Saftey gear for a noob. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-17-2015   #1
Bismarck, North Dakota
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 207
Saftey gear for a noob.

So after going on commercially guided trips for quite a while I decided to get my own raft. I bought an RMR storm (10'5ft). I paddle it atleast once a week down sections of the Missouri river, no rapids but moves along decently depending on dam releases. (Side note, went to the dam tail race during the flood a few years ago. 200,000 cfs is deafening and Freakin awesome). The river is littered with strainers that change constantly (trees and logs, sand bars move frequently also). The river is pretty busy everyday, I I have a Stolquist pfd, a river knife and whistle.. I have had no rescue training at all. Next season that is planned for at the Yellowstone in Montana.
So I've read allot about ropes lost in the river, I understand the danger. That being said, what safety gear should I be carrying besides the extra throw able pfd (no rope attached) for this flat water float. What should I carry for up to class III runs in western Montana. Any techniques I should learn before I get swift water rescue training? I have swam some mild wave trains after Yankee Jim's canyon on the Yellowstone and get the concept of self rescue, sometimes it's cool to go feet first, other times swim hard, in a keeper try to swim like hell if not, go deep and get green water if you can..
But what gear should I responsibly have at this point on my raft? I'm asking because I think I don't know what I really don't know.

Remember what the door mouse said.......................feed your head.........feed your head
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Old 06-17-2015   #2
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 728
A throw rope is the first thing you want to carry. There are several brands and styles, and after time you will learn what you like and what meets your needs the best. Buy a quality 50' bag, and practice often with it. Ropes are much like guns, in the correct hands they will save a life, in the wrong hands they will take a life.
NRS has a series of rescue videos on their website, I would recommend watching them. Practice first throwing the rope when it is properly stuffed, and then learn how to quickly coil and throw a rope for your second shot.
Why did I say a 50 foot bag? In the classes I have attended, most people can throw a bag about 40 feet, 50 feet with training and practice. Not many people can fully deploy a 75 foot bag. They do have their place, and you will learn that over time.
Throw ropes are primarily used to rescue another person, and people are always the priority. Some throw ropes are designed to be used as haul line in a Z drag setup to unpin a raft or kayak, but not all are.
As you have read on here, try not to lose a rope. One of my old paddling buddies lost a friend to a discarded actor rope on a class II section of river that I frequent to this day.
If you can find one, join a club. I just joined a club 2 seasons ago, and even though I have been going since I was a kid, I am learning more and more at a faster rate. It is a group of well trained individuals that allow me to push my limits more safely, while I get to contribute to their safety as well. It also allows me to have a larger network of friends to paddle with. I have a long list of people I can call on now to plan river trips.
Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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