Gerald Demontgny (gdemontg@CCS.CARLETON.CA)
Tue, 4 Apr 1995 12:48:14 EDT
I have been following the discussion on canoes with some interest
being an avid canoer or is that canoeist? It seeems to me, following
from Tom Granvold's story, that the moral should be, "Be prepared". I
recognize my tendency to be preachy, however, as leaders it is really
important for all of us to recognize the importance of preparation and
safety at all times --I am not implying that Tom did not! Indeed,
Tom's story reminds me that I have heard that a group of Scouts was
planning to do a river in our area which I would not advise be
undertaken by anyone without prior training in whitewater canoeing.
White water canoeing is not the same as flat water canoeing, and there
are several very specialized skills that must first be mastered
through land based sessions, paddling clinics, and moving water
sessions. It is also extremely advisable that at least one member of
every party have completed a basic river rescue course. Reading a
book, such as the excellent text by Les Bechdel and Slim Ray, "River
Rescue" , Appalachian Mountain Club books, Boston, 1989, while
providing a good background needs to be combined with on the river
practice under the guidance of a qualified trainer. Yet, I would
really encourage those thinking about doing white water to read this
text, particularly the first chapter which addresses the death by
drowning of a friend.
Certainly, there are likely good sources of training in your area. In
Ottawa, the YMCA runs the Ottawa Y Canoe Camping Club. This club has
a whitewater section, and to become a member, candidates must complete
a pool session, demonstrating their ability to swim 100 yards,
practice canoe over canoe rescues, complete a flat water session
demonstrating their ability to navigate a slalom course in a canoe,
and practice basic canoe strokes, complete two classroom sessions on
river morphology, equipment and usage, dangerous situations
--strainters, holes, low head damns, foot entrapments, and breaches--
complete a weekend training on a
section of a river with whitewater --usually Palmer's Rapids on the
Madawaska--, and complete a qualifying run. During each of these
phases all candidates are carefully screened to determine if they have
the basic abilities to become a member of the whitewater club.
There are also private companies that will do training for several
hundred dollars, usually for a weekend, but I would recommend going
the route of a canoe club, or a national association for training.
So to conclude I want to recommend a second moral to the story. If
any member of your group does not have adequate white water training,
pick up the canoe and portage around it, or please stick to flatwater!
Too many people die each year because they failed to 'read the map',
failed to 'read the water', failed to exercise proper self rescue
procedures, failed to use the correct equipment, failed to say no, and
failed to portage.
Tom Granvold writes:
> ... two of the scouts managed to damage one of the Coleman
> aluminum canoes. We were going down the Russian River (nothern California)
> and they hit a large rock in the middle of the river sideways. The river
> was narrow there so that the current was strong enough to bend both
> ends of the canoe several inches around the rock. The boys were fine,
> though quit wet. The canoe on the other hand couldn't be moved off of
> the rock. The outfitter said that they would wait a few weeks for the
> water flow to drop and then go in to get it.
> The moral of the story is to never underestimate the abilities of
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City