed with a simple row frame. It is a stretched version of the rescue culebra 13 ft long , but the cockpit is in the middle of the tubes. This allows for rescue of swimmers on each end. There are some changes on this model over previous models. They include an extended mesh platform that has foam floats in the front and back. The mesh can be moved to an up position for the use as a larger cargo sling. The foot cups are replaced with 2 foam foot thwarts. Have a look at an actual rescue here.

Have a look at the Solid Works design drawing.

If you would like to see the 3D model of this. Download Solid Works Edrawings after reading this information. This is how the Wilderness Aware folks were able to verify design issues via email. Email me and I will send you this file to view with edrawings.

After a person pulls himself into the mesh platform, they can get out of the cold water by sitting on the cross tube like this.

See an actual rescue in a short video on YouTube.

Here is what Jack Gunkle of Wilderness Aware has to say about the boat.

I’m just settling back into the office after a month on the Salt. It’s not that easy to sit down in front of the computer all day after 4 five days!

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you again for working on this boat with us. The final product is pretty much exactly what I envisioned. From the moment I took it out of the bag it’s been getting much attention. Some of our guides and I have taken it out on the Salt and tested it. Everyone really likes it and I haven’t really found anything I would change.

The only modification I have done is to add locking carabiners to the cam straps that attach the adjustable floor. It just makes switching from the up to down position a little quicker. The dropped floor does create a little drag, but I don’t see any way around that and it’s very minor anyway.

Here are a couple pics I was able to get. There not the best quality, but I will have more soon. Our photographer down on the Salt has more and as soon as he forwards them to me I will send them your way.

We are having our oar frame built right now. As soon as that’s done I will get pictures of that too. My goal is to get good pictures of the entire process of scooping a swimmer out of the water.

Remember if you want to have a fantastic spring river adventure, we highly recommend the Salt River in Arizona with Wilderness Aware.

Our Boat Specification Table has pictures and drawings with dimensioned part locations. Cataraft Draft Vs Load will tell you how much weight you can expect to put on a set of tubes and how deep in the water it will sink. Customized tube styles and prices can be seen by following this link. If you do not see what you want or can use in the standard product list, this link will give you a place to find the cost of extra length, extra baffles, double bottoms, and top chafe as well as D-rings, and handles.


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