Oar/flip prevention - "Keep your oars in the water!" - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 06-25-2015   #1
 
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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Oar/flip prevention - "Keep your oars in the water!"

It's been said to "Keep your oars in the water" - I was told recently by the owner of a prominent somewhat local to me commercial whitewater rafting company that 95% of the flips he sees - the guide doesn't have their oars in the water.

I've heard stories about an oar that comes unbuttoned out of an oar lock where the blade then turns 90 degrees to a face down (or face up?) to the water and can fight your re-flip. An oar shaft being quite long with it's blade quite a ways out - can make re-flipping a boat much more difficult apparently.

So what about fighting the flip with your oars? If you feathered your oars and then rotated (but keep the blades in the water) the handle 90 degrees in difficult water putting your blades facing up can they help fight a flip? Sort of like acting like outriggers (in a way) ? What if there was a separate smaller oar "blade" that was aligned on your oar shaft directly above your regular blades but was rotated 90 degrees to the axis of your actual oar blades that you could dig in the water in difficult waves? Would this add any benefit?

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Old 06-25-2015   #2
 
seattle, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeyFitter View Post
It's been said to "Keep your oars in the water" - I was told recently by the owner of a prominent somewhat local to me commercial whitewater rafting company that 95% of the flips he sees - the guide doesn't have their oars in the water.

I've heard stories about an oar that comes unbuttoned out of an oar lock where the blade then turns 90 degrees to a face down (or face up?) to the water and can fight your re-flip. An oar shaft being quite long with it's blade quite a ways out - can make re-flipping a boat much more difficult apparently.

So what about fighting the flip with your oars? If you feathered your oars and then rotated (but keep the blades in the water) the handle 90 degrees in difficult water putting your blades facing up can they help fight a flip? Sort of like acting like outriggers (in a way) ? What if there was a separate smaller oar "blade" that was aligned on your oar shaft directly above your regular blades but was rotated 90 degrees to the axis of your actual oar blades that you could dig in the water in difficult waves? Would this add any benefit?
You're really over thinking this. Rafting isn't rocket surgery. My only suggestion is wear your helmet at all times especially in camp.
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Old 06-25-2015   #3
 
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
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LOL-

I think the leverage favors the river in this case. Square it up, get low and hope for the best!

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Old 06-25-2015   #4
 
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I'm sorry - not trying to reinvent the wheel but enjoy pondering the nuances and mechanics of what is or is not going on
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Old 06-25-2015   #5
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The phrase might be relating the fact that people sometimes "lock up" on the big stuff. They just freeze, and run head long into danger, and don't make an effort towards or away from danger. I've seen it many times.
There is a analogy of time on the river, the water is always moving, you cannot stop it. Once you are committed to running a rapid, you must respond if you want to make it. You cannot stop trying, you keep steering the ship at all costs.
There are times not to keep your oars in the water. I was rowing a 22' J-rig down the Grand Canyon at 16, and with one wrong move I had an oar ripped out of my hand, the handle caught my buddy in the center of the forehead. It hit him so hard, it knocked him off of his feet, and almost out the back of the raft. Sometimes it is good not to leave them in the water.
My perspective anyhow.
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Old 06-26-2015   #6
 
Great Falls, Montana
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As I understand it the term "keep your oars in the water" is referring to the fact that you should always be moving. Prepare for each rapid by pushing into it and maintaining some momentum through it. My friends on the Lochsaw this year observed that I "lock up" when going into big rapids and that my oars weren't even moving. That will create a larger chance of flipping which did happen specifically because I had no momentum.

If you have time to think about turning your oars 90 degrees just before you flip in order to keep you from flipping you are at an entirely different level than I am at rafting and I should be taking lessons from you. If your a rafter your just between flips.
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Old 06-26-2015   #7
 
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It's all about momentum and not getting stopped by the wave/hole you are hitting. As soon as you hit the wave/hole your speed decreases. If you keep your oars in the water after taking your last stroke, the current will push down river against your oars and therefore help your raft which has slowed down pull through the feature. This helps prevent getting surfed or upended. If you don't t-up to the feature this method is useless however. To visualize the effect, when it is windy and you are getting blown up river, placing your oars deep in the current helps mitigate the effect of the wind - same principle with the back wash of a wave/hole.

I think proper technique can help prevent some flips but in other instances, if a wave/hole is a monster or changes shape right as you hit it, proper technique isn't going to save it.

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Old 06-26-2015   #8
 
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I'll agree with the rest, another way of saying "keep your oars in the water" is to say "never give up, keep fighting" They're just saying to keep trying don't give up. I've only flipped once and on that occasion nothing was going to stop it.... it would have been hard to "brace" with my oar when I was 10' in the air.


edit: And then there's windriver's take, also very valid...
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Old 06-26-2015   #9
 
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I agree with others in that it's really about not locking up. I know of one feature on one of my local runs that at certain levels I must be pushing through the entirety of it, literally it's like climbing a 15 foot wall of water with your oars...because if I stop, it'll flip me backwards once I reach the top of the wave. People will see this 15 foot standing wave once dropping in and often freeze.

I also don't think one could react quick enough to be able to feather a blade and push down to counter a flip...by the time you know you are flipping, it's too late....and getting into the habit of doin so just in case sou nds like a bad idea, as it could stall the boat in an undesirable feature to be sitting in.

Is this the same dude that told you about helium rafts?
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Old 06-26-2015   #10
 
SLC, Utah
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I agree with the other posters - the main reason to have your oars in the water is to keep steerage and forward momentum. And there are occasionally times you don't want blades in the water. Most of the flips I have seen involve abrupt and chaotic multi-axis axis rotation. If flips were all purely rolls, i.e around the long axis of the boat, and happened slowly and predictably, then yes, a perpendicular blade 5 feet out in the water would act like a kayak brace and could be pretty effective. If you spend some time looking at flip videos, you will quickly realize that a) speed over the water is your friend, b) stopping in a hole doesn't always end well, c) boats flip in every way you can possibly imagine and some you can't, and d) it's best to tie everything in securely , wear a helmet, and come prepared to swim
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