Hackensack River Canoe &
Moving Water Seminar
Upper Delaware River at Skinner Falls
by David Schrier
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Trip Coordinator: Jim McLoone
Students: Anita G, Barbara C, Carol R, Dave S, Elenore H, Laurie C, Scott H
What a gorgeous day for a paddle. The morning fog had already
burnt off over the Delaware by the time the group met up in Narrowsburg NY and
shuttled 5 miles north to the put-in at Skinner Falls. We were armed with 2
canoes, 5 kayaks, and one inflatable. As a relatively new club member, I canít
say for sure that this put-in took the longest in club history, but if true,
that was by design. Sure the water level was up there today, but the boats were
much higher all morning because we left them on top of the cars until after
lunch, while we familiarized ourselves with the riverís moving parts using our
hands, feet and sometimes a paddle, and sometimes each other. More on the last
Jim explained how a hole in the water works, why you want to think about falling out of your boat even if you have no plans to do so, why an eddy is good and why standing in moving water is bad. We spent a lot of times doing throw bag rescues and all of us practiced our throwing skills, floating, and rope-catching skills. Some of us thought the thrower had the toughest job - stuffing the rope back in the throw bag in time to watch the next ďrescue victimĒ zip by and compliment our quick work before slipping hopelessly and sliding ropelessly down to Philadelphia.
After the morning session we relaxed in some natural Jacuzzis and collected rocks. Made smooth by many, many years of rushing water, some of them had the darndest shapes. After lunch we got the boats down and in the water, and learned how to ferry, which is aiming the boat at an angle upstream so that the sideways force on the boat gets you to the river bank without a lot of paddling effort.
We had to compete with quite a crowd at the falls, and there were lots of first-timers in the water, and the prize was awarded to a threesome in a canoe who ran aground on the large rock upstream of our practice eddy. The bottom half of their canoe filled up with water and they needed to be rescued by the volunteer River Watch folks (National Canoe Safety Patrol) standing guard. But Iím sure they werenít the only ones being stared at, as we practiced walking into fast current in groups of three, holding each otherís life vests for dear life. Well not everyone, because Scott and Laurie danced across without the benefit of a third wheel cramping their style.
We learned a lot today, and even paddled the 5 miles back to Narrowsburg over relatively calm water. The 2mph current made the ride even more enjoyable. Needless to say, there was no opportunity to practice our newfound skills. Thanks very much Jim, for a fun-filled and informative day.