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Old 10-17-2010   #1
Chicago, Illinois
Paddling Since: 08
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 16
Getting a little nervous reading threads !!!

Ok, I have posted on here once and had alot of terrific responses from very nice people ( at least they seem like nice people ) LOL...

Anyhoo, my reason for posting is that I heard about the death at Gaulfest this year and did a little research on Whitewater deaths and I am getting a little freaked out before I have even started. I have also been reading some of the threads that have to do with losing confidence AKA gettin a bad spanking on the river. Being that I am a 40 year old guy just starting out and I just purchased my first boat to learn in ( Dagger Mamba ) wanted a Remix but got a sweet deal on the Dagger, and as I had stated in my last post, the only experience I have ever really had in a hardshell was taking a 2 day course on a very easy class II+ river in the Carolinas ( the Saluda ), and I have actually rolled 3-4 times in that river but it was not in a rapid and I have not nailed it whatsoever. So hear I am with my first boat and accumalating my gear and I am already getting nervous. I have canoed a class II - III and have also used a Ducky on a class III and never swam, well actually I did swim once in the canoe when a friend and I went over a low head dam where a few people have drowned and I was pretty humbled by that swim. But I love to paddle and really want to start. I really have no ambition whatsoever to do anything over class III plus, simply due to the fact that I have always been a slow learner and do not really want to die in my 40"s. I have read one to many stories on Kayakers that have experience and made all of the right moves and still died.

So I am kinda wondering if anyone else has had these thoughts and or emotions towards the sport. I do plan on taking another course as that one was 2 summers ago and did not really retain what I learned. I also plan on taking a swiftwater rescue course for my own good. Oh and lets not forget getting a good roll down pat. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I am kind of scared of my first flip / swim in a rapid. When I took the course I never flipped on class II+, and the instructor told me I was lucky as most newbies swim. And I have also heard the phrase while talking with other paddlers,,, We are all between swims !!! So I guess my time will come and I am very scared. Is this normal. Hell Im wondering if I should just put the boat up for sale and find another hobby. Hope to hear some words of encouragement.

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Old 10-17-2010   #2
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
Taking an intentional swim through a rapid is a better place to start than flipping, pulling the skirt and then trying to figure out what you are supposed to do. Any swiftwater class will go over swimming to some extent, and maybe that is where you should look first before your next lesson. A swiftwater course will also take a lot of mystery out of the scariness too. Reading the water, hazards, exactly what could happen, and how to prevent and recover will make personal risk assessment much easier. Understand too the whitewater community is small enough, nearly every death gets 'publicity' in the community. So you will get a lot more exposure to death than you might in other risky undertakings like driving a car (which is far more dangerous than cl III).

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Old 10-17-2010   #3
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407

Sooner or later and sometimes a lot, anyone who boats in moving water or even flat water is going to swim. Some swims are more fun than anything else, some swims leave us beat up and hurt big time.

It is a fact of the sport. And, people die each year somehow and some where. Some deaths are due to a person making a really bad decision, some seem to just happen (I guess any death can be blamed on a bad decision to some degree).

I am probably representative of most boaters doing WW more than a few years. In that I have been boating for several decades now in kayaks, canoes and rafts.

Done my share of swims. Some years a lot, some years not so much and some years none.

It all depends on how much you boat and where you boat and sometimes luck.

I have taken a swim in some gnarly places and seen some really bad swims in nasty places. Most all of these swims have turned out pretty much ok. By that I mean sometimes just drying off, some times a few bruises and cuts and a few times rescue by others to avoid death.

I think being scared to the point you are sick to the stomach or your body will not function properly to boat, is not fun and maybe you need to not boat that day, get more instruction or find another sport less dangerous to your fun factor.

I think being scared to the point you are excited and intense to do the best you can, is a good thing. Being scared to the point your body will not function properly is a bad thing.

In other words being scared (my opinion only) is a mind thing, only you can control how much the scare factor is for you and only you can make the decision to do something or not.

My experience is all of us have a different "scare" level and it can vary from day to day or rapid to rapid.

Each of us uses our scare level to back off or to run it's our own decision.

Personally, I have found my scare level depends on the way I feel mentally, physically, then having the appropriate gear, training and back up support measures up to the run at hand. I believe each of us can control our scare lever either up or down.

When running rivers becomes less fun to me, I will switch over to some other sport. But for me running rivers no matter how easy or difficult is the most fun and exciting sport I do. Awesome places and some of the best folks in the world are hallmarks of WW boating.

