Multi-day trip dynamics: need feedback - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-08-2012   #1
Little Rock, Arkansas
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 61
Multi-day trip dynamics: need feedback

Got invited on my first multi-day trip on the Main Salmon, a "lodge to lodge" trip organized by a friend of mine, also the trip leader. My wife was/is hesitant to ride on the Super Puma with me (long story) and so it was agreed that if she got spooked, she could ride on one of the other rafts.
We did fine until Big Mallard, where we flipped. Long swim, deep dunkings. We recovered Ok and couldn't wait to get to that night's lodge. I approached the trip leader and said that the time had come for my wife to get on somebody's raft for the next day, at least. I didn't get the response promised. "You need some weight in your raft" was the response.
The next day I asked again, and he weakly asked one other oarsman if he had room for my wife. No. "You need weight in your raft.I think we should just keep everybody the same."
Long story short, we did not flip again, but my wife was so spooked that it made the next two days miserable.
She will not go on ANY trip with this guy, a long-time paddling friend of mine.
Now, feedback?

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Old 10-08-2012   #2
yesimapirate's Avatar
Up shites creek, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 956
Sounds like the perfect fulcrum for convincing her you need a new 2nd bigger "safer" boat! As far as the people dynamic, good luck finding that place and time where the stars align and every person is happy.
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Old 10-08-2012   #3
Chesterfield, Virginia
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 16

Your story confirms why I paddle a kayak and don't take my wife on river trips.
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Old 10-08-2012   #4
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,858
it sounds like they didn't think it through and when it came down to it nobody wanted the weight and probably correctly assessed that you did need the weight. I would just let this go if I were you and not bring your wife on trips where you aren't 95% sure you won't flip. Ultimately your passengers are your responsibility so they should not have assured you they could take her.
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Old 10-08-2012   #5
boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 316
Maybe your wife needs to wear less clothes.... Just kidding.

I just got off a GC trip where I flipped on day 2 of an 18 day trip. I did not have a passenger for the next 6 days, till they were convinced I was not ready for another flip. It sounds like they were a bunch of dbags for not understanding the situation, unless your wife is difficult. They should have taken your wife and you should have taken their gear to get the right weight. It may be time to find some new rafting buddies.
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May the sun shine warm upon your face.
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Old 10-08-2012   #6
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,303
It sounds like there was discussion prior to ever leaving for the trip in terms of where raft passengers should ride, and perhaps promises were made that were broken... something that shouldn't happen with good friends. Perhaps just lack of communication prior to launch. Obviously we don't know.

As far as on-river group dynamics go, there are a few things to consider.
1) Since this is a private trip, it is generally expected that each person in the trip will contribute work to make it happen. Most rafters are far more willing to take an able bodied passenger that will grab a paddle and row or high side in the "oh shit" scenarios, than they are to take a bow flower passenger that sits there and does nothing (aka kids), even when shit is hitting the fan. If their perception was that your wife was simply a bow flower, then they may have told you to keep the (dead) weight. In other words, a passenger better at least be able to hold the oars while I grab a beer, or they should get the hell out of the way so I may dock the oars to grab a beer (with the exception of kids under age 10).
2) Why would someone choose to be a bow flower? Many possibilities... from being overly intoxicated, downright lazy, mistakenly eating the other brownies, ability to flirt with the hot raft guide, or perhaps much more concerning... a major fear of the water and dislike of rafting (despite perhaps a love of camping next to rivers). Your wife needs to decide if she really loves the water and wants to raft down rivers... regardless of the TL, which usually can easily be replaced. If, for any reason or circumstance, your wife wasn't perceived to be excited to go rafting (that day or any), then she automatically became a liability to the trip. A scared and frightened passenger is much more likely to fall out, and more likely to have problems after they fall out. A smart oarsman realizes this, and they may not want to take on that extra responsibility of caring for a passenger. Especially if they are concerned with the size of whitewater, and/or plan on being irresponsibly intoxicated.
3) It's a private trip, with private boats. The oarsmen aren't there to provide a commercial trip, they are their to run the river for their own desires. If they volunteered the passenger space prior to anyone committing to the trip, then they should hold good on their word. But, if they feel that they never volunteered to take a passenger, and then they are being asked to mid-trip, they certainly would have the right to say no, since they have the responsibility to only take passengers if they can safely do so.
4) The "weight" comment I personally think has nothing to do with weight. It's the Main Salmon, thus you should have some serious beer weight. Trading a propane tank and a drybag would pretty much even out the weight. Your friends were just trying to politely tell you, "Hell no I'm not taking her, you can row your own wife down the river."

Sorry to make this way too long, but it might ease the internet flaming brewing. Mania, your post was weak. Way to PC.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 10-08-2012   #7
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BZN, Montana
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If you were considering offloading your wife before hand it seems like you should have cleared that with another rower ahead of time. It sure sounds like more to the story though. Either everyone thought you were underweight already or they didn't want to deal with your hysterical wife, or they were just as gripped. Hard to truly understand interpersonal situations with a one-sided one paragraph internet briefing.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 10-08-2012   #8
Hood River, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2163
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 295
If you aren't ready to swim, don't go rafting. If you can't be flexible, don't go rafting. Sounds like your wife and the TL both need an attitude adjustment if they are gonna be good river running partners for you.
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Old 10-08-2012   #9
Pinecliffe, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
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She can swim from any boat on the trip.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. KARL MARX
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Old 10-08-2012   #10
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Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,344
It sounds like maybe the TL made a promise to you that he couldn't keep, and hadn't discussed with the other members of the group up front. When you discussed this prior to the trip, did you get a solid "no problem, that will be fine" response, or a weak "we'll see, maybe, that should be ok" response? Did the TL have room for your wife on his boat, or would she have to ride with another trip member? Lots of variables going on in this story. Bottom line is that you need to figure out if rafting is really your wife's cup of tea? The truth is that no one can guarantee a 100% safe ride to a passenger on a whitewater trip. Stuff happens. If your wife is scared and not having fun, then perhaps she shouldn't come along?
Just my 2 cents.
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