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Should you have to pay the costs of a rescue?

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I don't disagree at all and not trying to get people upset. Iam just saying fining people for rescues can be a real slippery slope.
 
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I don't disagree at all and not trying to get people upset. Iam just saying fining people for rescues can be a real slippery slope.
I doubt the family will be billed as a matter of compassion but its NH law that you can be assessed for rescue costs if you are found negligent in preparation. That has been on the books for many years.
 
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I just ran across a video of a guy and his dad in the Boundary Waters who had to use their spot to be rescued this past May (2022).


As best I can tell, the 2 men (father and adult son who narrates the video and claims they are experienced canoeists) were portaging around some rapids. Before they have their accident, the son points out the portage trail is partially flooded by moving water (for sure a warning sign of unusually high water). They still put in at the end of the portage trail thinking the rapids were behind them. They didn't scout downstream of the portage end. But because of the higher water than usual, there seems to have been significant moving water and rapids below the portage that they didn't figure on. They put in and overturned. The 2 men were separated and the son managed to get to shore with the boat and all the gear while the dad was stranded on a rock and then got to an island, soaked, cold and shivering (45 degree water temps; air temps in 50s). You can see there was a pretty significant rapid BELOW where they overturned preventing the son from self rescuing his dad. So the son activated the spot (and later calling 911 on his dad's phone which was in the canoe), resulting in a dramatic helicopter rescue.
 
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Experienced canoeists that can't ferry across a river? There is a lot of details to their scenario I can not see and are unknown but as an armchair critic I don't think I would have pushed the spot at that point. The unknowns I come up with it could easily change my mind. There appeared to be other options to solve their location problems. Assuming they have a throw line or reasonable length of line either to pass dry gear and food to father or to line canoe from upstream and between line and ferrying canoe to safety.
That is awesome that they posted their video. There is a lot to gain from others misfortune to prevent further misfortune.
 
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Experienced canoeists that can't ferry across a river?
I'm sure they were both shell-shocked and not thinking clearly. Swimming in cold water will do that to you if you are unprepared. But I agree that with the benefit of hindsight, an experienced canoeist should have been able to make a front ferry over to the dad. This is most visible at 2:42 (when he's walking the canoe right after the capsize). The water there looks calm and pretty slow. It looks like he could have emptied the water, re-launched right then and there and done an easy front ferry across to his dad (who you can see at 3:21 isn't very far away). The current doesn't look that strong. Then after getting his dad dry and warm they could have ferried back across the calm part and portaged down past the fast moving water / waves you can see at 7:05.
 
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I'm sure they were both shell-shocked and not thinking clearly.
I can see that but the one time I dumped in cold water - Quetico in October - I am still surprised how clear it is and how we reacted. Maybe it's just the self preservation instincts. But I don't think I would have ever thought to video it. And the one time I even considered hitting the SOS (my son said he'd be too embarrassed) in fact we would not have perished, so persevered in the dark of night.
 
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This video is just so wrong.. That someone wanted to video it while NOT making any effort to get to Dad is so WRONG! Surely they have line and clothing to knot together somewhere.
Social media makes people do crazy things. And he is in DRY clothing!
Where is the throw bag? It is not required in the US, is in Canada but any experienced canoeist carries one! I have no sympathy. Water in May is just above freezing but I don't see where anyone was immersed that long
 

Glenn MacGrady

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A lot of flat water lake trippers have little to no experience reading, paddling or performing rescues in swift water and rapids. That would appear to include this pair.

It is somewhat hard to tell, but from what I can see, aside from the son's apparent inability to ferry across the current, he should have been able to drag or portage the canoe into the slow water upstream of the father's island and simply paddle down to it and eddy out behind it. Then both paddlers could have made a short, easy paddle to the shore.

Still, it's commendable for the guys to post the video as a learning experience for others. To return to the payment issue, I think they should be obligated to pay for the rescue.
 
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I was looking on this with interest to see what the group would think, i was worried I was being critical.

Lots of valid points have been made, I also noticed that the capsize resulted in an equipment yard sale, I always run a line through the bag loops so that stuff stays together, with the canoe.

For me, there was a lot of effort in making a video .... but not much on helping ... after all the guy had a choice, he had all the gear and the canoe and he seemed to choose to give up and keep filming.

