1. nygiants_0000
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    nygiants_0000 New Member

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    River Boats

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by nygiants_0000, Dec 9, 2009.

    hey I need to create a situation when nine characters get stranded on the banks of a river upstream. The river I had in mind isn't anything special, i.e its not a massive river and it's virtually untouched by people. I guess you could say its kind of unknown.

    I need them to be in a boat or boats and for them to have to pull over.
    My minds gone blank and I don't know what boat nine teenage guys would be or could be on board.
    By the way its set in 1974 in California.

    any help would be appreciated.:)
     
  2. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    The movie Without a Paddle comes to mind.

    I don't know, what are they doing? White water rafting? Camping? Fishing? Hunting for buried treasure? Looking for someone? Running away from something?
     
  3. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    I've been in an inflatable raft where the bottom was punctured by a tree branch, and every time we shifted around, the air would escape. The most frightening was it was Florida, so there might have been an alligator in the water (won't come up in Cali... unless you really have a good story) but that was not much of a problem.

    My California adventures in rafting put me over the edge when we hit a rock going down a river in Tahoe. Nothing but a few scrapes and a very big fear that I lost my lucky hat (still have it) but for a Cali experience, it might be more awesome if you're going for a Wilderness Survival story. Now, the river I was on in when this happened wasn't secluded, wasn't that fast (except for the part where we hit the rock that started my swim) and not terribly dangerous (bears don't normally come out til after dark... RIGHT?). But California does have a lot more rivers that can easily have made it a turn for the worst.

    I guess my point is, if you're going by way of inflatable raft, you want to becareful of the sticks and stones at the bottom of the river. Oh, and a guy who had been drinking on the cruise could easily have done a lot more damage to himself if put in my situation.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've waded or float fished almost every river and lake in California from the coastal mountain range rivers to the big valley rivers to the streams of the Sierra Nevada. Your premise of a "virtually untouched" river in this state is really difficult to swallow. During the Gold Rush days, miners followed virtually every stream in California all the way to its headwaters so the documentation is extraordinary. Today, almost every river or stream in the Sierra Nevada mountain range has been dammed or diverted. If your setting was a newly discovered wild tributary to the Amazon or some similar discovery in the Congo, it might be realistic.

    As far as something that would force a boat (or even a set of canoes) to pull off a river, that's easy. An unexpected waterfall would force a portage around the obstacle. The waterfall doesn't have to be dramatic, maybe 10 feet high or so...just enough that boats could not safely pass. Another "unnavigable" hazard which DOES happen in the higher elevations of narrow Sierra Nevada rivers in landslides. They can completely block a small river causing a temporary backwater lake as the natural dam holds water back. These rock-slides are extremely dangerous because you never know when the mud-dam is going to collapse. Even is you portage around them, you must travel miles before reentering the water to avoid the downstream flood surge that happens when the dam breaks.
     
  5. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    NaCL presents a good point that alludes to pretty much the rest of the continental United States, most of these rivers have been "touched" quite a bit. If you really want to capture this, I would do something with Canada or if you want more jungle than woods. I would go with the aforementioned Amazon River. There are many regions of that river that really haven't been touched, where people are still afraid to go. I don't know what kind of story or what genre it's in so I can't really give you much for an answer.

    As for boats, there are many different ways you could go with it. Are they exploring out from a cabin or camping or what? If it was out from a cabin, then you could fit them all on a large deck boat. If they were on a kind of excursion for a few days or so, they would need basically a small yacht. Or at least a multilevel boat. Why do you have so many people, it's kind of difficult to make this a feasible plot with such a large number on a small river. Oh yeah, whitewater rafting works as well, but the only thing about that is that pretty much all whitewater spots have been covered by extreme rafters. So you lose the untouched feel.

    Just thoughts on the subject.
     
  6. nygiants_0000
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    nygiants_0000 New Member

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    I just have this idea that has been floating around my head for years now. The plot would centre on a group of friends who travel to a Northern Californian seaside town for a July 4th roadtrip. The narrator and his friends would then discover an unmapped path in the surrounding woods which would lead to an abandoned cult location. The novel would turn into a conspiracy, murder, thriller when thousands of dollars are discovered on the cults grounds.

    I guess it's kind of hard to explain but it's very vivid to me. The boat and the river was going to be a mere means for the friends to discover the strange path which would eventually lead to their discovery on the abondoned cult.
     
  7. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    Well, then you have an issue of "how realistic do I want to be?" and as has been stated, there is no real "remote" river in the United States. If you are dead set on California, it's still possible to say that it is darkish and you're characters are moving along a known (but rarely used) path when they see the lights of the cult's activities (be it headlights, house lights, camp fire lights, torches and pitchfork lights.).

