Directional advice
July 21, 2019 08:02PM
So it is easy to make a boat go downstream. The more you leave it alone the more down it goes. Once the proper skills are acquired rumor has it that a good capt'n can even control its descent. Where I get confused is, on a perfect day, which end goes first? It seems that the Oregon Boats with two fishermen up front remain at the front the whole trip, pointy end first. Then I see other photos or videos of other's descending transom first. Why and when do these choices get made and which way is the little, beamy, Buffalo to go down?
Maybe a written tutorial is already posted on this subject here on the forum and someone will send me to it. Pictures are nice also.
Re: Directional advice
July 22, 2019 01:50PM
I'm out of town. Marginal connectivity. Answer more. Later
Re: Directional advice
July 22, 2019 05:32PM
Drift boats tend to have a square transom end plus a higher pointed end. Which is the bow and which is the stern depends on who you talk to. The pointed end almost always points downstream, at least if you are not trying to fight a strong upstream wind.

In general you keep the pointed end pointing at where you do not want to go, and then row hard the other way. Although in white water, when approaching a big wave it often helps to push on the oars rather than to pull, so you hit that wave with maximum speed.

The rest comes with practice. Eventually it all becomes semi-automatic.
Re: Directional advice
July 22, 2019 10:19PM
So in white water you spin it around and row upstream? I get that but according the photos and videos some boats are pointed upstream and some are pointed downstream as the operator guides it down the Schute? or am I seeing things? river men know things......

Re: Directional advice
July 22, 2019 11:28PM
No you seldom point upstream. Almost always point downstream. But there is a difference between pulling and pushing on the oars.

Pulling slows you down. Pushing speeds it up. I like to hit big waves with all the momentum I can gather.

I went over some big waves on the Deschutes once, with Ray Heater and his son Casey. Those waves were so steep and so tall you had to worry about not making it over the top, in which case you might slide back down, which would probably dig the transom under water--at the bottom--and swamp and open boat. Ray told me to push hard on the oars. And I did.
Re: Directional advice
July 22, 2019 11:52PM
A lot depends on what type of river you are using your boat on and what you are doing. Rowing a river for fishing is different than rowing a river for whitewater fun. Rowing a rock garden rapid is different than rowing a big wave rapid.

I have done both, but do far more fishing, so my comments are going to lean that way.

A general rule for rowing a drift boat on a river: Keep the "big end" pointing downstream as you descend the river. Use the oars to slow the descent and maneuver the boat around obstacles. You are rowing in order to slow the boat which gives you more time to read the water and position the boat to avoid the obstacles. You, the oarsman, are looking downstream and slowing the boat's descent by rowing upstream. Doing it this way gives your fisherman more time to cast to likely targets as well.

As Sandy stated, in big whitewater, you might need more forward momentum so you "push" on the oars to speed the descent and power through the waves. You want the big end going into the wave first as you need speed to keep from surfing on the face of the wave and rolling your boat. You do not push downstream unless it is needed though! It is much harder to steer around obstacles when pushing on the oars than it is when pulling on the oars. Pushing speeds your descent which means you have less time to maneuver. Running a river in a drift boat is about maneuvering and you are almost always facing downstream and slowing the boat with your oars.

This changes if you are in calm water or windy conditions or you have had enough and want off the water. Then you spin the boat around and point the small end downstream and row to speed your descent of the river. You cannot see where you are going anymore so don't do this in big waves or rock gardens!

I worked as a fishing guide on the Snake in Jackson, WY for a few years. The outfitter I worked for did not have a permit for the sections through Teton National Park. Every once in awhile a scenic rafting company that ran trips through the park would need an extra guide and I would get to row one of their monster rafts. These things carried at least 10 people and you really could not slow them down much. Rowing them was all about going with the flow and manoeuvering around obstacles WELL in advance. Seriously, I mean looking as far down the river as you could see and positioning the boat to stay in the main channel. I was a fishing guide, dangit. I was all about slowing the boat down so my clients could fish. On these occasional scenic raft trips, I was always, no matter how hard I tried, the last raft to the takeout. The seasoned scenic guides knew how to keep those rafts moving downstream.

Sandy is right. This will soon be second nature.
Re: Directional advice
July 23, 2019 01:03AM
Hi Chris, So the Capt'n or Pilot is called the "Oarsman"? Remember that although I'm briefly familiar with sailing and also Carolina Skiffs I know nothing about your trade. The few times I've seen boats descending transom first they appeared to be in the process of fishing with the oarsman pulling carefully upstream. Whereas Sandy is describing the running of whitewater conditions. In the Buffalo, on the Delaware River (rarely class one), when I'm at the oars, with one guy fishing, will I be descending transom first or bow first in the shallow and slow current.
Re: Directional advice
July 24, 2019 01:08AM
Don, I was just trying to help with terms. I used oarsman to describe the person currently rowing the boat.

The terms bow and stern get confusing with river drift boats. For example, my Clackacraft guiding boat had a large pointed bow and a small flat stern. When I rowed that boat the large pointed bow was downstream and the smaller stern was upstream. I had a small outboard (4hp) I could hang on the little stern but using it caused the narrow stern to dig deep and it looked like I was riding a wheelie. It was good for pushing downstream only. My current boat is a Mightly Mac 16 with a large stern and a narrow bow. The stern goes downstream and the bow goes upstream. The stern is wide and I have a 15hp outboard on it and I can motor upstream with that setup. What do these two boats have in common? I sit in the rowing seat and face downstream and use the oars to slow the boats descent down the river.

Forget about the river bank and the downstream direction of travel for a moment and think about the boat itself moving through the water when you pull on the oars. If we speak of this strictly as the direction the boat is moving in relationship to the water, you could argue that the Clackacrafts narrow stern was actually the bow and the wider bow was actually the stern.
Re: Directional advice
July 24, 2019 03:10AM
Thanks Chris,
Okay, lol. I hope you understand, not sure I do. I'm hoping to build Buffalo or something like it as the size better fits my storage and transportation circumstances. Furthermore the rivers I'll travel are class one or two max. I've canoed these same waters my whole adult life and feel comfortable. In some of the Pictures of Buffalo I see that the Stern is wide and the blunt bow has ground tackle on it and therefore I assume that most folks fish this boat stern first pointing down river.?
Re: Directional advice
July 24, 2019 03:15AM
Large end downstream. Bow and stern are useless terms because they cause arguments which is what tf
Re: Directional advice
July 24, 2019 03:43AM
Okay then, Large end! Either way it is a nice looking boat.

I guess here is where I must tell you all how I came about developing an interest in drift boats.Three weeks ago I fished Weber River, Logan River, Bear lake and numerous side streams in Idaho and Utah and had an epiphany. It dawned on me that I live on the perfect river for drift fishing. I began looking for plans for a 10 or 12 foot Garvey or punt with lots of rocker to use for drifting. Thats when dawned on me to look at drift boats. If you use allot of imagination traditional rowing punts and certain garveys that we use for tenders have hull shapes similar to Buffalo. Lots of rocker to get you through harbor slop and to get you safely aboard your sailboat. They must also be buoyant enough to still be floating on the mooring ball when you return from your voyage.
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