Brian
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I also noticed that the capsize resulted in an equipment yard sale

Early on, I noticed the canoe was loaded with the barrel vertical and the packs piled high above the gunwales. Maybe there was no other way to store those packs in that particular canoe, but such top-heaviness would certainly add to instability in current.
 
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Not sure if everyone understands that they were going upstream, the problems started when they did not portage far enough and put in before they reached calm water. It would not take much to spin around and swamp given the strength of the current they were paddling against.

Maybe I missed it but I don't recall seeing any paddles, I suspect they may have lost them in the dump or maybe dad still had his but son who had the canoe did not.

Yellowcanoe is correct, a throw rope would have resolved the immediate issue of Dad being stuck on the small island.

Personally I think they were a bit too quick to push the button, neither were injured and while without paddles self extraction might not have been easy they did have their packs. In addition, pushing the button when you have a functioning cell phone was another mistake but at least they did use the phone to convey their situation to rescuers who would then know the nature of their issue (serious but not critical).
 
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A lot of flat water lake trippers have little to no experience reading, paddling or performing rescues in swift water and rapids. That would appear to include this pair.
That's an excellent point and may explain why the guy wasn't able to make a rescue attempt himself.

Also, not being there, it's hard to tell just how significant the upstream rapids were. I know that stuff that looks big and bouncy when you go down through it often looks pretty tame when viewed from downstream looking back up.
 
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Maybe I missed it but I don't recall seeing any paddles, I suspect they may have lost them in the dump
Another good catch. You are right. None visible. If you go to YouTube and read the comments, he says his dad had both paddles on the island.
 
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I would lean towards a fine, based on him filming. At least both of them deserve a good talking to. and the son filming?
 

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A lot of flat water lake trippers have little to no experience reading, paddling or performing rescues in swift water and rapids. That would appear to include this pair.

That's an excellent point and may explain why the guy wasn't able to make a rescue attempt himself.

Yes, there are two levels of critical analysis relevant to this video.

First, any paddlers with intermediate whitewater paddling experience, rescue skills and proper equipment could have rescued the dad in more than one way without calling for a helicopter. The son had at least one paddle, for at 6:52 he says he paddled to shore. In that context, the criticisms being made are valid and instructive.

Second, the son apparently realized that he did not have sufficient swiftwater paddling or rescue skills. He was cold, shivering, mentally shocked, and scared for himself and his father. He admits he "didn't know what to do." In that context, it's understandable that he felt he could do nothing and pressing the SOS button was his best option.
 

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The son had at least one paddle, for at 6:52 he says he paddled to shore.

He does say that. I think he meant he swam to shore with the canoe. His comments in a reply on YouTube says his dad had the paddles.

Call me cynical, but do I believe what he says in the video at the time or what he says in response to a probing comment a month or so later?

I visualize that they put in above the rapid with the canoe facing upstream, essentially front ferrying out into the current. They were probably sitting instead of more stable kneeling, probably with top-heavy gear above the gunwales, probably without a downstream J-heel of the hull, and probably with no third paddle affixed to the canoe. In that visualization, the current window-shaded them upstream as soon as the bow hit the swift water.

If the son truly had no paddle, that does change the rescue options. Nothing is impossible, but it seems very unusual to me for an upstream bow paddler to end up with both paddles in a swim. It's also elementary canoe safety to have an extra paddle lashed into the canoe with some sort of semi-quick release via a cord tie, Velcro or bungee attachment, or a simple wedge.

GoPro cameras are so wide angle that they distort distance perspectives badly, but the father's island doesn't look that far from the shore. Maybe he was old and out of shape, but a reasonably fit person, already wet, could have swum the short distance from the island to the shore, especially if a rescue rope were involved. A paddle may have been throwable from the island to the son.

But if the son didn't have the skill or confidence to ferry across class 1 current or to eddy out behind an island in it, then paddle availability was moot.
 
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Lots of folks only paddle BWCAW and reports this spring of the high water and flooding were in the once in many years category. They may never have seen it like this year, expecting the typical flat water. They should have been more cautious, but probably didn't believe it how high the water was. It's hard to say nope to months of planning, not going to do this route.
 
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