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Watch out for those Rec boaters

Posted by xsubdude99 
Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 09, 2017 01:34PM
Hi All,

I'm not sure what's going on but in the past couple of weeks we've provided assistance to a couple of groups of Rec boaters that could have really gotten hurt on the Elkhorn. About 2 weeks ago, we persuaded 2 groups from putting on the Elkhorn when it was running at over 9K. We ran into one of the groups at AW that were just dropping off their truck and were headed to the forks with plans to just "Jump" the dam. Can you imagine, at 9000 cfs, a group of rec boaters just jumping the dam.

Yesterday, after finding a rec boater with his boat pinned in a tree at "S" turn, we nursed a group running the upper section to the takeout without pfds, helmets or the necessary boat control to make it through the simplest of rapids. They were all nice guys; been glad to drink a beer with them or play a round of golf but they had no business on the Elkhorn at 1200.

My point is simple, although you have no obligation to interfere, keep an eye out for what's going on around you. I have no doubt that our intervention saved the lives of those 9K dam jumpers, so at the put-in, never be afraid to strike up a conversation with people that look woefully unprepared for the task ahead, you're gently worded advice might save a life.

Bob
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 27, 2017 03:43PM
OMG that's insane! Maybe a warning sign at the Forks put-in about the nature of the dam and it's danger with flow levels that make it difficult to portage? I remember a few yrs ago a couple of folks having rec boat issues below S turn and trying to wade in fast current to hold the boat. Glad they responded appropriately to your warning Bob - a bunch of guys with testosterone blazing can be a hard force to derail. No doubt with rec boat explosion of interest there will be a tragedy at the dam in the future.

Wes
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 28, 2017 01:12PM
There has been an "explosion of interest" in the last few years. It's fueling club membership, but it's also bringing out a ton of under-prepared weekend warriors. I did some first aid on a party that was in over it's head on the Elkhorn a few years back, then Denile and I escorted them to the take-out. Since then it has picked up a lot. Guess it's just one of those things we have to deal with these days.

_

Hanley Loller


"It's plum amazing what you can do when you damn well got no choice."
--Rickie Dale Larson
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 30, 2017 08:56PM
I really wish Walmart was required to provide basic boater safety training with its $200 kayaks

Ben Mudd
BWA Treasurer
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 31, 2017 08:38AM
That's a valid point, Ben, but the Walmart kayaks most likely come with some form of instructional documentation much like a PFD to protect the manufacture from liability. Even if the seller was required to provide training, would it help? How many people have been trained and licensed to drive a 2000+ pound vehicle on the highway at 55 mph (and faster) and still act like morons? "Unfortunately", it's up to the paddler to be responsible, learn basic safety, sand act on it.
I personnaly feel I need to take the opportunity to "inform" new paddlers when it arises. Some are grateful and listen and others don't and not to appear insensitive, I guess the terminology of "Darwin award" is applicable in some cases. However, any loss of life for whatever reason is a tragedy especially when it could have been avoided by a simple word spoken and heeded.

Kevin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2017 08:51AM by kblack.
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 31, 2017 02:37PM
I don't think rec boaters are more likely to be morons than anyone else. I really think that the root of the problem with increased unsafe paddling in recent years is an increase of availability without an increase of education. People really don't understand the water before they spend time on it.

Ben Mudd
BWA Treasurer
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 31, 2017 03:22PM
Ben, that's the truth. There is no group of people that is more likely to be "morons" than any other but rather individuals that do not take proper training, etc. and act on it (hence the driver's liscence example).
Yet, if a "Walmart training" saves one life, then that's one more paddler alive that wouldn't be otherwise.

Kevin
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
July 31, 2017 07:26PM
I have a friend who tells the story of his start and finish with whitewater. He took a raft trip with some friends on the upper gauley and had a blast. It was so much fun he decided to get a kayak and start paddling the elkhorn. Since he was a class V paddler running the elkhorn solo should be a piece of cake. By the second rapid he swam, almost drowned and never paddled again. This is a really smart guy but hydraulic force is beautiful and deceptive. Great story with a fortunately good ending.

