I know summer doesn’t officially start until late June,
but here in the Southwest, come May, summer is here. Or at least
the heat is here. Just like my previous boat builds, I had really
good intentions of getting a lot done over the winter months.
But somehow a lot of the building process always winds up getting
done at the last minute. It seems like having more than one boat
really starts taking a lot of time for maintenance, but then again
maybe that’s because I store my boats outside in the weather.
Of course the real reason I didn’t get anything done until
the last minute is simply because I’m a procrastinator.
This is the fourth summer I have participated in Raft The Rio.
The first year, my daughter brought a flyer home from school and
asked me if we could do the race. After we built the bucket raft,
we tried to talk other family members into joining us, but no
one seemed too interested.
I can’t really blame them. I wasn’t sure the raft
was going to hold up myself. After we completed that first Raft
The Rio, everyone suddenly became very interested in joining us
for the next one. It’s funny how that works. This year I
had two puddle ducks and a puddle goose in the race.
Ready to start
I received a lot of compliments on my puddle goose.
Several people told me they wished they had my boat instead of
the craft they were in.
We had a good time this year but the wind was terrible. It blew
continuously the whole time. Normally we have stretches when the
wind is not blowing. It blew so hard that if we weren't paddling,
the boat was sitting still. It took us two and a half hours to
get to the finish line. Last year we finished in an hour and ten
minutes. My daughter said she and her friend went backwards a
few times in Pie Rat when they quit paddling. We didn't try to
setup an umbrella this year. Last year the wind broke one of our
umbrellas and mangled the bracket we had it mounted with. We had
an ice-chest setup with a checkered table cloth and plastic wine
goblets this year, but the wind kept knocking the goblets over
so we didn’t get to use them either.
Raft the Rio 2010
I had intended on making some kind of bimini top for the goose
this year, but by the time I finished resealing and painting the
hull on the goose and the first puddle duck, and building the
second puddle duck, I was out of time and energy. the first puddle
duck didn't take that much effort, it only needed a little touching
up, but the goose took a lot of work. That 1/4 inch BC pine really
likes to check. I had to mix up a lot of epoxy and sawdust to
fill cracks. I think our southwest sun really dries out the plywood.
I need to make room to store the boats inside.
I wasn’t the only one with a puddle duck in this year’s
event. Mathew Raikes brought his puddle duck (#312) down from
Rio Rancho. He built an Oz
Racer and it’s a nice boat.
I think he took more care with his construction than I did with
mine. His son came with him and Mathew said they had to row the
whole way as well. (for the raft race, not the trip down from
Rio Rancho) I didn't get to see him at the end of the race but
he told me later that they had a great time. He said he didn’t
mind it taking a while to finish. He would have been disappointed
to drive all the way down here and have it be over too quickly.
Since Raft The Rio, he has finished his sailing bits and taken
his puddle duck out for his first sail. He said it was nice.
I need to take a moment and thank Mathew. He took lots of great
pictures at the event and gave me permission to use them in this
article. I only provided four of the pictures for this article.
The rest were all provided by Mathew. I had intended to take a
lot of pictures, but somehow got distracted trying to manage launching
three boats. Sometimes I don’t multitask too well. Anyway,
thank you Mathew. He’s the one on the right.
Mathew and Me
I didn’t enjoy this year quite as much as previous years.
My nephews didn’t get to come and having young kids around
with lots of enthusiasm makes events like this more fun.
Those aren’t my nephews, but I think you get the idea.
The constant hot wind really wore us out and having to load three
wooden boats onto a trailer at the end of the event didn’t
Duck, Duck & Goose
We all started talking about building some uber light weight
boat that would be easy to carry and move around for next year:
We envied all the folks that just deflated their plastic rafts,
stuffed them in a bag, and walked away. Somehow I think they might
frown if I decided to burn my puddle duck on the river bank at
the end of the event.
Here is a little plug about sun safety. At the end of the event
one of our party got really sick and started throwing up. Even
though we had taken plenty of water bottles and everyone was trying
to stay hydrated, we still managed to have someone suffering from
heat exhaustion. It took a couple of days to recover and we were
more than a little concerned. So if you are out somewhere for
a long day in the sun and someone isn’t looking too well,
pay attention. It’s very easy to get too much sun and heat
without realizing you’ve overdone it. I know one person
who is not too excited about participating next year.
There were a lot of interesting craft to look at before the
race began. At the end of the race you’re too tired to pay
much attention. A couple of folks built their rafts from worn
out freezers. One of them was fixed up to look like a giant milk
There was a converted fish pond, a car ferry, and a raft setup
with a tent all ready to go camping.
There were some rafts that caused me to wonder if their creators
were really expecting them to float. The ladder raft, maybe? But
I don’t see how the milk jugs could support more than a
single small child. And of course there are always one or two
paddle wheelers every year. For some reason I really like paddle
And finally here is another youtube video from this year’s
Raft The Rio: