Deck line disaster

I think I know why you never see deck lines on whitewater boats, even old ones do not have them. As I was making a tight turn upriver in a very narrow creek with a strainer I missed the eddy and got washed backwards a little into the strainer. I thought it would be only a little problem, but it was worse because a branch of the strainer became entangled in my rear deck lines. It was hard to get the boat clear of the strainer and I’m thinking of taking the deck lines off if it looks like they can be put back on easily.

The boat is a Bic Scapa and it is my first SOT and I really like it for river work.

I’ve entertained
adding a few lines to my Torrent for easy whitewater, but think I’ll make them easy to remove for that reason. If I do anything more than an easy class II, I’ll just take the lines off and maybe 4 padeyes will be all that remains on the back deck.


See your own post on the knife thread
It sounds to me like you discovered a use for your large dive knife beyond cutting grapefruit and spreading peanut butter…

What can get caught …
Will get caught. I took a Carolina with a rudder down a strainer choked river on a high water run. Got tangled up in a strainer and a branch worked itself in with the rudder mechanism (the rudder was retracted). Fortunately, Charlie was paddling with me on that trip and was able to get his boat beside me and break the skick off. The water was swift and deep, and I’m not sure how I’d have gotten off that strainer on my own.

So, I am in agreement that one should not paddle through strainer-choked streams with anything that can get snagged. Loose the deck lines for that kind of duty.

This echoes a repeated controversy
about painters on canoes used in whitewater. Now, more and more paddlers are not using painters at all, because of concerns about snagging or limb entanglement. I still use short 10’ painters on one of my boats, but I have to say that in my decked boat experience, in c-1 or kayak, I never needed anything but grab loops. In the 60s, whitewater boats were often rigged with grab lines along the hull, but later on, people decided these grab lines seldom had a positive function, and were just a snagging risk.

I will always have painters
I have never seen a painter get snagged. Just keep them smooth, without knots or anything to get snagged on. I do not believe in getting seperated from my hull and you can get yourself and hull into an eddy if there is a line to grab. The alternative is to loose the large floatation device (hull) and be in the current alone. What does one do, let the hull float on downstream, then walk or swim to where it stops? On some rivers that can be miles away. In my experience it is much better to get yourself and hull into an eddy than to let the boat go whereever, then try to find it. Even when that happens it is much easier to recover a hull that has painters, than not.

Well, there’s always those large, long
thigh straps on the Torrent too. I’d guess those are much more likely to snag than a bungee deck line, wouldn’t you?

I’ll be adding some bungee deck lines to at least the stern of my Torrent, probably the bow too. They’ll probably assist getting back on after a swim, but more importantly, they’ll serve to hold a drybag or two. Also picked up a cheap backband for it. Between a backband & thigh straps versus some flat deck lines, I’m guessing the deck lines are the least of my worries about entanglement. . . .