State Of The Art Rafting Equipment: Be Safe!

Paddles are used to propel and steer a whitewater raft. A paddle is not attached to the boat, but rather, held and supported in both hands. They have a blade at one end to push the water, a shaft, and a T-grip handle.

Single-bladed paddles are used on rafts and canoes, while double-bladed paddles are used in Kayaks. Don't confuse them with oars!


Oars are used to row a boat. They are much longer than paddles, 8 - 12 feet or more, and are attached to the boat or boat frame by oarlocks. Normally an oars-person, or oar-captain, controls one oar in each hand.

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We use modern, rugged, inflatable, self-bailing 12 to 16-foot rubber paddle boats which are compartmented and unsinkable.

During times of lower water, we use smaller rafts which provide more action, more excitement in the smaller waves.
Paddle Boat

Each paddle boat carries 6 to 8 people plus a guide. Paddle boats are definitely the boats of choice because everyone is able to work together as a team to create momentum, steer the boat and maneuver in between rocks, holes and river obstacles sometimes drifting easily, often paddling away in a frenzy, whooping and screaming, with waves crashing in.

Oar Boats

Oar Boats which contain a metal frame with a set of fiberglass or wooden oars are primarily used to carry gear and anyone on the trip who prefers not to paddle. Up to six people can ride along in comfort. On most rivers we offer oar boats as an option for anyone who does not want to paddle – but prefers instead to relax, take photographs, dream.

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Oar-Paddle Combo Boats carry a guide who maneuvers the boat with a pair of oars, and up to six people who paddle along just as in a paddle boat.

These are sometimes used on Class V rivers, and on higher water, and offer the most powerful and maneuverable combination possible.
Oar-Paddle Combo

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Catarafts, which consist of two inflatable tubes held together by a metal frame, carry a guide and equipment only.

These bouncy and lightweight river vehicles are used for safety and/or carrying gear on some Class V rivers.

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Solo cats – one-person catarafts – mark a truly amazing leap forward in the state-of-the-art of whitewater boats. These crafts are at once fast, comfortable with good back support, easy to paddle and remarkably stable!

We offer these as options for rafters on the lower flows of July and August on the Yuba and Upper Kern to daring first timers and veterans alike.
Solo Cat

Paddle Cats

The paddle cats we use consist of two parallel tubes linked together by a clear Lexan cockpit. The paddler sits in the cockpit on a padded seat with adjustable back support. The clear Lexan – the same stuff used to make jet fighter canopies – affords a spectacular view of the river bottom – a nice plus to add to the visual feast of canyon, sky, and eye-level rolling waves. A paddle cat – with its catamaran-like tube configuration – is not only faster than the old-style "mono-hull" inflatable kayak, it is more stable. As it glides over waves and drops, its twin bow tubes form the perfect "level-seeking" mechanism. Adjustable thigh straps secure the paddler snugly to the cat, making powerful strokes and braces possible. To pop out of the thigh straps the paddler simply straightens his or her legs.

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Hard Shell Kayaks are the most nimble and agile of all water craft.

Kayakers often accompany our rafting trips for safety, video and photos, and logistical support.

Inflatable Kayaks

On some rivers we use Inflatable Kayaks or "splash yaks" which carry one or two people, are loads of fun and provide an even more intimate relationship with the river. The boats are amazingly agile but also very stable and are a great way to experience what it feels like – up close and personal – at water level steering your own river vehicle.

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On all trips we carry full safety and emergency gear, and we are equipped to provide emergency first aid in case of illness or injury. We bring with us specialized equipment such as:

  • Goast Guard approved life-jackets
  • Waterproof dry bags to store personal belongings we take on the river
  • Plastic safety helmets (for all trips on Class IV and Class V rivers)
  • First Aid kits
  • Throw bags and pulley systems for river rescues
  • Raft repair kits
Life Jacket

Other River Trips You Might Like:

Middle Fork American River Blaster
Class II-IV - 1 or 2 Days

South Fork American River Fun Run
Class III-IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Jungle Run
Class III-IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Big Water
Class IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Southern Sierra Escape
Class III-IV - 2 Days

Upper Kern River Snap, Crackle and Pop
Class III-IV - 1/2 to 1 Day

Kings River Mega Joy Ride
Class III+ - 2 Days

Merced River Foam Dancer
Class IV - 2 Days

Kaweah River Sequoia Shooter
Class IV+ - 1 Day

Kaweah River Sequoia Gateway
Class IV+ - 2 Day

Whitewater Guide School

Group Trips

" Wendy and group, Great day on the North Yuba (Goodyear Bar Run). Maytag was a total trip. Holly you did a super job as guide. Whitewater Voyages is the only way to go. I will use you all again. "
- Bruce Richardson
Reno, Nevada

" The Kings was the first river I ever ran. It was loads of fun, yet mellow enough for just about anyone, even my scaredy-cat wife! I highly recommend it! "
- Eric Creaux

" I'm most honored to have had the chance to be with such dedicated, experienced guides on your whitewater school. Back at work, my mind wanders constantly to images of the past week, where I literally soaked it all in. It's hard to believe I was in school... more like a vacation. "
- Sean Morris

" We were a group of 13 who went rafting on the American River (South Fork). It was the most entertaining and exciting vacation we all had in a while. The crew were very friendly and the best I liked about Whitewater Voyages is their free camping. Even though it's free, this is one of the best camp grounds I have visited. Lunch provided during Rafting trip was the best you could ask for. Overall, I would rate Whitewater Voyages as one the best rafting companies I have experienced in the last 10 years. If at all I ever get an opportunity to raft again, I will definitely use this company again. NO doubt about that. "
- Chalapathi Rao
Union City, California

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Whitewater Voyages
11252 Kernville Road, Kernville, CA 93238
Call Toll Free: 800-400-7238
The Leader in California White Water Rafting Trips Since 1975

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