Most difficult rescues you have done?

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I help a few dozen people out of the water back into their canoes a year as noted previously.

I've been involved in a handful of more difficult events. All involved crowding of boats.. sea kayaks in wind.. Once was in seas pretty high and I was still a novice with more experienced paddlers. Those few paddlers doing the rescue.. (two paddlers) yelled at the rest of us to STAY AWAY! It was good advice.. They needed room to maneuver their kayaks to get the swimmer on the back deck of one..

Other capsizes involved people stuck in their kayak (prothesis) and people finding themselves swimming and getting whacked in the head by boats skippered with good people who had no room to maneuver.

I don't base my feelings on statistics but rather experience and each of my experiences I think was presented to me as an opportunity to learn.. not win..
 
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Have practiced countless canoe over canoe rescues and self rescues in ideal situations with no loads. Mostly with younger students. I find real rescues on trips are often much different than those practice rescues. Until you've done a few, don't count on anything working the way it is supposed to. For instance, in most of the river dumps I have been involved with, most of the gear stayed inside the canoe, even though it wasn't lashed in. The reason for this is that most river dumps with kids when you are instructing them occurs when they lean the upstream gunwale into the current. Canoe flips very fast and ejects occupants, but remains upside down. Occupants either eddy out at next pool or are roped in with throw bags. Canoe is escorted to shallow water, contents removed, then water. In fact, I've never done a canoe over canoe in a tripping situation.

Did have one very bad pin with an aluminium canoe. Occupants were already rescued. Took over an hour to unpin the canoe, and it was in a slightly different shape than pre-pin. However, still floated.
 
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From shore, I extended a towel to a very panicked kid in the water. I did not get wet. Only one rescue.
 
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I once spied an older couple that had capsized their tandem in the middle of a big lake. I paddled out from shore to help. They were exhausted from trying to get back into their boat. I convinced them to stop that and hang onto their canoe, and I slowly towed them to shore. It was exhausting. Once close to shore I spied an empty campsite and encouraged them to camp there for the night as they were in bad shape. It reinforced my habit of paddling close to the shore when alone especially as I get older.
Turtle
 
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The most difficult rescues I have done by far were self-rescues in whitewater with strong current and relatively continuous rapids. Swimming with a flooded boat, even one with flotation, and trying to horse it out of the current unassisted can be exhausting, especially in a stream at high water where the current is flowing through the trees near the bank. The most challenging rescues of other individuals that I have witnessed or been involved with have been pins, in which a paddler was unable to exit the boat. Even after a paddler is extricated in this situation, unpinning the boat can be very challenging especially if it is hung up in strong current where it cannot be easily or safely approached.

Boat over boat rescues are probably most useful in flat water situations where there is a capsize some distance from shore but they can be very useful on wider rivers, or even narrower whitewater streams. It is not all that uncommon for someone to wind up standing on a small rock in the middle of a rapid with their swamped canoe in a smallish eddy behind the rock. It can be very challenging for an individual to dump the canoe while standing on a small, slippery rock but if another boater can eddy out behind the rock, a boat over boat rescue can sometimes be done very easily and the paddler can reenter the boat while the other boater stabilizes it.

Many people seem to like to fasten dry bags and other gear from their thwarts and gunwales so as to avoid the need to put anchors in the bottom of their hull. Unfortunately, after a capsize, all this crap hangs outside the boat in the current making the boat more likely to hang up. It also makes a boat over boat rescue much more difficult, if not impossible.
 
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And those dang Sitbacker seats don't help for boat over boat.. Once on the Androscoggin which is pretty wide and punctuated with class 2 a couple capsized. Other boats got the people to bowride and we tried to do boat over boat ( an Old Town was the victim) with those dang seats. It took way longer than it should..
 
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I've been fortunate to experience only relatively easy rescues from my boat, and usually while assisting a swimmer to shore in a whitewater environment. As pblanc notes, that isn't necessarily the easiest thing to do, but it is usually at least straightforward. I also had to chase down a wayward, swamped canoe and recover it on my own...I used a technique I read about in American Whitewater magazine that was far easier than the boat-over-boat. I basically pulled alongside the swamped canoe in my own canoe, pushed the near-side gunnel under water and, while squatting in my canoe, reached across to grab the far-side gunnel. I then leaned my boat back, which provided the leverage to lift the other canoe out of the water and upside down, allowing all the water to drain out, and then flipped that gunnel up and away from me so the canoe landed upright. There was still a few gallons of water left, but the canoe was far easier to tow to shore that way.

The worst canoe rescue I was part of was responding as part of a rescue squad to a canoe that got sucked into the hydraulic below a low-head dam. Two canoeists died. That was years ago.

-rs
 
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My sister and I were serious sailors, racing small one designs in Maine. We were hotshots and probably pushed things a bit far. One day we were reaching -- she was hiked out and holding on by a toenail. She went overboard with a shriek. I dropped off, jibbed and luffed up to her. She was back on board and we were under way before the two folks that had run down their docks to help got their outboards started.
 
