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Bow and Stern - June 1, 1990

Bow and Stern - - June 1990

Bow and Stern

June 1990

A Message from the Editor


Spring has come and gone .. tho summer has taken it's sweet time in arriving this year!!

I haven't heard from many of you ... just the same old crowd ... I'd like to challenge all of us to take more initiative in leadership roles within the NVCC community. Call each other ... sponsor evening paddles or weekend trips! What would you LIKE to See & Do? Participate and enjoy the Journey!

Cathy Chamberlain

Who's Who of the NVCC....

 	President 		Mike Fullerton 		456-8701
 	Vice President 		Sheri Larsen 		878-6828
 	Treasurer 		Sue Sonchik 		878-4408
 	Secretary 		Charlie Thompson 	878-2536
 	Membership 		Sue Sonchik 		878-4408
 	Whitewater Schedule 	Peter Alden 		863-6585
 	Open Boat Clinic 	Chuck Thompson/ 	878-2536
 				Rick Davis 		863-2438
 	Closed Boat Clinic 	Jay Appleton 		425-2821
	Water Resources 	OPEN 
 	Bow & Stern 		Cathy Chamberlain 	863-3067

If you are interested in participating in Executive Committee activities please get involved!! Call Mike and offer your suggestions!!


The computer listing of all NVCC members is being transferred to a new computer program. Typographical errors may have occurred during this transfer...EVERYONE .. please check your address label and phone list entry and call or send any corrections to Sue Sonchik...

ALSO...will everyone who has NOT ALREADY returned updated membership forms do so.... even if you already paid your dues...

Thank you... Sue Sonchik
Treasurer / Membership Chair
14 Forest Rd
Essex Junction VT 05452-3818



                                	1/1/90 - 6/15/90

        GENERAL FUND                            SAFETY & TRAINING FUND
        ------------                            ----------------------

Beginning Balance:		  $ 95.08	Beginning Balance:	$ 520.25

			TOTAL TREASURY: $ 615.33

	176 Dues @ $6		$ 1056.00	Decal/patch sales	 $ 51.00
	88 Dinners @ $4		 $ 352.00
	Donations collected	  $ 87.00
	(for American Whitewater Association)

	Total Income		$ 1495.00	Total Income:		 $ 51.0O

	Donation to AWWA	  $ 37.00	Canoe Clinic		 $ 13.00
	March dinner mtg.	 $ 320.87
	Postage/envelopes	 $ 296.05
	Printing		 $ 428.38
	ACA dues		  $ 75.00
	Bank service charge	  $ 17.76
	Miscellaneous		  $ 17.26
	June dinner mtg.	  $ 50.00

	Total Expenses		$ 1292.32	Total Expenses		 $ 13.00

BALANCE				 $ 297.76	BALANCE			$ 558.25

			TOTAL TREASURY: $ 856.01

Susan Sonchik
Treasurer, NVCC



"The Mansfield" canoe by Stowe Canoe Company $250.00 (Fiberglass with wood trim & wicker seats) This boat Is wide and flat bottomed ... good for children (safe!!)

Good for lots of cargo ... good for small car carrying because it's 13' short!

Joan Knight 473 South Road Williston VT 05495 879-0699

Paddling, trip!!

We are looking for 1 to 3 persons interested In canoeing the THELON RIVER in the Northwest Territories this coming July. Currently we have 3 people. This 500 mile trip requires persons in good physical condition who are used to wilderness camping. The river passes through a game sanctuary where one will sea musk-oxen, arctic wolves, caribou & perhaps a grizzly or 2!! White water is Class II ... Cost approximately $1400/person (includes food and transport) .. Time (somewhat flexible) is July 8 - Aug 8th

17 Meadow Rd
Rexford NY 12148

The Committee of the Northern Vermont Canoe Cruisers' Whitewater Training Clinic would like to thank those who provided help and support with the clinic. We would like to extend a special thanks to NICK VILLAMIL and the Mallett's Bay Boat Club for use of the Boat Club for our Classroom, and to Mr. HAZELETT for the use of the beach for our canoeing practice.

Chuck Thompson, (Chair) Mike Fullerton, and Bob Schumacher.

Any contributions to the next edition of this newsletter should be sent to: Cathy Chamberlain L-10 Stonehedge Drive South Burlington VT 05403 863-3067 - hand written or "camera ready"! ..


Moose River: April 7-8, 1990

Leader: Mike Fullerton
Participants: (Sat.) Roper Hassol/Lori Barg, Chuck Thompson/Fred Schroeder. 0C-2. Adrienne Brown, Tony Ryan, MM-4WWWWWW, Mike Fullerton OC-1.
(Sun.) George Agnew/John King OC-2, Dave Boedy C-1, Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Roger Hassol, OC-1.
Water: Levels: Sat, 5.5 ft. Sun, 5.0 ft.

The levels were below what we have been used to on the Moose. Look for 6.0 ft or even 7.0 (above the in-water part of the gauge) for a real exciting level. 5.5 is runnable, but scratchy, and 5.0 is really too low except in the larger rapids. At 6.5-7.0 feet the Moose is a technical class III.

The weather didn't play the game either, and we contended with cold and a short blizzard before finally getting some sun at the take-out. There was only one swim, and that was well handled. Despite a lack of water, this was a good outing.

