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  • Not really possible to determine what happened and learn anything from the news media. Articles say they got sucked into the dam outflow area near the bottom of the dam not the top, and capsized. Hydraulic at the outflow, with recirculating capsized kayaks? Experienced kayakers, but not sure what kinds of conditions that experience level was, or moving water training. Pictures from family all show flat water paddling. All accidents are unfortunate. Sounds like he was a great friend and person in general.

  • I guess "DANGER" means "DANGER" to everyone.

  • The location of danger signs upstream from a dam is a best estimate. But paddlers need to keep in mind it is often a best estimate for a motorized craft, at least a fishing boat with a small motor on it. No one is trying to be unsafe, it is just the common use that planners think about. Add an underflow and it gets harder to gauge from the surface of the water.

    This is truly tragic for the family and friends of the paddler.

  • Who knows, the wife is quoted in this article saying a ACA level 2 is the second highest coaching level. Last time I did ACA , Level 5 was the highest level. Level 2 was basically an introduction to flat water kayaking.

  • edited January 14

    Unfortunately, it seems like a case of very bad judgement and a failure to put any thought at all into the possible consequences of paddling where they did, and that must be true regardless of their so-called experience level. Take a look at an air photo of the Redrock Dam and you can see that nothing else can explain how they got where they did. The "shore" that they were paddling along was not a shore at all, but the face of the dam itself (it's an earthen dam). The "strange shift in current" was what would naturally be encountered when entering or passing in front of the outlet channel. Note on the photo that the outlet channel is only 300 feet wide, and near the center of a dam that is thousands of feet long. Being able to paddle to that location, and to look at that outflow channel and not be mindful of the danger is what got them in trouble.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.3710767,-92.980107,652m/data=!3m1!1e3

  • edited January 14

    @SeaDart said:
    Who knows, the wife is quoted in this article saying a ACA level 2 is the second highest coaching level. Last time I did ACA , Level 5 was the highest level. Level 2 was basically an introduction to flat water kayaking.

    Also wasn't clear if he took the class, or was an instructor - big difference.

  • Holy crap - why would you ever paddle anywhere near that. We have lots of dams around here, but nothing that big.

  • @Guideboatguy Am I missing something or are there just three buoys clustered what I would call dangerously close to the outflow on the upstream side? I see some others on the NE shore, but seeing the crane I would tend to read them as being more about the construction site than a dangerous water flow.

    Unclear to me from the article whether these two paddlers knew that area.

  • edited January 14

    ACA Level II:
    The Level II course looks like a very basic kayak course.
    I'm inclined to believe that neither paddler were very experienced, or skilled paddlers.
    Seriously doubt either were instructors.
    Both certainly made poor decisions.
    Getting too close to dams, either upstream or downstream is just asking for trouble, in my opinion.

    BOB

  • Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...................
    Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind.....................
    Do this, don't do that; can't you read the sign?????














  • So... The post mortem is to please heed the signs and stay away from dams... No matter your paddling skills and rated ACA level.

    sing

  • Kevin Beatty, the survivor, is a certified L2, coastal kayak, essentials of kayak touring. Also completed the skills assessment for coastal kayaking L3,

    No record for Mr. Chicoine in the newly revamped (unfortunately) ACA listing, but many instructors have been left out - including L5 instructor/trainers. Something that wasn't broke was "fixed," but now really needs fixing.

    I did see a reference to Timothy Chicoine at another site as holding the same L2 certification as Beatty, but couldn't access the PDF file.

    Such incidents remind me of the discussions here about situational awareness and risk assessment.

  • So, Coastal & not River. When I took ACA L3 we didn't discuss dams or moving water other than tides. I've spend a fair bit of time on rivers and paddle (or at least used to paddle) whitewater & have a healthy respect for dams, pour-overs, and ledges. I have personal experience on the Big South Fork of how far downstream a reversal can reach.

