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Old 04-25-2012   #1
Vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
Righting A Loaded Rig After A Flip.

Hey folks, I am looking for some advice about righting a heavily loaded cat after a flip. Fortunately, I have been pretty conservative in my trips, lines and skill assessment and have come nowhere near flipping my 14 foot Cat loaded or empty but if I want to challenge myself with bigger rivers I accept the fact that risk is part of the reward. My issue is I don`t always have the luxury of going with a group or even a partner. I have had some success in tagging loosely along with other parties and we watch each other`s backs but there are many times when I don`t see another person all day long on the river.

I actually run a lot of solo trips as I have weekdays off from my job. I am looking at doing bigger rivers and a major concern is a flip. I am not all that scared of swimming a rapid, but am definitely concerned about getting this heavy rig to shore after a flip and then re flipping it again. I carry lots of rope and understand a basic Z line system but in reality, I can imagine needing to try to unload some of the gear or even partially unrigging the boat to be able to right it without help. Also, just getting it to safety is a concern to me if I am by myself.

Most rivers of course have plenty of other boaters and it seems everyone on the river is super helpful to each other especially when there is a problem but I am curious about techniques a single person can use to get a heavy rig righted after the flip and getting it safely to shore without help. This concern has really kept me off of rivers that present the real danger of a flip when running solo.

Any thoughts and or experience on this situation would be greatly appreciated.....

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Old 04-25-2012   #2
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 51
Perhaps you might have to answer your own question, flip your cat and see if you can upright it. I had a 14' ocelot (Aire). The huge difference that I experienced (expecially comparing it to my 15'6" Aire raft) was that it was much more difficult to flip. While I could upright my raft (empty) alone with no difficulty, it was all 2 of us could do to upright the cat (empty). I attributed the difference to the surface area. The raft, with the upturned ends actually has the opposing tube out of the water prior to exerting any pressure. My cat (the old design) sat flat on the water (both tubes) and took a lot of pressure just to get the tube to begin to lift. I think with the new aggressive rocker on some of the tubes, this may be easier.

Your size strength and experience will make a huge difference as well. Just my experience.

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Old 04-25-2012   #3
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
I oftentimes wondered this question as well and then back in April our party had 2 rafts flip in hermit in the grand. The boats got separated so that we had basically 5 people which each upside down raft. I was with the raft that was in a strong eddy up against a cliff side. We tried z drags, but kept snapping ropes and d rings. We eventually had to d-rig the entire boat while it was floating in this eddy. It was quite the adventure. Later when we met up with the other half of our group, they were downstream, they had a much easier time reflipping their raft as it was on a nice sandy beach, but still had to derig some of the gear. In short I think if you are alone and your boat is fully loaded you may need to d-rig so keep that in mind when you are rigging it up.
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Old 04-25-2012   #4
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,407
based on actual experience, be very careful when you attach a pin rescue rope to a raft Dee ring. Very easy to rip off Dee Rings even when just a few bubba's are pulling. Attach pin rescue ropes to the frame if at all possible.
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Old 04-25-2012   #5
Avatard's Avatar
portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 2,188
Search the thread "righting a raft" or "gin pole"

In theory if you can get your cat to a shallow eddy you can re-flip it on your own

You are always going to be exponentially safer in a larger group
Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 04-25-2012   #6
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883

Sixteen foot NRS cat. All on my own on the Grand in '09. Flipped in the then rather agressive Pearce Ferry rapid. Lots of rope and biners and pulleys available in my nicely accessible flip kit. No rocks, trees or other anchor points in the miles of silt banks I encountered floating on the upside down boat. Finally got to a beach and tried deadman anchors to no avail. Could have set Z-drags all day to no effect, as the silt was just too spongy.

Spent the better part of an afternoon derigging, flipping the frame, re-rigging, drying things out, and thinking a lot about how I wished I'd had time for about 2-3 more strokes before I hit the lateral that surfed me into the hole that got me.


Rich Phillips
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Old 04-25-2012   #7's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 491
Tried to flip a heavy 15" raft after Lava, 4 came close, 5 guys no problem first try.. Practice before you need to in a friendly safe area. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2012   #8
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
Go super lightweight also. There's a good blog and book about boating without coolers (golightoutdoors - or something like that).

Rig a paddle on the side of your boat so you can paddle the upside down boat to an eddy. And never let go of your boat. If you're going to boat alone you better be well versed in flipping and reflipping, especially staying with your boat when you flip. It comes with practice.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 04-25-2012   #9
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
I think you've been smart to avoid running a fully rigged raft solo on stuff you think has a risk of flipping you. I'd stick with that policy unless you are OK with loss of gear.

You may have a problem with swimming fast enough to catch it if it gets away from you. Even if you do catch it you are probably spending more time in the water than you want to. When I swim in a creek or river I get out so fast that sometimes I don't even get my hair wet. I actually run across the surface of the water directly to safety. I think it is too risky to have to deal with a raft by yourself. A kayak, OK, but not a rigged raft.
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Old 04-25-2012   #10
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Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 76
The following is how I prepare for solo boating with a fully loaded 18 footer loaded with a month of food and winter gear:
I girth hitch sewn 2 foot slings on the frame where I can easily find them if the boat is upside down. I tie an overhand knot in the middle of this loop to help prevent accidental entrapment. Then I attach a locking biner that just dangles from the end of the sling. I use 4 slings total on each corner of the main frame. I then have a 2500ish cubic inch dry bag that contains a 200 foot rope and a rope puller. This puller takes the place of 4-5 people pulling.

Rope Puller : SherrillTree Tree Care Equipment

The dry bag also has pulleys, biners and webbing. This very important bag is strapped to the stern of the raft so that I can easily reach it when the boat is upside down.
My PFD carries 2 pulleys, 4 biners and a 6 foot loop of webbing. This redundancy allows me to rig 2 separate 3:1 systems in case my anchors are sketchy and I have to spread the load into 2 anchors and systems. I strap 4 sand/snow stakes to the side of the frame as well just in case I end up having to anchor in sand. (Again, 2 systems to spread the load in the sand.) Nuts, and cams are always attached to my bow as well. I also strap a raft paddle along one of my spare oars to "try" to manipulate the upside down beast towards an eddy. My second rope, if 2 systems are necessary, would come from my extra long bow line which would be fairly easy to untie and use to 3:1 the boat over. The puller from the above link is rated at 1000 lbs so using it to do the work of 4 - 5 people works out perfectly. Once this is all set up and dialed in my head how to improvise with spreading anchor loads etc., I am able to just enjoy the rapids and think more about the potential swimming part instead of worrying about the raft recovery part. I remind myself above every rapid that my instinct needs to be to swim to the boat either in the middle of the rapid if safe to do so or after the rapid. If I have to swim to shore to save my life then my boat continues without me....but at least I'm still breathing. In the event that I become separated from my boat, I carry a small fanny pack that has a lighter, super basic first aid kit, tape, some high calorie food, and a warm hat in a ziplock bag. My personal locator beacon is also in this fanny pack in case I am injured and require assistance. All big rapids are run with my drysuit on and this small fanny pack is worn inside my suit. If your ducks are all lined up correctly, you shouldn't have to rely on others for help if the shit hits the fan. Hope I made sense. I feel the rewards are worth the risk when I get the urge to enjoy some solitude. I wish you safe solo boating and of course some good luck!!

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