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Swiftwater Rescue Clinic

Saturday May 10, 2008
Kayak: Brent Osborne,KC Whitely, Jim Poulin, Paul Savard, Dave Gurtman, Dan Beideck, Ryan McCall, Rich Larsen, Chris Weed, Ann Smith, Tracey Hart.
Organizer: Mark Lienau
Difficulty: novice WW
Level: too low
Gauge (cfs): 200
Author: Mark Lienau

The course was held at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier. They loaned us the facility, a classroom, a lawn for throwing ropes and a little stretch of the North Branch Winooski...Not as much current as we would have liked, but enough to get the job done.

It was really fun to teach this class to a bunch of knowledgable whitewater enthusiasts, the information and war stories that people shared were really helpful.

The morning session was spent in the classroom for some chalk talk, and then out on the lawn for rope throwing...

We got into the water by 11, wading rescues, and swimming after lunch.

In mid afternoon, we had a tag line set up across the river, and someone noticed a pair of kayaks heading down river towards us.

We immediately pulled the rope out of the water, and watched as they floated on by. The poor guys, floating by a hypercritical group of safety concious expert paddlers and instructors.

They had rec boats with no skirts, jeans and cotton tee shirts, no helmets and one fellow had his PFD unzipped. As he passed, he asked what we were doing, we told him and he said, "I hope we don't need your services!" Famous last words.

Downstream from us there was a strainer, almost river wide, with just a few feet on river right to sneak through. Anyone reading this could get around it no problem, and would also understand the danger that it posed.They didn't.

We were talking on the bank when we heard a loud hollow whump...we all knew the sound and looked down to see one of those guys hanging onto the strainer and being pulled out of his boat.

We sprang into action, running down the bank with ropes ready. Dan was first to get there and recovered the paddle, the paddler was already on shore. Tracey, Paul and Dave went down and performed a newly learned "Live Bait Rescue" to retrieve the boat...Great job, guys!

The excitement over, we finished up with a Zip Line (tieing off to a hawthorn bush, careful not to poke holes in our drysuits!) and a Z-Drag, called it a day and got out of there by 4.

Thanks to all the participants, and especially the North Branch Nature Center for the use of their facility.

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