I was running the DeerfieldRiver in Massachusetts at 3,000 cfs (800 cfs is the release level) with a group of five hairball Class V boaters. It was a cold air and cold water situation again. I flipped at the top of Island Rapid, a Class V at these levels. My first roll popped my sprayskirt; my second was a deep low brace; I was really loose now and fell out on my third attempt. I tried to hold my boat, but it was ripped out of my hand. I concentrated on breathing and using my paddle to get to shore. I got tired fast. Someone paddled up to me and asked if I was OK, I couldn’t answer, so the person paddled away. I got caught in the fold of a powerful eddy line and got sucked way down.
I thought it was goodbye world, but my paddle got caught in a swirl and pulled me back up. I couldn’t talk or breath; it was like my lungs were frozen. The same guy came over and asked if I was OK. I couldn’t answer or grab his boat, so he paddled away. What a jerk! Somehow I forced some air in with my abdominal muscles before the eddy line sucked me down again. I let go of my paddle before it spat me out again. My lifejacket zipper was undone and it was held on just by the waist tie. Finally another guy came up to me and I was able to grab his stern. It was very hard to breathe and I was scared now. Turns out I was the only person on the trip who knew CPR. If I’d lost consciousness, I’d be dead.