Lost Oar Rig San Miguel - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-11-2016   #1
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
Lost Oar Rig San Miguel

14' Sotar SB, yellow, w/ PRO frame lost in wrap incident in Norwood Gorge, off Cascabel Fishing Club (3 miles downstream of Hwy 145 bridge where it crosses from river left to river right). The rig broke free and descended down river at about midnight, Friday, June 10th ---upright or flipped is unknown. It was packed for a three night trip: Engle cooler, aluminum cook box, dry boxes, camp partner stove, loaded front hatch ---the works. It was rigged to flip. The bow chamber had been deflated to facilitate freeing it.

Our first and primary objective is to identifying the location and condition of the rig to prepare for salvage/extraction.

There is one small, unpainted ammo can that was strapped to the running board that contains important personal belongings of one (of the two) of us. To have that extracted and returned would be of great relief.

There were other items that were freed from the boat during self rescue: a blue river bag, day pack, rigging bag, etc. These were left on top of the boulder and washed away during the night.

We will remain in the Telluride/Norwood/Naturita area until midday Monday, June 13th, in an effort to retrieve and salvage the rig, or portions thereof.

I can be reached, via call or text, at 801-673-7230. Any relevant information would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 06-13-2016   #2
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
The boat is still missing. Information from various parties suggests the boat probably descended down river from Norwood Canyon. If so, and considering current flows in both the San Miguel and Dolores rivers, the boat could be far down river by now.

We visited both Stateline Rapid and the diversion dam above it. No sign.
A party that ran 11 miles from the "ballpark" near Naturita on Sunday saw nothing.

At least two parties ran down through Norwood Canyon over the weekend, and did not see the boat.

Regulatory agencies have been notified up and down the drainage as far as Lake Powell.
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Old 06-14-2016   #3
Rojo's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 225
We must have been just ahead of you on Friday June 10.
(Green 14' raft, 13' Yellow cat, 14' blue raft, red IK, purple IK.)
We launched from Lower Beaver around 1:00 and ran the 18 miles to Green Truss Bridge in about 2.75 hrs river time on around 1450 cfs.
Swift current the entire way, but no sign of any yellow rafts.

Saturday we did see a trailer with a smaller yellow raft and small 13' yellow cat headed towards Placerville. Our group did Placerville down to Beaver, and Lower Beaver when I botched the planned takeout in a 12' blue Baby-cat. Another group recovered their blue IK from the log jam at the private lawn.

San Miguel was rockin' for sure!
Good luck with finding your rig.
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Old 06-18-2016   #4
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67

It is with heavy heart I report that neither the rig, nor any of the substantial gear associated with it, have surfaced. A bright yellow, fully rigged 14’ raft vanishes without a trace on a little river.

I spoke with the head river ranger for the BLM on Monday afternoon. He had already reached the conclusion I was nearing. The boat is most likely hung up on one of the several man-made obstructions downriver of the Piñon Bridge, and upriver of the town of Naturita. I have focused my efforts on that reach. ---Particularly from the Nucla power plant down. A rancher who has two pallet fences across the river near town has reported back after inspecting them. No boat. The Public Works Director inspected the Naturita diversion dam less than a mile below the plant: nothing. Other parties, including the sheriff’s deputy, have looked around: nothing.

Several parties have run the Norwood Canyon stretch and have reported nothing.

I am currently contacting ranchers and landowners up river of the power plant appealing to them to check the river along their properties.

I have spoken with dozens of people. This thread has had over 800 views. So word is out.

I estimate the flow was near 1500 cfs, and rising, when the boat was lost. Now it is holding around 1000 cfs.

Perhaps the boat fell into the wrong hands and was absconded with. It’s hard for me to even go there. In nearly 40 years of running rivers, I’ve always known river folk to go to great lengths to restore lost gear to rightful owners.

Please keep an eye out. Thank you.
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Old 06-18-2016   #5
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 126
I wish you the best of luck in retrieving all/some/any of your gear. This would be so devastating to lose that much gear, I'm sure I'd be sad for long time, as it's taking me years to get the gear I have now. I hope this story can gets a happy ending!
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Old 06-18-2016   #6
Ridgway, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 229
We boated Norwood canyon last Sunday. I'd seen your post and had my eye out for gear; the only thing we found was a backpack FULL of books. The books were trashed (a dry-bag can be used as a trash-bag but, a trash-bag can't be used as a dry-bag). If this was part of your wreck, I have some shoes, nalgene, and a backpack that I'll gladly return to you. Sorry to have so little consolation.
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Old 06-18-2016   #7
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
daairguy: Thanks for the sentiments. Its not just the monetary value of the loss, it is the time and care it took to put it all together, as you well know.

rtsideup: That would indeed be part of the wreck. I pulled the day pack off the rig after wrap in order to get to and off-load sleep kit and clothes bag, which I figured we'd need to survive the night. The pack was left on the rock and is presumed to have been washed off the rock by rising water during the night. I don't know why I always drag so many books along (poetry and classics) ---and in a garbage bag to boot! The pack, the shoes, etc., would be great to have back. I do expect to be back in the area soon. Maybe I can pick them up in person. Otherwise, I'll arrange shipment. No hurry. I'll send you a PM with info.

The nalgene bottle is an interesting find. We don't recall any in, or attached to the backpack. There were two floating free in the front bilge at the time of the incident. Perhaps the same current vectors placed them together downstream where you found them.

Thank you for watching out, for retrieving, and for following through.

I hope you had a great trip. We'd really like to have seen the rest of that canyon.

Kind regards.
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Old 06-19-2016   #8
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
I spoke with the head BLM river ranger out of Montrose. They ran a patrol last week from the confluence of The San Miguel and The Dolores down to Gateway. They saw nothing. They also did not see or talk to any trips running downriver from there toward Dewey Bridge.
I have not heard of, or from, any boaters in that stretch. One friend was in there last weekend, but took out before the missing rig would likely have shown ---if it went that far.

I would love to hear from someone boating in that area. It is still running near 1500 cfs.
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Old 06-19-2016   #9
Aurora, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 622
I find it hard to believe that the entire rig "sunk". Even if it were hung up on something, it would be unlikely that it would be completely invisible to people on the lookout for it. My money is on someone having found it floating downriver, or hung up in an eddy or whatever, and "salvaged" it. Did you have name and contact info clearly labeled inside the boat? I'd watch CL postings for the next several months.

I guess maybe it's gotten down as far as past Gateway, but the further down you talk about it having gone without any eyes on it, the less likely I imagine it to still be ghost-boating.
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Old 06-19-2016   #10
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 67
Yes, I know. Well, and painfully understood.

There is was one personal ammo can that was well strapped to the running board with wallet, ID, phone numbers, phone, etc.

We'll see how this plays out.
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