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Old 01-27-2010   #11
rockinRio's Avatar
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 231
To answer your question about wearing gloves.

I almost always wear my neoprene gloves on the river. It took a little getting used to, moving from bare skin to gloves. But after the first year, paddling on the river without them feels weird.

The gloves would have helped to a certain point. They would have kept your hands warmer longer, but you might have had to take one or both off to find the snag point.

my two bits...

Way to go on the rescue, way to stay clear and calm.

You ARE a soul, you HAVE a body.

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Old 01-27-2010   #12
gypsy, Colorado
Paddling Since: 02
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 176
gloves, no gloves, I think this is very personal decision, I know I lose a lot of dexterity with them on. That being said your hands will deal with the cold a lot better if the rest of your body is warm. I wear my drysuit a lot even on warm days, especially in contained inviorments.

Chris Baer

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Old 01-27-2010   #13
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Way to go Tom! Kick ass rescue.

The glove issue is a tough one. I don't think that the gloves make or break this type of scenario though. Thick gloves would keep your hands warm, but limit dexterity in a rescue. Thin gloves have enough dexterity to use in a rescue, but aren't enough warmth for cold paddling (my opinion). Pogies are warm enough for cold paddling and allow for quick use of hands in rescues. Your hands will get super cold, but as you demonstrated you can still get the rescue done. I think paddling with whatever hand gear keeps you happiest on the water is the best choice. One good piece of advice I have read is to carry an extra pair of gloves in your boat with you on really cold days. If you lose your paddle (and pogies on it) you could use the gloves with a breakdown. You also might want to use them in extended rescue scenarios (unpinning a boat etc).

It was also pointed out already that the bear claw knife with the finger hole in it can be held even when hands are numb. I have one and I like it. Got it after I lost my knife and read Roy's similar story on bailey.

Drygear has been mentioned, and I think that drysuits are by far the most bomber protection for cold weather boating. If you are immersed in water for several minutes, the drysuit might mean the difference between and good outcome and a bad one.

To me the critical rescue factors in this situation are...
1) quick thinking rescuer
2) rescuer has a knife
3) rescuer and others have good dry gear
4) group has a rope to get to boater
5) safety gear for a hike out

I think it would be tough to get out of a skirt, but I can see it happening with the right motivation and position. I think cutting the skirt or snag is the quickest and safest way to go.
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Old 01-27-2010   #14
Mr Beaver's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 188
Nice job

So we can add this to proof you need a knife on the river.

I have been in a similar situation before, the only thing I would have changed was maybe tieing off my throw bag and taking the rope out with me to untangle someone. This way I if you fall into the water, you aren't in trouble as well and your buddy might need it to get safely to shore.

Still it would have been tough to actually take the time to do this when you see your fellow boater in trouble. But at the very least I wish I had thought to grab my throw bag and take it with me.

This way if you untangle him, but he is weak and gets away from you, you have a chance to haul him in.
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Old 01-27-2010   #15
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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Sounds to me like you handled the situation well Tom. This experience emphasizes dressing for a swim/rescue and not just for being in your boat. Even if you're confident you'll stay in your boat, somebody else might not (even could be someone not in your group).

I think gloves would work better in this situation. It may have been necessary to remove the gloves to perform the actual cutting of the skirt, but until that point they would have kept the hands warm. I've taken to using gloves in really cold situations even though I prefer the feel of my hands on the paddle. I also tend to pack a spare pair of gloves in my boat just in case. Also, I have read reports that people have experimented in controlled environments with cutting Kevlar skirts and they are not difficult to cut. I'd be curious what this one was.

There was an Army experiment that showed you can increase your hand's tolerance to cold. Here is what you do:

Choose a room that's a comfortable temperature and place your hands in a container of warm water for 3 to 5 minutes. Then go into a freezing room and again dip your hands in warm water for 10 minutes. The cold environment would normally make your peripheral blood vessels constrict, but instead, the sensation of the warm water makes them open. Repeatedly training the blood vessels to open despite the cold eventually enables you to counter the constriction reflex even without the warm water.

