Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
986 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I had one of the scariest moments on the water last friday on henderson creek in tennessee, and I had some questions for people on what they do during situations.
My friend ended up getting pinned on the downstream side of a log in the middle of a class 4 rapid with a class 5 just downstream with his head just out of the water. I climbed out on the log and he told me his lifejacket was caught on the tree, I felt around and couldn't feel it being caught anywhere. I tried just pulling him out of the water but that didn't work, so I felt around again because he kept saying something was pinching his midsection making it hard to breath. I found that his skirt was caught on the tree, I tried just to work it off but couldn't budge it, at this point it had been at least 3 minutes so I was getting pretty worried. I told him that I was going to cut his skirt, I felt around the area that was caught and couldn't feel his body at all so I was pretty sure I wouldn't cut him. I couldn't really see thru the water so I just felt where it was stuck and started hacking away, as soon as I got thru the rand he came free. I was able to get hold on to him before he washed downstream and we got him a rope and to shore. He then had to hike-out and was able to get out just before dark.
I have been thinking about this situation a lot lately and have come up with a few questions, most importantly my hands were going numb by the end. I use poggies and don't have gloves, I'm wondering if gloves would have any effect on this. I think it might help but at the same time I'm not going to take the time to put them on before helping someone and I can't feel the paddle if I wear them all the time.
The other thing I was thinking about was whether I could get out of my skirt, in this case he would have had to get it over his head, do you think it out be possible to do this.
Just kind of thinking about what I could do different/better in preparing for the rescue and during the rescue.
-Tom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
339 Posts
Cutting the skirt was the right decision. Don't hesitate to use the knife in that situation. Seeing that his head wasn't underwater, making sure you had a rope thrown to him was a good decision as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
I have no experience performing a rescue like you did...nice job.

However, I did go back and forth for a couple years deciding between gloves and pogies. Finally settled on some rather thin grippy gloves, primarily for the reason you noted: if you're not holding the paddle, pogies do no good. Keep searching for the right gloves. You may find that you like them better in the long run.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,471 Posts
Ugh. Nasty story buddy. Sometimes there's just not much to do, but hope you've got good buddies. I'd just hope to have you along in that situation. I agree with you on the gloves. I think the best thing to take away is an awareness for how the cold changes things. It's different firing drops on a warm sunny day than it is on an icy cold one and boaters should consider that difference consciously before difficult drops.

Joe
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,836 Posts
Nice save Tom. Great you could pull that off. Personally I wear thin gloves when it is cold, but everything is a trade off. My gloves would have kept my hands warmer, but certainly have at least a minor loss of dexterity both on the paddle as well as on the knife. Enough loss to drop the knife? Certainly possible, but gloves are what work best for me.
 

·
no tengo
Joined
·
1,873 Posts
this nearly exact thing happened to us last year. we ended up giving the knife to the guy who was caught cause he could reach his skirt better and we could concentrate on keeping his head out of the water. not sure if your friend would have been able to do that.

good work and quick thinking. I guess a thin pair of gloves under the pogies might make your hands last a little longer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
701 Posts
Gloves

I have had a very similar experience and also cut the skirt. I wear gloves and probably would have pulled one off in that situation so I could feel around like you were. Feeling through neoprene just isn't the same. Skirts and hikes are cheap compared to the life you saved. Good call and good job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,308 Posts
Nice job! That is the name of the game, you work with what you have. A crane would of been nice too along with five scuba-divers, but that was not the case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
316 Posts
There was a similar post about this a couple of years ago with some interesting recommendations.

- Skirts with Kevlar rands are really difficult to cut so keep this in mind when making a purchase.

- A knife with a hole to slide a finger through is a good design. As your hands get cold it is easier to hold onto the knife.

- a knife with a blunt tip will keep you from puncturing the skin. The rand of a skirt and be dangerously close to the femoral (spelling?) artery.

- Dry decks (dry tops with a skirt built in) are a dangerous option for creeking and river running because you cannot take the skirt off in this situation.

Excellent job saving your friend by the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
I got pinned beteen a couple of rocks in Ca and was able to climbe out through my skirt. It's amazing what you can do if you're motivated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
231 Posts
To answer your question about wearing gloves.

I almost always wear my neoprene gloves on the river. It took a little getting used to, moving from bare skin to gloves. But after the first year, paddling on the river without them feels weird.

The gloves would have helped to a certain point. They would have kept your hands warmer longer, but you might have had to take one or both off to find the snag point.

my two bits...

Way to go on the rescue, way to stay clear and calm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
186 Posts
gloves, no gloves, I think this is very personal decision, I know I lose a lot of dexterity with them on. That being said your hands will deal with the cold a lot better if the rest of your body is warm. I wear my drysuit a lot even on warm days, especially in contained inviorments.

Chris Baer
http://whereisbaernow.blogspot.com
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,107 Posts
Way to go Tom! Kick ass rescue.

The glove issue is a tough one. I don't think that the gloves make or break this type of scenario though. Thick gloves would keep your hands warm, but limit dexterity in a rescue. Thin gloves have enough dexterity to use in a rescue, but aren't enough warmth for cold paddling (my opinion). Pogies are warm enough for cold paddling and allow for quick use of hands in rescues. Your hands will get super cold, but as you demonstrated you can still get the rescue done. I think paddling with whatever hand gear keeps you happiest on the water is the best choice. One good piece of advice I have read is to carry an extra pair of gloves in your boat with you on really cold days. If you lose your paddle (and pogies on it) you could use the gloves with a breakdown. You also might want to use them in extended rescue scenarios (unpinning a boat etc).

