TBF FAQs

Yes, cruise wear and pirate costumes are welcome! And any other get-up your mind can imagine.
If you have more questions please contact info@thebigfloat.com.
Is The Big Float big on safety?
Safety is a critical component of TBF. All participants are required to wear a flotation device. 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 during the registration process carefully.
Do I have to wear 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 happy. And we want everyone to be happy! Which explains in part the origin of the name Human Access Project (HAP), the grassroots not-for-profit that is funded by TBF. www.humanaccessproject.com
Where can I get a life jacket?
You can purchase one when you register online and pick it up either at the pickup party or when you arrive to the event. You can also purchase one when you arrive at the TBF registration table (supply limited).
Why should I pre-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 when you arrive, saving yourself time. So please be a peach and pre-register.
What should I bring?
Watercraft and life jackets are the most essential. Recommended: water shoes, sunscreen, towels, money for food and beverages, sun glasses and anything else you can think of to make your day more enjoyable!
How do I inflate my watercraft?
We will have a generator on site that can inflate up to four watercraft at a time. It goes quickly, but there may be a bit of a line so please be patient.
Where should I park?
There is a SmartPark at SW 1st and Jefferson. Since you don't have to travel with your inflated watercraft, you can park at any SmartPark downtown and hop on the streetcar. You can also park in SE Portland and walk over the Hawthorne Bridge.  We recommend you don't drive and that you either walk, bike or take Tri-Met.
Will food and beverages be available at the event?
Yes, we will have a variety of food carts present that take cash and card. We will also have beer and at the bar, cash only.
Can I bring in my own food and beverages?
Water is ok, otherwise outside food is not permitted.  Thank you for supporting HAP and the food carts by only purchasing food and beverage at the event.
What do I do with my keys/phone/bag while I'm floating?
Behind the entrance there will be a check-in area for valuables. You can drop off your things before you float and pick them up afterwards. This tent will be monitored at all times but please keep in mind TBF cannot be held liable for any missing items.
What is the schedule and route?
8am – 12pm: Beach Bash clean up, participants receive free entry to TBF
11am: onsite registration begins, pre ticket purchase entry begins
1:30pm: First Inner-Tube parade (meet at the bottom of the bowl to march)
3:00pm: Second Inner-Tube parade (meet at the bottom of the bowl to march)
4:30pm: Final Inner-Tube parade (tentative, meet at the bottom of the bowl to march)
2-6pm: Floating Barge with bands
2:15-6:30pm: Main Stage bands
7pm: Event ends

The route begins at the bottom of the Tom McCall waterfront bowl and marches south on the esplanade to Poet's Beach under the Marquam Bridge. Launch yourself there and float back to the bowl! Easy peacey.
Are air mattresses allowed? Water wings? What about other types of watercraft?
Air mattresses – yes. Anything float-worthy you can sit or lie on is allowable. Any watercraft you create as long as it is human-powered. You may swim across but must wear a life jacket.
Where can I get an inner-tube?
TBF sponsor Popina Swimwear Portland is offering a 15% off coupon through registration. A limited number of inner-tubes and floats will be available on site the day of the event for purchase. Inner-tubes are widely available through various outlets in Portland.
Can we tie our watercraft together and go as a group?
Yes, but everyone tied together still needs to wear a life jacket.
Can we bring alcoholic beverages with us on our voyage?
Nope, nope, nope. The Multnomah Country River Patrol and Coast Guard will be keeping a close eye out for alcohol. Sorry, amigos!
Are there age restrictions for floaters?
All ages are welcome to participate. We even offer discounted tickets to kids 13 and under.
What if it rains the day before or the day of the event? What if it's cold outside?
There is a potential weather COULD be a factor in postponement of TBF. Check this website or HAP Facebook for last-minute updates.
Can we wear costumes?
Costumes are strongly encouraged. Portland has many good costume outlets, be as creative as you want!
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 at the put-in spot to help you get launched.
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 it 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. The state of awesomeness known as Oregon.
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 whom the intrepid individual was who first sailed down a river in one.
What does TBF do with the money it raises?
After paying event expenses, almost all money raised by TBF (through registration) is donated in support of our nonprofit – the Human Access Project. TBF is our annual fund-(and fun)-raiser.
What exactly is the Human Access Project?
The Human Access Project (HAP) was conceived in November 2010, when founder Willie Levenson began organizing an event called The Big Float. It is a grassroots not-for-profit almost totally volunteer-driven. HAP's mission is to "Transform Portland's relationship with the Willamette River." The path: create more public spaces, beaches and access points in downtown Portland; inspire Portlanders and visitors to connect with the river; and support conservation, education and stewardship of the river. And have a whale of a good time doing it.
How long does it take to float from Poet’s Beach to Tom McCall Waterfront Park?
Between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours depending on current, your paddling ability, and how much time you lollygag along the way. Go at your own pace. Do it twice if you want.
Are the floater parades the only times I can put-in at Poet’s Beach or can I launch in between parades?
You can put in any time. The first parade tends to be the longest wait to get in the water. The line can be up to 30 minutes so make sure you hydrate and please be patient (THANKS). We offer a shorter route that starts halfway between Tom McCall Bowl and Poet’s Beach, which will have shorter lines.
What are the beach party boundaries in case support crew want to have their own picnic and set up outside the event area?
The Tom McCall Bowl is the boundary. Anywhere outside it is okay for bringing your own food. But we do have several great food cart options that might make it easier.
If I have someone watching my towel and valuables who does not plan to float, do they need to register to enter the area?
Your shore friends do need to register if they want to be at the beach party. We try to keep the admission fee low. All proceeds go to support our nonprofit, the Human Access Project.
Could be your friends will change their minds and want to jump in. If so, they will need to be registered with waiver and emergency contact info completed. Also, we do have a check-in for valuables.

Twitter Facebook