Using the goods... Astral Aquavest300 - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-14-2008   #1
 
GAtoCSU's Avatar
 
Eagle, Colorado
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Using the goods... Astral Aquavest300

Today, of all days, I got a first hand experience of how good it is to have proper safety training (SWR) and a diverse set of rescue gear. Around 5pm, I found myself leading down a group of beginner-intermediate paddlers through he Bridges section of the Poudre. All of these boaters had been through his section previously, and I was excited about the training day I was soon going to give to these boaters.

As we entered into Pine-view, the paddler that was immediately behind me flipped in the entrance. After meeting a few local rocks, he excited his craft. The next boater, hot on his tail, was trying to paddle the rapid with a un-occupied kayak in her way. While she made it to the first "main" eddy, I used my tow harness to get control of the rogue craft. During this process, I manage to misplace my paddle and found myself, in a precarious position... floating into the "meat" of the rapid without a paddle and hooked to boat that was full of water.

To make a long story short, I was able to run the rapid, with no paddle and a boat tethered to me and safely get to an eddy. While I have towed many boats through rapids, I have never hand-paddled a boat through anything. The Astral vest, and it's tow strap, provided a stable, predictable, and "safe" method for doing this. (warning.. Do not use these straps unless you have been trained.).

With that aside, the only reason I am posting this story is because of what happened next....

As I sat in a small eddy, with the boat still attached, I looked up-stream only to find the second boater headed through the last part of the rapid. Near the end, she too found herself swimming with the fishes. In about 5 seconds, I was able to un-fasten the 50' of spectra rope that I keep on my chest, open the pouch, grab the rope, and throw the bag to her. While still sitting in my boat and with another boat hooked to me, I was in a position to rescue another swimmer from the cold water.

In 10+ years of kayaking, I have never once used this equipment at the same time and in the same rapid. I, and others that I know, normally don't fret about the possibility of encountering a swimmer on a section of river that isn't "hard". When we get to the hard stuff, we get out and set safety. The Astral Rescue Vest, and it's optional equipment, provides a bundle of gear that is second to non. The tow system is predictable, safe, and effective. The 50' of rope on the chest ands the needed, and appreciated, safety net that only it can offer. While seconds didn't matter in this case, it might one day on a harder creek.

Two thumbs up to this system. To my knowledge, it's the only rescue vest that has this rope option.

Scott

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PS. Thanks to Tyson for getting the 2nd boaters paddle.

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Old 05-14-2008   #2
 
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You're a superhero.
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Old 05-14-2008   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BastrdSonOfElvis View Post
You're a superhero.
With the bungee tow system I woulda been fucked. That's point A.. Point B.... We should all have these ropes on our chest. Especially creekers.
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Old 05-15-2008   #4
 
Littleton, Colorado
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bungee vs. webbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by GAtoCSU View Post
With the bungee tow system I woulda been fucked.

Can you elaborate a little as to why? I opted for the the bungee tow rope so I'm curious to know--any other opinions out there?

Thanks,

Jay
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Old 05-15-2008   #5
 
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Also, when you roped the second swimmer, how much leverage did you have while still sitting in your boat? Did you feel like you could belay a swimmer from that position if the run were more pushy and channelized?
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Old 05-15-2008   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay H View Post
Can you elaborate a little as to why? I opted for the the bungee tow rope so I'm curious to know--any other opinions out there?

Thanks,

Jay
From what I can remember of my bungee tow system, it was always pulling the boat towards me, then relaxing, then getting stretched out, then pulling the boat back in. I towed a boat for about miles through some class 4 run out a few years ago with one of these systems. I felt like I was always getting pulled backwards, then it would relax (boat would catch up) and then it would pull me back again. Another thing is those systems are really short. I wouldn't have made it through the rapid without getting hit by the boat.

With the more static-line system that Astral has, the boat doesn't get pulled towards me and then relaxed. I felt one good pull backwards during the experience and it was when the boat went through a hole in the rapid. But, as you can imagine, it wasn't a very strong pull b/c I didn't flip over even though I didn't have a paddle and was in a play boat.
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Old 05-15-2008   #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Thanks for the Safty FYI ...keep it coming.

Yo buzzards,
Safty feed-back is good. This guy isn't looking for a badge of courage, just some comments on his rescue experience. Sure we could easily poke some holes in the strategy but any dialogue about safty tactics or equipment is good for the community ...and about the best things this forum can produce. People die on less challenging sections than this and I, for one, would appreciate hearing about other river incidents ...more or even less life threatening.

Props for taking the class and for a good outcome. Good to have you on the river.

PS - Any thoughts on the Astral "Green" pfd?

chris
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Old 05-15-2008   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craven_morhead View Post
Also, when you roped the second swimmer, how much leverage did you have while still sitting in your boat? Did you feel like you could belay a swimmer from that position if the run were more pushy and channelized?
I don't think I could have pulled out....say a swimmer from the hole @ Slideways while still sitting in my boat.. unless I was on a rock or in a channel. But, for most class 2-3 rescues (the calm between drops on a consistent creek) I could have hit the swimmer with the bag and pull him/her in.

I don't think creek boaters can ever have enough safety equipment and this bag really impressed me last night. It was the first time I have thrown it (I've used it as a backup bag in case I missed with my main bag). It was accurate and very fast to get to.
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Old 05-15-2008   #9
 
Littleton, Colorado
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Thanks man--that's good to know--I have the Astral too and have yet to have to use it, but I want to practice with it. I went with the bungee thinking it would be quicker to access, and no risk off the line spilling out of the little pocket, but didn't consider the performance in it's actual intended use...

Nice work on the double play rescue!

Jay
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Old 05-15-2008   #10
 
Golden, Colorado
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I have the same PFD. I have the throw rope in a pouch on the chest and I used it on Bailey last weekend to snag a swimmer.

I used to use a salamander throw bag on my waist but it doesn't fit with the back of this PFD, which goes pretty low.

I really like the idea of a throw rope on your body. The way the Astral one is stowed, the live end of the rope is down inside the pocket at the bottom and there is no chance of rope coming out and snagging. With a salamander around my waist I feel like there is a risk of the live end of the rope coming out of the bag and snagging.
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