Whitewater River Rafting Trips
General Trip Information:
Pre Trip Instructions:
Require someone to Read the River Safety Lecture and the General Trip Information
Scheduling of the Trips:
On Monday before the weekend of the trip I call people and see who is interested in going. If you want to go you have to call and confirm before Thursday for a Saturday trip and before Friday for a Sunday trip. By Thursday night for a Saturday trip or Friday night for a Sunday trip the crew has to be "set in stone". If we cant field a crew we cant go. A crew varies depending on which trip we are going on, the experience levels and the physical abilities of people going on the trip. We can have some shuffling of the crew, cancellations, fill-ins, etc., but in general we need to "set" the crew well ahead of time. In general the crews will be made up of a combination of experienced and inexperienced people. The crews are never completely made up of inexperienced people. The crews for the American River Middle Fork run class IV are made up all people that have been on at least one class III run before and some people that have been on the Middle Fork run before.
Food, beverages, coolers:
I will provide one large cooler per raft. This should hold everything for 5 to 7 people for a day trip. There are also dry bags that can hold chips, cameras, etc. You should provide for your lunch (sandwiches, drinks, fruit, chips, etc). It is advised to bring drinking water. Please think "small and compact", only bring what you "really" need and are going to eat. Space in the raft is limited. Call and ask first if you are planning on bringing any specialty items (video equipment, fishing or scuba gear, etc.). It will be a long day and a strenuous day and there are endless beautiful places to stop on the river. No alcohol during the trip, save that for after the trip.
Vehicles: Gas vehicles up the night before the trip.
Spray jackets over wetsuits, you cannot swim in them.
Shoes, you must have shoes that will stay on for the entire length of the trip and / or an extra set of shoes.
For summer attire (shorts, not wet suites or dry suits). River shoes, sandals or diving boots are recommended.
For winter attire (wet suites or day suits). Full ankle booties are recommended. Low cut water shoes / booties (ankle high) or beach shoes have a tendency of falling off (slip off easily) when wearing dry suits with full foot booties or when wearing wet suits with wet socks and are lost. If you wear ankle high shoes / booties you must bring an extra pair of shoes (booties or tennis shoes) in case you lose your booties. You cannot walk around in a dry suit or wet socks without some sort of shoes. Cheap beach shoes are strongly not recommended.
Wear heavy cotton or levy cutoffs, no "light" nylon shorts or bikini bottoms. If you fall out of the raft and are pulled in you will be grabbed first by your life vest and then by your ass / shorts. If this happens in the rapids (which is also were most people be fall out) youll be pulled in real fast and with allot of force. If you are wearing light nylon shorts or bikini bottoms when your pulled into the raft youll probably loose them.
The rafts are Sotar Elites, 14 long, 68" wide, 20" & 21" tubes, self-bailers manufactured by White Water Manufactures in Grants Pass Oregon. The rafts are more then $5,000 each and made out of a nylon base fabric coated with polyurethane. The rafts have been heavily reinforced with tube armor, an extra layer of material on the floor and chafing on the top of the tubes.
Care of the Raft:
Dont walk on the raft when its on shore. Dont drag the raft; always pick the raft up. When ever you set down the raft (even in green grass) take a "good" look around for broken glass, old construction material (nail, rebar), etc. When you see real low water lift your feet up off the floor of the raft and suspend yourself from the tubes and the throats. The tubes and the throats will distribute your weight and pressure points. This raft is a "self bailer" and the floor of the raft is inflated but cannot distribute the weight of foot placed on it well and any pressure point between a foot (a 150lbs. man) and dragging over a rock will give the rock "cutting" ability and puncture the floor.
Care of the Gear:
At the put-ins and take-outs there are allot of people, rafts, gear and trucks from outfitters and other private trips. Keep the gear together and keep track of it. Someone may completely and innocently pick up some of our gear and put it in another truck. So keep the gear together and keep track of it. Return any borrowed gear (wetsuits, booties, and gloves) to the gearboxes.
Trash: The cooler is the trashcan.
This river has allot of obstacles and maneuvering to be done. This raft is "big" and "wide" and the current is strong. So maneuvering the raft requires teamwork and quick response.
