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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2022, 5:43 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2255
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
wotrock wrote:
Hard to beat your stories even if you added a bit of extra 'color' after the fact! :lol: How 'bout another one as a break from all those technical details about restoring old boats?? :lol: :wink:

Are you insinuating that I, me, MOI, take liberties with tales of my youth? Maybe I’m just old, and have unintentionally enhanced memories of past faux pas episodes 

I got to thinking, and colorfully memorializing, past capsizes and pins. There are a bunch of such tales from group trips; not the easy peezy everything went perfectly rope tricks or rescues, but the stuff that went WTF sideways.

Several come to mind. The most memorable involved my ancient OT Pack, lent out on a blackwater river trip. Paddling Maryland’s Pocomoke River, stupidly putting on above Porters Crossing. Stupidly launching on very high river levels, near floodwaters. Stupidly including a group of local cavers who had only recently branched out rec kayak paddling, some caves being easier accessed from various river bottoms.

The Caver Clan (they had an informal collective name) did fine at first. At a mid-trip stop Vitas, paddling in his familiar Swiftie, switched with his wife who was paddling my Pack. She was doing quite well and visibly enjoying herself.

Boats swapped, we re-launched. And Vitas sped off in front. Not two minutes later I heard a shout. “Vitas is in! AND THE BOAT IS GONE!”

I hit the gas. Vitas was semi-safely sprawled over the upstream side of a branchy strainer pile. He informed me that he was standing on the side of the Pack, three feet deep and blackwater submerged invisible.

I tossed him a throw bag with a carabineer, and asked if he could safely reach down and hook it around a carry handle, deck plate, a thwart, anything. It took some doing, and a couple tries, but Vitas got it attached around something. We threw another line out to live-bait to Vitas, and pendulumed him safely to shore.

Before we got all Z-drag elaborate we tried tug-of-war, five people hauling on the rope. Something was happening, we kept hauling in more and more increasingly tensioned slack. Dag Fug?

Suddenly the Pack shot out of the water, like a Tomahawk missile from a sub, but on a more horizontal trajectory. Aimed perfectly, straight at five rope tuggers standing on the bank. The rope tuggers all bailed out into the swamp mud as the Pack Rocket emerged. I was at the front of the rope, and ended up splashed down half in the river, paddle trip oddly wet from neck to waist.

The Pack flew past us, overhead with impressive launch elevation, did a mid-air 180 twist and landed upright in a gut puddle on the other side of our embankment, floating serenely, upright and largely emptied of water, beckoning and ready to go.

It was a recovery miracle, but How the, what the. . . . .that never happened before.

The Pack had overkill ½ thick deck plate bungees, designed to hold a lateral “brush bob”; a Swiss cheese drilled brush holder for downriver bow camo’ed hide. Vitas had managed to clip the beener around both of the overthick / \ deck bungees, and had fortunately pinned (and stood atop) the Pack with gunwales facing downriver.

I lost some crappy loaner gear; a paddle, seat back and pad. Didn’t care, I got the canoe back, and had a once-in-a-lifetime missile launch experience.

I know there are other pin and rescue tales amongst us. I have several lessons-learned screw up tales still to tell.

PostPosted: February 2nd, 2022, 6:17 pm 

Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:04 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Ottawa
About ten years ago, a buddy and I decided to run a tributary of the Ottawa river, about a 20km run w/ mostly continuous class 2. We planned to run it alone, as we often do, but were pleased to meet a group of around 10 paddlers at the put in, all members of a local club.

As we approached the first rapid which contained an island, the team lead gave a description but we were too far to hear them. The last canoe, just behind us, also missed any details. No problem, we all took river left without issue, but the last canoe unknowingly took the river right channel. When we got to the bottom of the drop, we discovered the last canoe had jammed itself into rocks, but the paddlers were safe, thankfully.

So we rush thru the woods to get back upstream and see the brand new Esquif Canyon’s bow wedged into rocks along shore in a 20 foot wide channel. One of the team managed to get a rope to us to pull the canoe out backwards from across the channel. It took 3-4 of us to dislodge the boat, probably 600-800 lbs of force, I still remember the feeling, it didn’t pop free, but rather a steady battle until the river finally agreed.

The bow was badly disfigured, but salvageable after 5 minutes of kicking and jumping. I would have probably cried had it been my boat.

2 lessons come to mind,
-Don’t run bad rivers in nice canoes!

