Today, of all days, I got a first hand experience of how good it is to have proper safety training (SWR) and a diverse set of rescue gear. Around 5pm, I found myself leading down a group of beginner-intermediate paddlers through he Bridges section of the Poudre. All of these boaters had been through his section previously, and I was excited about the training day I was soon going to give to these boaters.
As we entered into Pine-view, the paddler that was immediately behind me flipped in the entrance. After meeting a few local rocks, he excited his craft. The next boater, hot on his tail, was trying to paddle the rapid with a un-occupied kayak in her way. While she made it to the first "main" eddy, I used my tow harness to get control of the rogue craft. During this process, I manage to misplace my paddle and found myself, in a precarious position... floating into the "meat" of the rapid without a paddle and hooked to boat that was full of water.
To make a long story short, I was able to run the rapid, with no paddle and a boat tethered to me and safely get to an eddy. While I have towed many boats through rapids, I have never hand-paddled a boat through anything. The Astral vest, and it's tow strap, provided a stable, predictable, and "safe" method for doing this. (warning.. Do not use these straps unless you have been trained.).
With that aside, the only reason I am posting this story is because of what happened next....
As I sat in a small eddy, with the boat still attached, I looked up-stream only to find the second boater headed through the last part of the rapid. Near the end, she too found herself swimming with the fishes. In about 5 seconds, I was able to un-fasten the 50' of spectra rope that I keep on my chest, open the pouch, grab the rope, and throw the bag to her. While still sitting in my boat and with another boat hooked to me, I was in a position to rescue another swimmer from the cold water.
In 10+ years of kayaking, I have never once used this equipment at the same time and in the same rapid. I, and others that I know, normally don't fret about the possibility of encountering a swimmer on a section of river that isn't "hard". When we get to the hard stuff, we get out and set safety. The Astral Rescue Vest, and it's optional equipment, provides a bundle of gear that is second to non. The tow system is predictable, safe, and effective. The 50' of rope on the chest ands the needed, and appreciated, safety net that only it can offer. While seconds didn't matter in this case, it might one day on a harder creek.
Two thumbs up to this system. To my knowledge, it's the only rescue vest that has this rope option.
PS. Thanks to Tyson for getting the 2nd boaters paddle.