    But you're looking for a cause for them to get out of the boat, and really, there are just so many that could happen that you have to ask several questions, like (how "sinkable" is this kind of boat? Do they ever need to use this boat again? How far do you want to be from a road or town? Do they have to carry the boat back? How much experience do they have with out-doors stuff? How "idiotic" would they be prior to getting off that boat?). Again, I would take stupid guy or girl goes over, get's hurt, needs medical attention, and the closest thing is this cult, which won't let you leave because dead men tell no tales.
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, your initial premise, a group of guys getting together on a "road trip", can take place anywhere in the world. For example, I enjoy trips with friends to fish the Amazon River. They are charter excursions that begin with a large mother-boat where we all live for a week or two. From the main boat, we break into groups of four and take fishing boats far up tributaries to fish for exotic species. They all have GPS to prevent us from getting lost in the myriad of waterways off the Amazon.

    What would happen if one of the GPS systems on one of the boats failed? Everyone else would go looking for the missing boat. We have all been cautioned NOT to make contact with any natives that we see along the banks because some of the tribes are not friendly. As we search for our buddies, any number of "problems" could push us ashore where we might be accosted by natives...for that matter...we might discover a group of Americans living in a secret commune like Jonestown, instead of hungry natives or inbred hillbillies with dueling banjos. They refuse to let us go...and...well, you write the story.

    Anyway, there are charter trips to many wild and remote places...fish for Arctic Char in the remote rivers of northeast Siberia, surf vacations at hidden beaches accessible only by seaplane (maybe a remote coastal area in Australia), maybe they all sign up for a long-distance fishing charter boat that gets swamped by a rogue wave. The two man crew managed to get the boat running but the steering is out so the boat just goes in one direction. It ends up on a remote beach somewhere along the west coast. Problem is, they run into a large illegal pot farm run by a Mexican cartel (that's a real problem in the US northwest). Instead of killing the guys, the become pawns, held for ransom...one guy tries to escape and is killed...etc.

    Bottom line, murder in a place where there is no access to law enforcement is much more threatening than in a place where authorities swarm the scene and take over.
     
  9. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    The problem with GPS, and don't quote me on most dates, is that it wasn't really commercially available until the 1990s (The OP stated that this was set in 1974). Even then, GPS wasn't reliable for civillian use until late 2000, when Clinton, in one of his final Lame Duck acts, turned off the systems that made them unreliable (I am very certian about that date).

    At either rate, I think the OP has his story after they run into the cult and just needs a plot device to get them to the cult. But he seems set on it being in California. At this point, not many people know about the rivers being well documented. If all else fails, he can make up a river. But I'm pretty certain the setting is already decided on.
     
  10. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well making up a river helps, because then you can create that pristine and untouched feel well. In 1974 (which I hadn't noticed earlier, sorry), most of the rivers had probably been well mapped out, but maybe less trodden upon. If you make your river in the more dangerous, mountainess area of California, you'd have better grounding for a boat becoming wrecked by hitting some sort of rock or something. Such are the dangers of boats in rivers.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the kind of boat they'd be on depends on what access they have to boats and how they're going to get it to the river...

    would any of them [or family] own a boat?... can any of them afford to rent one?... how are they getting to the river?... what access is there to the river?... is there a launching ramp, or anyplace along it where they can get a truck to and launch their craft?...

    to fit 9 people in, it has to be a fairly sizeable boat... a river raft such as those rapids-shooting outfits use would be the best choice, but one that big would have to be trucked in, or the river's outlet would have to be accessible by boat...

    you need to do more thinking about this, so your stranding scenario will be believable... if using a river raft, they could snag it on a jagged underwater rock and just make it to the riverbank... or, they could run out of gas and then lose their oars...
     
  12. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooops. You're right, there was no civilian GPS before the early 90s. I didn't notice that year. As far as unknown rivers in California back in '74, I'd personally put such a book down as not believable. Just too far fetched for my tastes.
     
  13. nygiants_0000
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    nygiants_0000 New Member

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    Thanks for all your help team,
    Looking back I shouldn't have used the words 'Untouched river',:eek:
    The river like the town in the novel would be fictional for all purposes. However the river wouldn't be unknown in the sense but more unused than anything.
    I just wanted to create a location that gives feelings of isolation in the proximity of the town the friends are camping at.
    The boat ride would merely serve as a way of the friends discovering something wierd occuring in the surrounding woods.
    The novel would be set in 1974 and the cults grounds and buildings would be abandoned for the purpose of the plot.

    Thank you all again for assisting me in writing down these crazy ideas that have been floating around my head for a long time:)
     
  14. zaphod
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    zaphod Member

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    I guess on a river in the mountainous western US its hard to think of a boat carrying multiple people, just canoes and such for one or two people.

    But if the setting was more southern and flat water, like Louisiana, you might have them riding in a bigger sized john boat or something similiar which might work for 4 people.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all of california is not mountainous... there are vast deserts, broad valleys, and coastal plains there, as well... and serious rivers such as the sacramento, colorado, and san joaquin...
     
  16. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    What were they doing?
    Are they stranded on an island? I did a Google search and got everything from today's jetliner and an old speedboat. If it was nine teenage guys, they probbably wouldn't have much boating experience unless, of course, they were boating with daddy's boat and daddy's money.

    If it's a small river, a small river canoe would be fine. You're setting the scene, and you have to set the boat.
     

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