PostPosted: February 3rd, 2022, 1:08 am 

Joined: November 16th, 2007, 1:11 pm
Posts: 143
Location: Mid-coast Maine
The Bullpasture River Gorge - a narrow twisty swift section in western Virginia - winter-ish. My buddy Carl (the protagonist) in a new Shaman and me in an old XL12. We ran into another crew of 4 boaters that Carl knew from decades of paddling and caving in that area and we paddled together for most of the trip. On the last drop there are 2 lines - the usual is a straight forward plunge over a 6-8' falls into a pool. The other line is hard right and through a very fast S-shaped chute into the same pool. Carl led, and was too far into the line for the falls when he saw the log laying across the top blocking his path. He tried to get over to the left (I'm not sure why) and wound up out of his boat and clinging to the limbs of a downed oak sweeper, probably 20' out from the left bank. I was close enough behind to see him alter course, but I took the right hand chute into the pool and didn't actually see him flip. When I scrambled up the bank I found the other guys above the rapid on the river right shore, hollering at him to catch a line they were going to throw. But Carl's boat was still hung up in the sweeper, further out in the river, and he wasn't going to leave that boat there, by god. He manages to hang onto the limb, and gets out to the boat and manages to free it. But the shift in the weight on the limb, between the boat leaving and Carl arriving in that location, caused the middle section of the limb to dip lower in the water and the very tips of the limb to rise to the surface, revealing a deer carcass stuck in the branches well into its journey of decay, inches from Carl's face which was probably receiving a bit of dead deer backwash. Now we couldn't get that line to him fast enough. I think he snatched it on the second throw and we reeled him in - a little green around the gills but otherwise no worse for the wear. The boat fetched up at the top of the falls but eventually made its own way over without any help and we were able to easily paddle out to it and haul it in, too. The deer, thankfully, remained in place, ready to greet the next swimmer.

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." - WATER RAT, The Wind in the Willows

PostPosted: February 3rd, 2022, 2:51 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2255
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
VA paddler wrote:
But the shift in the weight on the limb, between the boat leaving and Carl arriving in that location, caused the middle section of the limb to dip lower in the water and the very tips of the limb to rise to the surface, revealing a deer carcass stuck in the branches well into its journey of decay, inches from Carl's face which was probably receiving a bit of dead deer backwash.

I think I threw up a little just now; big, dead, decaying critters are exceedingly foul. We have found dead deer in strainers, though usually enough above water enough that we had opportunity for olfactory avoidance before we arrived in sight. Peeyew, I’m taking an outside line.

Not a pin story, but a stanky one. We were doing a two-family camper on the Santé Fe in Florida, and stopped to camp (and frolic) at a glorious multi-plateau white sugar sand beach. Like camping in the Caribbean, but all to ourselves. We sat around and eventually went swimming. The kids stayed in.

There was some horseplay; wine aficionado Dave had brought a select couple bottles. I am more a beer on the beach sort, but when Dave’s glass ran dry I offered to fetch him more. Not wine, but surreptitiously filled with tannin stained river water. He took a sip, not noticing the nose or color, patooied most of it, and called me names.

Right about then we heard a shriek from the kids, and looked up to see them rapidly exiting the pool. A large, bloated to Macy’s Day balloon dead boar floated downriver into view and, gee thanks, caught slowly swirling, wafting stench, in an eddy opposite camp. It was like watching the horror channel, but with Smell-a-Vision.

Someone had to paddle across and poke it out of the eddy, hoping it didn’t explode, to send it away on its journey downriver. Dave, usually the most game for anything of sorts, was disinterested, still rinsing his tonsils, and I guess I had it coming. The closer I got the less I wanted to poke that foul, gaseous mass with a paddle. It did not explode, but I needed to gargle with cheap beer when I returned.

There is another fabulous Sante Fe f#$% up on a different trip, rescuing a capsized canoe and nearly becoming swimmer #2; one that came to define Airbag’s lesson #1:

Airbag wrote:
lessons come to mind,

I wanna hear tales of other rescue screw ups first.

PostPosted: February 9th, 2022, 4:49 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2255
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Mike McCrea wrote:
There is another fabulous Sante Fe f#$% up on a different trip, rescuing a capsized canoe and nearly becoming swimmer #2; one that came to define Airbag’s lesson #1

Airbag wrote:
lessons come to mind,

Maybe it’s just me, screwing up boat rescues. Or maybe my companions need rescuing with some frequency. The fabulous Sante Fe eff up was all about Airbag’s caution.

A group day trip on the Sante Fe. My wife and sons, all in solo canoes, friends Dave and Anita likewise, and a passel of paddlers from a Gainesville area club. The river was up, bankful and running fast, but not difficult. Not difficult, but it got much trickier.

My two sons and I were ahead a ways, went around a sharp turn and heard “Anita’s over”, quickly, thankfully, followed by “We got Anita, grab her canoe”. Her canoe, a Baboosic, soon floated into sight around the turn, upside down.

Cool beans, we had been practicing assisted boat-over recoveries on family lake trips, and my boys were fresh and eager.

“Cooper, stand off a bit downstream and recover any thing that floats out”. He did, and grabbed a few things.

“Tyler, come alongside and help me get the bow on my gunwales” He did.

At this point we have floated a ways downriver, but not worrisomely so.

“Ty, grab the painter line, pass it under my carry handle, and give it to me”, thinking I could snug the Baboosic near my stern, trap the painter underfoot and tow it upstream to an unforested shallows behind the sharp turn.

We had never practiced that, nor practiced on moving water, and my instructions were perhaps lacking. And I wasn’t watching. Son #1 tied my painter to the Baboosic’s painter and announced “You are all set”.

