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September 13, 2013

Rafting the Umkomazi River with a bamboo and tractor tube raft

These photographs from Andrew Friedemann are of a run down the Umkomazi river by 1st Hillcrest Scouts in the 1980s. In the contruction photo on the left, you'll see that the rafts are made with bamboo poles.

Andrew  says:
"On the Umkomaas we used to run the river from Hella-Hella Bridge to Riverside over 2 days, camping on the bank of the river near Josephine’s bridge where a support vehicle met us."

I asked Andrew about using rubber tubes instead of barrels, the preferred flotation on most Scout rafts I've built:
"Tubes are better than barrels as they have give and do not shatter if you hit rocks. The bamboo being flexible also helps. A ridgid raft would just break up in rapids.

The trick for speed on a raft with tubes is to stretch the tube lengthwise with one section of the tube above the other as opposed to a flat format. This raises the raft above the water more with less drag. The tubes are stretched between two poles. Using rope will cut the tube. Tubes also make the raft lighter and takes up less space transporting as they can be flattened."

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