Rule 1: When I am talking, you are listening.
Rule 2: Do what you are told to do, when you are told to do it. You have to paddle when youre told to paddle and stop paddling when youre told to stop (forward paddle, back paddle, dig "big paddle").
Rule 3: The guide in the back steers the raft and gives directions to the crew, NO ONE else does.
Rule 4: Its not "right this minute", its "right this second". Quick response is "absolutely necessary" for allot of the maneuvering.
Theres not allot of work to this, theres a little work, real quick, in allot of short spurts. There is plenty of time to screw off, but there are short periods of time when your absolute attention is necessary. We want to minimize the amount of collisions with rocks and boulders. A sharp piece of granite or quarts can slice the raft open. Now this raft is "tough", it can get hung up on boulders and it can take some pretty rough direct hits (the tubes are made out of polyurethane, which is many times stronger than PVC or Hypalone but also many times the price). So this raft takes teamwork to drive, so listen up and do what youre told when youre told to do it. Team players and a team spirit is absolutely necessary.
Paddle Commands River Terminology and Things to Remember:
Swimming with a Paddle:
Ferrying with a Paddle - If you hold your paddle handle across your chest, blade pointed downstream on one side of your body you will ferry to the other side from the side the blade is on. If you make short strokes with the paddle your ferry speed will increase. So on your back, feet first, paddle across your chest, blade on one side of your body pointed downstream. You start make "little" paddles, a one to one and a half foot paddle swing you will ferry to the opposite side / directions the paddle blade is on.
Getting out of a hole with a Paddle - If you are in or going into a hole, hang on tight to your paddle. Once you fall into the hole or before you fall into the hole, pull and hold the paddle handle as tight as you can to your chest with the blade sticking out over your head. The blade of the paddle with disrupt the function of the hole and "grab" an exiting current and pull you out of the hole. The blade is "large" and can grab onto exiting currents.
If you fall into the water:
Keep you head up. Keep your feet forward. Keep on your back and kick with your feet. If you fall out of the raft with your paddle hold onto it, if you cant hold onto your paddle dont worry about it and dont try to go get it. Try to get back to the raft as quickly as you can. Now it is easier for you to change your speed in to the water then it is for the raft to speed up or slow down. If you are in front of the raft and moving faster then the raft its easy to kick with your feet and slow down and the raft will come to you. If you are behind the raft and falling further behind keep your feet forward and on your back just dont kick. We either throw you a line or pull you forward or you will just have to ride it out until we get to calm waters and can slow down the raft safely to pick you up. We cannot slow down the raft safely in the rapids; we have to paddle through them. If you fall out behind the raft and are gaining distance from the raft and if we cannot get a line to you (and its probably safer) you will just have to ride it out.
If the boat turns over immediately get out from under. Tangled lines on the overturned boat have been known to ensnare swimmers and fixed loads can cause injuries. If immediately next to the boat, stay alongside the boat at the upstream end. Avoid getting on the immediate upstream end. Avoid getting on the immediate upstream end as you may get shoved under it if it hits a rock.
Downstream protection is required when any considerable river hazard presents itself. Considerable river hazards include portages, (unrunnable rapids), class V and margin able runnable rapids, other unusual river formations (big holes, unusual and twisting holes, recirculating and recycling holes, low head dams, strainers, etc), and extremely fast changing river flows and altering rapid conditions. Downstream protection is when either kayakers or on shore people are sent downstream below the river hazard to provide protection, assistance and rescue to boats attempting to navigate the river hazard. Boats (rafts, catarafts, inflatable kayaks, kayaks) all have potential swimmers and / or the whole boat can get in trouble. Potential swimmers and stranded kayakers are the most common events. Downstream protection personal will usually have one to many throw bags and other rescue gear with them. Downstream protection personal will position themselves in critical spots below the river hazard. Downstream protection personal may even position themselves directly over a dangerous recirculating hole to assist swimmers or kayakers out of the hole. Throw bags for rescuing swimmers or kayakers are the most commonly used equipment.
