June 10, 2014

Redneck Yacht Club (Tubing the James)


Floating the James
"Bass trackers, bayliners, and a party barge
strung together like a floatin' trailer park
anchored out and gettin' loud all summer long!"

- Craig Morgan, "Redneck Yacht Club"

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One of my favorite summer pastimes needs only three ingredients: a river, a tube, and some ice-cold brews.  For a truly American experience, there's nothing quite like hitting the closest river for a few hours of tubing down stream with your closest friends!

James River watershed map from
Wikipedia.
Here in Virginia there are a number of rivers perfect for spending an afternoon or day out in the sun.  We live within fifteen minutes of the James River, roughly at the halfway mark of the river's length, which originates in the Appalachian mountains of Alleghany county and ends in the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads.  At "our portion" of the James, the river is anywhere from 100 to 150 yards wide and averages three to ten feet deep.  Catfish, bass, and muskies can be caught, and many different types of birds and snakes can be seen along the banks.  On one of our tubing trips, we were aiming to land on an island that turned out to have a particularly long serpent just hanging out at the water's edge!  You would've been impressed at how quickly we back-paddled!

Map created by GoogleMaps
We start our river-runs at Cartersville landing and land at West View on the James, a distance of about five miles.  When the river is high, the float lasts only 2 to 3 hours, but when the river is at normal or low levels, it can take anywhere from 4 to 5.5 hours.  It's a very flat section of the river with one minor riffle (hardly anything to write home about).  The scenery features the beautiful woodlands of Goochland county on the north bank and Cumberland/Powhatan on the south.  Since this particular section of the river is so close to home, we float it on a regular basis, armed with an armada of single tubes, "floating couches," and john boats all strung together.  This year we've added a separate cooler float so we can pack lunches (and more beverages!) to attempt even longer distances!

The water is finally warming up enough for a float trip, and I hope we can squeeze in at least one or two runs this month before we leave for Germany!



Have you gone tubing before?  What's been your favorite experience?

Linking up with Esther and Jacob for Local Adventurer!

It's #TravelTuesday!  Today I'm linking up with Bonnie, Van, and other travel bloggers to share experiences!


EDIT:  If you do take beverages out on the river, avoid taking any glass, DO NOT LITTER, and practice moderation!  Public drunkenness is a ticketable offense in Virginia!

25 comments:

  1. I have heard of this before. What a great idea. I feel like this could be my new fav sport! ;)

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    1. Oh, it's so much fun! Cheap entertainment for hours on end. :)

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  2. My step-sister is from Alabama and as told me of several tubbing trips she's taken. Never been myself but I might have to try it sometime.

    Erin | Quintessentially English

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    1. You should! It's inexpensive to do and so much fun!

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  3. One of my favourite summertime activities as well! I was lucky to have family live along the river so we were always floating down the river in tubes.

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    1. Oh, lucky!!! We're not right on the river, but it's such a quick drive that we do it as often as possible.

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  4. Oh I love tubbing! As a child we would tub down some white water in the river near our summer home...looking back on that it was a bit dangerous haha but it's such a fun summer activity!

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    1. The best fun always has a little element of danger! ;)

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  5. I haven't done tubing but it sure looks like a lot of fun! I would certainly go for it, especially now that I'm suffering of 30 degrees in Oslo :D

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    1. Wow, sounds like epically hot weather for Scandinavia! I'm hoping it's warm when we visit Germany next month, but not too, too hot. Italy will already be a scorcher for us, I hear!

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  6. WOW you guys have quite the equipment/set-up for tubing! Pretty impressive :) It looks like fun!

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    1. Haha, thanks! Some of the set-ups you see on the river are hilarious. I've heard that someone in our county likes to take an inflatable blow-up pool (at least 10'x10') and use that as a raft. I would love to get a picture of that!

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  7. Wow - that looks unreal! Snakes sound a bit dodgy though!! I have been snow tubing before, but it is definitely not the same thing! I love the idea of lazing on a river with a few drinks. My other half did buy a rubber boat the other week though, which we love!

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    1. Everyone should do it at least once in their life! We're blessed to be able to do it frequently. Hoping to take our first tube run of the year next weekend!

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  8. Gotta love floating on a river! Wish I was doing that right now :)

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    1. Come on over and join us next weekend for a float! :D

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  9. How do you get back to your origination point?

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    1. Great question! We left one vehicle at the West View on the James landing site before driving to our start in Cartersville. At the end of the day, we go back to pick up the truck from Cartersville (or wait and get it the next day).

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  10. I love this!! :) We did this all the time on the Chattahootchie River in Georgia. :) We even upgraded our tubes to the ones with beer coolers in the middle. I think it might be the same one. It's so fun!

    BTW, don't forget to link back to Local Adventurers so that more people can hear about it. Thanks!! :)

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    1. Yes, ours has that, too! We call it a floating couch, haha.

      I just did! My mobile phone kept giving me trouble adding the picture and link, and I only just got access to a desk top. :)

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    2. thanks so much! :)

      it's such a nice feeling to float lazily down the river! i definitely miss that. i know our tubes have been collecting dust at our in-laws house, but we want to get out there much more.

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  11. I love tubing! I'm from Connecticut and used to go tubing all the time with friends at a little river near where I'm from. It is so fun!

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    1. That's awesome! I'd love to do this in other states!

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  12. Hi, We really want to do this but don't know where to get the tubes/rafts. Where did you get yours? As of this year, Riverside Outfitters no longer rents them. :(
    Great post, thanks!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! We bought ours through Amazon.com and bought a tube just for a cooler from Walmart. Here's a link to the double-tube that we have: http://www.amazon.com/River-Run-II-Inflatable-Float/dp/B0050KECZE/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1407687379&sr=8-16&keywords=river+tube It's pretty sturdy! But there are cheaper options available if you're not planning to tube regularly like we do.

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Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your comments, feedback, and suggestions.