Monday, June 17, 2013

A man's got to know his limitations.

...and one of our co-workers didn't remember that.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This fellow got his hands on a 17' long aluminum canoe that was in pretty nice shape for $200.  Not a bad deal, really.  A little cosmetic touch up and a few minor upgrades and he was ready to go paddling.  It didn't quite look new, but was in great shape.   So, he and another guy from work and the owner's most recent squeeze decided they'd like to take the canoe out - the question was, where?  The owner knew a paddler who was a guide who thought she knew a good place to go.

To be fair, I think the owner actually had an idea of his limitations.  He asked the guide to take them somewhere that was just a "nice paddle".  The problem was that the woman that he asked was actually a whitewater paddling guide.  She showed up with a plastic squirt boat and they put in on a well known local river that has timed releases for whitewater rafters and paddlers.  Did I mention that this was after a large volume of rain?

They were heading downstream at a good clip and had been on the river maybe 15 minutes when they didn't manage to take the path that the guide wanted them to. 


Pretty soon the three occupants of the canoe found themselves swimming in very cold water, trying to breathe and trying to retrieve gear.  (A cooler full of beer, if truth be told...) 

Broach - it's an ugly word.  Even uglier is what it means - when a boat broaches in whitewater, it's usually wrapped around a rock with the strong current keeping the boat pressed on the rock.  It can be very dangerous for paddlers that are trapped in the boat as you can be pushed between the boat and the rock - and you may be underwater.  The force of water on the surface area of a boat that has been broached is incredible - literally tons of force are applied to the boat. 

Sometimes you can use a paddle and pry the boat loose - other times you need to rig a block and tackle from shore to the boat to be able to apply enough force to remove the boat or at least turn it in such a way that the water actually forces the boat off the rock.  Ultimately, it is very important to get the boat removed so that it doesn't present a hazard to navigation to following paddlers or to leave behind a boat that will become trash in the river.

Fortunately for our hapless little group, some of the co-workers of the guide showed up with a paddling group and spent a half hour or so getting the canoe off the rock.  Here are the remains - and the pictures just don't do it justice:

Note the dents and wrinkles below and behind the boat's name : Seif Raida.   Yes, the name is sort of phonetic - "Safe Rider".  Now realize that Seif Raida is a brand name for condoms in Papua New Guinea.

No, don't adjust the vertical hold on your monitor - that is the new shape of the canoe.  There are popped rivets and torn aluminum.  You can see two of the thwarts laying on the floor of the canoe.  I might add that the boat was pried back into this "improved" shape from the shape that it was when wrapped around the rock.

One final parting shot of the destruction.

So, I have to commend themselves for doing the most important thing right - they were wearing their life jackets.  

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