Memoirs of a boat pinned girl. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-01-2013   #1
ednaout's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 966
Memoirs of a boat pinned girl.

I have been thinking a lot, since yesterday, about the Mystery Eddy (ME) pin I got myself into on Sunday and have some thoughts. If you’re interested in reading the synopsis of the ordeal you can catch it on the Swim Board 2013 thread. Here’s the link…my pinswim is on page 22.

Well, right off the bat I can think of 2 prominent things I did that lead to my pin.

1) I have always eddied out, river right, above ME so that I not only have proper angle to enter the eddy, but also to give the person in front of me time to move along. I did not do this. I headed on in.
2) I usually chose my line while in the above, river right eddy. I was still uncertain of whether I would catch the eddy or I would charge right. I was not committed.

Although I was paddling okay on Sunday, I felt like I was lacking the charge I usually have on Bailey. While I’ve run it as many times, if not more, than most of the other local runs, I always keep my game face on in there because it gets my heart
going – in that good way. I didn’t intentionally go into ME complacently…I think on most other days I would have made the eddy even though I was a little low, but this wasn’t most other days, and I didn’t make the eddy and I paid. Why didn’t I think about how I might not hit the eddy and what that outcome might look like? I’ve known other people to swim out of that rapid, not because of a pin situation, but I can’t help but wonder why it never occurred to be how easy it is to pin there. I have certainly never thought of it as a sieve…although there is clearly water going in between nasty little cracks within the boulder cluster.

I also have to think about what I did potentially right or wrong (if there is such a thing) after the pin was in place. My first thought was, “ Holy shit, how did I get here? I’m stuck as shit – but I have air.” My next thought was that staying in the boat and finding a way to work my way off would probably be better then pulling…
So, I took a few good breaths and was able to reach my paddle around toward the river right current hoping whatever resistance I was able to find might be enough to shift things in a way I could peel off the rock. I don’t know that that was necessarily a bad idea, but the result was completely unsuccessful, as now I had 460 cfs hitting my chest and face, and my paddle had been ripped out of my hand.

Someone has suggested that I might have been able to twist my hips to 90 degrees which would aid in using leverage to get my out of the boat, without needing my grabloop. If that person wants to chime in on that, please do. I’m having a hard time wrapping (pun intended??) my head around the idea there, but think that any and all options should be attempted when you know you need out. I felt like I could barely move, so I don’t know if this method would have worked, but having options to explore is imperative. I’ve practiced wet exiting without using my grab loop just so I know I can, but with all that water hitting the back of my head and back, I’m not sure that pulling would have been good there. Maybe if my boat had filled up too, I would have been even more solidly in the same place?? Or maybe I would have flushed out of my boat??? I don’t know. What made sense to me was to try to find some current. Not a bad idea, IMO, but not successful either. I think that when I did get to my grab loop, the fact that I was on my back deck helped me get out of the boat. My upper body was closer to the river right current.

I don’t even know what to say about getting caught up underwater. I know I fought to get off as best I could. I don’t know how effective my efforts were until my pfd shoulder strap ripped. I think that slack is what put me in the current enough to shift things. It seemed as though the moment I started to move, I was caught by something else, but I was able to move one of my legs in a way that provided for enough of my body to be in the current to flush out. It was weird.

Interestingly, I didn’t feel stupid out of breath during the whole thing. I was pretty thankful to get to the surface after what I knew to be an uncomfortably long amount of time…but I didn’t feel like I’d just been worked in a hole, gasping for a sip of air. Also, although the gravity of the situation had not escaped me during the situation, It wasn’t until I was out of the water that I really “felt” the weight of what had just happened.

I am so grateful to Gavin, Billy and Neil for the support afterward…we were all kind of in a, “what the fuck!!!!????” state of mind for a moment, but first and foremost they made sure I was ok and then let me know they would have gotten to me. They wouldn’t have fucked around – they would have been doing everything to get me –I know that much.

Try not to hammer on me here. I think I’ve learned a great deal from what happened and have a thick skin, but really don’t want to feel the wrath of the buzz about all the shit I did wrong. Keep it constructive if you want to chime in. Thanks,


"You know that old trees just grow stronger and old rivers grow wilder, everyday..."
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Old 07-01-2013   #2
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,493
I'm just some internet boater but here's my 2 cents...

