Yes, cruise wear and pirate costumes welcome

We don't have all the answers, just some.  If you have more questions, contact


Is THE BIG FLOAT big on safety?
Safety is a critical component of THE BIG FLOAT. All participants are required to wear a life jacket.  The event will be supervised by the Coast Guard, Portland Fire Department, Multnomah County River Patrol and AMR River Rescue.  Safety kayakers will line the route to provide additional visual surveillance.  Please review the safety guidelines provided through the registration process carefully. 


Unsafe, unlawful behavior (and alcohol consumption) will not be tolerated and will be enforced by the Multnomah County River Patrol and the Coast Guard.  THE BIG FLOAT reserves the right to reject any "craft" deemed unsafe to float on.


Do I need a life jacket?

Yes, all floaters must wear a life jacket. This will not only help keep you safe, it will make our friends in the local Coast Guard very happy. And we want everyone to be happy.


Why do I need to register?

Participants are encouraged to pre-register to help organizers plan for the event. By filling out the registration and waiver form prior to the event, you won’t have to do it at the start point of the float, saving time. So please be a peach and register


Are air mattresses allowed?  Water wings?  What other types of watercraft?

Air mattresses – yes.  Anything float-worthy you can sit on or lie on is allowable. You may swim across but must wear a life jacket. 

Where can I get an inner tube?

THE BIG FLOAT sponsor Popina Swimwear Portland sells inner tubes and is offering a 15% off coupon thorugh registration. A limited number of inner-tubes and floats will not be available on site the day of the event for purchase.  Innertubes are widely available through various outlets in Portalnd.


Can we tie our watercraft together and go as a group?

Yes, but everyone tied together must have a life jacket. 


Can we bring alcoholic beverages with us on our voyage across?

Negative on that. The Multnomah County River Patrol and Coast Guard will be keeping a close eye out for alcohol.


Are kids welcome to float? 

All ages are welcome to participate in The Big Float.  We even offer discounted registration for kids under 18.

What if it rains the days before or day of the event?

Weather could be a factor in postponement or cancellation of the float. Check this website for last-minute updates.

Where does the name Willamette come from anyway?

Wikipedia states that Willamette derives from the French pronunciation of the name of a Clackamas Indian village. Other sources say Willamette is thought to mean a long, beautiful river. There is no definitive answer. However, it is a fact that the Willamette River is the largest U.S. river lying entirely within one state.


Where’s a good place to get a costume?

Aye, Portland has many good costume outlets, have fun and get creative!


Who invented the inner tube? 

In 1911, Philip Strauss invented the first successful tire, which was a combination tire and air-filled inner tube. It is not known who the intrepid individual was who first sailed down a river in one. 


How does one gracefully board an inner tube?

Forget graceful. Just plop your butt in the center of the tube and start paddling.  There will be inner-tube handlers in the water to help you get launched.

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