The cold pointed out the true joy of a drysuit. Those contemplating the purchase of one would be well advised to take the plunge (after putting on the suit, of course!).

Moose River: April 14, 1990

The advertised trip for the weekend of April 14-15 was Southern Vermont Rivers. Because the water levels in Southern Vermont Rivers were uncertain, several club members chose to stay closer to home and paddle in Northern Vermont. After debating whether to paddle on the Upper Lamoille or the Moose, Rich and Sheri Larsen, Cathy Chamberlain and Peter Alden (all OC-1) decided to try the Moose River. John King and George Agnew (OC-2), Dave Boedy (C-1) and Mike Russom (K-1) decided to go to the Upper Lamoille River. Since the Lamoille was too low, they drove to the Moose and arrived there just as the other group was starting down the river.

The Moose was at a level of 5.5 feet, which made the paddling fun but not too difficult. Both groups had a good day on the river.

Submitted by Sheri Larsen

Contoocook River (NH): April 22, 1990

Leader: Mike Fullerton
Participants: Tony Ryan, Adrienne Brown, Michael Fullerton, Bill Fissette, Jay Kita, Peter Alden, Tony Walsh, OC-1: Wendll Pontious, Diane Wormwood, K-1: Dave Bodie, C-1: Chuck Thompson & Fred Schroeder, OC-2, Group II Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Cathy Chamberlain, OC-1.
Water: 7.4 to 7.7 ft.

It was a beautiful day on the river, sunny & warm with the level going up from 7.4 to 7.7. As always, the Contoocook was a challenge, though most seemed to finally get the measure of Freight Train, at least at this level. The team of Schroeder and Thompson gave a virtuoso performance, both full and empty, forwards and backwards. The Fuchsia Fleet did will too!

The parking situation has been solved thanks to effort and donations by many paddlers including the NVCC. While the improvements have not yetbeen made, there is now a spacious designated parking area. When you go there, please help keep it clean and respect the property of those who have allowed access.

Lower Lamoille River: April 22, 1990

Leader: George McIntosh
Participants: John Schroeder/Julie Schroeder, Jeff Chapman/Larry Rogacki (C2), Chuck Thompson, Charlie Thompson, Bill Gerlack (C1), Rose OConnell, Diana Dunn, Jim Dunn, Dave Perron, George McIntosh (K1)

After some doubtful weather at the put-in before we started the trip, the weather clearedand is became a beautiful sunny day. The new gauge on the Fairfield bridge indicated 2.5feet and we thought it was equivalent to almost 9 feet on the old gauge. We started on theBrowns River but it was mostly washed out and turned out to be a flat water paddle. TheLamoille, however, had plenty of big waves and we had a lot of fun. At the Five Chutes,the large rock on the right shore was an island but the channel between the rock and shorewas blocked by trees. The left channel had grown to about half the rivers width. We had afew swimmers but no one swam for or was hurt. A good day was had by all.

Ammonoosuc River: April 28, 1990

Leader: Peter Alden
Participants: Lonnie Carpenter & Sally Spear (C-2), Peter Alden, Sheri Larsen, Adrienne Brown, Bill Fissette, Mike Fullerton, Rich Larsen, Tony Ryan (C- 1), John Sennett, Mike Russom, Diane Wormwood (K-1)

The river had been low - less then 3 feet on the gauge for some time, but 3 days ofrecord hot weather brought it up to 3.6 ft, a very canoeable level but not too pushy. Everyone enjoyed the good water and the sunshine. Only one swim was enjoyed when a ledge reached back end grabbed someone below. The group was strong and was joined bysome NH friends. John Bennett represented the Merrimack Valley Paddlers. We werefinished by 4 PM. Most stayed to canoe again on Sunday.

Ammonoosuc River: April 29, 1990

Leader: Mike Fullerton
Participants: Tony Ryan, Adrienne Brown, Bill Fissette, Michael Fullerton, OC-1, Jim Dunn, Diana Decker, Diane Wormwood, John Bennett, K-1, Len Carpenter & Sally Spear, OC-2. (John Bennett appears courtesy of Merrimack Valley Paddlers)

This trip was a continuation of Pete Alden's trip of the day before. It was 20 degrees cooler (down from 85!) but still sunny. The 45 mph winds of the early morning graciously abated by put-in time. The river level was 3.6 ft. on the gauge below Boat Breaker in Bethlehem.

There were no notable events, only a couple swims, made routine by our common sense and knowledge of the rules. We marveled at the hugeprivate dump just above Alder Brook Rapids on river right. Adrienne took photos and will (for the second time) write to her representative in Concord- Anyone else who feels that property owners should not be allowed to toss their trash into the river could also write to the Government of New Hampshire. This eyesore spoilsan otherwise very nice run.

New York Rivers: May 12-13, 1990

Leader: Cathy Chamberlain
Participants: John King, George Agnew, David Boedy, Jim Higgins, Jim & Diana Dunn, Jill Laramie & Jim Loewen, Chuck Thompson, Dan Kunkel, Cathy Chamberlain, Jay Appleton, Joann Appleton, Poppy Gall, Rick Davis Rich Holaington, (I know I forgot some?!@?)