Underwater pins are desperate situations and I think having some fight in you offers the best chance for survival. Having released a number of unmanned pinned boats I feel like no 2 are the same and even with the benefit of ropes and time there are typically 2 or 3 attempts before success. I would be cautious about anyone who offers up a one size fits all solution. After watching the OBJ pin video I've put more thought into maintaining an air pocket rather than trying to get out of the boat. Again no one solution is a catch all, but breathing is essential.

I imagine you've got some pretty intense feelings about the situation still and I'm sure you will for a while. When I get those feelings I search for an answer. That answer... is Jesus Christ. Just kidding. Best advice I have is look at the river with more experienced eyes. The two biggest mistakes you already know. 1) You didn't actively recognize the hazard. 2) You didn't make a strong move into the good line. Although I'd bet you didn't move with purpose because you didn't actively recognize the hazard.

The river can be incredibly forgiving some days and incredibly cruel others. You got a taste of both. I don't know you Beth but I'm so happy you're still with us.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 07-01-2013   #3
JDHOG72's Avatar
Wolcott, Colorado
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Go right next time...that's what I do after getting pinned there.
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Old 07-02-2013   #4
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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I catch that eddy 4 out of five trips in there, without much thought of the hazard. I will be much more aware of the surroundings now.

Glad this turned out well for you.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 07-02-2013   #5
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Compelling read. So glad you're here to share it with us.
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Old 07-02-2013   #6
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2009
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I've caught the mystery eddy on about 98% of my Bailey runs. That's one of my favorite moves on the river. I remember one run at higher water where I entered a little late and was pushed right up on that rock with a strong lean into danger brace and side surfed into the eddy knowing that was a close call. After that incident I try to make sure I enter earlier now with a strong right stroke and left angle. I always know I'm going to catch it so it really doesn't matter if I eddy out or just charge it. Just remember the hazard is there and make your decision earlier. Also, make a decision and stick with it. One thing I have found out from doing multiple sports is that hesitation is the number 1 way to fuck up. I hesitated once above the s turn steep and it cost me a swim last year. ( it was one of those, should I go left or right moments above that triangle rock before the main rapid).

For getting out when you cant reach the grab loop, you might be able to just stand up out of it. I hand paddled a few runs this year and the folks I was paddling with were avid HPs. I asked Amanda what the easiest way to get the paddles off and pull my skirt and she said she hardly ever goes for the grab loop that she simply just stands up out of her boat using her knees to break the seal around the cockpit rim. I have yet to try it but sounds like it might be a good thing to practice in the pool this winter.
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Old 07-02-2013   #7
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,832
Glad you are ok.
Don't know the stretch you are on or the move, but I had an unfortunate line selection in Blossom Bar years ago and floated out of a sieve. Think being flushed to a dark spot, hand over hand on logs and sticks then slowly working towards the light. Similar to you I came out of it ok and not horribly worked. Pissed but not worked. My boat floated out. Never saw my paddle again.

It certainly shook me up over the course of the evening as I kept replaying the 'what if I hadn't' .....I would still be in there.

Go easy on yourself.
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Old 07-02-2013   #8
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 189
The only thing you could have done differently is charge into the eddy harder and boof onto the chest of that stupid handpaddler that was swirling around in the eddyline. After safely in the eddy you should have then called him a weak p&%^@ and maybe offered him a paddle so he can break through said eddyline.

I honestly think you did everything you could and the short of it is that you did what you had to and got to the surface. All things considered, I felt like you did it pretty quickly too. I was proud of you and extremely stoked to see your pretty little head pop up downstream.

Handpaddling is gay. (not that there is anything wrong with that)
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Old 07-02-2013   #9
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
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Originally Posted by glcasson21 View Post
The only thing you could have done differently is charge into the eddy harder and boof onto the chest of that stupid handpaddler that was swirling around in the eddyline

I know when I get stuck I'm just waiting to get drilled by whoever is following!
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Old 07-02-2013   #10
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 336
I've paddled Bailey but don't know where the mystery eddy is. Can someone please tell me what rapid it's in.
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