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Old 08-20-2014   #1
SpeyCatr's Avatar
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 267
Sketchy boats....

I'm curious what the "sketchiest" raft/cataraft set ups and/or persons lacking necessary safety or navigation equipment are that you've seen guys come down river? You know - you're out in your whitewater grade cataraft or raft and some yahoo comes down river seriously under gunned and you are questioning in your mind if he or she (or them) are seriously all there or if they just dropped off their suicide note(s)? Something that perhaps they require significant divine intervention to get them down the river if you know what I'm saying. Did you say anything to them, and what was their response?

Note: Sketchy boats are not to be confused with "poverty boats."

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Old 08-20-2014   #2
2kanzam's Avatar
Charleston, West Virginny
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 461
The two that come to my mind both occured on the same class III section of the New River.

First one, we are camping and the sun is JUST about to set (20 mins untill dark) and I see a guy come down the river on a cheap little 7ft SOT that I've seen in walmart for $250. He had 10 miles to get to the next take out, no camping gear, no PFD, nothing that looked like he was carrying any gear and had some seatbelt type contraption strapped around him attached to his kayak. We try to wave him in and he just waves back and keeps going.

2nd time we were doing a high water float on the same section and had pulled over to lunch right below what is usually a mild set of waves but at this level was a monster wave train that ends in a pool and then goes into a set of ledges that creates some tremendous random breaking waves at the bottom. Essentially the gnarliest rapids we were going to see all day.

Well as we are eating we see two "kids" (12ish?) coming down the first set of waves in a pool-toy boat; hootin' and hollerin' and waving their paddles- which they had taken apart for some reason- around in circles up in the air. They of course just sailed right by us and got pushed into some rocks on the edge, where they tried to pull their completely water-filled raft up on it. We were about to set off after them and then noticed a guy in a sea kayak come down river and go to them....he appeared to be their "guardian". Well we floated by them and asked if everything was ok and they gave the thumbs up...but I am pretty sure the guy in the kayak was starting to realize what they were getting into, because you could see them watch us go through the next rapids...and I don't think they liked what they saw...we even waited to see the carnage (and help) at the bottom, but they never budged. YOU not have a story, just wanted to hear ours?

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Old 08-20-2014   #3
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
I have seen numerous groups on the Smith River, in MT running walmart rafts with cheap kayak paddles and gear stowed in garbage bags shove off. It's not really a WW river, but does have some dangerous boils, undercuts, etc. and it's almost always colder than you think it will be. In 15 trips I've only not been snowed on 4 times, frequent T-storms and evening rains.

Most of the scenarios I relate above included at least one day of snow and several very cold or wet days. I have to believe most of the crew in these groups were near hypothermic more than once during their adventure... though I do not recall one instance where I actually saw them miserable or near danger...I've always been amazed what I see go down that river and rarely are there problems.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 08-20-2014   #4
summit, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 159
A few years back, we came thru Needles Eye on the Upper C, saw a City Market grocery bag bobbing around on river left, and thought we'd go clean up a little trash. Picked it up, only to be hollered at by some folks on the other side of the river who had taken a PEDAL BOAT (yes, the kind you take out on a lake and pedal around with your feet) through, and oddly, had some troubles. That grocery bag was theirs - had their car keys and wallets in it! Gave them their fancy dry bag back, had a conversation regarding their online research that had told them that the Upper C was class zero, educated them a little about the river, and then took their passenger (who had broken her ankle in the rapid and refused to get back into the pedal boat) out to Radium, effectively ending our fun day on the river.
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Old 08-20-2014   #5
Duluth, Minnesota
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 175
Green river in WA. We come up on a big log jam with a couple tubes lodged in it and no one around. We start poking around, hoping not to find a body. Eventually a little ways down stream we find a guy shivering and all beat up. He'd separated from his group and ended up swimming under the log jam and thought he was going to die. We got him in the sun and warmed up by the time his drunk friends got down to us. We waited a while below the next rapid but took off after about 20 minutes when they didn't come down.

