31 March 2016

Building a tarp survival raft

By Dan

It is a cool overcast day, and I find myself at the side of a lake. I'm about to climb onto a tarp raft made of my own creation, ready to set off on its maiden voyage. I cast my mind back to when this crazy idea first came to me…

So those that know me - or at least follow my outdoor bushcraft and survival adventures - will know I am quite creative, especially when it comes to using tarps (Tarpology if you will!)

After spending some time with my inflatable kayak, lazily drifting along a river on a beautiful summers day, I had this notion that it should be totally possible for a 3m x 3m tarp to allow a person to float on it. I mean, there's more than enough surface area there right?

So my mind sets to work, and starts to think about the physics of why exactly things float, water displacement vs weight and all that.. Things half-learned and mostly forgotten during old physics lessons sprung back to life in my mind. It was almost as if I knew exactly what I was on about!

A light open frame is best suited to the task, and a round shape would remove sharp corners where pointy sticks would be facing outward, which could potentially scuttle my efforts.

Now I had the form of the raft in mind, the only thing left to do was to test it!

The camera was set up to document the process, and of course to capture any hilarious failures if I ended up getting wet...

The raft itself was pretty easy to make using just a small axe and a knife, and it didn't take too long either - only a couple of hours as the location had plenty of materials to work with. Before I knew it, the raft was complete.

At this point any nerves I’d had about potentially failing were masked by anticipation to get into the water with it. As I stepped onto it I felt its buoyancy resisting my weight - a great reassurance - and with a few good pushes away from the bank, I was off! It only went and worked perfectly!

Of course a raft like this is no long-term solution and you won't be negotiating any rapids with it, but it was a total success! If you have a tarp, and there is a water body between you and where you need to be, this method is just the ticket across.


 

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About the writer

Dan

Dan (Silva Wolf Outdoors) is practicing and sharing his bushcraft and survival skills, tips, and advice, if he finds something useful.

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