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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to owning a raft and, now that I'm responsible for everyone onboard, I want to get properly trained on best practices for safety, especially since we'll have kids with us.

Question One: is a swiftwater rescue course what I should take or is there something else that's better suited for a recreational raft owner who will be going on fishing and camping trips in a 14' AIRE 143D? I'll be taking a "guide school" rowing course this spring.

Question Two: does anyone have recommendations for a good swiftwater rescue course (or other course, see above) in Colorado (I live in Denver) or are they all good and I should just pick one that's convenient for schedule/location? I saw a bunch of old posts (2008, 2011, etc.) on MB and tons of old classifieds, but I don't know what I'm looking for and I'm sure good instructors come and go.

Thank you!
 

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Classes taught by rescue 3 are the gold standard of swiftwater classes. they usually teach a course or two every spring down here on the Arkansas which isn't too far from Denver, I'd give Arkansas headwaters recreation area a call and see if they have any beta this early on when and where the classes will be held
 

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Question One: is a swiftwater rescue course what I should take or is there something else that's better suited for a recreational raft owner who will be going on fishing and camping trips in a 14' AIRE 143D? I'll be taking a "guide school" rowing course this spring.
No reason to seek it out of state, best to take the course on your local river with known local hazards and practice/train in realistically possible conditions.

Assume that "guide school" rowing course also offers swiftwater classes?
 

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No reason to seek it out of state, best to take the course on your local river with known local hazards and practice/train in realistically possible conditions.

Assume that "guide school" rowing course also offers swiftwater classes?
At least here on the Arkansas, guide school is guide school, and with a few notable exceptions, one of which is ark anglers in Salida, they do not generally teach the general public that's not going to work for them. Parks does not require guides to have swift water rescue training, but it is encouraged
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No reason to seek it out of state, best to take the course on your local river with known local hazards and practice/train in realistically possible conditions.

Assume that "guide school" rowing course also offers swiftwater classes?
The "guide" for the "guide school" is a friend who has been guiding fly fishing float trips for many years and is going to put me through what he normally teaches the first-timer guides in the shops he works with. So, it will be based on his typical curriculum, which will include rowing, river navigation, and I assume some safety 101 stuff, but probably not jumping in the water to see if I can rescue him with ropes and such as he floats downstream.

Thanks for the recs!
 

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There is always a lot of debate about rookies taking a swift water course and if it is beneficial. I kinda agree that you need to be able to get your boat where it needs to be to rescue someone, so not knowing how to read water /see dangers or captain a boat and jumping into a swift water course a lot of the information could go right over your head, but you will still learn rescue techniques and rope skills that are beneficial. I can go either way but I normally encourage my friends looking to gain river knowledge to get into a real guide course, Something that is 5-6 days (two weekends). It will teach you how to read water, run a trip, how to rig a boat as well as some basic rescue skills. Mainly it will get you on the water a lot and you will start to grasp captaining a boat. I have several friends who have ignored my advice and listened to others about taking a swiftwater course. Sure they know how to set up Z darg, and have done live bait training and learned some knots, but they still cant row a boat for shit, or even rig to flip and get all nervous coming up to a mellow class 3. In 10 years I have set up a z drag for a real situation once. I guided for two years before I took a swift water course, I was a rock climber before a boater so I had a great knowledge of ropes and knots. I learned a lot from my swiftwater course but there were people in the class who didn't know how to catch a eddy or what the whitewater lounge chair was let alone the difference between a class 3 and a class 5.

Being that your taking your family out I would still encourage the guide school route. You will feel comfortable taking you kids out on a new river, and you will meet people that you will continue to boat with. Im going to assume you will be boating with experienced people who know how to rescue in the event shit hits the fan, because it will and they are a wealth of knowledge that will continue to educate you on the river. Then after you can compently row down a new to you class 3 section with out a problem then sign up for the swiftwater. other will disagree but that's just my 2 cents.
 

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Quiggle nailed it, in my opinion you will be much better off going through a guide school, then after some time take a swiftwater rescue course. Do you have any idea how many really good raft guides out there have not taken a swift water rescue course? They are informative, and worthwhile, but in the beginning river miles are your best friend.
 

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The "guide" for the "guide school" is a friend who has been guiding fly fishing float trips for many years and is going to put me through what he normally teaches the first-timer guides in the shops he works with. So, it will be based on his typical curriculum, which will include rowing, river navigation, and I assume some safety 101 stuff, but probably not jumping in the water to see if I can rescue him with ropes and such as he floats downstream.

Thanks for the recs!
I think a fishing guide is going to do a great job of teaching you to read the river, ferrying, entering and exiting current. I'd have to think you'll learn safety 101 stuff as his guides will need that for the safety of their clients--and be sure to ask!