If you care about kayaking safety, you should be spending your winter nights standing outside with your hands immersed in a bowl of warm water.
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Old 01-27-2010   #16
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Edge o' the Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 195
Thanks for sharing and yeah, great reminder that a good knife that is easy to get at is required gear.

Next time you're chillin' at camp after a day of boating (and before anyone's under the influence), everybody grab your knives and some scrap rope or webbing. Put the rope or webbing under tension and start taking turns cutting through it with your knives. If you trust your buds, pull the rope/webbing across your leg so they can practice sliding their blade under the rope/webbing and making a cut without slicing or puncturing your leg.

We did this once and it's pretty amazing how much difference there is between knives. And I now carry a Gerber E-Z Out Rescue knife because of it. Super-fast cuts, sheeps-nose blade to avoid puncture wounds, good size, lightweight, and high-vis (mine's yellow). If you need a knife, give this one a look.
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Old 01-27-2010   #17
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 803
Great save Tom. Cut the skirt. Gloves are nice but only if you can paddle in them and/or preform rescues. Only thing I would add is, if possible, get a rope on the victim before you cut him loose. Preferably two ropes, one from the victim to a rescuer downstream and the other connected to rope one via a loose biner with a rescuer upstream holding it. When he is cut loose both ropes pull him in at the same time in the most secure way possible. Hard to describe but it works.
Evan Stafford
Cub boater: "What do the spiders mean?" Old fart boater: "Trust your intuition." CRCII
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Old 01-27-2010   #18
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I agree about the safety factor of a full drysuit. That can't be overstated, IMO.

I have a solution that I use for the pogies / gloves issue. If I'm creeking in super-cold water where I know I'm going to need to get my hands off the paddle occasionally to push off a rock, etc (like the Source) then I paddle with a pair of higher-end long chemical (or dishwashing) gloves with a long enough gauntlet to tuck into the gasket of the drysuit. Keeps your hands pretty warm, but gives you most of the dexterity of bare hands. Even if you don't tuck them into your gasket and water gets in them, the thin layer of water warms up and works to insulate your skin from the moving water. If I'm paddling in <V frigid water, sometimes I'll just wear the thin medical latex gloves under pogies. It's amazing how much that helps keep your hands warm.

Just like a full bootie gasket works on a drysuit to give you much more comfort standing in cold water, latex gloves would give you another 5 minutes or so under water without losing feeling in your fingers. Plus they're cheap and disposable - although I do look like a goofy bastard with bright orange hands. I like to think it completes the ensemble.

Actually, I've found some durable blue ones at the home depot that work really well.
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Old 01-28-2010   #19
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
Same thing happened to Roy on Bailey. A few have mentioned it here in this thread. I was there.

I thought he might die. He eventually cut through the rand and popped free. The Bear Claw knife with the pistol trigger grip saved his life and most Front Range creekers use that knife now.

I don't know if you had more people with you. If so, it might be nice to get on opposite banks and get a rope across to stabilize him. Also, it would be nice to have someone downstream in case he gets away and floats into the bad stff and, if you have the luxury, someone upstream to block traffic.

It sounds like you caught him when he came loose but with our situation Roy got away from us after he cut through the rand and was on his own, swimming exhausted and cold. It was mellow downstream but still a mistake on our part.

If there were just two of you on scene then that's cool, we all do it, but like Roy says a team of 2 creekers is probably just a victim and a witness.
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Old 01-28-2010   #20
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 52
Great Save Tim!
My thoughts on the glove / poggie issue. I have taken a piece of surgical tubing and cut in half taping it to my paddle in the area of hand placement. This tubing is put in place to give indexing - blade placement and it is comfortable with all types of gloves because the tubing flexes. The tubing can be felt thru toaster mits.... maybe this will help?

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