River Rescue

It’s been a while since I’ve done a river rescue class, so I was glad to participate in one offered by one of the local AMC chapters. The class was focused on boat-based rescues with a minimum of equipment. The session started with a discussion of trip safety, and what leaders should think about when planning and running a trip. After the classroom session we headed out to the river to practice boat-based rescues including the “T” Rescue, Parallel/Side-by-Side Rescue, and the Hand of God Rescue. We also practiced emptying swamped boats and deep water recoveries.

After lunch we headed over to the Baby Gap (below Zoar Gap) to practice swimming and rescuing swimmers. I have to admit, I have swum this section many times after blowing a line in the Zoar Gap above, but this was the first time I did it intentionally.

We practiced swiftwater entries, safe/passive swimming and aggressive swimming. We also practiced towing swimmers, throw rope rescues and a vectored Live Bait rescue. It was a long, cold day, but definitely worth the time.

Few more pictures and videos here:


Pretty cool, that water looks intense to me!

The swim itself wasn’t bad, but I had way to much air in my drysuit - I need to burp it out better. I paddle whitewater in a canoe without a roll, so I get a fair amount of practice swimming. Ferrying in the passive position to get closer to shore, then flipping over and aggressively swimming into an eddy is stuff you don’t necessarily think about when you are bobbing downstream, but you should. Good to practice.

Yeah, I could see the strategizing in terms of when to actually swim and when to let the current take you somewhere, where you are close enough to short or rescue to make the effort worth it. Takes a little presence of mind to realize where you’re at.

Not sure if I will ever get a dry suit (OMG the sticker shock looking at the prices of them), but I also don’t plan on being on fast moving water like that, and I am not one to be out in cold water.

Don’t know where you live, or if you have any interested in paddling year round, but if you do a drysuit is a great investment. It get the sticker shock - they are expensive. I spent more on my drysuit than on my most expensive boat - a lot more.

I am in New Hampshire, but don’t plan on being on water all year. Perhaps mid May to mid September.

Mid May may still be too early to be out there (except maybe an inland pond) without immersion protection, be it a drysuit or wetsuit. Mid September is doable as the water temps are still warm.


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My plan is small ponds and lakes in southern NH. I have no desire to be on the ocean.

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