CLOSE CALL FOR A MAINE CANOEIST
My partner and I were paddling the Soudabscook on Saturday, March, 26, 1994. It is a small stream, running at a medium level, punctuated with many Class III drops and one Class IV. We were coming around the bend below Crawford’s Drop, the Class IV, when we saw a woman in an open boat broached across two trees. She was upright and leaning hard downstream to keep from flipping. Her group was already downstream and appeared unaware of her situation.
I pulled into the micro-eddy created by her boat and told her I would try to help. She was very scared, and shaking visibly. As I was talking to her and assessing the situation, I started to slip downstream, out of the micro-eddy. As I realized what was happening, the stern of my Viper squirt C-1 struck something and started to sink. Before I could react, the boat stood on its stern at a 45 degree angle, then flipped. The boat with me in it, then became pinned under two half-submerged logs. The force of the water pushed me against the back deck. At first I couldn’t grab my sprayskirt loop and bail out, but after what seemed like a long time I reached the grab loop and pushed out of the boat. The current held me briefly against the logs, then pushed me free. After a short swim I made it to shore.
My partner said I had been totally submerged and he was worried that I would not get out. He ran back upstream and assisted the woman, whom he was able to free easily from shore.
The lesson to be learned is simple. I didn’t look below the eddy I was in, and endangered myslef while attempting to help someone. I am an advance boater and was having a great day, and over-estimated my ability to make and hold the eddy.
AUTHOR: Dan Crocker, posting to rec.boats.paddle
EDITOR’S NOTE: The worst trashings I have ever experienced resulted from catching small eddies in out-of-the-way places, while trying to help rafting guests as a guide. We often try things in a rescue situation that we would not otherwise attempt, with unfortunate results. A word to the wise is sufficient!