Saturday turned out to be a great day on the Hudson below North Creek. Watching theriver level all week indicateda level of about 4.5 ft .. however by the time we got there the Wed/Thurs rain hadraised it to about 5.5 .. The weather was fine, and the high water not too pushy-but definitely big. The ledge was hardly noticeable .. and long rapids quite fun. No problems .. and smileswere on everyone's face most of the time .. (put in - North Creek-Take-out at The Glen)

Sunday was pretty dismal .. rain fell all night long and continued all day...We didn't play much ... I couldn't believe that so many showed up in the lousy weather! TheCampbell's had gone up to the Gorge.

Phone number/recording for river levels (Hudson, Moose, Sacandaga): 518-465-2016

Hudson R./East Branch Sacandaga (NY): May 26, 1990

Leader: Mike Fullerton
Participants: Mike Fullerton, Adrienne Brown, Jack McKnight (OC1), Rod Wentworth, George McIntosh, Sue Sonchik, Mike Marine (K1), Margaret McIntosh (land transportation). Sue and Mike M. switched to R2 for the Sacandaga).

The Lower Hudson was great at 5.5 ft. Fair sized waves, but not a whole lot of rocks.Surfing at the Rock Island was fine with a smooth glassy wave. With a nice sunny daythrown in, everyone had a fine time.

Our big mistake was overestimating the level in the East Branch. We finally agreed it wasabout 5.5 feet and took a shot at it. There's more paint on the rocks than there was before.With no gauge in the water (it starts at 8.0 up on the bank) it's a bit hard to gauge thelevel.

Hudson River Gorge: May 27, 1990

Leader: Mike Fullerton
Participants: Jim Dunn, Diana Dunn (K1), Sue Sonchik, Mike Marine (R2), Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Peter Alden, Tony Shaw, Adrienne Brown, Mike Fullerton (OC1)
Water: 5.1 feet at North Creek

This is the highest level I've ever run the gorge (at least officially). Some of the rapids were a bit washed out, but the new features created by higher water more than made up for that. Harris Rift was fierce! Accounts by decked boaters who have run it up to 7.0 indicate that it gets nowhere but worse.

It's interesting to note that several years ago those of us on this trip would never have considered running the gorge at this level. Either we have come along a ways, or gotten stupider! Though challenging, there was nothing we had real trouble with. Only two swims were recorded, neither of any great consequence. Diana drew cheers for a heroic third-attempt roll in Harris. Again the great weather helped.

Safety Code of American Whitewater


Four Decades of Service
to the
Paddlers of America

Our mission is to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely

Adopted 1959 Revision 1998

 Lee Belknap		 Charlie Walbridge		Mac Thornton		 Rich Bowers
 Safety Chairman	Safety Vice-chairman		Legal Advisor		Executive Director

This code has been prepared using the best available information and has been reviewed by a broad cross section of whitewater experts. The code, however, is only a collection of guidelines; attempts to minimize risks should be flexible, not constrained by a rigid set of rules. Varying conditions and group goals may combine with unpredictable circumstances to require alternate procedures. This code is not intended to serve as a standard of care for commercial outfitters or guides.

	Table of Contents:







			US Standard Rated Rapids: Introduction

			Class I through III Rated Rapids 

			Class IV Rated Rapids 

			Class 5 Rated Rapids

American Whitewater articles and other related documents: 1998 revisions to the Safety Code of American Whitewater Complete, May-June 1998.

Upgrading the American Version of the International Scale of River Difficulty, Sep-Oct 1997

American Whitewater adds Benchmark Rapids to the International Scale of River Difficulty, Nov-Dec, 1997

Rating Survey Letter (used to solicit input to the benchmark rapids)

Return to American Whitewater Home Page

Return to American Whitewater Safety Page

Send comments about AWA pages to the AWA Webmaster


Be a competent swimmer, with the ability to handle yourself underwater.

Wear a life jacket. A snugly-fitting vest-type life preserver offers back and shoulder protection as well as the flotation needed to swim safely in whitewater.

Wear a solid, correctly-fitted helmet when upsets are likely. This is essential in kayaks or covered canoes, and recommended for open canoeists using thigh straps and rafters running steep drops.

Do not boat out of control. Your skills should be sufficient to stop or reach shore before reaching danger. Do not enter a rapid unless you are reasonably sure that you can run it safely or swim it without injury.

Whitewater rivers contain many hazards which are not always easily recognized. The following are the most frequent killers.

HIGH WATER. The river's speed and power increase tremendously as the flow increases, raising the difficulty of most rapids. Rescue becomes progressively harder as the water rises, adding to the danger. Floating debris and strainers make even an easy rapid quite hazardous. It is often misleading to judge the river level at the put in, since a small rise in a wide, shallow place will be multiplied many times where the river narrows. Use reliable gauge information whenever possible, and be aware that sun on snowpack, hard rain, and upstream dam releases may greatly increase the flow.

COLD. Cold drains your strength and robs you of the ability to make sound decisions on matters affecting your survival. Cold water immersion, because of the initial shock and the rapid heat loss which follows, is especially dangerous. Dress appropriately for bad weather or sudden immersion in the water. When the water temperature is less than 50 degree F., a wetsuit or drysuit is essential for protection if you swim. Next best is wool or pile clothing under a waterproof shell. In this case, you should also carry waterproof matches and a change of clothing in a waterproof bag. If, after prolonged exposure, a person experiences uncontrollable shaking, loss of coordination, or difficulty speaking, he or she is hypothermic, and needs your assistance.