Most WW boating is a individual responsibility but in a group setting. That is you make the call, but your bud's are there to help celebrate or pick up the pieces unless you decide to boat alone.

Welcome to the sport!
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Old 10-17-2010   #4
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 475

Hang in there, bro. First thing is quit reading these community forums or watching hair-boating videos. Get yourself a veteran boating buddy or three and start boating. Frequency is what is demanded. Get out there and do it with a possee that has your back and will teach you right. Work your way up through the classes and advance to the next level only after your sporting around confidently in each of the levels as you progress. Enjoy it! It is the best sport!
No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 10-17-2010   #5
Flying_Spaghetti_Monster's Avatar
Farmington, Utah
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 707
I would say that over all kayaking is a safe sport. You should be more worried about taking up riding a dirt bike or a four wheeler. Does anyone know the statistics on how many kayakers that know what they are doing die in an average year. I say kayakers that know what they are doing because there are a lot of deaths from people that a new running class IV's or low head dams without safety gear. I hear of way more deaths involving atv's than kayaks.
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Old 10-17-2010   #6
Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 15
Kayaking can be a deadly sport- there are no two ways about it. But, really, so can anything else. If you decide to boat, you decide knowing that anything can have the ultimate consequence.

So you take swift water rescue, you carry a rope and know how to use it, you practice swimming in non-threatening situations, you paddle with a good crew, you push your boating limits at a reasonable pace using good judgment, and you enjoy being out there on the water in places few men (and women, of course) get to go. There's nothing like the feeling of being on the water. Boating, then, doesn't feel like a gamble, or something to cause fear, but something profound.

Yes, there are moments of being scared, but coming face to face with yourself is one of the things you find on the river and nowhere else.

I think the book "Kayak" by William Nealy is a great description of what's going on in the water, how to react to it, and most of all- how to keep the balance between fear and joy.

See you on the river...
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Old 10-17-2010   #7
Charleston, West Virginia
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 76
While I hope that you get through your fear and decide to continue your pursuit of this wonderful sport (I actually paddle an OC-1, but it's all about the river regardess of what you padde). However, I have to disagree that kayaking/river running is a safe sport. Of course, it is all dependent on how far into it you decide to venture, but at a certain point the risks are certainly very prevalant, IMO much more than almost any sport. With this being said, if one does not get in over their head, paddles with a good crew, and goes out every time with the same degree of carefullness and awareness, then they are most likely going to be fine. The vast majority of the people paddling class V don't die from river running, but unfortunately some do. Know that their is risk, and decide whether or not you are willing to take it. If you are, don't let it get to your head and have fun!
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Old 10-17-2010   #8
I kayak DH.
Waterwindpowderrock's Avatar
Greater tri cities metro area, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 794
I don't mean this as a diss on Boating, but those of you that say it's a safe sport compared to others are deluding yourselves. I love it, don't plan to stop, but I've done nearly every stupid sport out there to excess & have never seen people die at the quantities that we see on the river.

I know sledders from around the world & have yet to have anyone I knew die in a slide or accident, I wakeboarded & snowboarded for many years... never knew anyone that died. Fought full contact... same. DH biking, just had the first this year. CLimbed my whole life, lived in the climbing community for 20+ years, knew two people who died climbing over all those years & one of them most were pretty sure was on purpose. In kayaking... it's much worse.

I know the sports we do are dangerous, and I accept that risk and will continue to boat IV & V until I can't anymore, but I also KNOW that kayaking is MUCH more dangerous than other sports I do.

I don't want to scare people away from the sport, but also won't try to tell new people that it's not dangerous either.
Discover Denver, stay there!
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Old 10-17-2010   #9
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Farmington, Utah
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 707
I may be wrong, but it seems that there are more deaths in atv accidents than boating. Then you have to look at the ratio how many boaters to atv/ dirt bike riders die each year. I would say there are less total boaters in the nation. So I guess you are right, but I will say this you will see me personally on a Class V run before you see me on a dirt bike. Don't mean to hijack the thread with my opinion.
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Old 10-17-2010   #10
I kayak DH.
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Greater tri cities metro area, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 794
The numbers are WAY off (total users) from WW to atv/ dirtbike.

You may be more likely to break a leg/ arm, injure yourself on a silly motorized toy as compared to our silly plastic toys... but as far as fatalities go... I hate to say, but it's not even in the same ballpark.

Discover Denver, stay there!
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