Considering how low the water has been in Central Ontario this spring, the timing actually couldn’t have been better for a weekend long River Safety Rescue course (after all, who really wants to be in class while there is great boating to be had!) Planned long before the dreadful water levels arrived, 18 Kawartha Whitewater Paddlers assembled in Burleigh Falls for the two-day course last weekend, which was led by whitewater safety guru Jeff Jackson and Rapid magazine staffer and ace
boater Dan Caldwell. Starting on schedule early Saturday morning, the course began with a wide ranging discussion of the various physical, environmental and social dangers kayakers face on the water and some of the less commonly known ways of dealing with them. After a little hands on throw bag and knot instruction it was time to hit the river (there WAS enough water to do allwe had to for the on-water portion). With additional rescue PFD’s provided for those who did not have them, the group had a chance to practice live bait
rescue techniques in some pushy water and get the feel of being tethered to a line and releasing it by using the rescue belt. Our throw bag drill went well, except for the fact that at times we were dragging along the rocky bottom of
the river. It would have been hard to actually drown along the main section of Burleigh Falls last weekend….chances are, you may have been more likely to bleed to death from scrapes and cuts!
Day two was just as packed with information and practical exercises as the first day, with our morning devoted to learning various applications of the z-drag. Most people on the course were thrilled to know that the only knot they really needed to nail was the Figure 8 and it seemed like everyone managed to master it. Various situations involving retrieving “pinned” boats were set up on land and everyone was amazed at the increased power that can be had using the z-drag. On the water in the afternoon time was spent doing a variety of things, from the basic T-rescue to more complicated techniques such as the “Hand Of God” and retrieving the boat of a swimmer, emptying it out, and helping the boater get back in while still on the water. Everyone seemed truly amazed at what they were able to accomplish with the help of expert
instruction and actually being able to execute river rescue techniques that they had only seen more experienced boaters perform previously. Finally, we were shown how to set up a rope system to, among other things, assist a stranded boater in crossing a river. Again, all participants seemed amazed at what could be done with a minimal amount of quality gear and the knowledge of how to use it. Another great day!
This was the second year our club has hosted Jeff for a weekend of river safety training and while some of what was discussed and
taught was review, the majority of the course material was new to most and definitely upped everyone’s knowledge, skill, and confidence level. Many thanks to Jeff and Dan for sharing their time and expertise with us. Definitely the type of course that any boater would benefit from.