STRAINERS. Brush, fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else which allows river current to sweep through can pin boats and boaters against the obstacle. Water pressure on anything trapped this way can be overwhelming. Rescue is often extremely difficult. Pinning may occur in fast current, with little or not whitewater to warn of the danger.

DAMS, WIERS, LEDGES, REVERSALS, HOLES, AND HYDRAULICS. When water drops over a obstacle, it curls back on itself, forming a strong upstream current which may be capable of holding a boat or swimmer. Some holes make for excellent sport. Others are proven killers. Paddlers who cannot recognize the difference should avoid all but the smallest holes. Hydraulics around man-made dams must be treated with utmost respect regardless of their height or the level of the river. Despite their seemingly benign appearance, they can create an almost escape-proof trap. The swimmers only exit from the "drowning machine" is to dive below the surface when the downstream current is flowing beneath the reversal.

BROACHING. When a boat is pushed sideways against a rock by strong current, it may collapse and wrap. This is especially dangerous to kayak and decked canoe paddlers; these boats will collapse and the combination of indestructible hulls and tight outfitting may create a deadly trap. Even without entrapment, releasing pinned boats can be extremely time-consuming and dangerous. To avoid pinning, throw your weight downstream towards the rock. This allows the current to slide harmlessly underneath the hull.

Boating Alone is discouraged. The minimum party is three people or two craft.

Have a frank knowledge of your boating ability, and don't attempt rivers or rapids which lie beyond that ability.

Develop the paddling skills and teamwork required to match the river you plan to boat. Most good paddlers develop skills gradually, and attempts to advance too quickly will compromise your safety and enjoyment.

Be in good physical and mental condition, consistent with the difficulties which may be expected. Make adjustments for loss of skills due to age, health, fitness. Any health limitations must be explained to your fellow paddlers prior to starting the trip.

Be practiced in self-rescue, including escape from an overturned craft. The Eskimo Roll is strongly recommended for decked boaters who run rapids Class IV or greater, or who paddle in cold environmental conditions.

Be trained in rescue skills, CPR, and first aid with special emphasis on the recognizing and treating hypothermia. It may save your friend's life.

Carry equipment needed for unexpected emergencies, including foot wear which will protect your feet when walking out, a throw rope, knife, whistle, and waterproof matches. If you wear eyeglasses, tie them on and carry a spare pair on long trips. Bring cloth repair tape on short runs, and a full repair kit on isolated rivers. Do not wear bulky jackets, ponchos, heavy boots, or anything else which could reduce your ability to survive a swim.

Despite the mutually supportive group structure described in this code, individual paddlers are ultimately responsible for their own safety, and must assume sole responsibility for the following decisions:

The decision to participate on any trip. This includes an evaluation of the expected difficulty of the rapids under the conditions existing at the time of the put-in.

The selection of appropriate equipment, including a boat design suited to their skills and the appropriate rescue and survival gear.

The decision to scout any rapid, and to run or portage according to their best judgment. Other members of the group may offer advice, but paddlers should resist pressure from anyone to paddle beyond their skills. It is also their responsibility to decide whether to pass up any walk-out or take-out opportunity.

All trip participants should consistently evaluate their own and their group's safety, voicing their concerns when appropriate and following what they believe to be the best course of action. Paddlers are encouraged to speak with anyone whose actions on the water are dangerous, whether they are a part of your group or not.


Test new and different equipment under familiar conditions before relying on it for difficult runs. This is especially true when adopting a new boat design or outfitting system. Low volume craft may present additional hazards to inexperienced or poorly conditioned paddlers.

Be sure your boat and gear are in good repair before starting a trip. The more isolated and difficult the run, the more rigorous this inspection should be.

Install flotation bags in non-inflatable craft, securely fixed in each end, designed to displace as much water as possible. Inflatable boats should have multiple air chambers and be test inflated before launching.

Have strong, properly sized paddles or oars for controlling your craft. Carry sufficient spares for the length and difficulty of the trip.

Outfit your boat safely. The ability to exit your boat quickly is an essential component of safety in rapids. It is your responsibility to see that there is absolutely nothing to cause entrapment when coming free of an upset craft. This includes:

Spray covers which won't release reliably or which release prematurely.

Boat outfitting too tight to allow a fast exit, especially in low volume kayaks or decked canoes. This includes low hung thwarts in canoes lacking adequate clearance for your feet and kayak foot braces which fail or allow your feet to become wedged under them.

Inadequately supported decks which collapse on a paddler's legs when a decked boat is pinned by water pressure. Inadequate clearance with the deck because of your size or build.

Loose ropes which cause entanglement. Beware of any length of loose line attached to a whitewater boat. All items must be tied tightly and excess line eliminated; painters, throw lines, and safety rope systems must be completely and effectively stored. Do not knot the end of a rope, as it can get caught in cracks between rocks.

Provide ropes which permit you to hold on to your craft so that it may be rescued. The following methods are recommended:

Kayaks and covered canoes should have grab loops of 1/4'' + rope or equivalent webbing sized to admit a normal sized hand. Stern painters are permissible if properly secured.

