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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey buzzards! Hopefully this is the right place.. I've had a question on my mind for a while now and I've tried to research the topic but I can't seem to find an answer so hopefully some of you here can shed some knowledge for me.

As any boater should I practice Z drag set ups a couple times every season and re-flipping my boat. My question is, how does one safely go about getting to a wrapped boat I'm the event everyone goes for an unintentional swim. All the videos I've found seem to always have a rafter that stays with the boat, thankfully. But, how would one get back to the boat if they didn't?

Sidebar question.I currently do not have a rescue PFD, I've simply never had the need for one, but I can see the usefulness of it in this scenario. Is it worth the investment?
 

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Every situation is different, will dictate the approach, and “best safe” way to resolve the problem. A raft stuck with no people in it will have to have a line run to it or be bumped off.

I’ve witnessed people have to jump into abandoned rafts as they pass from another craft, seen the carabiner clip as you float by, seen a few lucky throws snagging something, and always seems to be a great place to have a kayaker handy to assist.

Edit to add I’ve swam out to a few captainless rubber vessels.

Best practice is to ensure you can warn anyone upstream floating down that there are hazards and possibly ropes in the river. Act calm and calculated and never add to the rescue. Not a great reply but the scenario dictates the response in my experience. If it’s just gear stuck take your time and think. For purely rafting the rescue vest doesn’t seem to be “needed” but can be an invaluable tool for situations it can help with given the right training and crew.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tha
Every situation is different, will dictate the approach, and “best safe” way to resolve the problem. A raft stuck with no people in it will have to have a line run to it, period, or be bumped off. I’ve witnessed people have to jump into abandoned rafts as they pass from another craft, seen the carabiner clip as you float by, seen a few lucky throws snagging something, and always seems to be a great place to have a kayaker handy to assist.

Best practice is to ensure you can warn anyone upstream floating down that there are hazards and possibly ropes in the river. Act calm and calculated and never add to the rescue. Not a great reply but the scenario dictates the response in my experience. For purely rafting the rescue vest doesn’t seem to be “needed” but can be an invaluable tool for situations it can help with given the right training and crew.
Thanks for the response, I always appreciate the knowledge bombs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

A good episode of River Talk I recently enjoyed. Some discussion of tethered wading as a rescue PFD technique you may be interested in.
I'll have to check it out! I've been enjoying a couple podcasts this year. I'm currently working abroad and won't be home in time to get on the river this year. Trying to kill the VERY extended 'off season blues' by watching YouTube, reading articles and generally being obsessive
 

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These are great questions and ones everyone should consider before they're in the situation where you have to figure them out pronto. They're also questions that are not simple to answer just because of the wide array of variables that have to be considered. If you're pondering this, I'd highly recommend a swiftwater rescue course. You can read and think all you want. But, until you try to actually execute some of this stuff in a 'real world' situation, it's all academic. Really, you have no idea what you don't know until you try it on the river. When you do, you want some folks around who have the knowledge to help you learn it and stay safe at the same time.
 

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If one is available, take a swiftwater rescue course, they are mainly held in the spring, but you can generally find one other times as well. Nothing like doing this first hand in a controlled situation before you try it in an uncontrolled situation. As was mentioned above, kayakers can be useful in a rescue too.
 

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You don't know what you don't know. A SWR course is invaluable.

And if you are still undecided, you can be a beta student on @zcollier 's online Swiftwater Rescue training course. It's hard to substitute for hands-on education, but FAR better than no education.

Rather than seeing a course as the end-all, be-all of swiftwater rescue, it won't teach you the solution for every scenario, but it should teach you to THINK and figure out creative/safe ways to solve a rescue issue.


And absolutely yes, practice a Z-drag setup, and practice flipping a boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You don't know what you don't know. A SWR course is invaluable.

And if you are still undecided, you can be a beta student on @zcollier 's online Swiftwater Rescue training course. It's hard to substitute for hands-on education, but FAR better than no education.

Rather than seeing a course as the end-all, be-all of swiftwater rescue, it won't teach you the solution for every scenario, but it should teach you to THINK and figure out creative/safe ways to solve a rescue issue.


And absolutely yes, practice a Z-drag setup, and practice flipping a boat.
Thanks for the heads up on the online course. I'm definitely going to be taking this class. I still plan on taking a swift water rescue and wilderness first responder courses in person next year, this is a good jumping off point for me though. I still believe the advice of getting formal education is necessary, and this is no substitute for in person training, but it any of you have experienced this situation or a situation that is similar I'd like to hear about it.

Thanks for all the replies, I was hoping that some of you could discuss a similar situation if you have experienced one. Maybe give some thoughts on what could be improved and what worked well for you.
 

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You could think of it like a pre-test. You can learn all the basics at home, then take an in-person class and it won't be quite so overwhelming.
Or conversely if you start straight-off with $$ in-person classes, you're trying to absorb the basics and the intermediate skills will fly over your head.

kayakfreakus discussed several methods. You can also do a tyrolean traverse or a zipline to lower someone to the boat (and you'll learn that your throwbag can't handle the tension of that much weight with the rope stretched between two banks).

Or live bait/tethered swim:*

Or shallow water crossing:


*It's funny, watching that ACA video with all the students bundled up learning knots/rope work in that picnic pavilion reminds me of COLD. Most SWR classes are held early in the spring--both before guide season and when the water is high. WEAR A DRYSUIT. And eat a lot of fatty, high-calorie (not simple sugar) foods for breakfast..you'll be wet and cold and burning a lot of calories. And pack a big lunch. And wear a drysuit.
 

