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 Post subject: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 18th, 2010, 9:16 pm 
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I will be attending a WW course but I am still going to look for advice here!

If you are canoeing down some moving water and a swift/rapid goes into a sweeping bend ( and I am not meaning a sweeper) what is the common practice for not hitting the edge wall?

This has happened and the situation has arrived either from an eroded bank or a built up retaining wall before a bridge. The current is running strongest along these walls/build-ups, what is the proper paddling technique? Normally if the water levels allow I paddle farther away but sometimes in narrow situations I find myself riding close to these walls sometimes hitting them!!!!


Help paddled and confused!


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 18th, 2010, 10:58 pm 
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Depends somewhat on the boat. For a tandem canoe, one approach is to backpaddle while the boat is actually kind of pointed toward the wall. The current is running diagonally toward the wall and then, on getting there, it may roll under. The tandem canoe backpaddles while going around the bend, thus staying away from the wall.

A solo canoeist in a non whitewater canoe can also do this, using backstrokes and wedging strokes, or sculling strokes on one side, to keep the boat pointed somewhat at the outside of the bend, while its actual travel is around the bend.

Whitewater solo boaters may use a wild and wacky variety of approaches, including spinning the boat around and riding around the bend with the stern pointed outward.

As you may have noticed, however, the current at the outside of the bend *may* run properly around the bend, and one can be out there as long as there are no strainers. With experience, one gets better at keeping the boat from rattling against the bank. Also, because the inner part of the bend may have enough water, and that water may be kind of slack, one may be able to get through there.

I remember one bend on the Eleven Point, otherwise an easy run, where low water meant that one would either run aground on the gravel on the inside of the bend, or have to plow through branches of a strainer on the outside. In such cases, the only graceful move is to beach and lift around.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 18th, 2010, 11:04 pm 
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There are a variety of different techniques that can be used depending on the design of the boat or wether it has gear in it.
A fully loaded boat is going to behave completely different.
Most beginners in WW have the tendency to paddle in the area surrounding the boat, which can lead to all sorts of problems.
When putting together a rapid run you must plan out where you want to be and how to get through it, so depending on the length of the rapid you must not only react to where you are, but also the moves/strokes that will set you up as you travel downstream.
Much the same as a slalom racer or a down river racer.
As an example a slalom racer as he passes through gate 1 has to be setting up for gates 2 and maybe 3 depending on the combination.
So the set up process is ongoing.
It is the same for running a rapid, rocks, walls, trees and other obstacles are the manoeuvres you must make. The more difficult the rapid the more precise the planning needs to be.
As a racer trains in any sport, so you must practice to improve your skills.
You can do this on a safe rapid with few hazards and pretend there are dangers to be avoided.
Try and get with a group of paddlers and get out and play the rapids, hang some practice gates up in flatwater if you do not have access to a good practice rapid.
All you need is some plastic electrical conduit and some twine.
5 gates in a figure 8 will enable you to practice every stroke you need.
An attend the Fall open canoe slalom at Minden in Sept.
If you want good WW skills you don't have to be a racer, but you need to practice like one.
Jeff

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 1:03 am 
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As you are seeing, the only correct answer is "it depends", but I'll add these 2 things -

Many versions of an answer probably involve getting to and/or using the slower currents on the inside of the bend. A common mistake is that upstream of the rapid people will already put their boat on the side of the river that they want to get to, i.e., already paddling along the "inside" half of the river when they want to finish on that side below. It often works better if you enter the rapid (or start above the rapid) on the side of the obstacle that you want to avoid and go into the rapid creating momentum toward the other side, i.e., start on the side of the river above the wall and cross the current over to the inside - look at the inside of the bend, not at the wall! When yu cheat to the inside too early, you can get "handcuffed" and not leave your self any room to work with in terms of building the speed to do what you need to do.

And, unless you have reason to believe it's undercut or has strainers or other hazards, going along the wall is probably no big deal, in fact there's probably a pillow of water that will keep you off the wall, so just stay relaxed and paddle.

Pat.

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Learning to paddle is like learning a language:
It's easy to learn the basics, but will you be understood in a strong wind?


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 7:49 am 
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Just to add some more info, I was paddling my tandem prospector from the from the bow facing the stern. In the scenario yesterday I guess my option would have been to walk through the shallow part on the inside but curiousity always gets the best of me and I could see the water was deep enough as it funneled towards the retaining wall. I think I will try the back paddle and with Jeff's advice of being a step ahead in my thinking. Sometimes I find in the small rivers that everything is shorter and quicker, your reaction time has to be that much more responsive.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 9:49 am 
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Quote:
as it funneled towards the retaining wall.


This tells me a lot.
Man made retaining walls abutments and so on do not cause the (in most but not all cases) normal wave cushions and currents that you see on a river. The same can be said in wavy conditions on a lake with man made obstacles.