Open canoes should have securely anchored bow and stern painters consisting of 8 - 10 feet of 1/4'' + line. These must be secured in such a way that they are readily accessible, but cannot come loose accidentally. Grab loops are acceptable, but are more difficult to reach after an upset.

Rafts and dories may have taut perimeter lines threaded through the loops provided. Footholds should be designed so that a paddler's feet cannot be forced through them, causing entrapment. Flip lines should be carefully and reliably stowed.

Know your craft's carrying capacity, and how added loads affect boat handling in whitewater. Most rafts have a minimum crew size which can be added to on day trips or in easy rapids. Carrying more than two paddlers in an open canoe when running rapids is not recommended.

Car top racks must be strong and attach positively to the vehicle. Lash your boat to each crossbar, then tie the ends of the boats directly to the bumpers for added security. This arrangement should survive all but the most violent vehicle accident.


Organization. A river trip should be regarded as a common adventure by all participants, except on instructional or commercially guided trips as defined below. Participants share the responsibility for the conduct of the trip, and each participant is individually responsible for judging his or her own capabilities and for his or her own safety as the trip progresses. Participants are encouraged (but are not obligated) to offer advice and guidance for the independent consideration and judgment of others.

River Conditions. The group should have a reasonable knowledge of the difficulty of the run. Participants should evaluate this information and adjust their plans accordingly. If the run is exploratory or no one is familiar with the river, maps and guidebooks, if available, should be examined. The group should secure accurate flow information; the more difficult the run, the more important this will be. Be aware of possible changes in river level and how this will affect the difficulty of the run. If the trip involves tidal stretches, secure appropriate information on tides.

Group equipment should be suited to the difficulty of the river. The group should always have a throw line available, and one line per boat is recommended on difficult runs. The list may include: carbiners, prussick loops, first aid kit, flashlight, folding saw, fire starter, guidebooks, maps, food, extra clothing, and any other rescue or survival items suggested by conditions. Each item is not required on every run, and this list is not meant to be a substitute for good judgment.

Keep the group compact, but maintain sufficient spacing to avoid collisions. If the group is large, consider dividing into smaller groups or using the "Buddy System" as an additional safeguard. Space yourselves closely enough to permit good communication, but not so close as to interfere with one another in rapids.

A point paddler sets the pace. When in front, do not get in over your head. Never run drops when you cannot see a clear route to the bottom or, for advanced paddlers, a sure route to the next eddy. When in doubt, stop and scout.

Keep track of all group members. Each boat keeps the one behind it in sight, stopping if necessary. Know how many people are in your group and take head counts regularly. No one should paddle ahead or walk out without first informing the group. Paddlers requiring additional support should stay at the center of a group, and not allow themselves to lag behind in the more difficult rapids. If the group is large and contains a wide range of abilities, a Sweep Boat'' may be designated to bring up the rear.

Courtesy. On heavily used rivers, do not cut in front of a boater running a drop. Always look upstream before leaving eddies to run or play. Never enter a crowded drop or eddy when no room for you exists. Passing other groups in a rapid may be hazardous: it's often safer to wait upstream until the group ahead has passed.

Float plan. If the trip is into a wilderness area or for an extended period, plans should be filed with a responsible person who will contact the authorities if you are overdue. It may be wise to establish checkpoints along the way where civilization could be contacted if necessary. Knowing the location of possible help and preplanning escape routes can speed rescue.

Drugs. The use of alcohol or mind altering drugs before or during river trips is not recommended. It dulls reflexes, reduces decision making ability, and may interfere with important survival reflexes.

Instructional or Commercially Guided Trips. In contrast to the common adventure trip format, in these trip formats, a boating instructor or commercial guide assumes some of the responsibilities normally exercised by the group as a whole, as appropriate under the circumstances. These formats recognize that instructional or commercially guided trips may involve participants who lack significant experience in whitewater. However, as a participant acquires experience in whitewater, he or she takes on increasing responsibility for his or her own safety, in accordance with what he or she knows or should know as a result of that increased experience. Also, as in all trip formats, every participant must realize and assume the risks associated with the serious hazards of whitewater rivers. It is advisable for instructors and commercial guides or their employers to acquire trip or personal liability insurance:

An "instructional trip" is characterized by a clear teacher/pupil relationship, where the primary purpose of the trip is to teach boating skills, and which is conducted for a fee.

A "commercially guided trip" is characterized by a licensed, professional guide conducting trips for a fee.


Recover from an upset with an Eskimo roll whenever possible. Evacuate your boat immediately if there is imminent danger of being trapped against rocks, brush, or any other kind of strainer.

If you swim, hold on to your boat. It has much flotation and is easy for rescuers to spot. Get to the upstream end so that you cannot be crushed between a rock and your boat by the force of the current. Persons with good balance may be able to climb on top of a swamped kayak or flipped raft and paddle to shore.

Release your craft if this will improve your chances, especially if the water is cold or dangerous rapids lie ahead. Actively attempt self-rescue whenever possible by swimming for safety. Be prepared to assist others who may come to your aid.

