As his Web site will tell you, Reginald Smith, 40, is the self-proclaimed "King O' Tubin'." With his trusty dog, Shithead, Smith has spent most of his summer weekends for the last 20 years floating the Styx River. (The one in Alabama, not the other, better known one.) And he's survived many an ordeal on his beloved flatwater. "We ran across one
idiot who was shooting a gun," Smith writes on his Web site (members.xoom.
|WORK YOUR: Gluteus maximus, abs, forearms
com/Tubing). "He appeared to be with his wife and daughter and they were camping, but I wish he would have waited until we were past before discharging his firearm. It scared Shithead pretty bad." Given his experience going to the edge and back, the King was the obvious choice to usher us through the gateway to expert floating. His advice? Perfect the
towing of your supplies.
"If you don't think to bring an ice chest the first time out, you can bet you will the second," says Smith, who manages a computer network when on land. The King recommends the standard truck tube from an 18-wheeler, found at most tire stores for about eight bucks (size-code 10.00/20); you'll need at least two—one for you, one or more for your
supplies. This size best accommodates Smith's cooler of choice, the 48-quart Coleman. Fill the ice chest(s) with cold drinks, food, sunscreen, sunglasses, cell phones, CDs, a towel, and a book of Jeff Foxworthy jokes (tow two coolers, if necessary, to separate liquid and solid supplies). Wedge the chest into your tube's donut hole—six inches poking
past the top and out the bottom, to optimize ballast—and tie a trash bag to the side for empties. Now for the more advanced move: Bungee a splash-resistant CD/cassette player to the top of the cooler and slap in your best Skynyrd bootleg. "After a week of work I couldn't think of anything better," Smith says. "My dog, a few friends, and watching the
trees go by." Got it wired? Now get this convoy through rapids.
Paul Scott, a skilled river tuber, wrote about show-off moves in the July 1999 issue of Outside.