Originally Posted by Paul7
I'm a newer boater never have ran the Grand however it seems that a group should be ready for something like this? Granted best way to deal with it would be avoidance of the rock in the first place. Could they have swam the rapid with a throw rope rescue? Was there nothing they could have done to unpin the boat?
The other thing that baffles me is the boat unpins its self the next morning and it was not secured by a line. What would have been the outcome had they not seen the boat to rescue it such as in the night?
I thought someone with more rafting or rescue experience might chime in, but since no one has answered your questions I'll give them a shot.
Attempts at self-rescue should come first. We have no idea what they tried, but shifting both people to either end of the boat, climbing out onto the rock and trying to push/drag the boat off, and partially deflating a chamber are all things I would've tried. I'd probably even try hanging off the most downstream end of the boat to see if I could act as a sea anchor and pull the boat off.
I've never done the Grand, but it looks like that rock is way out in the middle of the river. It would be hard to get a rope out to them, but possibly a kayaker could take a rope out to them (or more likely 2-3 tied together) and paddle back to shore holding the other end. We had that work once in Cataract canyon. It didn't sound like they had any kayakers, but they could've unloaded one of the rafts and hiked it or lined it back to the top of the rapid. The rock looks like you could eddy out below it, so if you could get a raft in that eddy you might be able to do something from there. In other situations I've seen a raft deliberately run into a pinned raft to knock them off, but this doesn't look to me like a good situation to try that.
The swim doesn't look bad to me, but deliberately jumping into and swimming a rapid that size is not something most casual or non-boaters would be willing to do.
I'm not sure how you would've secured the boat, but I would never do that. The idea is you want it to come unpinned and float out of the rapid. If it's unpinned, but still tied to the rock, you'd somehow need to get out to it to untie it, and if you could do that easily then unpinning it wouldn't be a problem either. If they hadn't noticed it floating by, it would have ended up in an eddy or pinned somewhere else, most likely easier to get to and in less turbulent water, so unpinning it would've been easier. Or another group would have noticed it and brought it to shore.
I've heard a few stories of people who didn't secure their boats well enough at camp and woke up the next day to find one had floated off during the night. They always found the boat floating in an eddy downstream.