When swimming in shallow or obstructed rapids, lie on your back with feet held high and pointed downstream. Do not attempt to stand in fast moving water; if your foot wedges on the bottom, fast water will push you under and keep you there. Get to slow or very shallow water before attempting to stand or walk. Look ahead! Avoid possible pinning situations including undercut rocks, strainers, downed trees, holes, and other dangers by swimming away from them.

If the rapids are deep and powerful, roll over onto your stomach and swim aggressively for shore. Watch for eddies and slackwater and use them to get out of the current. Strong swimmers can effect a powerful upstream ferry and get to shore fast. If the shores are obstructed with strainers or under cut rocks, however, it is safer to ride the rapid out'' until a safer escape can be found.

If others spill and swim, go after the boaters first. Rescue boats and equipment only if this can be done safely. While participants are encouraged (but not obligated) to assist one another to the best of their ability, they should do so only if they can, in their judgment, do so safely. The first duty of a rescuer is not to compound the problem by becoming another victim.

The use of rescue lines requires training; uninformed use may cause injury. Never tie yourself into either end of a line without a reliable quick-release system. Have a knife handy to deal with unexpected entanglement. Learn to place set lines effectively, to throw accurately, to belay effectively, and to properly handle a rope thrown to you.

When reviving a drowning victim, be aware that cold water may greatly extend survival time underwater. Victims of hypothermia may have depressed vital signs so they look and feel dead. Don't give up; continue CPR for as long as possible without compromising safety.


These signals may be substituted with an alternate set of signals agreed upon by the group.

stopSTOP: Potential hazard ahead. Wait for "all clear" signal before proceeding, or scout ahead. Form a horizontal bar with your outstretched arms. Those seeing the signal should pass it back to others in the party.

help!HELP/EMERGENCY: Assist the signaler as quickly as possible. Give three long blasts on a police whistle while waving a paddle, helmet or life vest over your head. If a whistle is not available, use the visual signal alone. A whistle is best carried on a lanyard attached to your life vest.

all clearALL CLEAR: Come ahead (in the absence of other directions proceed down the center). Form a vertical bar with your paddle or one arm held high above your head. Paddle blade should be turned flat for maximum visibility. To signal direction or a preferred course through a rapid around obstruction, lower the previously vertical "all clear" by 45 degrees toward the side of the river with the preferred route. Never point toward the obstacle you wish to avoid.

II'm OK: I'm OK and not hurt. While holding the elbow outward toward the side, repeatedly pat the top of your head.


This is the American version of a rating system used to compare river difficulty throughout the world. This system is not exact; rivers do not always fit easily into one category, and regional or individual interpretations may cause misunderstandings. It is no substitute for a guidebook or accurate first-hand descriptions of a run.

Paddlers attempting difficult runs in an unfamiliar area should act cautiously until they get a feel for the way the scale is interpreted locally. River difficulty may change each year due to fluctuations in water level, downed trees, recent floods, geological disturbances, or bad weather. Stay alert for unexpected problems!

As river difficulty increases, the danger to swimming paddlers becomes more severe. As rapids become longer and more continuous, the challenge increases. There is a difference between running an occasional Class IV rapid and dealing with an entire river of this category. Allow an extra margin of safety between skills and river ratings when the water is cold or if the river itself is remote and inaccessible.

Examples of commonly run rapids that fit each of the classifications are presented in the attached document "INTERNATIONAL SCALE OF RIVER DIFFICULTY - STANDARD RATED RAPIDS". Rapids of a difficulty similar to a rapids on this list are rated the same. Rivers are also rated using this scale. A river rating should take into account many factors including the difficulty of individual rapids, remoteness, hazards, etc.


Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated "Class II+".

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated "Class III-" or "Class III+" respectively.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require must'' moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong Eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated "Class IV-" or "Class IV+" respectively.

Class 5: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is Recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. A very reliable Eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond class IV, Class 5 is an open ended, multiple level scale designated by Class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc... Each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last. Example: Increasing difficulty from class 5.0 to class 5.1 is a similar order of magnitude as increasing from class IV to Class 5.0.

Class VI: Extreme and Exploratory. These runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. After a Class VI rapids has been run many times, It's rating may be changed to an appropriate Class 5.x rating.

Adirondack Journal
Rescued whitewater victim dies despite valiant volunteer effort

By Alice Sternin

Madeline Bruckner, 26, of Commack, N.Y died May 1, at Glens Falls Hospital as a result of a white water rafting accident on the Hudson River near the North Woods Club in Minerva, according to hospital officials. She had been listed in critical condition since she was brought to the hospital April 28, at 4:30 pm. According to John Chambers, Department of Conservation Forest Ranger in Minerva, Bruckner was rafting with her husband and other rafters when the raft was pinned against a rock ledge and the occupants were tossed into the river. Chambers said Bruckner was found face down in the water. She was placed on another raft and brought to shore where CPR was administered. The victim was then carried about a mile to Elephant Rock, a huge rock in the middle of the river, where an airlift was planned.

Citizens Seek Help
Several rafters, guides and kayakers offered help, Chambers said, and Dr. Steve Lieberman of Mass., who had been rafting, directed the medical care until the rescue squads reached the victim.