  • L2 is not experienced, but remember my Central Tenet of Male Kayaking: Any male under the age of 80 who has been in a kayak twice considers himself intermediate or experienced.

    "Course Overview: The Essentials of Kayak Touring course is designed to teach beginner paddlers to safely and enjoyably kayak on lakes, calm protected ocean environments, and other flatwater settings."

    An admirable and ambitious list of paddling and safety topics is covered in 8 hours, but that is not enough time to master any of them. I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner. One would think that being in their late 50s these guys would have learned about the danger of dams somewhere along the line, but maybe not. Even truly experienced people make deadly errors, nobody is immune to it.

  • Hmm, a few things. Agreed coastal paddling generally does not give anyone a lesson about inland dams, especially an underflow one. Those of us who live inland tend to get that lesson from spring flooding and annual springtime stories about someone getting caught by a dam.
    There were likely signs on shore warning them to stay away, which I couldn't have seen in the aerial. Duh on me.

    As to qajaaman's point.... a highly certed instructor told Jim and myself years ago that he did not expect to see us in a headline even going out with just two of us in Maine. Because together we were always pretty conservative.

  • edited January 15

    Dont know about the top, but there are adequate signs at the bottom. I wonder if there was a floating barrier above that was removed for the winter or something?

    https://www.redrockhydroproject.com/images/uploads/Red_Rock_Dam.jpg

  • @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced, but remember my Central Tenet of Male Kayaking: Any male under the age of 80 who has been in a kayak twice considers himself intermediate or experienced.

    I'm pretty sure 95% of the kayak people I've met fall into this category. More so male, but females too.

  • I've been kayaking since the 80s and I'm still an intermediate.

  • @string said:
    I've been kayaking since the 80s and I'm still an intermediate.

    Remember the old P-net with the self-rating in the profile - I rarely trusted the advice from those that considered themselves "Advance".

  • @eckilson said:
    Holy crap - why would you ever paddle anywhere near that. We have lots of dams around here, but nothing that big.

    Exactly! And I bet you don't take your ww boats into your smaller local dams to
    play either.

  • The report that they were upstream was wrong. They got drawn upstream from below by the "whirlpool effect" as they call it. Maybe one of them lost their glasses and was trying to see what the big red sign said (see picture in article),

    https://www.pellachronicle.com/gallery/tragedy-at-dam-proves-powers-of-nature-teamwork/article_eda7f4e0-150d-11e9-8dba-2b37dff3ef67.html

  • edited January 17

    @string said:
    I've been kayaking since the 80s and I'm still an intermediate.

    (Edit: This is not a comment on the two kayakers mentioned in this thread. They had probably already been through all the ups and downs on the blue line.)

    Perhaps these stages in a photographer's life also fit a kayaker:

  • @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced,
    [...]
    I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner.

    What would you consider the coach of that class? That is what is relevant here.

  • @qajaqman Thanks for the updated article. Dams can be dangerous as heck from either side....

  • Any significant volume of water pouring down those steep sluices from underneath the gates would be expected to produce a large hydraulic with a strong reversal current. Presumably, the two victims got recirculated repeatedly. Too bad the gates could not have been closed more quickly.

    I suspect most boaters with whitewater experience would have recognized the boil line that marks the boundary between the downstream current and the reversal, and stayed well away from it. But it sounds like these individuals may have had only flat water experience.

    If the flow through the gates had been increased when the pair were in the immediate vicinity, the reversal current could have suddenly increased and the boil line moved further down stream.

  • edited January 17

    @pblanc Just to comment on one thing that makes me a little crazy from folks who only do WW - and you are not the only I have heard this from. Long boaters and flat water boaters are NOT necessarily the same thing. Flat means water that is flat, or relatively so. That is not the case when dealing with waves and haystacks over your head off of points at low tide or in tidal races, or in bigger surf, or getting caught out in a squall of the same, or in wind at a high enough speed to push big waves. And dealing with this for distances more like a half mile to a mile if things catch you rather than getting to a nearby shore.