Joe W.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2017 07:28PM by joewbwa.
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 01, 2017 09:47AM
"Since he was a class V paddler" drinking smiley drinking smiley drinking smiley drinking smiley drinking smiley

Ben Mudd
BWA Treasurer
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 01, 2017 04:54PM
That was definitely my favorite part of that story. To take out such a seasoned paddler, it must have been a freak wave on the Elkhorn. Great story Joe but as I read it I couldn't help but feel a little sad that things didn't work out for him and he'd of had a better day. Might be a real class 5 boater by now.

Bob
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 02, 2017 07:49PM
I ran into two Rec boaters on the Pigeon last week. They took one look at Powerhouse rapid and decided they did not want to paddle and asked me for a ride down to the takeout so they could try their hand on the lower Pigeon. I believe folks like that buy Rec boats and believe the advertising that they can be used in whitewater as well as on their usual flatwater or lake experience. I think the folks marketing this don't know what they are talking about but are merely hyping the product to produce mass sales. Anyway, I recommended to them that they go out and buy used whitewater appropriate boats to experience whitewater in a better way. I am not super fond of marketing Rec boats as whitewater crafts, but puffing a product is an American corporation's usual protocol. Regardless, if those folks want advice, give it to them. If they choose to do something foolish, then it is on them.

I remember hearing a story when Don Coaplen tried to talk some guy out of taking inner tubes, tied to his body down the Upper Gauley in the late 80s. The guy's wife and kids got out after Coaplen, et al discussed it with them, but the guy, after calling his wife and kids "chicken shit", went anyway. He drowned somewhere in Lost Paddle that day.
Brent
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 03, 2017 10:42AM
Yeah, I remember that Brent. That was in '88 during the drought in summer. The guy and his family were camping at the mouth of the Meadow, so that's where he put in. He got stuffed over on the far left side of Tumble Home.

The Gauley was running 500 or so out of the dam most of the summer and in anticipation of a low-water Gauley season, the rafting company I was working for was running low-water training trips. I was working on the Ocoee then (Nolichucky had dried up) and we'd travel up there on Monday night to train during the Ocoee weekend (Tuesday and Wednesday when the river was turned off). That happened right before my first training trip and all summer as we ran through Lost Paddle rapid we could see bits of inner-tube and white nylon cord sticking out of the rocks on the far left side of Tumble Home. It made a strong impression on a young raft guide.

_

Hanley Loller


"It's plum amazing what you can do when you damn well got no choice."
--Rickie Dale Larson
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 03, 2017 10:44AM
PS: We ended up running some very low water raft trips that Gauley season. Think 700 or 800 CFS in 4 or 6 person rafts. Iron Ring was carnage city and there was lots of pinning everywhere.

_

Hanley Loller


"It's plum amazing what you can do when you damn well got no choice."
--Rickie Dale Larson
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 03, 2017 11:37AM
o.O did they not recover his body?

Ben Mudd
BWA Treasurer
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 03, 2017 11:40AM
I almost see this kind of underestimating or total lack of knowledge/common sense on the Pigeon daily! Always people in rec/duckies/non white water kayaks/rafts etc without p f d's, helmets, etc. Having no idea of the inherit dangers of white water no matter what " class" it is! I am no class 5 Boater, but I have learned that ANY class rapid can have its moment! I usually tell them of the dangers, but usually get a look or even they tell me it is none of my business! A fisherman almost died on lower Pigeon a few weeks ago - swam at Maytag, no p f d, hip waiters, no helmet, saved by other boaters. No p f d's is the fourth leading cause of deaths according to A W! Great thing about clubs such as BWA is the instruction and safety knowledge as with clinic and availability of experienced boaters to boat with. To bad all don't take advantage of That!

B. J. - kayak bum and river guide
Re: Watch out for those Rec boaters
August 03, 2017 06:31PM
My favorite saying used to be: "If You Die We Split Your Gear". That is, it was until that asshole woman in Whitley County took the wallet off the dead motorcyclist last week.

Gotta come up with something new for the people who won't heed helpful input.

Dallas

Tattooed and Retired
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