Suffering needlessly

well String “this is a cautionary tale for all boaters”… and you are a boater so there are no exceptions, Perhaps we could make the list into a check off sheet, put it on clipboard, and put a waiver/release on the bottom; you’d also have to sign off that you actually watched the video and were aware of your own limitations…that in fact you know, what you don’t know,…in that way I can be excused of any liability for encouraging others to “suffer needlessly” . If you made it this far into this thread then you have definately "suffered needlessly’’…this is almost as gripping (but not quite) as the “should I hang or fold my drysuit” (my way is definately better) debate.

I lived just outside of Madison Wisconsin for a couple of years when I was a post-doc at the University. Our church had a group outing on the Wisconsin River, paddling about 12 miles with about 15 couples in rental boats. Unfortunately the breezy forecast got updated to 45 mph just before the canoe livery dropped us off. The wind was blowing up river about 90% of the time and the only way to make progress was to hug the bank and sometimes get out and push the canoe from the stern in shallow water. My wife and I got back OK, and ended up walking back up the river and bringing several other canoes down to the take out. What was going to be a pleasant morning ended up being an all day work out . Boy do church ladies get pissed when they can’t make their canoes go forward. My wife calls this “The Great Wisconsin Canoeing Ordeal” She’s not a fan of small boats .

ahhh thank goodness an actual “suffering needlessly” tale. Yeah, being windbound, getting blown backwards, blown off your line, having to put forth massive amounts of effort to cover short distances- often worse with rafts, canoes, or any boat with a lot of rocker. Thanks for sharing…I have an exwife who wasn’t very fond of getting blown off of Racquette Lake (NY) canoeing in the wee hours of the morning.

That’s a lot of good advice.

I spend a lot of time on rivers full of trees so I have a few light-hearted comments.

You can’t really eliminate snag hazards. Even the paddler is a snag hazard. The stream in the pics tried to pull me out of my boat twice by grabbing the flotation pad on the back of my PFD. A canoe with a roof might help but mine are all convertibles.

It may be wise to make sure you can back paddle your canoe so you know you have the option of backing up even when going downstream. Then when you come upon a difficult section (pics) you can back up and think about it before committing to a decision that you may regret.

Bring a hat that you can use to keep the sun out of your eyes. One of my favorite paddles requires continuous weaving around downfall and there is often only one line. After paddling upstream for hours I’ve found myself going back downstream headed right into the sun which makes it hard to see the clear line…and now the current is pushing you along towards obstacles.

Ignore the snakes. Snakes are like turtles in that they generally aren’t looking for any trouble and they’ll yield the right of way to clumsy humans.


1 Like

When I first started paddling in SC , I joined the Foothills Paddling Club. Mostly canoeist with several senior members.
We went to the upper reaches of Cedar Creek in what is now Congaree National Park. It was a drought year so the creek was narrow and shallow. It is a typical swamp creek with more turns than I cared to count.
Those long tandem canoes couldn’t turn the corners. My 12’ Acadia was fine. Hard to believe now but I was one of the younger, stouter paddlers. A couple of us spent the day dragging and sometimes portaging those canoes over the corners.
By the end of the day , we had mud and sand up to our chins. Cracker Barrel has never been such a welcome sight on the way home.
A couple of memories that have stayed. We stopped at one point on a narrow sand bar and an older woman announced " I gotta pee, so if you don’t want to see my butt, turn around." I would have without the announcement.
When we got back to the vehicles, the best looking woman popped the front and back doors of her car and proceeded to strip while never ceasing to talk.
Having now been associated with outdoor women for 30+ years, those things don’t even register now.
Tom’s photos look a lot like that trip.

thanks for your post. Your group has plenty of experience as demonstrated in your video. I think we have a responsibility on a forum to consider the newer and less experienced paddlers.

Plenty of young people like to “drink beer and go for it.” Some older people too. The Cascade River would be the exact wrong place to try that.

TomL show some photos of a river that is brushed in and has some fallen trees and sweepers. But the gradient is totally different. It is not really dangerous just slow going.

I am an old fart, and have been paddling for 60 years. I used to raft hard stuff. Once you get pinned under a boat, swim some class V rapids and lose some friends, safety is not so funny anymore. Practice rescues and how to unpin boats. Carry throw lines. Someday you will need all of your skills.

You say we have a safety responsibility and then say the water in the pics is not dangerous even though you’ve never been on it. The little creek has current well over 3 mph in places and I never take pics of the nastiest spots because I’m busy paddling. It’s definitely not class V but people die on my two favorite local rivers every year in current of 2-4 mph.

Good post Tom. Not to diminish the hazards on slower streams. People have more time to react. They have a chance to go over a sweeper. But your points are well taken.

In 2007 Randel Washburne wrote an account of his own 1985 sea kayaking “portage from Hell” in the Seymour Inlet of British Columbia. It is an entertaining read.

ok here’s another way to suffer needlessly, the video camera is still warm, a little boating humor in the middle of it, try a beverage made from water corn, and barley to dull the pain while viewing

chodups thanks for sharing that trip report- a lot of classic lines in it

But I really didn’t know, and decide that when a chance came to try it, I’d go on speculation and accept the uncertainty. –rollin’ the dice

I had no inkling of the scale of what I was undertaking.- it always looks more doable on the map

my last chance to acquire anything before returning to Port Hardy, so I bought a six-pack of beer- now that’s drinkin’ beer and goin’ for it!

Failing these, I’d just have to paddle back out, and continue up Queen Charlotte Strait. Knowing my inclinations, that option was unlikely- is it just me or all men, nobody likes to turn around even when it is the “smarter” choice

which due to the sheer-sided canyon and numerous fallen trees in it would be the most daunting challenge- now that’s something I can relate to

Mostly, I was worried about tomorrow, whether I could finish this, and really had no idea about how I could get the boat down here without damaging it or myself- that sums it up

And, if I should get hurt, it would be way too late by the time anyone figured out I needed a rescue or even where to look. I was truly on my own

Again, thanks Chodup, what a great read!

1 Like

Thank you Sir. Randel wrote several articles, stories, reports that I feature on my blog with his blessing. His writing is entertaining and he is never shy to take shots at himself. He was key to the development of sea kayaking in the Northwest and I find his self-deprecating style of telling about his part to be educational and fun to read. So too, is his report of his first big trip to West Chichagof Island in 1973. His stories can be found if you scroll down the right side to “Randel Washburne Articles”.


Are you 120?


I have friends that have died on the water. And in fact, I’m on my local Fire Department’s Search and Rescue Team. It’s Know-It-Alls that have gone out of style with me.

Anyone that has been on the water and has experience is smart enough to recognize sweepers in fast current on the outside of bends as a serious hazard. You included.

Okay, okay…Me included. Now who’s acting like they’re 12?
Enough already. (Oh that’s right, I almost forgot! The OP named this thread “Suffering Needlessly.” --Very aptly titled that.)

Been there. Didn’t like it. Almost had a woman sucked into one. Not excitement you want.

1 Like

Yep, that’s a healthy creek. Looks like those trees haven’t been there long either. One bad decision or mistake and you are spinning the wheel of fortune.