According to reports, Minerva Resident Jim Gereau was at the accident site and ran back to the North Woods Club to call the state police. At about the same time, a kayaker paddled to North River and called 911 to dispatch the Minerva and North Creek rescue squads to Blue Ledges trail.

Chambers was on patrol in the North Woods Club area and responded immediately to the call, he said. Four other Rangers joined the search and rescue mission: Gary Roberts of Olmstedville, Forest Ranger Zone Supervisor; Ed Russell of Schroon Lake, Bill Houck of Brant Lake and Dave Brooks of Warrensburg.

EMT'S Called Into Action
James Canavan, Warren County Coordinator for Emergency Medical Services, also received the 911 call. Canavan said since he lives in Glens Falls and time was of the essence, he contacted Lee Smith, Deputy Fire Coordinator of Warren County, who lives in Brant Lake and could get to the scene faster. Smith arrived at the North Woods Club and set up a command communications post, and was joined shortly by Canavan. Roberts was also stationed at the command post and he coordinated the mission.

Minerva Rescue Squad
Meanwhile the Minerva rescue squad ambulance had arrived at the entrance to Blue Ledges trail. Greg Vanderwarker and Kerry Killon stayed at the ambulance with the radio, while Ellen Eager, Kathy Halloran, Patsy Sullivan, Harry Allen, Brian Badgley, Joe Gonyo, Ronnie Howe, Tom Savarie and John Swertner hiked through more than two miles of muddy, steep, difficult terrain with life-support equipment on their back.

The state police Life Flight helicopter was giving a training demonstration in Ticonderoga when they received the call to go to Blue Ledges for a search and rescue. When Chambers arrived at Blue Ledges, he learned the rescue was to be made at Elephant Rock, and he said he ran the two miles to that destination. The helicopter was unable to land at the rock, Chambers said, and other evacuation plans were made. The helicopter was low on fuel, so it left to refuel and returned to land on a field in the North Woods Club.

Victim carried for six miles
Word was received by the rangers and rescue squads from Roberts at the Communications Command post that Dunk Pond trail would be closer to where the helicopter was waiting and that would now be the evacuation route. Russell, Houck and Brooks, with Minerva rescue squad member Tom McNally took a litter and oxygen tank and proceeded down Dunk Pond trail. The victim was reached, placed on the litter, and carried over two miles by six men at a time who switched teams several times. Bruckner was not breathing on her own, Roberts said, so two life-support trained people were administering artificial ventilation as the litter was carried. By that time, Norman Malcolm Persons, captain of the Minerva rescue squad, had joined the men at the Minerva ambulance. Persons said that a hiker with a dislocated shoulder from a totally unrelated incident had been brought to Blue Ledges where Minerva's squad had had life-support equipment. The hiker was ambulatory, so he walked back to the ambulance with six members of the squad while three remained at the river in case the drowning victim might still be brought there.

North Creek EMT's help
All this time the North Creek ambulance was standing by on their side of the river in preparation for a possible evacuation at that location. According to Canavan and Roberts, the North Creek squad was released when the litter reached the Minerva side of the river, and they proceeded at once to Blue Ledges to get the dislocated shoulder victim. Several members of the North Creek squad then went down Dunk Pond trail to help carry the litter.

According to Roberts, he received a message from the litter crew that more oxygen was needed and relayed the message to the Minerva ambulance. Persons said he, Goreau and three visiting campers, Joe Sennich, Sr., Matt Sennich and Frank Kastle took life-support equipment and more oxygen from the helicopter and carried it about a mile down Dunk Pond trail to meet the litter. When the second portable oxygen tank went low, Persons said he contacted the Minerva ambulance, relocated by now at the North Woods Club. Swertner, who had just returned from Blue Ledges, proceeded down Dunk Pond trail with another tank of oxygen, which lasted until the litter reached the helicopter. According to Persons, it was determined that the victim needed an immediate IV which was administered by the Minerva squad before she was carried aboard the helicopter. Persons said he replaced a member of the Life Flight crew in order to establish medical control by radio from Glens Falls Hospital, and he was in constant contact with the emergency room doctor during the flight.

Persons said the flight took twenty minutes and the helicopter landed in the back parking lot of the hospital where an Empire ambulance was waiting to take Bruckner the last 300 yards to the emergency room.

According to Roberts, it was a six-hour rescue mission with four major organizations and about 50 people involved. Although it was "a logistical nightmare", Roberts said, "everyone worked together in a team effort to make the evacuation successful." Roberts added, "I want to compliment all those who participated in the rescue."


Fred & Shawn Abraham
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Steven & Susan Bliss
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Peter & Barbara Briggs
Wayne & Carolyn & Warren B.
Adrienne Brown
Ann Burcroff
Norton & Holly Cabell
Marvie & Bob Campbell
William & Janet Cannon
Len Carpenter
Cathy Chamberlain
Collie Chambers
Carol Chapman
Jeff & Robin Chapman
Brenda Clarkson
Steve & Christine Clifford
Mike Collins
Thomas & Miriam Conlon
Richard & Lori Dana
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James & Caroline Dawson
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Robert & Sue Distler
Robert & Melinda Dodds
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Diana & James Dunn
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June 30 Dead River Maine Cathy Chamberlain 863-3067 July 1 CALL ASAP for reservations

July 14/15 Dead River RELEASE

July 28/29 Androscoggin River NH George McIntosh 644-2134

Aug 4/5 Dead River RELEASE

Aug 18/19 Dead River RELEASE

Sept 1/2/3 Dead R. EXTRAVAGANZA Al Roberts 899-4129

Sept 22/23 Hudson River NY Sheri Larsen 878-6828

Sept 23 Dead River RELEASE at 3500 cfs

Sept 29/30 West River Release Bill Gerlack 879-0979



The Champlain Valley Canoe & Kayak Series will start June 5th , Tuesday evenings and continue every other week through August 28th. Seven different locations all within 25 minutes of Burlington will makeup the events - all held on slow moving rivers (Class 1) or small lakes.