    That rant done, yes big water paddlers often are not trained as well as WW people to see then patterns in moving water or be aware of its behavior thru narrower spaces. The closest would be people who have worked in tidal races, but that is probably only a smallish percentage of all sea kayakers. Partly because the really strong ones only exist in certain places, like the upper northeast and northwest.

  • edited January 17

    Sure, different challenges exist. But pour overs creating strong hydraulics are not common features for ocean paddlers. Most whitewater boaters of experience have been stuck in a hydraulic a few times and have likely been recirculated at least once or twice and found the experience memorable. And many have spent hours scouting hundreds, if not thousands of rapids, scrutinizing them intently for "boat traps" like hydraulics and big holes. The eye becomes trained.

    Sometimes a killer hole, a recirculating eddy, or lethal hydraulic might appear quite benign. Many have died after running a weir and getting caught in the reversal because it looked "easy". There is a hole at the top of Woodall Shoals rapid on section IV of the Chattooga River that has killed dozens which can look quite benign to even whitewater paddlers of moderate experience.

    I have seen kayakers casually attempting to enter their boats in the tail end of a recirculating eddy below a low-head dam who found that they had drifted back into the strong reversal current by the time they got their spray skirt on, and have to paddle ferociously or have a rope thrown to them to escape the pull.

    The point is that this pair clearly did not recognize the potential of a reversal current or they would not have ventured anywhere near to it.

  • edited January 17

    in general I avoid paddling in, around, or over manmade structures, that even includes artificial ww courses! I rarely "play" under bridges, since there is often manmade debri there as well.

    One of my favorite runs has it's share of rebar, chunks of concrete. and other debri but I'm pretty cognizant of where it is (scouting at low flow) and work to avoid it. Yes, I've run a few dams and even purposefuly surfed in spillway outflow. So I have made exceptions when it suited me. I think in general, folks underestimate the dangers of manmade structures- be it a cattle fence, a low head dam, a spillway hole or backwash, and often even breached dams have unseen debri.

    I think each of us needs to be prepared (skillset and gearwise) for whatever environment we choose to paddle in. "Flatwater" can be anything but flat.

    Ocean and Great Lake paddlers got way bigger kahunas than I do. That water is deep and you can be a long way from shore. Then you throw in currents , tides, wind, water temps, and ocean critters and there is a lot to consider.

    As far as woodall shoals (chattooga) and the L (big south fork): know the water levels, be on your line, and punch drops real fast and hard (or in the modern age boof) or you just carry around that stuff. Understand that mistakes can have serious consequences. It's your *ss on the line so you make the decision. "Stuff" does happen.

    As far as certification, I am certifiable, just not at a very high level. Certification in general is a good starting point but not the end all be all. This discussion reminds me it's time for me to again renew my first-aid/cpr and that I have some pretty huge holes in my own game that need to be filled (I struggle with rolling and hand of God).

  • I suspect a lot of regulars on this board could be certifiable... :)

  • Quoting Paul Simon, "Celia, you're breakin my heart".

  • @Celia said:
    I suspect a lot of regulars on this board could be certifiable... :)

    Nutz to that!

  • Interestingly when the Appalachian Mountain Club started running trips out of Knubble Bay ( inbetween two sizeable powerful tidal races) the leaders were all out of Boston AMC Whitewater committee.

    I am pretty good at dealing with tidal whirlpools and eddies that constantly change but ask Pete about failure to hug a rootwad on the Current. He helped me out from my forgetfulness.

    So while some whitewater skills are handy for long boaters on the ocean it does not make us skilled river runners.. And embarrasingly I am a Level 3 ACA instructor. Freestyle.. And about a level one student on the river.