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Another component of swiftwater rescue is learning how to not make a bad situation worse. You don't want to create a human victim while retrieving something of only material value. Or don't create 2-3 more human victims to save one. The old Red Cross lifesaving advice is still good--Reach-Throw-Row-Go.

And learning to avoid whitewater hazards that require "rescue" techniques in the first place. It's really more risk management than rescue.
 

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Thanks for the heads up on the online course. I'm definitely going to be taking this class. I still plan on taking a swift water rescue and wilderness first responder courses in person next year, this is a good jumping off point for me though. I still believe the advice of getting formal education is necessary, and this is no substitute for in person training, but it any of you have experienced this situation or a situation that is similar I'd like to hear about it.

Thanks for all the replies, I was hoping that some of you could discuss a similar situation if you have experienced one. Maybe give some thoughts on what could be improved and what worked well for you.
I had an experience like this earlier this year on a private multiday trip. We had a boat pin on a rock with an undercut about 10ft off the shore. The captain was thrown from the boat on impact leaving 2 passengers with minor river experience. We assigned an upstream safety and staged 2 downstream safeties on either shore. Prior to my arrival the shore team had already evac'ed 1 passenger with a throw-bag/swing-to-shore, had the other passenger tie a throw-bag line onto a few D-rings and then swung her to shore as well.
We tried for a long time (3ish hours) to pull the boat free using a Z or vector pulls with the throwbag line. No success, as the line stretched and we were careful to limit the force on this inferior line. During these attempts the boat worked it's way halfway upside down under the rock and there were a lot of entrapment hazards in the water, including a bimini (let's not start down that rabbit hole), this precluded any sort of upstream approach. The end solution -very specific to our situation- was for me to swim from downstream into the rock's eddy and then climb the rock from the backside. (We had no kayaks on the trip, fortunately there were no downstream hazards). I tossed a throwbag to shore and pulled across a static line across. I then used a noose (of all knots!) to snag a solid part of the frame from on top of the rock. From there, we Z-drag-ed from shore, worked like it should and the boat was pulled free.
In retrospect, we probably should have gotten a static rope on the boat while the passenger was still on-board as it wouldn't have taken much longer: but at the time the crew onshore was rightly concerned for life safety and didn't trust the stability of the boat. Also, I will never try to put mechanical advantage on a standard throw line again, and I am strongly considering replacing all my throw ropes with the tech-rated low-stretch variety. Lastly, we spent a long time trying to catch the frame with another throw line from shore, when the swim/climb route was relatively low-risk; as such we didn't make the camp we wanted that night and stayed on a very rocky island a short-way downstream. We did consider leaving the boat - as a post above noted it is only gear and not worth a life, but wanted to exhaust all options prior to leaving a hazard and trip gear.
(For context, I have swiftwater and ropes rescue training.) Hopefully this is helpful. I have an incident write-up I did for my own review and would be willing to send that to you privately if that's of interest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I had an experience like this earlier this year on a private multiday trip. We had a boat pin on a rock with an undercut about 10ft off the shore. The captain was thrown from the boat on impact leaving 2 passengers with minor river experience. We assigned an upstream safety and staged 2 downstream safeties on either shore. Prior to my arrival the shore team had already evac'ed 1 passenger with a throw-bag/swing-to-shore, had the other passenger tie a throw-bag line onto a few D-rings and then swung her to shore as well.
We tried for a long time (3ish hours) to pull the boat free using a Z or vector pulls with the throwbag line. No success, as the line stretched and we were careful to limit the force on this inferior line. During these attempts the boat worked it's way halfway upside down under the rock and there were a lot of entrapment hazards in the water, including a bimini (let's not start down that rabbit hole), this precluded any sort of upstream approach. The end solution -very specific to our situation- was for me to swim from downstream into the rock's eddy and then climb the rock from the backside. (We had no kayaks on the trip, fortunately there were no downstream hazards). I tossed a throwbag to shore and pulled across a static line across. I then used a noose (of all knots!) to snag a solid part of the frame from on top of the rock. From there, we Z-drag-ed from shore, worked like it should and the boat was pulled free.
In retrospect, we probably should have gotten a static rope on the boat while the passenger was still on-board as it wouldn't have taken much longer: but at the time the crew onshore was rightly concerned for life safety and didn't trust the stability of the boat. Also, I will never try to put mechanical advantage on a standard throw line again, and I am strongly considering replacing all my throw ropes with the tech-rated low-stretch variety. Lastly, we spent a long time trying to catch the frame with another throw line from shore, when the swim/climb route was relatively low-risk; as such we didn't make the camp we wanted that night and stayed on a very rocky island a short-way downstream. We did consider leaving the boat - as a post above noted it is only gear and not worth a life, but wanted to exhaust all options prior to leaving a hazard and trip gear.
(For context, I have swiftwater and ropes rescue training.) Hopefully this is helpful. I have an incident write-up I did for my own review and would be willing to send that to you privately if that's of interest.
Zaczac, thank you! This is exactly what I was hoping for when I started the discussion. I think we can all agree that each situation is specific to itself. But the more situations we expose ourselves to the better our decision making becomes. In the army we always discussed vignettes, or 'war gamed' things. I.E. if I'm in this situation how would I react. I have found that the best way to make good decisions is to have already made them before hand. Good training, and shared experience goes a long way.
Thanks again!
 
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