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Old 08-08-2014   #11
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
It's all academic until you try it. What works for you might not work for someone else.

Get out on a calm lake or pond and just mess around. Now is the warm air/warm water season. It's harder on calm water since you can't use wave action to help lift the boat, but you're going nowhere dangerous, either. Drink a beer and grill a burger and laugh at your friends as you take turns playing like little kids.

As Sembob mentioned, it is hard to get yourself on top of the slick bottom of a flipped raft. If you're in deeper water, a tag line tied into the floor lacing is a big help. In shallower water, it can easily snag rocks.

It is surprising to people that it is harder than it looks the first time you try. You really have to hang on and commit yourself and use all of your weight to get the boat up. Once it comes over, you're afraid of getting pile-drived by the bottom of the boat, but as you come over, you go under water and the boat just splashes above your head. Again, kind of freaky your first time.

Then try it in real moving water.

I don't like loose un-knotted lines on my raft if I'm paddle guiding or running a stern frame with paddle assist since they get entangled with paddle blades. I haven't run into any actual entrapment issues with them.

Polypro webbing (not nylon tubular webbing) floats and is thin enough to not get caught in rocks --thanks to Lhowemt for this tip.

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Old 08-08-2014   #12
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,927
I have bagged flip lines and homemade ones. If you are trying to prepare for righting a fully rigged multi-day raft you need to realize that the mechanics can be the same but the effort is substantially more. You will need a lot of "meat" to aid in righting anything over a heavy 14 foot rig, especially if you have a huge pile in the back bay (high pile becomes deeply entrenched and heavy anchor when flipped). Having a few extra homemade flip lines could be critical to right a rig as expediency in the backcountry is a safety factor.

Practice was helpful for me but the real thing taught me to look for more environmental aids than I had practiced with on my JPW Cuthroat on a lake. Realize you can use sand and other features to add advantage and/or friction when you flip. As well, a mid-river re-flip has advantages and disadvantages but most situations I have been in the safety concerns far outweighed the benefits (shallow with boulders, etc).

One thing that changed once I aided my first flips was encouraging the presence of helmets for everyone even during relatively easy and simple runs. You can't always untie oars before trying to right a boat and they become a major hazard to everyone helping (a lot of force and weight during those last seconds when the raft flops back on its underbelly). Just remember to slow down enough to obey the "no more victims" rule that is critical to any rescue scenario.

As you gain self-rescue skills/experience you start to plan trips differently. Vetting peeps who are capable and willing to physically help in a flip/swim becomes paramount; rigging to flip includes placement of rescue gear, including easy access to first aid kits; communication needs to be clear and precise, which often means thorough and proactive safety talks every trip; etc. And then you just hope not use that information other than preparation.

And watch those bow lines....they can easily kill a loved one but that risk can so easily be mitigated.


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Old 08-08-2014   #13
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 184
Some really good stuff in here. I flip a-lot! Perhaps 6-8 times a season. Before you get all excited and tell me I need to back off and run less Class V, consider that I rarely flip in Class V and frequently run meat lines in Class III-IV with big features and calmer water below. Most folks don't intentionally seek these features out since there is obviously a good chance of flipping, but I think it is a good way to go for practice. Certainly enables one to speak from experience on a thread like this if nothing else.

On re-flipping in general, a heavy gear boat will require multiple people (or pulley system/derig) to reflip no matter how much you weigh or how good you are. Simple physics limitation. This is best done in an eddy or by the side of the river (don't want to have multiple swimmers again!). To get the boat to the eddy towing and/or people on top of upside down boat paddling are best. Do not attempt to bump/push! It doesn't work!

On mid-current re-flip, Only do this with a light boat that 1 -2 people can flip. Get all swimmers out of the water before doing this! As it comes over keep ahold of the flip line so you are not separated. Beware of the river around/downstream.

Tag-lines and flip-lines are different. Tag-lines are the 1" x ~9' poly webbing coming from the bow and stern of each tube on a cat. They are not useful for re-flipping, but incredibly useful for a variety of other things. Watching your boat drift away after you were unexpectedly tossed? Grab the tag-line. Buddy catching you in a small eddy? Grab the tag-line. Towing a upside down or right side up boat? Tag-line. Quick tie off? Tag-line. I have never seen a raft use 'em but it could make sense on a light paddle boat or small oar rig. Some say entrapment hazard. I say more good than harm. The reason not to use tubular webbing is it bunches at the end over time. Sure, it's strong, but it creates more of a hazard.

There are a bunch of different types of flip lines. I prefer ones that are pre-rigged to the boat rather than the waist wrap or cord in pfd pocket. This is primarily because it is difficult to get the cord off you waist or out of your pocket and onto the boat if the upside down boat (less stable with less to hang onto) is moving at all. All four types of pre-rigged flip-lines tend to work well:
  • Simple strap: Like a tag line but at the middle of the boat. Simple and works, but has more potential to get caught around oar or paddle. On rafts these can be girth hitched onto the floor lacing. I run that on my light paddle raft and its great.
  • Rope in bag: A bunch of places sell them and they work well. A bit of a pain to get the rope out of the bag, especially if it is tied on your frame (underwater after flip).
  • Bungee Flip Line: Cats mostly, although could work next to the floor lacing on raft. Attaches fore and aft and stretches (bungee) to get good leverage for flip. Homebrew Bungee Flip Lines | Western Rafter. Stows out of the way nicely, but can limit the length/leverage so test with full rig. I run these on cat.
  • Rope all the way under: Single strap attaches to frame on both sides and runs under boat. Nice for climbing on upside down boat. Be prepared to cut strap if you can't get the leverage you need while tied on both ends. Should be tight to avoid snagging. I think this has a larger snagging hazard than any of the other options and choose not to use it.
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Old 08-09-2014   #14
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
Keith are you coming to Idaho for Labor Day to test your non-flipping skills?

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Mountain Buzz mobile app

I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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