Moving Water Seminar
by Jim McLoone
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Well I was just a little bit frustrated when I arrived at our meeting point and take out in Narrowsburg. I was 35 minutes early and still arrived second. Oh well that’s the HRCKC for you. Thanks to everyone who participated for being on time. That was Lori, Dianne, Tom, Virginia, Mark, May, Wil, Kate, Jim, Martin and Melody.
By 9:30 we had organized ourselves, selected a shuttle vehicle which stayed at the take out, moved the shuttle car’s boats onto other vehicles and headed up to Skinner’s Falls. We spent a few minutes chatting with the National Canoe Safety Patrol volunteers who were just putting in to spend the day patrolling Skinner’s Falls and loaded Jim’s freight canoe with throw bags, water, sun screen and paddles. Jim and Martin were going to paddle down the .3 miles from the launch site to the top of the falls to meet the rest of the group who walked down, but Martin decided to swim since it was warm and the boat was pretty full. Mark (who had arranged to meet us there) followed Martin.
Once at the falls we started the demos with each person belaying an empty canoe. They were all amazed at the huge increase in pressure when we filled it with water in the very weak current. After that we covered the following:
1. Walk out into the water and experience the effect that the current. Visualize the effect on your boat.
2. Practice mobility in the water using a paddle for support.
3. Practice mobility in the water using a partner or two for support.
4. Practice throw-bag rescues as a victim and as a rescuer.
5. Study the way rocks are disguised by flowing water. (Find out what a rock looks like from a boat.)
6. Study the way current forms “holes”.
7. Study the way current forms “eddies”.
8. Study chutes and where they lead.
9. Discuss the “eddy turn” and “ferry” maneuvers.
10. Walk down the Skinner’s falls shore line and scout the best line to use.
I was able to use my visual aid (fishing rod and bobber) to good effect as a pointer and floating object.
We broke for lunch around 1:30 and got our boats into the river around 2:30. By this time the sky had become pretty black making us fear that the forecast of 70% chance of rain and some severe thunder storms might come true. We had heard a few thunder boomers on the other side of the mountain, but had no lightning and no rain all morning.
Everyone except Martin and Mark (who each had to be home early) chose to run the falls and succeeded without incident, although at dinner one paddler commented that the run down the falls was much faster than she had expected and she had no real chance to scout a line while paddling. A counter comment was heard that it gets better the next few runs.
We saw a small water snake that decided to swim up the chute that I was using as a demo spot at Skinners. Later we spotted a group of about 8 Mergansers that seemed to just be frolicking in the water. As they crossed the river toward us we realized that the constant diving and bobbing was a group fishing expedition. The victorious fisherman was robbed of his approx. 8 inch catch by another of the ducks who then was able to get far enough ahead of the group to juggle the fish into his throat and swallow it whole. Everyone but the fish enjoyed this demonstration of wild life in action. We also had a chance to study a couple of eel weirs, one of which was still in service. Very sophisticated; a v of rocks that lead the eels into a wooden trap.
I had hoped to get in some throw bag drill but decided against that because of the threatening weather. Our group got off the water in Narrowsburg about 4:15 and we shuttled the drivers immediately while the rest of the group moved our boats up the ramp for quick loading. The rain started as we (all but one couple) headed toward the Whistle Stop restaurant for some good conversation and food.