The series, open to all ages and paddler skills is being held to bring area paddlers together and to expose the participants to new paddling locations, techniques, canoe designs, and low key competition with 14 different classes as well as to RAISE MONEY FOR LOCAL CHARITIES!

Please come out for the good causes, camaraderie, learning experience AND FUN!!

Call Ken Roberts at 434-4707 or 862-2714 for information.

Don't own a canoe? Don't let that stop you ... some loaners available with prior arrangement..

Sponsored by the Alpine Shop, Ben & Jerry's and Quest Camping Products.


June 26 Tue. evening Lamoille River above Fairfax Falls. Leader: Bill Gerlack 879-0979.

July 3 Tue. evening Canoe & kayak racing with Ken Roberts every other Tuesday. Leader: Bill Gerlack 879-0979.

July 15 Sunday Winooski River. Leaders: Charlie and Marion Thompson 878-2536.

July 17 See July 3.

July 28 Saturday Flatwater race on the Missisquoi with Clay Yarnell. Classes for all levels of paddlers. Come try for fun. Leader: Bill Gerlack 879-0979.

July 31 See July 3.

Aug. 5 Sunday Shelburne Pond. Leaders: Tammy Thompson and Kevin Miner 656-1741.

Aug. 7 Tue. evening Indian Brook Reservoir. Leader: Rich Larsen 878-6828.

Aug. 14 See July 3.

Aug. 18 Saturday Missisquoi Wildlife Area. Leader: Sheri Larsen 878-6828.

Aug. 28 See July 3.

Oct. 6,7,8 Joint camping trip with the GMC. Leaders: Peter and Sue Alden 863-6585.

Also see the Lower White River on the whitewater schedule. It's mostly flat easy going.

Beginners get feet wet on guided trip

Local stores, paddling clubs specialize in instruction

By Lawrence Pyne
Free Press Staff Writer

Veteran paddlers agree that the easiest and safest way to learn how to kayak is to follow stillwater instruction with a guided river trip, preferably from American Canoe Association certified instructors.

Although there are outdoor schools that specialize in kayak instruction, such at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina and the Downeast Whitewater Rafting and Paddling School in New Hampshire, local outdoor stores and paddling clubs provide an alternative closer to home and paddlers familiar with local rivers.

The Northern Vermont Canoe Cruisers (Jay Appleton 425-2821 or Mike Fullerton 456-8701) conduct formal kayak training sessions beginning in the early summer that introduce paddlers to the basics of the sport.

The canoe cruisers hold whitewater field trips every Saturday and Sunday through the early fall.

The trips are rated by difficulty and are accompanied by experienced paddlers who will assist beginners to ensure a safe trip.

Most whitewater trips in the spring are held in Vermont, with summer and fall trips to rivers in New York, New Hampshire and Quebec.

The canoe cruisers provide an ideal forum for local kayakers to meet and plan informal trips. Non-members are welcome at trips and classes, and a membership is $6.

For a schedule of trips, contact Appleton or Fullerton, or write the NVCC at 14 Forest Road, Essex Junction 05452.

The Champlain Valley Kayakers Club (Jason Bruch, 862-2338) is a new group that plans on offering instruction and trips for whitewater and touring kayakers.

Beginning and experienced paddlers are invited to join, and the club plans on helping members buy and trade used kayaks.

Clearwater Sports (496-2708) in Waitsfield holds introductory courses every Thursday and Saturday night at the Wedgewood Fitness Center In Barre.

The pool course teaches basic kayaking techniques and strokes, and most paddlers learn to execute the Eskimo roll after one lesson. The lessons are limited to five paddlers and cost $30.

Clearwater also leads guided river trips in April and May on local rivers and rents kayaks and related equipment.

In southern Vermont, Wildwater Outfitters (254-4133) in Brattleboro will hold a two-day kayak clinic May 19-20.

Lessons will help beginning kayakers learn about the types of boats and paddles available, as well as required accessories such as helmets, life vests, spray skirts and proper clothing.

There are also a number of kayaking books that are available at outdoor stores.

Canoe and kayak series to begin

The Champlain Valley Canoe and kayak series to benefit area Boy Scouts will start Tuesday and run every other Tuesday through August.

Participants meet between 6 and 6:45 p.m. for a clinic and registration on the Winooski River at the Jonesville Bridge off US. 2. At 7 P.M. the group leaves for a tour of the Winooski River up to the Richmond Bridge.

The series is open to all ages and abilities. Admission is $5 per event or $25 for the whole series. There is a free shuttle back to the cars. Information: 862-2714.

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