Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

The Very First Ever
by Jim Mc Loone

August 12, 2007

I arrived ½ hour before the scheduled time, so that as trip leader I would be able to greet everyone as they arrived. WRONG. Juan, Henry and Jim greeted me instead. It was still a meet and greet. Because this was a seminar and everyone was sharing experiences, no one could say that the leader arrived late. (RIGHT!)

Unfortunately my cell phone had no signal in downtown metropolitan Narrowsburg, so I did not learn until a later email that Anita and Herta had a breakdown on the way to meet us. Notwithstanding we had fifteen people and boats by the time we began the shuttle after a brief orientation. While I was gesturing with one hand and clinging to the clipboard with the other a yellow jacket got stuck between my fingers and drilled down about to my toes. Wow! What a start. Narrowsburg is at the take out, so we juggled boats and headed north on route 97. After unloading boats at Damascus, PA we shuttled a couple of cars back to Skinner's Falls for those who were short of time.

The armada launched a little before noon and cruised a good 500 yards to a quiet, slow moving stretch of river that served as our first demo and “seminar-ea”. We practiced a couple of methods of in-water mobility that might be useful if our boats got wrapped around a rock and we decided to walk back to shore. That is: the paddle assisted walk and the two and three person group walk.

After a while everyone got tired of wading and we decided to toss some ropes around. This was just in case someone got out of their boat and needed to be rescued with a throw bag. This practice gave Jeff, Jim and Martin a chance to cool off with a purpose. Some of our throwers even came close to the simulated victim although others fell very short of the mark, and the Jeff.

Later on everyone had a chance to hold the lines on Jim's 16 foot canoe while it was empty, filled with water and also were able to just barely hold it when it was moved into a position simulating a broached boat. Thus by experimentation we were able to determine the approximate force acting on “a hard place” that you probably would not want to “get between a rock and”. This proved the saying even in very slow moving water.

As happens from time to time (every few minutes) the group cried for sustenance of the body, thus we left our station and proceeded toward Skinner's Falls. Martin led the group downstream but was soon left behind by the hungry mob. The group quickly outpaced the trailing leaders, and only by Herculean effort was I able to get within whistle range to stop them just a bend before the Milanville Bridge that marks the access just above Skinner's.

Most of our group continued along the PA side of the river to do a thorough, guided scouting of the falls, thereby identifying rocks and channels. Jim demonstrated the most conservative route and then took up a position behind a rock to act as a guide. Everyone followed Jim's lead until Jeff's turn. Jeff took the more difficult route on river left and several others followed him. Only one boat broached and that remained under control. With all boats still dry we continued to Narrowsburg spotting a commercial eel weir on the way, and then dined at the Whistle Stop Cafe.


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