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Old 06-15-2004   #1
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
How to recover a lost boat

So, this weekend, I was gleefully floating down the Ark , only to come upon two boats floating downstream and two upset kayakers staring woefully from the riverbank. In an effort to be a nice guy, and with limited experience and common sense under my belt, I raced down river, grabbed the boats and started trying to ferry them to the bank. Needless to say, I ended up rolling, swimming, loosing my paddle, but successfully rescued the two boats I was chasing and my boat.

So, if you see a boat without a kayaker, what is the best approach to rescue it? (Assuming you are certian that the kayaker is just fine)

Is it:
1) Pass the lost boat, hop out of your boat, throw it on shore and dive into the river to grab the lost boat.
2) Tie a line to the lost boat, paddle to shore and secure the line to a tree or something stationary.
3) Continue paddling as if you saw nothing.

Please fill me in!

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Old 06-15-2004   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 97
If you have PFD with a tow tether then it is easy to tow to shore. Otherwise push it with the bow of your boat into an eaddy. Just don't rescue equipment if it puts you in a position that you have to swim; that doesn't help anything.

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Old 06-15-2004   #3
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480
If you get a rescue vest, you need to know how and when to use it. Like Jeffro said, don't put yourself in greater danger trying to save a boat. Those things get very heavy and hard to deal with when they are full of water. It's nice if you can lend a hand and help a fellow boater out by getting their boat or paddle to shore but you aren't under any obligation to do so - especially if you don't know them.
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Old 06-15-2004   #4
Ed Hansen's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 331
It just makes good river-karma to help out, when you are needed, and if you can indeed help.

Pretending that you didn't see anything is not the way to go, IMO. If you are at, say, canyon doors, and someone swims, 4 people from his or her group go after them, then you can probably feel okay about not helping. Too many helpers can just get in the way.

Flipping and causing yourself to swim isn't helping matters so even if you almost have the boat into an eddy right before the next drop and you may or may not make it; disengaging, letting the boat go through the next rapid and trying again in the next slack water section is better than getting flipped and swimming, or getting flipped and beat-up by the other boat, or both boats. Being tied to the boat would be a bad way to go through that next drop too. Only clip a rope onto the boat when the water is slack, bulldozing isn't working, and you won't be in danger of getting sucked into the next rapid.

As far as getting out of your boat and jumping in...

Maybe if it's a calm eddy pool, but if it is, you could just bulldoze the boat with your boat, so no need. The only time you would want to do a heroic thing like that is if you are chasing a PERSON that is in peril, not a peice of plastic. And only after you have waved other options and feel that you could both get back out. It's never good when the rescuer needs to be rescued as well.
"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 06-15-2004   #5
A-Town!, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 91
Without a tow rope, jeffro said it. Point your boat upriver, and ferry the floating boat under your bow while you attempt to ferry the boat into the closest eddy.

Always make sure to keep yourself safe the entire time. Swimming can be contagious, and it's usually caused by people trying to save someone/something else, while not taking care of themselves first.
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Old 06-15-2004   #6
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,910
"Cascading" is what its called when one person's accident turns into a group swim due to our natural impulse to save someone without first making sure we're in the right place to do it safely. I saw this happen on the Eagle a couple of years ago - out of four kayakers, the three most experienced were swimming and gear was strewn all down the river. Probably not a big issue on a crowded river but think about what could happen once you're way off the Hypalon Highway.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 06-17-2004   #7
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 245
good advise from all, I have a question while we're on it, any opinions on the old stick your bow in the cockpit approach? sometimes it worries me, but I guess, again, adopt the appropriate technique as the river dictates safety. any opinions?
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Old 06-28-2004   #8
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 14
Good advice so far

My buddy and I were running Waterton Canyon for the 1st time a few years ago. It was at the edge of my ability and I wasn't used to such continuous water. We were sitting in at eddy catching our breath when we saw an empy boat floating by.

My buddy and I looked at each other and didn't do a thing. The look in his eyes probably matched the look in my eyes. It hurt my sense of decency to let the boat go, but I knew I wasn't good enough to chase the boat down on a challenging unknown river.

As everyone else said, make sure you take care of yourself before worrying about gear.

Ropes can be very dangerous so don't use them unless you know what you're doing and have an way to release it.

It can take a while to push a boat into an eddy. Make sure you look downstream often enough to keep from getting a nasty surprise.


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