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Old 01-26-2014   #11
briandburns's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1979
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Originally Posted by carlfordnathan View Post
...Let me ask this: I'm under the impression that in a typical commercial, self-bailing raft, the guide would be in the back without a paddle while everyone else is in front of him with paddles. And the guide would shout instructions to them, right?...
Guide needs a paddle to steer with, unless he's using a stern mounted oar frame.
You're right about the shouting though!

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Old 01-26-2014   #12
fat guy in a little boat
bigben's Avatar
FtC / Rancho del Rio, Colorado
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in the majority of the zambezie videos i've seen the commercials are running stern mounts w/ paddle assist from the custies


All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.
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Old 01-26-2014   #13
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
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bear claw river knife fight in a class V!

ending with a losing bad guy getting eaten by several crocs at the end of a rapid..

and slashing the other rafts at the put-in is a rafter's dream and would be super savvy to slow a pursuit.

running it all by a nearly full moonlight would make it somewhat more possibly real.

the knife is attached to the pfd, btw...

all fine examples of why i don't write for a living.

good luck.
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Old 01-26-2014   #14
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
Waves breaking overhead that swamped the boat for a time could be worked in easily.

Weird diagonal features that felt like they almost flipped the boat, but didn't, could be very real.

Croc or hippo sightings, even without any blatant attack, would certainly raise the stakes.

A couple failed efforts at landing the boat would be pretty believable.

Good luck with your novel.
Except for the crocs and hippos, that sounds kinda like my last run on the Upper Colorado!

But seriously, from what I've seen in Zambezi videos, a stern mount oar rig would be about the only way for anyone to have a chance of navigating Class IV big water and you'd still be in for a heck of a ride. Pulling a swimmer back into the boat and having them puke water is a dose of reality.

In a typical raft, the guide would definitely have a paddle, likely a longer one with a larger blade for better leverage and power. Or would have a small oar frame where she's seated in the very back of the boat and rowing (stern mount frame) with the passengers paddling. You'd want any passengers / paddlers to be seated to distribute weight evenly around the boat.

River knives are a common guide accessory and like upshicreek says, can set the stage for a knife fight or slashing any other boats.

In turbulent, powerful water, a swimmer (someone who'd gone overboard) without a personal flotation device (PFD or life jcaket) may not surface for miles. Having a set of PFDs in a boat that's rigged and waiting for the next day's tourists, and having a bad guy drown from lack of one, would be a good way to show your target audience the need for the most essential piece of whitewater safety gear. Seriously, please don't try to show responsible people running whitewater without PFDs - that's the main cause of drownings in our sport.

There are some good possible plot devices above.

So to your questions:
--Assuming the scenario, what would the guide tell the kids to do in the raft since they don't have paddles?
--I'm guessing that the weight of five 12-year-olds would affect a commercial raft differently than the weight of eight adults. What would be some of the dangers they would face, and how would the guide try to negate those dangers?
1) the kids without paddles would be told to get down into the bottom of the boat where they'd be least likely to get thrown out.

2) the lighter boat would take away from the boat's momentum, making it more likely to get caught in holes, or flipped by waves that curl back upstream. It would also make it easier for the guide to navigate but he'd still have a tough time manuevering the boat with only one paddle in the boat.

A second paddler (the biggest, strongest kid) would make a huge difference in being able to navigate the boat. Both paddlers would be near the mid-point of the boat with one on each side.

Good luck!

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
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Old 01-26-2014   #15
Nashville, Tennessee
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
So to your questions:

1) the kids without paddles would be told to get down into the bottom of the boat where they'd be least likely to get thrown out.

2) the lighter boat would take away from the boat's momentum, making it more likely to get caught in holes, or flipped by waves that curl back upstream. It would also make it easier for the guide to navigate but he'd still have a tough time manuevering the boat with only one paddle in the boat.

A second paddler (the biggest, strongest kid) would make a huge difference in being able to navigate the boat. Both paddlers would be near the mid-point of the boat with one on each side.
This is perfect info! Now that you mention it, I think I can get away with there being two paddles in the boat and the guide instructing the biggest kid to help him. Instructing the rest of the kids to get in the bottom of the boat could work as well.