  • @Celia said:
    I suspect a lot of regulars on this board could be certifiable... :)

    Sign me up. :smile:

  • These guys were not big water paddlers or seakayakers, i think most experienced ocean paddlers who do rock gardens and tide races would have known the signs meant there was a reversal current and hydraulic at the base of the dam. Most of the people I paddle with can recognize details on the surface of the water that tell a story of current and where you want to be and where you don't want to be. The victim' training and pictures show two flat water, inland boaters. Unfortunately owning a seakayak or a vanilla touring SINK does not give you moving water skills by osmosis. Anyone who has ever done any training near a dam has been told of the dangers. Its a sad lesson for people on that river to learn. In hawaii they post very severe warning signs, some say how many people have drowned at a particular spot on the coast, and some show cartoon images of how you will be bashed by the rocks and waves and drown. Maybe the signage in Iowa should be more explicit.

  • I'm confused - were these guys upstream or downstream of the dam? Either way I wouldn't have been any where near it.

  • @eckilson First article had them upstream, later one had them downstream. I assume the later article is more correct.

  • @Allan Olesen said:

    @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced,
    [...]
    I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner.

    What would you consider the coach of that class? That is what is relevant here.

    I dont think either was an instructor.) I thought that was an error in one of the articles.

  • @eckilson said:
    I'm confused - were these guys upstream or downstream of the dam? Either way I wouldn't have been any where near it.

    In the article I posted they were downstream and got sucked upstream.

  • @qajaqman said:
    In the article I posted they were downstream and got sucked upstream.

    That seems more likely to me - the reversal on the downstream side of a dam that big must be pretty powerful, and why would anyone paddle close to the gates on the upstream side.

  • @qajaqman said:

    @Allan Olesen said:

    @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced,
    [...]
    I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner.

    What would you consider the coach of that class? That is what is relevant here.

    I dont think either was an instructor.) I thought that was an error in one of the articles.

    Both were ACA certified at L2, as posted here Jan 14

  • L2 means students, not instructors, if I recall the ACA certs correctly.

  • In ACA parlance, "L" usually simply denotes "level". Here are the baseline physical requirements and instructional expertise expected of an "ACA Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring" Instructor Candidate:

    http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/aca.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/sei-courses/l2_ekt_instcrit.pdf

    As you can see, at this particular level, what is expected of the instructor is some mastery of basic flat water strokes, rescue and re-entry techniques, and flat water safety issues and hazards, although weather and tide conditions, signaling devices, boat traffic issues, charts, and float plans are also part of the curriculum.

    But basically nothing mentioned about dynamic moving water hazards.

    It is not until "ACA Level 4: Coastal Kayaking" that the following skills are required:

    kayak roll
    Negotiate Moderate Wind & Sea Conditions
    Paddling comfort in moderate seas
    Ability to paddle in a head sea / beam sea / quartering sea / following sea
    Ability to turn up and down wind efficiently
    Ability to hold position
    Negotiate Moderate Surf
    Launch & land forward
    Launch & land backward
    Surf, broach and side surf
    Negotiate Moderate Current
    Establish ferry angle (forward & reverse)
    Control peeling out / eddy turns
    Kayak Tripping:
    Day Trips: show evidence of at least three or more day trips of at least 12-15 nautical miles in various conditions
    Multi Day Trips: Show evidence of at least one multi-day journey involving overnight camping

    http://cdn.ymaws.com/www.americancanoe.org/resource/resmgr/SEI-Courses/L4_OWCK_Assessment.pdf

  • @Celia said:
    L2 means students, not instructors, if I recall the ACA certs correctly.

    Kevin Beatty is listed as a certified L2 instructor on the ACA website: https://www.americancanoe.org/members/?id=36922164&hhSearchTerms="Beatty"

  • I guess l did not recall what L means. That said, Pblanc explanation doesn't sound like someone who would have yet experienced a broad,mix of more challenging big, or moving, water conditions.

  • edited January 20

    @Rookie said:

    @qajaqman said:

    @Allan Olesen said:

    @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced,
    [...]
    I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner.

