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If you’ve got a sweet Clavey Rig you don’t need a Ferrari

If that sounds pretentious, it’s because you don’t already have your own sweet Clavey Rig pimped out on your own 15′ Avon Expedition, Aire 156R or NRS E-150. Because if you did have your own Clavey Rig, you would know that the only thing it’s missing is tinted windows.

Let’s start from the beginning, from the water up, so to speak. Let’s take a look at a recipe for what we believe (humbly) is the “can’t be beat”, best multi-day rafting package ever created. Begin with a 15′ raft like the Avon Expedition. This is a boat designed with the family and multi-day river trips in mind. When we designed the Expedition what we desperately wanted was the west coast small river maneuverability of the 14′ Adventurer (something to fit comfortability on the Illinois in the spring or low water on the Tuolumne) and the volume and carrying capacity of the 16′ Pro (a southwest rivers – read Grand Canyon – classic). To get our dream boat we took what already worked and just made it work better. We stretched the Adventurer to 15 feet and added an inch and a quarter to the tubes (bigger tubes than the Pro). This gave us an additional foot of frame we could put on top and the extra volume in the tubes to carry what we want on it. The only added width came from the increased size of the tube. So where the Adventurer sat 7 feet across the beam, the Expedition now sits at 7’2″. Wide enough to be stable but narrow enough to scoot down the dory chute at Rainie Falls. On top of this you’ve got Avon’s lower floor for more interior depth and this translates directly to a lower center of gravity and fewer flips.

So you’ve got a boat, now you need a frame. Everybody’s got an opinion about boat frames and for the the most part everybody’s right. But let’s not look at what’s right, let’s look at what’s righter. The Clavey Expedition Frame is Strong, Modular and Light. Built from super stocky 1 7/8″ OD anodized aluminum tubing, the Expedition frame easily ties flat to the top your vehicle or breaks down to a golf bag sized bundle of metal sticks (for those Beaver flights into Alaska). Swedged 90º corners mean unparalleled strength and rigidity while the oversized tubing won’t creak under pressure like smaller tubing can. We take advantage of every last inch of boat for the length of our frame, maximizing the size of our four bays. This means more room in the rowers compartment, a larger dry box, a bigger drop bag and a great sized river table for camp.

Boat? Check. Frame? Check. So let start filling those four bays. Under my butt, I think you can’t beat the Yeti Tundra 125 indestructible bear-proof cooler. My tender derriere needs some padding so I always have a cooler cover. For those of you who like a rower’s seat, the Clavey Flip Seat Bracket is an easy add-on. Next, I like a Drop Deck in the rower’s compartment for anything more than a single day trip. With the drop deck, a world of possibilities opens up before me. First, it gives me a stable platform that I can stand on regardless of what my floor of my boat is doing. Next, it allows me to utilize valuable space in my raft that would otherwise be wasted. On either side of my legs I can strap in rocket boxes, water jugs, or my personal choice – Clavey Half Boxes (these guys give me fast & easy, watertight access to any number of important items – dry-top, insulation, rivermap, bourbon). In the next bay up, I drop my 16x16x40 bear-proof Dry Box with ethafoam on both the top and the bottom. Why ethafoam? Without it you’ll fry your hand or your butt when the sun’s been cooking the top all day or bust your ass when you step on the wet aluminum. I put it on the bottom too, because I’m not a big fan of sharp cornered, immovable metal in the bottom of my raft. And when I say I drop it in, I’m not wasting a bunch of time building slings. We weld tabs directly to our Dry Box so we can literally just drop it in and strap it down. Up front where my girlfriend and dogs encourage me to row harder and faster is one of the greatest gear storage systems ever: The Drop Bag and River Table combination. The drop bag holds all those items that don’t mind a little water and don’t really fit anywhere else – my Partner Stove and Stand, propane, Partner Blaster, and Fire Pan. I use ethafoam to keep the shape on the bottom of my drop bag as well. To top this off, we build the perfect River Table. The table top covers the frame, front and back, while the powder coated frame of the table slips perfectly in between the bars of the raft frame, creating a truly integrated platform that won’t shift under your feet when you have jump on it but comes right out when you unstrap it. I top this off with my Paco sleeping pad (girlfriend and dogs do like their comfort).

To push the Clavey Rig through the agua blanca I use a pair of 10′ rope wrapped Sawyer MXG whitewater graphite oar shafts (light, strong and stiff) with and V-Pro Ash blades with Dynel tips. I like the width of the lam blades and Dynel adds protection I could never get from rubber tips. I slip these into a pair of Cobra oarlocks. Cobra’s have a wider, taller horn which spreads the pressure of my pull over a larger surface area of the oar and gives me more vertical play without binding. This makes it easy for me to row standing up (again the Drop Deck). I attach my oars to my boat with Clavey Oar Tethers. Our tethers will keep a popped oar next to the boat until the pressure gets too much and then the fastex buckle separates preventing my oar from either breaking or creating an anchor in the middle of the rapid.

And now that we’ve got our Clavey Rig dialed in, it’s time for some window tinting. Linus had his blanket, these are the items that go with me on every multi-day run: Under my legs I string a Clavey Mini-Skirt for the occasional dead beer cans, water bottles and power bar wrappers that seem to grow like fungus on any trip. On either side of my cooler I tie in a pair of Everything Else Bags. One holds my camera box, sunscreen, some extra cam straps and on the other side the dogs have earned their own EE Bag full of dog toys (I’m not quite sure when or how this happened). My Umbrella Holder never seems to be positioned to offer me any sun protection but the Girlfriend/Dog Coalition seems to thoroughly appreciate it. Clipped in to the top of my kick bar on the right is my throwbag where it’s always within arm’s length. And attached to the other side of the kick bar is my Clavey Expedition Beer Beverage Holder. Also within easy grasp, the Beverage holder is insulated and has a quick-drop splash top for protection from even the biggest waves over the bow.

So is the Clavey Rig the best whitewater raft package the world has ever seen? I certainly think so. And while it’s only my opinion…I am right.

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