What's the consensus about taking newbies down Brown's for a first time ever run if they're in duckies and have an experienced boater accompanying them? Good idea or not? I'm asking because I've only done Brown's once and don't remember much about it.
If the one exerienced boater takes the time to tach the duckier before they reach the canyon, it should be fine. The essential pieces of information to teach are.....
ANGLES! Use those angles. Your boat should be at 45 degree angles to the bank as you are paddeling down stream.
FERRYING! Learn that you are not always paddeling down stream. Learn to ferry. it is a good way to catch eddies and get to the safe current before getting wrapped on obsticals.
HIGHSIDES!! In easy current practice getting sideways on rocks and lean towards the obstical. Weight the high tube down and push yourself around the rock.
INFO! Paddle with the duck and tell them what is comming up. Teach them to read water and avoid those big rubber things. Do not let yourself get right behind one. You will not see what is comming up ahead.
There is plenty of time before you reach the canyon to become proficient in running a class 3 river. Use this time wisely. Do not just float untill you reach a point you must paddle. Paddle the whole time. If they whine. This sport is not for them.
I would highly recommend two rafts - one lead and one sweep, who are dedicated to teaching the newbies, rather than just hitting the coolest line. Give a great safety speech including whistle and hand signals. Let them know in advance that good PFD's and helmets are required, and that wetsuits and booties would be pretty smart at least to keep in the raft till they start to shiver! Scout Toilet Bowl and House Rock too - they make great ducky wrap sites. Keep in mind that newbies usually forget to use sunscreen and to keep hydrated.
Good luck - have fun - run safe!
I ran the Ocoee on a duckie my first time down a river in my own craft. I think that it is about as hard than browns as similar flowrates (1200cfs). I also watched newbies get on duckies on the middle fork of the salmon river and run through a few class III rapids with fairly clear lines but mostly class I-II water. No problems really, a few swims, a few rock pins in slow water. No big deal, everyone had fun.
I am taking my wife down browns in a duckie at the end of July. She has doen the ducky one before. I have no reservations. We will boat scout rapids, I have taught her to eddy out, peel out, ferry etc. We will scout Zoom Flume. I think that it will be great fun!
I found that I can teach newbies in duckies very quickly.
1) forward and back stroke, use both arms with proper technique etc tell them this moves them forward and backward
2) Sweep stroke for turning. Have them spin. Pratice straightening out the boat while moving. Tell them to use this to point them in the right direction and then use forward strokes to get there.
3) Have them paddle for a while and get comfy.
4) Teach them about eddies behind rocks and near the shore. Show them the right angle to hit eddies and how to seek shelter behind them. This is key for Brown's to avoid rafts.
5) After eddies, teach them how to peel out from the eddy.
All this took about 20 minutes or so for most reasonable active people. A good intro to swimming, correct swim position, active self rescue etc is a must. It might be a good idea to ge them to fall out of the boat in a calm spot and pratice getting back into it to feel ok out of the boat.
I took a neophyte down Brown's (through Sidel's suckhole) yesterday. Before then he had only run the boulder playpark once last week. He did fine, swimming twice. Widowmaker and S-bend are tricky water, especially in the toilet bowl, as mentioned. Teach the newby to lean the ducky for peel-outs, eddy outs, and let them know that the most stable position is paddling hard. My friend cleaned Zoom Flume w/o issue. He swam Sidel's. I told him if he was not comfortable not to run it. Two things about him:
1) he is comfortable swimming rapids, and has done so before
2) he IS gung ho
He had an awesome time and was totally psyched by the experience. I say go for it and be ready for rescues. He self rescued once and we pulled out the ducky the other time. Pretty good for his second day with a kayak paddle in hand.
I've taken newbies down Brown's in both duckies and kayaks. Both times there were swims. At lower levels it's not that difficult and if there are swimmers the channels are deep. If everyone involved has an adventurous spirit then you should be fine. Also, it's been storming in the afternoons which makes the swims even more unpleasant. Plan on doing the run in the morning.
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