Defensive Swim Position
If you find yourself swimming in swift water, put yourself in the Defensive Swim Position.
On your back
Feet on top of the water
Defend Off Rocks
In the defensive swim position use your feet to defend off rocks
that are above the water surface. Or use your hands to soften the impact of a rock on your bottom.
From the defensive swim position use your arms to back paddle and your legs to kick. You can slow down, swim to shore, or maneuver around a river hazard.
Ferry Across the current
Ferry your body just like a boat ferry. Point your head in the direction you want to go, back paddle and kick across the current.
Do Not stand up! Avoid Foot Entrapment
Foot entrapments are the leading cause of drowning in swiftwater.
A foot entrapment is caused by standing up or pushing off
the bottom of the river with your foot. Your foot gets wedged in a rock
and your body is pushed forward under water by the force of the current.
You will not have enough strength to recover from this position.
To avoid a foot entrapment, stay in the defensive swim position
until you get into slow moving or shallow water where you can stand up safely.
If you cannot avoid a hydraulic hole, tuck into a ball to reduce your surface area until you are through the hole.
Personal and group safety . A priority for Northern Paddle and Trail
Everyone knows there is some risk in outdoor activities and adventure sports.The important thing is to manage the risk and in the end decide if that risk is appropriate for the group and acceptable to you personally. Northern Paddle & Trail has a Safety Plan (see Leader Check List ) We ask each outing leader and participant to be familiar with and follow the plan.
Lean the boat - not your upper body. Keep your upper body
vertical, but rotate your hips to tilt the boat. This is known
as the “J” lean, because your body forms the shape of a J.
Don't tip with these 3 tips!
1) Run Parallel To the Current. With the Current
By running parallel to the current you will avoid catching submerged rocks mid-boat. This can cause an instant tip-over. If you do hit a rock, your bow will likely glance off the rock, rather then pin.
2) Lean Into the Rock
If you do hit a rock, lean into it. This is counter intuitive, but leaning into the rock can help avoid tipping. It will raise the bottom of your boat, shedding the current. That allows you to push off the rock with your hands or paddle.
3) Lean Downstream
When you cross the current, use a slight downstream lean with your boat. A downstream boat lean sheds the force of the water and helps prevent an upstream tip. How much you lean the boat depends on the speed of the current and the maneuver you are doing.
Swift water Equipment
If you or someone in your group gets a boat stuck in the river the first priority is to protect personal safety and the safety of the group.
Option 1 – Get Help
Recovering a pinned boat can be dangerous and if you do not have the right equipment or if the boat is in a dangerous location.
The best option may be to get help and recover the boat latter. Note: A pinned boat is a navigation hazardous for other river travels.
If you need to leave a boat in the river try to flag it or leave something visual to alert other boaters of the new river hazard.
When you get off the river let someone in the local paddling community know where the boat is pinned so they can
inform others and/or help recover it.
Roll the deck down stream
Downstream Pin / Upstream Pin
If you can safely get the gunwales of the boat facing
downstream it will help shed the force of the river.
This will help to protect your boat, and help with recovery.
Pivot & Pull Pivot
DO NOT TRY TO LIFT A BOAT FULL OF WATER.
A boat full of water can weigh over a ton. You may be able to roll
the boat upside down to empty the water out and then lift it off the rock.
You will most likely need to pivot the boat off the rock and
then roll it upside down to empty the boat and recover it.
Pull from the end of the boat farthest away from the rock
and/or the end in the strongest part of the current.
Once you get the boat moving allow it to pivot around
the rock until it is parallel with the current.
Pull the boat downstream clear of the rock.
While the boat is still floating, turn the boat upside down
to empty the water before trying to right the boat.
Rope It may be helpful and safer to attach a rope to the boat. A
rope can help you pull the boat off the rock and can help
you recover the boat once it is unpinned.
You can attach a rope to the grab loop of most modern kayaks.
This will also work for canoes, if you do not need to put a
lot of stress on the grab loop. If it is a difficult canoe recovery
it may be necessary to attach the rope around the canoe haul.
Weave the rope under a thwart around the haul and
back under the thwart, tie with a bowline.
If a rope alone is not sufficient
to get the boat off the rock ...
You may need to use a z-drag or
pulleys to gain a mechanical advantage.