I was not “all set”. The Baboosic was trailing 30 feet behind me and there was a stiff wind blowing up-river. The Baboosic was moving wind-blown faster upstream than I could tow it, mostly because it would swing wildly side to side if I applied any tow pressure. Blowing unencumbered rolly-polly sideways, and gulping gallons of water each time a gunwale dipped upsteam.

This is not good. My boys didn’t have knives to cut the rope (they do now). I could not possibly reach my stern painter, and the Baboosic was swallowing more water with each gunwale dip. Until it finally rolled over completely.

This is REALLY not good.

The only apparent-to-me solution was a slow, semi-controlled float downriver, looking for a thirty foot wide spot amongst the trees. Actually, with both boat lengths added, a 50 or 60 foot open area.

Dream on, the river is bankful and heavily forested. After what seemed like an eternity, maybe an anxious backward floating half mile, I saw a spot. Not a big spot, maybe 20 feet of mostly untreed bank. Slowly side stepping MY canoe into that space I exited, post haste and waist deep, knife in hand, ready to cut that freaking Baboosic free to travel on without my risky attentions.

It ended up being a workable rescue spot. I secured my canoe with the bowline, cut the still capsized Baboosic off my stern painter line, tied it off to a tree and waited for shortly arriving help. All within wading waist deep anxious seconds.

Help arrived. I may have announced “I’m done with that freaking boat, I’m gonna sit here and have a beer and a smoke and watch while y’all handle it”.

Like Airbag said, “Communication”.

PostPosted: February 10th, 2022, 1:40 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2255
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
One more rescue screw up, perhaps more of a cautionary tale than a screw up.

We were doing a group trip on a little paddled upper section of the South River in the Carolinas. A twisty blackwater river, again at high water levels, which seems a recurring theme, and perhaps a caution in itself.

We were keeping semi-together for a change, with an unofficial “sweep” and me, more familiar with the South, as “probe”. Paddler Doc went over in his Bell Magic, and lickety-split a couple guys got him safely to shore while I went after his canoe.

Nice light Bell Magic, quickly bow up and onto one of my gunwales with no assistance needed. Feeling skills proud I started sliding it across. About 1/3 of the way over it wouldn’t slide any further. What the hell?

I slid it back a ways and tried again, more forcefully. Nope. Now I was really confused, and starting to drift downstream into a “Don’t make another victim” scenario. One last try; instead of sliding it across gunwales-to-gunwales, I lifted the bow high, thinking I could get past the mystery obstruction.

The mystery obstruction was revealed to be a bleach bottle bailer, tied to the front thwart via a short length of rope. Every time the Magic slid that far the now dangling bailer got caught against my outwale.

My lasting takeaway caution is that I’m leery of anything that can dangle, tied to the canoe, in a capsize recovery. Or worse, in a pin or strainer.

Drifted too close to danger I did not manage to right Doc’s canoe, but instead slowly, laboriously bulldozed the overturned Magic to shore. There were was a denouement to that episode.

Doc had no spare clothes bag, it was chilly and he was already shivering cold. I offered him spare clothes from my bag. He refused. I insisted. He was adamant, and I realized that he had heard about the “Clown Suit” in my spare clothes bag, and was afraid I’d make him wear it.

Tired of dressing off-season swimmers in my own spare clothes, leaving me no back-up duds, I visited the Goodwill and picked out an ensemble. IIRC including plaid golf pants, checked shirt, one red sock, one blue sock, and a delightfully hideous sport coat. Not quite hideous enough, I sewed a feathered boa in the collar.

In a nod to actual safety I included long underwear, gloves and a fur trimmed knit hat. A friend in the know had contributed a fugly lime green Bridesmaid dress to my spare spare clothes bag.

Doc seemingly preferred hypothermia to the humiliation of wearing that outfit. I finally convinced him that I would in fact provide my own spare duds. He was so cold I had to help strip off his wet clothes, dry him off and get him into dry duds. Which were only slightly less “Clown” like. Doc was not a large fellow. I am; my XXL spare clothes on his S frame was a sight. But he was warm and dry, and didn’t look like an escapee from a John Water’s movie.

There is a denouement to that denouement. Some years later on a winter trip I flipped. In three feet of water, six feet from a sandy bank where my companions were standing and waiting. And watching.

Having had an audience for my stupidest capsize ever I decided that, screw it, I had carried that “Clown Suit” for years with no takers (and multiple refusals). I was going to end the game here and now. Minimal risk, we were dawdling for extra river time at trip’s end, all 200 yards from our take out, one I had used many, many times in the past.

I am sure I looked stunning in the full clown ensemble. Especially standing proudly, arm in arm, with my pregnant bride. Topher donned the bridesmaids dress, pulled his front-bulbous PFD down to belly level, stuck out his gut and we posed for posterity, apparently getting hitched in the nick of time.

Standing arm in arm mugging for the cameras – it took a few tries to restrain our laughter, and there may have been libations involved - I looked up to see a local landowner from the nearby take out, one of the few riverside residents I knew on a first name basis (easy to remember “Mike”), standing on the bank with his dog, looking down at us in mouth agape bewilderment, tinged with disgust. Or perhaps horror.

Mike and I never talked much after that. I know someone must have a photo of the happy couple. I WILL find one; it would make a fine avatar.

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