Grand Canyon Boat #'s, Size, Rescue Scenarios - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 03-06-2017   #1
 
Ashland, Oregon
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Grand Canyon Boat #'s, Size, Rescue Scenarios

Looking at doing the Grand with 15-16 people with 5 boats ........most likely 4 18's and a 16'. I want some feedback on that matrix and safety...(please)

I did the Grand last year and we had about the same # of people but had 9 boats with 7 14's, 1 15' and 1 18'. This matrix worked well and appeared particularly beneficial when it came our two flips (Crystal and some no name rapid around 211?). The multiple smaller boats in these situations seemed like the right boats to respond quickly and rescue swimmers and boats.

So I am thinking about being in a big 18' boat along the Crystal shore after the hole and watching an upstream boat just roam into the middle of Crystal and flip. Hey, isn't this why we came ?!!! I have rowed 18's before but I know I am getting to the clean up scene later than I want be.

Questions....

What are your thoughts on running with 4 18's and a 16' with that many people?
What do think are the implications to consider with rescue scenarios in mind?
Obviously, there are advantageous to having the big barges...is there a price to pay for not having smaller boats that is significant?
Questions welcome -- thanks --Bongo

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Old 03-07-2017   #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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If you're running in the 18 foot you have little excuse to flip
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Old 03-07-2017   #3
 
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Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
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More about skills in reading the river, being pro active and having rescue plans
that everyone is prepared to execute. I must say that a lot of video clips posted here and elsewhere, are a lesson in what not to do. Rarely see oars people working at ferrying, pushing or pulling. I have an 18' Aire cat that often gets sneers and comments about being a float pig, but after the cow swim changed on Deso, and at high water, the boat was solid and kept its course. That being said, scout when in doubt, early set up, triple checking markers, use your oars to fine tune your line as needed and keep after it. And yes, folks like that they can bring extra comfort items on the boat!
Have a great trip and be safe.
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Old 03-07-2017   #4
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Hey Bongo,
How many days and what time of year?
It does sound like it might be a little tight space wise. One thought that comes to mind, is how much space will be left on a boat if it needs to pick up swimmers from a flip. On the other side of that, you would have more people to help out with the recovery of the boat. And making miles could be easy with that many backup rowers on the trip, and folks breaking camp in the morning.
The small boats can be useful to send in first to help catch bigger boats when you have PITA eddy's at scouts and camps.

Chasing swimmers from upper crystal is a BITCH! Even with my 14' this winter, it was really tough.
From my observations this winter, an 18' could get away with a lot, but there were definitely some features I thought could toast one pretty easy at the 16-19,500 range.
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Old 03-07-2017   #5
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Hey Bongo,
How many days and what time of year?
It does sound like it might be a little tight space wise. One thought that comes to mind, is how much space will be left on a boat if it needs to pick up swimmers from a flip. On the other side of that, you would have more people to help out with the recovery of the boat. And making miles could be easy with that many backup rowers on the trip, and folks breaking camp in the morning.
The small boats can be useful to send in first to help catch bigger boats when you have PITA eddy's at scouts and camps.

Chasing swimmers from upper crystal is a BITCH! Even with my 14' this winter, it was really tough.
From my observations this winter, an 18' could get away with a lot, but there were definitely some features I thought could toast one pretty easy at the 16-19,500 range.
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Old 03-07-2017   #6
 
Aurora, Colorado
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I don't think a 16' is much faster than an 18'. Quick rescue by a downstream boat depends on working an eddyline as you wait, such that you are not going downstream, but also not fully eddied out. You have to time your exit of the eddy just right to not be too far downstream of the upside down boat when you pull into the current, nor let it float past you. Then row like hell.

If you're concerned that you need a faster boat, I'd say you need a 14' (which will be the one you're rescuing) or a couple of kayaks. Kayaks can't really do anything with an 18' upsidedown boat, but they can help out swimmers, making the response time to the flipped boat much less critical so long as you don't lose it.

Also, I'm with Matt- you may want another boat. I, for one, don't like a bunch of passengers in my boat on the GC, even in my 18' boat.
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Old 03-07-2017   #7
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Hey, Wwwaaiite a minute DC, I stayed right side up in my 14er( though I did high side like a mofo in 24 1/2 and Lava, Big Kahuna is one BIG wave! I thank the river gods for letting me out of that one! )
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Old 03-07-2017   #8
 
Aurora, Colorado
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You're right Matt- not all 14' boats go upside down in the Canyon! You've just got to pick your line very carefully, and stay perpendicular to the hits.
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Old 03-07-2017   #9
 
SLC, Utah
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I think you are getting a little too granular. I did one trip with a wide range of boat sizes from a 13 ft bucket boat to a dory to an 18ft boat. Guess which was the only boat to flip (18ft..). All the boats you describe are quite capable of staying upright most but not all of the time. If you really want speed, you need kayaks or a light cataraft, but that little increment of speed is very unlikely to make any difference on your trip. Watch out for each other, be prepared to deal with a flip or swim, stay sober on the water, and have a great time.
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Old 03-07-2017   #10
 
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Summit County, Colorado
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Possibly running the bigger rapids in "pods" with tighter boat spacing would increase your ease of rescue. Although if the point boat flips your still rowing your ass off to catch up. We had a boat flip in crystal last year. had all the swimmers out of the water before the lower section of the rapid.
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