    What would you consider the coach of that class? That is what is relevant here.

    I dont think either was an instructor.) I thought that was an error in one of the articles.

    Both were ACA certified at L2, as posted here Jan 14

    I remember you posting that info, but you said "Kevin Beatty, the survivor, is a certified L2, coastal kayak, essentials of kayak touring. Also completed the skills assessment for coastal kayaking L3"

    Since you did not say he was an instructor I assumed they were both merely certified L2 paddlers. But I appreciate the clarification

    @Allan Olesen said:

    @qajaqman said:
    L2 is not experienced,
    [...]
    I would consider a graduate of that class a better-informed beginner.

    What would you consider the coach of that class? That is what is relevant here.

    I would consider them capable of teaching raw beginners to become better informed beginners, but not much more. One of the things in a possible L2 course includes training about hazards and obstructions including dams.

    https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/aca.site-ym.com/resource/.../sei-courses/l2_ekt_skills.pdf

    but I don't see that its madatory. Maybe these guys weren't taught about dam dangers in their instructor cert, which would be scary because then they wouldn't teach their students either. Hard to say, and I don't want to make any assumptions.

    I don't have high regard for certifications. Plenty of very good, smart, safe paddlers get them and plenty more learn the same things other ways. There certainly have been a number of certified instructor incidents that I'm aware of in recent years that give me some pause.

  • There was only minimal exposure to, and discussion of moving water in my Paddle Canada L2. To the best of my knowledge, this is roughly equivalent to the ACA L2.

    I've picked up much more on my own, and when I went to the BOFSKS.

  • @qajaqman said:

    Maybe these guys weren't taught about dam dangers in their instructor cert, which would be scary because then they wouldn't teach their students either. Hard to say, and I don't want to make any assumptions.

    I don't have high regard for certifications. Plenty of very good, smart, safe paddlers get them and plenty more learn the same things other ways. There certainly have been a number of certified instructor incidents that I'm aware of in recent years that give me some pause.

    They had to have been taught that as the ACA Level 2 Essentials of Kayak Touring includes the following under safety and rescue: "Hazards: wind, waves, weather, current, rocks, bridges, piers, dams, strainers, traffic."

    But oddly such hazards aren't mentioned in the instructor criteria: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.americancanoe.org/resource/resmgr/sei-courses/l2_ekt_instcrit.pdf

    The article you cited stated:

    "The men, along with two other kayakers, were paddling southeast of the dam on a sunny January day when temperatures rose into the 50s. Chicoine and Beatty got too close to the stilling basin, where water pours from Lake Red Rock through the dam gates. It’s extremely turbulent, Tracy Spry, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Tuesday. 'The water has an immense amount of force, and if you get beyond that restricted area, there are chances you can get drawn in,' Spry said."

    Terrible consequences from a lapse in judgment, risk assessment, and situational awareness.

    As to certified instructors, I like that they all have to undergo training and testing. But they're all different and I think have different levels of safety concerns. During one class a L4 coastal kayak instructor had us practice with a contact tow. When I worked with an L5 coach, he checked my boat and disapproved of the contact tow (he doesn't use one). It was all about safety, so now I wear my tow belt instead.

  • Getting taught EFFECTIVELY about dams and circulating current in a useful way usually means being put into it. Even in small side tributaries under railroad bridges south of Troy, we have had groups where someone has to be towed thru because they weren't ready for the force of the tide. And the usual tide height is only about 3 feet and a few inches.

    We have lots of smaller examples here where there are dams and industrial development and branches of the Hudson and Mohawk as they come together. There are spots for someone to get a lesson close into the cities where there is little risk of something fatal, just getting useful egg on their face. But that is not so in many areas.

  • Military had a saying in the old days One "awh sh..t" wipes out ten "atta-boys". It doesn't matter what certifications you have or paddles you've done ……… one bad decision can wipe all that away.

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