Drift boat flip on The Smith - MT - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-06-2019   #1
 
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Drift boat flip on The Smith - MT

Just got off the Smith yesterday. A couple of guys in our party rescued two guys who flipped their drift boat just above Canyon Depth. Apparently they got too close to the wall while looking at Pictographs and their boat swamped and flipped. They made it to shore despite not wearing PFDs. They had limited rowing experience in a drift boat. Flows were 1100 at Camp Baker and 1700 at Eden Bridge. They were very lucky. Pic is the boat pinned mid-river a few hundred yards downstream. Boat was recovered by river rangers two days later.
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Old 06-07-2019   #2
 
MT4Runner's Avatar
 
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
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Why the actual FORK don't people wear PFD's?

I'll say they were lucky your crew was there. Good for you. Shame on them.

As much as I chafe at laws and regulations...I still religiously wear my PFD and seat belt. Bring back public shaming!
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Old 06-07-2019   #3
 
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 940
Ditto!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MT4Runner View Post
Why the actual FORK don't people wear PFD's?

I'll say they were lucky your crew was there. Good for you. Shame on them.

As much as I chafe at laws and regulations...I still religiously wear my PFD and seat belt. Bring back public shaming!
Twice on the upper Colorado, while floating we noitces groups short on life Jack's and loaned them our spair jackets and ask them to leave them at the store at Rancho or bar at State Bridge. Both times we got them back. One time they explained a couple more people showed up than they expected, the other time they heard you really didn't need them on that part of the river, not very good information relayed to a couple of them.
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Old 06-07-2019   #4
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
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My group was on Smith at the same time as the accident

we were camped at the next camp down from Montanaflyfish and two of the survivors walked down to our camp to ask for and discuss help on the float out.

Much appreciation to Montanaflyfish's group for being on the spot and saving the survivors as the normally mellow Smith River was bank full of icey cold water. Smith is always cool water temps. It was a windy cool day and hypothermia was easy to experience that day.

Our group had all talked about just how cold the Smith was for our float.

We assisted by taking one of the survivors down to Heaven on Earth Ranch where he got a ride out and went home.

We talked to him at our camp and on the float down to the ranch.

He was thankful to be alive. If memory correct he had a belt on his chest waders and that made it easier to save his life as he was able to swim up to the surface and he and his buds found a small slot of beach on the cliff face to warm up. Not sure exactly how the others made it to the surface. It was a nice day but water was frigid.

The Ranger at the put in told us PFD's have to be in the boats but wearing the PFD is up to the boater.

I am a life long boater, beat up old creek kayaker not current but ACA WW Kayak Instructor and Swift Water Rescue instructor qualified. My advice to any one in a boat even on flat water is wear a PFD and have it secured to their body.

My paddle club is the Arkansas Canoe Club. ACC offers clinics on boating and rescue skills. Check our website and join the club for ACA Instructor lead training. There are other club and commercial offers, please investigate these sites and take appropriate steps to better understand procedures to make your time on rivers and water more safe.

I am a big fan of Montana Game and Fish Rangers. I am a big fan of individual freedom to choose.

ON THE OTHER HAND, my opinion is any one in a position of authority should remind people to wear their PFD while in a boat - no matter what the law states. It is my opinion (retired fly fisherman) that any one wearing chest waders should have a chest wader belt secured and some sort of inflatable PFD worn on their body. If a person decides not to wear a quality PFD that is their decision but hopefully they will think of their family, friends and possible rescue folks and make rescue much easier should something bad happens. I would like to see MT and any other state promote wearing of PFD's on the waters of their state.

These fisherman survived a near death experience that would have been a ton safer if all had belts on their waders and for sure when in a small drift boat had their PFD's on. I was told that they were relatively new to fishing from drift boats, just were not aware of the danger.

I was told the survivors lost their drift boat (pinned underwater) and most of their gear. Which proves to me that even the mellow Smith can do damage to boaters.

We had spare PFD's for the gent who rode with us and asked the the other boat to float down to the ranch in the middle of our 7 raft group just in case something happened.

The story and experience made every one in our group give thanks that the survivors made it and reinforced to us why our group wear PFD's even on lakes and always on rivers.

PLEASE wear your PFD in any kind of boat on any kind of water.
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Old 06-07-2019   #5
 
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Dave from Jenks?

This is Ed. Met you at Camp Baker. Glad you guys could help them at Sunset. Ranger recovered a bunch of their gear and said the boat is not in too bad of shape. It was nice to meet you and your crew. Please give my bets to everyone.
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Old 06-07-2019   #6
 
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymo View Post
..the other time they heard you really didn't need them on that part of the river, not very good information relayed to a couple of them.
Complacency: "It's just the Upper Colorado, what's the worst that could happen?"
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Old 06-07-2019   #7
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,722
Hi Ed

Yup, I remember swapping hunting stories with you.

Made it back to Jenks. I love Oklahoma but that Montana wide open plains and beautiful mountains sure made me wish I could spend more time in Montana. It is a long two day drive to get to White Sulphur Springs MT but once a person gets there, it is worth the drive big time.

Hope your group caught some fish. We had one of our ladies who worked hard and caught several trout. Good times for all.

Take care, maybe see you next year same time and place, if we get lucky on permits again.
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