It was also pointed out already that the bear claw knife with the finger hole in it can be held even when hands are numb. I have one and I like it. Got it after I lost my knife and read Roy's similar story on bailey.

Drygear has been mentioned, and I think that drysuits are by far the most bomber protection for cold weather boating. If you are immersed in water for several minutes, the drysuit might mean the difference between and good outcome and a bad one.

To me the critical rescue factors in this situation are...
1) quick thinking rescuer
2) rescuer has a knife
3) rescuer and others have good dry gear
4) group has a rope to get to boater
5) safety gear for a hike out

I think it would be tough to get out of a skirt, but I can see it happening with the right motivation and position. I think cutting the skirt or snag is the quickest and safest way to go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
Nice job

So we can add this to proof you need a knife on the river.

I have been in a similar situation before, the only thing I would have changed was maybe tieing off my throw bag and taking the rope out with me to untangle someone. This way I if you fall into the water, you aren't in trouble as well and your buddy might need it to get safely to shore.

Still it would have been tough to actually take the time to do this when you see your fellow boater in trouble. But at the very least I wish I had thought to grab my throw bag and take it with me.

This way if you untangle him, but he is weak and gets away from you, you have a chance to haul him in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,114 Posts
Sounds to me like you handled the situation well Tom. This experience emphasizes dressing for a swim/rescue and not just for being in your boat. Even if you're confident you'll stay in your boat, somebody else might not (even could be someone not in your group).

I think gloves would work better in this situation. It may have been necessary to remove the gloves to perform the actual cutting of the skirt, but until that point they would have kept the hands warm. I've taken to using gloves in really cold situations even though I prefer the feel of my hands on the paddle. I also tend to pack a spare pair of gloves in my boat just in case. Also, I have read reports that people have experimented in controlled environments with cutting Kevlar skirts and they are not difficult to cut. I'd be curious what this one was.

There was an Army experiment that showed you can increase your hand's tolerance to cold. Here is what you do:

Choose a room that's a comfortable temperature and place your hands in a container of warm water for 3 to 5 minutes. Then go into a freezing room and again dip your hands in warm water for 10 minutes. The cold environment would normally make your peripheral blood vessels constrict, but instead, the sensation of the warm water makes them open. Repeatedly training the blood vessels to open despite the cold eventually enables you to counter the constriction reflex even without the warm water.

If you care about kayaking safety, you should be spending your winter nights standing outside with your hands immersed in a bowl of warm water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Thanks for sharing and yeah, great reminder that a good knife that is easy to get at is required gear.

Next time you're chillin' at camp after a day of boating (and before anyone's under the influence), everybody grab your knives and some scrap rope or webbing. Put the rope or webbing under tension and start taking turns cutting through it with your knives. If you trust your buds, pull the rope/webbing across your leg so they can practice sliding their blade under the rope/webbing and making a cut without slicing or puncturing your leg.

We did this once and it's pretty amazing how much difference there is between knives. And I now carry a Gerber E-Z Out Rescue knife because of it. Super-fast cuts, sheeps-nose blade to avoid puncture wounds, good size, lightweight, and high-vis (mine's yellow). If you need a knife, give this one a look.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
805 Posts
Great save Tom. Cut the skirt. Gloves are nice but only if you can paddle in them and/or preform rescues. Only thing I would add is, if possible, get a rope on the victim before you cut him loose. Preferably two ropes, one from the victim to a rescuer downstream and the other connected to rope one via a loose biner with a rescuer upstream holding it. When he is cut loose both ropes pull him in at the same time in the most secure way possible. Hard to describe but it works.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
I agree about the safety factor of a full drysuit. That can't be overstated, IMO.

I have a solution that I use for the pogies / gloves issue. If I'm creeking in super-cold water where I know I'm going to need to get my hands off the paddle occasionally to push off a rock, etc (like the Source) then I paddle with a pair of higher-end long chemical (or dishwashing) gloves with a long enough gauntlet to tuck into the gasket of the drysuit. Keeps your hands pretty warm, but gives you most of the dexterity of bare hands. Even if you don't tuck them into your gasket and water gets in them, the thin layer of water warms up and works to insulate your skin from the moving water. If I'm paddling in <V frigid water, sometimes I'll just wear the thin medical latex gloves under pogies. It's amazing how much that helps keep your hands warm.

Just like a full bootie gasket works on a drysuit to give you much more comfort standing in cold water, latex gloves would give you another 5 minutes or so under water without losing feeling in your fingers. Plus they're cheap and disposable - although I do look like a goofy bastard with bright orange hands. I like to think it completes the ensemble.

Actually, I've found some durable blue ones at the home depot that work really well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
834 Posts
Same thing happened to Roy on Bailey. A few have mentioned it here in this thread. I was there.

I thought he might die. He eventually cut through the rand and popped free. The Bear Claw knife with the pistol trigger grip saved his life and most Front Range creekers use that knife now.

I don't know if you had more people with you. If so, it might be nice to get on opposite banks and get a rope across to stabilize him. Also, it would be nice to have someone downstream in case he gets away and floats into the bad stff and, if you have the luxury, someone upstream to block traffic.

It sounds like you caught him when he came loose but with our situation Roy got away from us after he cut through the rand and was on his own, swimming exhausted and cold. It was mellow downstream but still a mistake on our part.

If there were just two of you on scene then that's cool, we all do it, but like Roy says a team of 2 creekers is probably just a victim and a witness.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Great Save Tim!
My thoughts on the glove / poggie issue. I have taken a piece of surgical tubing and cut in half taping it to my paddle in the area of hand placement. This tubing is put in place to give indexing - blade placement and it is comfortable with all types of gloves because the tubing flexes. The tubing can be felt thru toaster mits.... maybe this will help?
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top