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I've been fortunate to experience only relatively easy rescues from my boat, and usually while assisting a swimmer to shore in a whitewater environment. As pblanc notes, that isn't necessarily the easiest thing to do, but it is usually at least straightforward. I also had to chase down a wayward, swamped canoe and recover it on my own...I used a technique I read about in American Whitewater magazine that was far easier than the boat-over-boat. I basically pulled alongside the swamped canoe in my own canoe, pushed the near-side gunnel under water and, while squatting in my canoe, reached across to grab the far-side gunnel. I then leaned my boat back, which provided the leverage to lift the other canoe out of the water and upside down, allowing all the water to drain out, and then flipped that gunnel up and away from me so the canoe landed upright. There was still a few gallons of water left, but the canoe was far easier to tow to shore that way.

The worst canoe rescue I was part of was responding as part of a rescue squad to a canoe that got sucked into the hydraulic below a low-head dam. Two canoeists died. That was years ago.

-rs

Yeah, sometimes the side by side (parallel) rescue works better than the T rescue, and sometimes its the other way around. ACA curricula teach both techniques.
 
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I've never had much luck with the parallel rescue. Most of my boats are 25 or so inches wide. I am short. To try and stand in my boat to get a 36 inch wide canoe clear of the water results in my getting wet.

I can handle an equal size boat sometimes.

I think the first principle of rescue is to try to avoid becoming the next victim.
 
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I can't imagine trying to get any boat clear of the water when it's parallel to the rescue boat. I wonder if the boats being parallel comes into play only after the dumped boat has been emptied via the boat-on-boat method.

pblanc, is that what you had in mind?


Gavia, in the ACA curriculum there are two methods taught and both are exclusive. The parallel one is called a Curl Rescue

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.americ.../sei-courses/flatwater_canoe_safety_and_r.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kijGsSs83Y

This does not work well with a sole rescuer who is short in a solo canoe.
 
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I've been a staff instructor at BSA National Camp School for the past 24 years. I teach the high adventure wilderness guide - trek leader section, a course for those who hope (if they successfully pass the course) to work at summer BSA camps and other youth summer camps and will take youth on week-long trips into the Adirondacks. As a requirement I demonstrate the process at the end of their canoe instruction morning, and then at a random time later in the week during their evaluation trek I have the students perform their own canoe-over-canoe rescues, normally in calm water near the shore.

But I very strongly ask under what circumstances would they in reality expect to be in a situation to do such a thing? Just imagine trying to do this in high waves and wind. Most say it would be quite difficult or impossible. So don't get into that situation in the first place... what were your other options before this happened? A good thinking safety exercise.
 
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... especially in a stream at high water where the current is flowing through the trees
I was trained to stay off the river in this situation. I have never violated this rule. Sometimes the best "rescue" is recognizing that even though you've been waiting to paddle a river for weeks or months and traveled for a day to get there the river is unsafe.

http://rivers.org.nz/article/paddling-flooded-rivers
 
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I think I have only done one rescue in choppy conditions. The rest were in calm where inattention and putting one's head over the gunwale while looking backward can result in a bath. Most were in class conditions where people were experimenting extreme heel in a safe environment. Some were on river trips in mild moving water.

To be rescued is not quite synonymous with "you shouldn't have been out there" .
 
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I've never had much luck with the parallel rescue. Most of my boats are 25 or so inches wide. I am short. To try and stand in my boat to get a 36 inch wide canoe clear of the water results in my getting wet.

I can handle an equal size boat sometimes.

I think the first principle of rescue is to try to avoid becoming the next victim.

Good point... I was in my MR Explorer, so had a good working platform. I'm not sure if it would have worked out so well in a solo boat. I'll have to try it one day in a safe location. I'm fairly certain I could empty a larger boat most of the way with a parallel technique...after all the larger boat and gravity would prevent me from flipping over backwards...but flipping the rescued boat upright after it is empty and staying upright yourself could be a trick.
 
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I have self rescued in a variety of tandems. My preferred move is to pop it up and out from the center and then climb back in. I'm not sure i could do that in a solo, particularly in my current size incarnation. I will have to try it this summer when the Osprey is finished.
 
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Inattention, or searching for a phone signal, have been the two most usual suspects when our students fall out of boats. Why they bring their cell phones (especially when we warn them against it) is beyond me but hey, that's their choice. When it has happened, like YC mentioned above, the conditions have been calm so getting folks back in and paddling hasn't been an issue. The one time I did have some difficulty was when we were paddling down in GA. A student leaned too far out over the boat and fell in. Unfortunately, there was a gator sunning itself on the bank about 100' away. The kid was so scared that he kept trying to get back into the boat while it was still full of water. The boat was spinning like a log in a rolling contest and I had some real difficulty convincing him that we'd get him back in faster if he'd only allow us to go a bit slower. In the end he was back in the boat and the gator never moved but he was a lot more attentive the rest of the day.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...Be well.

snapper
 
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My most difficult rescue was my soon to be ex mother in law. She capsized in a few feet of water twenty yards off shore wearing a PFD. I checked the life jacket's buoyancy by pushing her under several times with my paddle, then tried to unzip it to check the class and rating. She eventually waded to shore. The whole event was a disaster! Perhaps water soluble zippers?
 
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Oh well, CW, maybe it was for the best; now-a-days there's sure to be somebody making a video of it and the D.A.s have so little sense of humor. But I surely know the type: "Her absence makes for good company".

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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