Introduction: Survival Raft

Picture of Survival Raft

Sometimes in an emergency a way to cross a body of water can be a life saver. Water ways can be an obstical or a highway if you have a water craft. This lost skill is the simplest raft to make. It requires the least amount of equipment and takes a few minutes to build.

Step 1: Materials

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Like most survival situations the most important tool is your mind. What resources do you have to minimize your risks. Keep an eye out for something that will float you and cordage. If you don't have three pieces of rope you can use clothing, shoe laces, a belt or even vines. It helps to have three pieces about a dozen feet long. I found a partial log jam will all the materials to build a survival raft.

Step 2: Make a Point

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Collect enough logs that the combined volume will float you. None of
these water soaked logs would be suitable alone. I tested them by pushing down on them and see how much of my weight they would support.

Step 3: Cross Piece Lashing

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Take a branch that is large enough to make a comfortable seat. Lash this to the outside logs. I chose a branch with a fork that made it easy to keep it from rolling. Lashing is very simple. If you can tie a shoelace this is as simple. Find the middle of the rope and wrap it around the logs you want to join several times. Next wrap between the logs to tighten up the lashing. This is called the frapping and is the easiest was to make the joint tight. When ready to complete the lashing tie any knot even a bow to keep the frapping from unwrapping.

Step 4: Finished Sit on Top Survival Raft

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This is what your finished raft can look like. Since none of these logs would support me I had to climb on board while pushing on the cross piece seat. Since this raft is narrow at the front you can easily paddle on both sides from a seated position.

Step 5: Change That Body of Water Into Your Highway

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This is what it looks like while underway. The bow is pointed so it paddles easier than a big blunt square. My feet are resting on the outer logs. The center log is only attached at the bow. I show an over the head shot so you can see the logs behind me. The final image is to show that I am dry on my seat but my center of gravity is quite low.

Total build time was under 30 minutes.

Options are to deck the raft, lash on more logs. If you don't have time to make a paddle you can use this as a swim raft.

Do take proper precautions. Notice I am wearing a life jacket which I would not have in a survival situation. In a rapid there is a risk of getting caught between the logs if not well lashed.

When rapids are severe you can untie your raft and walk around the danger. If your logs make it through the rapid you can reassemble the craft below the danger.

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Bio: We celebrate creativity on the southern Oregon coast at our store, the Electric Hospital, and outdoors where we enjoy the wonders. We might be sewing ... More »
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