Basically, what's happening is that the villain is trying to off these kids, but he has to make it look like an accident. They've been wanting to raft since they arrived in the country but have been too young. So the villain has trapped them at the Boiling Pot and has his men bring a raft down. He puts the kids in it and throws them one paddle. He's trying to make it look as though they stole the raft and went out on their own, not knowing what they're doing. At the last minute, the guide, who until now has been one of the villain's men, runs and hops in the raft with them while the villain and his men are distracted by another kid, who is escaping. Since the villain and his gunmen are on the shore, the only way to go is the river, thus the initial scenario I explained. The guide has to get the kids to an exit point safely. So I can make it that the guide was able to grab one more paddle as he ran across the shore to the raft.
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Old 01-26-2014   #16
Golden, Colorado
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there's gotta be room for a 'up shits creek without a paddle' joke in there somewhere.

i want the book dedicated to me too.
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Old 01-26-2014   #17
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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The guide definitely needs a paddle in the back to steer. The kids with paddles are for forward momentum or quick turns. I would suggest 3 paddles, one of which could be lost in the big flip with two remaining to eddy out.
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Old 01-26-2014   #18
Plunk your magic twanger!
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New Castle, Colorado
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I can understand the premise of a group of kids wanting to raft and, perhaps heading out on their own, and their certain demise seeming like an accident. Perhaps the gunman are so distracted, and the current so swift, that the raft is out of sight before a gunman realizes he can shoot holes in the raft ensuring their failure. I don't know why the villain would give them even one paddle but perhaps the wise guide would think to grab two paddles, if that is all he can get, to save the kids.

I hope the kid distracting the villain is able to run down river and join the rest of the group.
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Old 01-27-2014   #19
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Portland, Oregon
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An experienced paddle guide needs to be able to get most of the work done without relying on his crew. Commercial paddle crews suck and are unreliable. Additionally, most experienced guides will tell you they would rather have a crew of girl scouts over a crew of boy scouts any day of the year. Adolescent boys are some of the worst paddlers as they are in full retard mode most of the time, engrossed in water fights or pushing each other with paddles and not listening to instructions. Girl Scouts follow orders and have a degree of apprehension that keeps them from acting out much when they are nervous--the opposite of boys. These boys would be pretty scared, so as long as they aren't in full panic mode crying for mamma I imagine they would make for a decent crew if they actually had paddles.

I think much drama can be made from the guide's impromtu mea culpa/safety talk above the first drop. He's going to put the fear of God into them. He's going to tell them to "not let go of the perimeter line no matter what happens." He'll be telling them to get down low and hold on. I would tell them to have one hand on the perimeter line--the rope that runs around the outside--and one are shoved under the thwart, or holding on to the floor lacing, or possibly onto the boy across from them. There are not many rocks to hit on the Zambezi, but there are plenty of school bus sized holes that will suck the raft and all the people down to China.

If I was in this situation, I might call for my crew to use their hands to paddle in the pool above the drop. With big water boating like the Zambezi, it is all about the set up--being in the right place in the river with the right momentum before you hit the first waves of the rapid. But this only goes for the flats above and below rapids. In the rapids all the boys will be told to get down and hold on, even if they have paddles. Four or five determined hand paddlers might be as good of a crew as a bunch of farting around boyscouts with paddles.

You could have a flip in your scenario, as long as every one was holding on tight, they might all still be there holding on at the bottom of the drop. One might be underneath with his arm wedged under a thwart... To right the boat, a couple boys will have to get on top with the guide, who will use his paddle and their combined weight to right the raft. The other boys will have to let go of the boat for a moment... pretty scary, especially if the next drop is looming, or there are crocs sliding into the water from the banks....

If the guide has had the foresight to grab an extra paddle, it would be a good opportunity for character development of whichever boy is deputized by him to help move the boat. The guide will be either in the back right or left and will have a good degree of control if he is skilled. The deputized boy will paddle from the front of the boat on the opposite side of the guide. He will be told to "dig in" his paddle when they hit a big hole or breaking wave.

I love the idea someone gave of the full moon. Slashing other rafts is also awesome, but why wouldn't he use the knife on a bad guy instead?

One thing you might find to help is videoed safety talks by rafting operators. Often my talks are designed to make passengers nervous. You can listen to some safety talks and steal the scariest parts for your own guide's speech.

Probably the best thing you could do is go rafting! There is plenty of whitewater in Tennessee, but you might have to wait a few months. Maybe by then you will have a draft. You could bounce the dialog off of your guides and see what they say. Regardless, if authenticity is what you are after, I would see if you could find someone with commercial guiding experience to give your draft a quick edit. Good luck.
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Old 01-27-2014   #20
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portland, Oregon
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You need to add a sense of realism that I think your story is missing. I think the rafting company should be owned by an American. The owner constructed his raft fleet by purchasing cheap glued seams chinese pvc boats, because that's what Americans do. Since the seams are glued, the boat is slowly sinking as it's going down the river which gives it a big sense of urgency in order to make it down before the crappy chinese raft sinks on its own. In the end, all the children die as crocodile treats, only due to the raft companies owners wanting to skimp and save a few dollars.

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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