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Old 07-27-2009   #21
Avon, co Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 36
Safety Kayaker placement

Additionally For safety kayaking I prefer to be in front of the raft and eddie out waiting and watching for the raft. This is how I've always done it safety boating on the eagle and ark. I believe this is best way because you as the kayaker have all lines in the river to choose from when you go down and if there are swimmers you can see them eaisily and peel out of the eddy after them. however on a long trip such as the animas at low flows its easy to find youself not always in front, especially if you are just floating down through class 3. (in my situation the configuration at time of inccident was RAFT1-KAYAKER1 - THEN SPACE - KAYAKER2 RAFT2) I would of never got myself into the strainer situation i did had I been in front of the raft. even if i was well behind the raft (not so effective for saving people) the raft could of still been stuck for a long time and i could of still chosen the left channel (strainer)

I still am not sure where kayaker2 should go on a 2-raft 2-kayak trip but if there is just one safety boater I think in front eddying out is the safest regardless of the # of rafts to follow...not a real great answer to this one though because I can think of a few cases where this would not work so well, or waiting for rafts to safely come through a rapid one enevitibly finds themself behind a raft.

To summarize: Safety kayaking takes more skill and is considerably more dangerous to the kayaker than just "kayaking." Rafts are slow and make kayakers bored and they also run you over in surf waves and have they have no regard for eddying out for play spots. They do carry food and beer and gear and babes much more effectively that their plastic counterparts. The placement of rafts around you on a river should be of importance.

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Old 07-27-2009   #22
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
Rafts ... also run you over in surf waves and have they have no regard for eddying out for play spots
Sounds like you're boating with the wrong rafters. Everyone's got to be flexible for the whole group to get what they came to the river for. If I'm running with kayakers I'm happy to eddy out at a primo play spot, kick back, and enjoy the show.

More inportantly, thanks for analysis - there's a lot of good stuff here and I especially appreciate the part on run order for safety kayakers. From what you've said, I think the way to do it well would be after significant rapids, rafts eddy out if possible, or at least try to slow down, and let the kayaker(s) regain the lead.

Glad you made it out,


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
Andy H. is offline   Reply With Quote

animas, death, safety, strainer, kayaking

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