I agree with Quiggle and Critter70. Never used any of the hard skills I learned in swiftwater rescue training like live bait and Z-drags..but did learn better use and management of my throw rope. Lots of "soft skills" and general awareness, but that was predicated on my prior knowledge of rivers. Learn the river first--even one season--then the more esoteric safety stuff. Hate to point out that until then, you're "counting on the generosity of others" if you do need a major rescue, but everyone else is anyway!!
 

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Tough decision. As a parent, you're often less attached to the smaller ones, and you have more time invested in the older ones. Small ones are easier to pack, but the bigger ones are often more buoyant. Exception being pre-walking ~10mo olds who have the density of a baby beluga.
 

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CharlieSmith- ARTA offers what looks like to be a terrific Guide School. For 1500 bucks it could make you a solid boater.
 

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CharlieSmith- ARTA offers what looks like to be a terrific Guide School. For 1500 bucks it could make you a solid boater.
Yep, in California, Oregon and Idaho LOL, that's a ways to go...

I've used my swiftwater training numerous times on the water to varying degrees. The biggest skills it doesn't hurt to have is using a "Z" drag, and live bait training. Neither is intuitive until you've done it, but it's the only way sometimes to get a boat off a rock in the middle of a river. Like MT4runner, I've used my training more for others than myself..
 
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Holy crap, for $1500 I hope you learn it all, damn if your in Colorado, I will train you up for way less then that, just talking to my girlfriend, there just may be a business in this, lots of people looking to get trained, without committing to guiding.
 

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I took a two week guide school for 500$ and a swift water for 400$ both of which were repaid back to me after 3 years of guiding
 

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There is always a lot of debate about rookies taking a swift water course and if it is beneficial. I kinda agree that you need to be able to get your boat where it needs to be to rescue someone, so not knowing how to read water /see dangers or captain a boat and jumping into a swift water course a lot of the information could go right over your head, but you will still learn rescue techniques and rope skills that are beneficial. I can go either way but I normally encourage my friends looking to gain river knowledge to get into a real guide course, Something that is 5-6 days (two weekends). It will teach you how to read water, run a trip, how to rig a boat as well as some basic rescue skills. Mainly it will get you on the water a lot and you will start to grasp captaining a boat. I have several friends who have ignored my advice and listened to others about taking a swiftwater course. Sure they know how to set up Z darg, and have done live bait training and learned some knots, but they still cant row a boat for shit, or even rig to flip and get all nervous coming up to a mellow class 3. In 10 years I have set up a z drag for a real situation once. I guided for two years before I took a swift water course, I was a rock climber before a boater so I had a great knowledge of ropes and knots. I learned a lot from my swiftwater course but there were people in the class who didn't know how to catch a eddy or what the whitewater lounge chair was let alone the difference between a class 3 and a class 5.

Being that your taking your family out I would still encourage the guide school route. You will feel comfortable taking you kids out on a new river, and you will meet people that you will continue to boat with. Im going to assume you will be boating with experienced people who know how to rescue in the event shit hits the fan, because it will and they are a wealth of knowledge that will continue to educate you on the river. Then after you can compently row down a new to you class 3 section with out a problem then sign up for the swiftwater. other will disagree but that's just my 2 cents.
I agree with Quiggle. I have advanced and specialist swiftwater certs, but I learned more about running rivers from my guide-friends and experience than from a SR course. The book "River Rescue" is also worthy - at least you'll have all that stuff in your head when things go sideways the first time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I agree with Quiggle. I have advanced and specialist swiftwater certs, but I learned more about running rivers from my guide-friends and experience than from a SR course. The book "River Rescue" is also worthy - at least you'll have all that stuff in your head when things go sideways the first time.
Book bought! Thanks!
 

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This is also worthy to have along, keep it in your PFD or Wrap kit
 

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I agree having solid river running skills are the first step however if you are feeling pretty good after two years on the sticks I would recommend a River Rescue Course from Sierra Rescue International. The intro level class is focused on trip planning/prevention and self rescue. Lots of scenarios and such. I believe Bill Devorak son is teaching these classes as well as rescue three classes in Colorado. Highly recommend taking these courses at some point in your future as well as trying to do it with a bunch of the people you typically boat with. Practicing with the people you will be rescuing with really makes for a solid response if things don't go as planned.
 

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Bill Dvorak is a lot of things, not the least is a convicted poacher, twice.. I've heard he was a crappy teacher, likely as he's a pompous ass. Haven't seen his kid since he was 15, wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier then, don't know if that's changed or not, but back then he couldn't hold a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.. I'd guess that the apple didn't fall far from the tree in this case, but I really can't say...
 
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