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Old 08-20-2014   #6
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
Two come to mind right off. One was a paddle boat filled with gear, four kids and two adults out on the Middle Fork. They had so much stuff piled in the middle of the boat that the back couldn't see the front and vice versa. We were in the eddy at the bottom of Powerhouse and they came down pinwheeling through the rapid with a lot of furious and totally unsynchronized paddling that seem to have no effect on the trajectory of the raft. Smashing into rocks and heading to the large rock wall with no control. I thought there would be a minimum of a flip, vertical pin on the wall, swimmers ....oh yeah these guys all had the straddle the tube with one leg in the boat and one outside so I thought maybe there would be leg fractures.

Nothing. There must have done five or spins on the wall with complete lack of timing or control. No one seemed to be in charge and they floated out laughing and smiling with no apparent injuries of any kind. I had pulled two throw bags and my med kit watching these guys smash into the wall and thankfully had to use none of it.

Another group borrowed a boat for the Middle Fork. They started with three oars in the raft with two guys and had a kayaker along. They broke one oar in Murphs Hole ( very old cataract looking shafts that had left out in the sun) another in the wall in Powerhouse. They made it to Joe Bump with one oar and the kayak bumping them around into eddies and such. They ran down to our camp at Sheepeater desperate for an oar. We had one bent shaft and one blade with a broken off tip that we gave them. I heard later that they made it out just fine. To think of running 90 miles with no spare...would not put my mind at ease. And this was at six feet so you had to push and pull once in a while.
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Old 08-20-2014   #7
Rainy Northwest, Washington
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 460
One time in the late 70s, there was this family that put on on the Upper Sauk in northwest Washington. The water was glacial melt, and ripping high, continuous whitewater with at least one one IV-ish rapid at that level. Air temps in mid 50's, and no wetsuits. The outfitters had all moved trips to other rivers because of the high water. It was a crappy Udisco bucket boat, 2x4 wood frame and some kind of cheap wood oars, no spare, those cheap little screw in oar sockets, and some kind of clamp-on oarlocks. They had never been on any whitewater before. Horsecollar lifejackets, and four people in the 12 foot raft. One teen was in a sevylor ducky. They immediately swamped, and washed through a mile or two of horrendous rapids. before pinning on a rock on the bank. The mother, dad and the 10 year old daughter piled out of the boat before it washed on down the river with the two teen boys. The ducky paddler had jumped into the raft just before it washed down river, and tried to row but didn;t really have a clue. A swim would have had a good chance of being fatal, if just from hypothermia. The mother developed a lifelong panic disorder, and won't even get on a ferry boat to this day. The teens survived somehow, with the out of control raft washing past log jams, and limbo-ing under sweepers. The one in the ducky went on, took guide training and worked in the northwest and Southwest as a boatman and Outward Bound instructor. However,thinking about that Sauk trip still makes him break out in a cold sweat 30-plus years later. God looks after fools, I suppose.
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Old 08-20-2014   #8
LongmontRafter's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 168
Tuber on Upper Mish!

I was coming home from a fishing trip on the Cache La Poudre River last saturday. I was driving along the "Upper Mishawaka" stretch of the river (iii/iv) and saw this guy on one of those inflatable tubes kinda like the ones that get pulled behind ski boats...He was barely hanging on and just above the larger rapids of the run (up river of the tunnel). There were folks that had pulled over to assist...otherwise I would have felt the need to do something...not that there was much I could have done other than find someone with a landline to call for help...I didn't see any news stories about drowned tubers that night so I am hoping he got out ok...

ManGearPig Lives!
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Old 08-20-2014   #9
Conejos Canyon & Houston, CO & TX
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 84
Heading for the bottom

Hmm, the sketchiest starts pretty low...

Two high schoolers in tubes with suits and sunglasses putting in right above a huge low head dam at high flood stage on the Guadalupe (talked them out of it thank god)

Adventure racers tweaking on energy gel and red bull hopping into ik's for the first time after running, biking and speed rapping down the canyon. The first move I saw was some guy grabbing the paddle way to one side and whiffing on his first strokes. Amazing they all made it out ok

Pic of Banks and Eckardt squaring up for a westwater run in thin rubber and vuarnets (no offense guys)...

A lot of us probably got into this doing something now considered pretty marginal in hindsight (both equipment and judgment-wise) - not condoning it but folks looking for excitement have been doing that for a long long time.
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Old 08-20-2014   #10
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1966
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 427
Raft Porn Needed -Let's see them rigs!!!

See post 617

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