In small creek scenarios or tight situations a lot can be accomplished through use of the paddle and the currents/ waves that are there.
Opening and closing the blade surface and letting the currents do the work.
Compare it to thrusters on star strek..... 8)
Again it is a skill that will get better with practice, many paddlers do not spend enough time or are not taught to use that skill. Agin on a safe rapid you can try things out.
As for your sitting in the bow seat, I paddle a 16 ft but when empty I kneel in the middle of the boat. (looking for a ww solo play boat though).
the front of the boat (for your position) would still be a little high out of the water so your ability to track would be compromised.
Also kneel towards the centre of the boat would enable you to work the whole boat. Think of yourself as a compass and your sweep strokes drawing a circle and develop the stokes to move the boat from there. (it would be easier to show you but is you watch the free style canoe utubes you can see how they work the boat and how much blade angle can do.
Same rule applies practice on easy or flat water first and then move to a more difficult situation.
And a rule for any paddler and one that I emphasized when I coached and taught....
If you can not do the stroke/move on flat easy water you will not be able to do it when you need to in a must situation.
Jdff

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Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss. — (David Bolling, Ho


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 4:12 pm 
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I definately agree with what you are saying! I have completed my Level D lakewater, I am just learning more about how to manouver in the currents and how the boat and water react. I think all the things you have said are on track with what I need to do and spending more time practicing some of your advice should help me accomplish this!
Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 4:13 pm 
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Oh yeah, I forgot I normally sit in the bow seat and keep my lunch and some rocks in the front to mimic a loaded canoe in a tripping situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 4:30 pm 
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Good time to put a center seat, kneeling thwart, or minicell pedestal at the best place for solo control.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 19th, 2010, 10:04 pm 
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On the brightside, sitting as you are in the bow seat (stern heavy) should be good for a backferry around a bend!

Yeah, sounds like you might want to figure out a kneeling thwart, which could be made low-investment and be easily removable.

Pat.

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Learning to paddle is like learning a language:
It's easy to learn the basics, but will you be understood in a strong wind?


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 21st, 2010, 7:33 am 
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My approach to that issue is more simplistic - I know, and can see that the current is pushing towards that outside bank - so I allow for that and set up my boat so that the bow is pointing out towards the center of the river a bit - i.e. pointing a bit away from the bank. So I'm taking that curve with the boat at a bit of an angle to the bank and current - if the stern gets a bit too close to the bank, a simple forward stroke or two should move the boat out far enough to clear the bank, or the strainer that's likely to be there. Of course, if there is a lot of rocks, or I need to be somewhere else in that rapid, that's a different story - but keeping the bow out a bit works well, especially if the wind is working against you and trying to blow you into that bank too (and that would be a bigger issue for you in your tandem than for me in my solo). If the wind is really stong and wrong, I may be going around that corner with the bow straight into the wind, even if I'm at a 45 degree angle to the current, again depending on how tough the rapid is, but for most swifts or easy rapids, that's what I do.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 21st, 2010, 9:50 am 
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I'll just add a little bit of rafting logic here. Where is the danger in this situation? Point you bow away from the danger as your power stroke is forward in a paddle boat. In a rowed boat your power stroke is back so you point the bow toward the danger. Watch your eddy lines! When you get part of your boat in the eddy, that current is opposite the downstream flow and you will at a minimum be turned abruptly upstream. At worst, you will be violently turned and put into the water in a bad place for swimming due to the conflicting currents. I have seen Kayaks pulled completely under water and rafts flipped in big eddy lines like on the Thompson or on the Fraser.

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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 22nd, 2010, 2:50 am 
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The others have all added great advice. Bridge abutments and walls are often different. The abutments, because they are often sharp edged, will not have pillows, a potentially dangerous thing. Natural walls, dogleg rapids, will often have pillows. Every situation is different. Solo ww boats are more maneuverable than a tandem or a solo tripping boat. In the latter two, it might be easier to back ferry or side slip. Depending on the material of the boat, a slight bump won't be a problem. A good brace, leaning the correct way, can often get you through. Even if you boof over a rock and stay upright, that is OK.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 22nd, 2010, 4:54 pm 
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Thanks for all the replies, I am definately going to be putting them to use! I think the next time I encounter the situation I will stop and try it out a couple of times until I feel comfortable for future reactions.


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 Post subject: Re: Work with me here...
PostPosted: June 22nd, 2010, 5:18 pm 
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Location: Edmonton Alberta
Ive always like back paddling when nearing anything I'm unsure of. It gives you time.....to think, to have a good look, to plan......and you get to learn to ""set" (back ferry) your boat.
It's a great manouver to have under your belt when WW canoeing. Point your boat at what you want to avoid and back paddle!

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Keep your paddle in the water and lean downstream!


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