Whatever Floats


On last month’s paddling department, you read about hand-crafted wood and canvas canoes that take months to assemble.

This month, the topic is still about handmade watercraft—but the kind built in minutes or hours, rather than months.

Green|spaces and Outdoor Adventure Rafting are partnering to create the Floatila, a community float down the Tennessee River from Rivermont Park to Ross’s Landing. And while kayaks, inflatable rafts and canoes are welcome, the stars of the show will be the homemade vessels that participants have put together for the event.

Rafts cannot include Styrofoam and may not have a motor. Aside from that, the possibilities are wide open.

Raft Math

Step 1

Add up the total weight of crewmembers, gear and non-buoyant structure the raft needs to support. (For example: 800 pounds)

Step 2

Find the number of gallons you need to displace by dividing the weight by eight. (100 gallons)

Step 3

Collect buoyant objects with a total capacity that adds up to the number of gallons you need. (20 five-gallon buckets, two 50-gallon drums, three 35-gallon storage totes or 100 milk jugs)

“We’re hoping that everybody’s raft holds together,” says Rosemary Hunerwadel, the event coordinator. “We hope nobody shows up with duct tape and a bundle of sticks.”

Expert boat builders will be at Rivermont Park on May 11 and the day of the race to advise participants on their projects.

The idea for the Floatila came from Rob Paden, owner of OAR, and Mark Song, who has seen decades-old photos of similar floats in Atlanta and Chattanooga. “They thought wouldn’t it be awesome if we brought that back,” Hunerwadel says. “We’d love to just float down the river with our friends.”

But aside from being a fun afternoon on the water, Hunerwadel says the event will raise money for green|spaces and raise awareness of the river. For many

Chattanoogans, she says, it’s an opportunity to get close to the river for the first time.

“We want people to really be proud that they are from Chattanooga,” she says.

Boat vs. Raft

A boat stays afloat by displacing water with its hull. A raft on the other hand stays afloat because it is made of naturally buoyant substances.

Suggested materials:

» Plywood » Milk cartons or jugs » Empty kegs » Tires » Barrels » Inner tubes » Empty buckets » Pallets


Rafts containing Styrofoam will be disqualified.


What: The Floatilla

When: 10 a.m. check-in; 11 a.m. launch; 3-5 p.m. after-party

Where: Rivermont Park Boat Ramp to Coolidge Park

How much: $20 (includes T-shirt)

More info: www.floatila.com


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