Rescue Equipment: If you do not know how to use it, it is only / just luggage
1 Whistle blast: "Pay attention to me"
2 Whistle blast: "Come back upstream to me"
3 Whistle blast (short): "Proceed downstream"
3 Whistle blast (long and repeated): "Emergency rescue"
1 arm in the air (a swimmer in trouble should concentrate on breathing and not attempt to yell for assistance): "Help"
2 arms up in the air: "Stop"
Paddles and Elbows:
Probably the most likely injury to happen to you is to get hit with a paddle or elbow from someone falling. The paddles are manufactured out of STM two plastic and are "hard" and "sharp". A paddle is basically a "plastic axe". An over-paddle / swing flies in the direction of the person behind you. An over swing with a paddle almost always comes in at "head height" to the person behind. You would be lucky if you hit the person behind you in the shoulder. If you take a hit to the head with the blade end of a paddle theyll be a laceration. The smallest of head wounds take allot of stitches and bleeds enormously. So be careful not to over-swing with the paddle. When you fall in the raft put your paddle "out" and pulls your elbows "in". If you fall backwards with your arms out you will probably hit the person behind you with your elbow. And again your elbow will be at "head height" to the person behind you. Its your body natural reaction to throw your arms "out" when you fall either backwards or forwards. So remember when you fall in the rafts put your paddle "out" and pull your elbows "in".
The checklists are to be done before the trip starts and at stopping points along the trip. Before the trip, in the middle of the trip and at the end of the trip the following checklist have to be done.
Oar Rig Checklist:
End of the trip:
All the gear needs to be dried, inspected and taken inventory of (paddles, life jackets, throat bags, dry bags, foot pump, cam straps, first aid kit, patch kit, rope, rescue line, carabineers).
I charge nothing for the rafting trips and bear all the costs of the equipment, etc. I provide all the equipment (raft, paddles, helmets, life jackets, rescue gear, coolers, throat bags, etc.). What it costs you is your food, gas if you take your vehicle, parking and park fees and your cloths (wet suits, booties, etc.)
Directions to my house:
My house is at 2407 Maryal Drive 916-481-7049 residence email@example.com. Maryal Drive is off of El Camino Ave near the intersection of El Camino and Eastern Ave. 2407 Maryal Drive is the third house on the right coming from El Camino Ave. My white Dodge four wheel drive with a camper shell is parked out front in the driveway.
Waiver and Signoff
I _______________________________________________________ have heard the standard RIVER SAFETY LECTURE, delivered by _________________________________________
At _______________________________________________ on (date) ___________________ at __________________ (a.m. / p.m.)
By my mark, I agree that I have head the points below discussed, that my questions have been adequately answered, and that I understand the points made: (Initials please)
_____ River running is a recreational endeavor with some risk. While rafting is generally conducted safely, some accidents do occur. I may be involved in such an accident and this lecture is to help me prepare to react appropriately.
_____ I have / havent (circle one) been drinking or using controlled drugs in the last three hours. I understand the dangers of alcohol and drugs for river trip passenger.
I understand the following river terms:
_____ River right and river left
_____ Rocks, logs, and the command "High Side"
_____ Strainers, sawyers, and debris piles
_____ I understand that if I find myself swimming I should immediately put my feet downstream and get over on my back, knees bent and heels lower than my buttocks to protect my lower back
_____ I understand that when swimming I should concentrate on breathing in the troughs of the waves and exhale in the crests, trying to keep my head turned slightly to the side.
_____ I understand the dangers of a lower leg injury or catching my feet in rocks if I attempt to stand up in the rapids, and that I should wait for a calm spot, after swimming to the bank in a backstroke, before attempting to stand up.
_____ I understand that if I am thrown from the boat I should assume the sitting position with my feet downstream until pulled on board again
_____ I understand that if the boat overturns that the safest place to be is either alongside or completely away from the boat, so that downstream boats and rescuers can reach me.
_____ I understand that if I am unavoidably swimming into a strainer or debris pile I should attempt to turn over and swim into it in a crawl-type stroke as strongly as possible, with my head downstream, either climbing on top or over the obstacle-all in order to avoid entrapping myself.
_____ I understand the hazards of attempting to rescue another passenger who is swimming and in trouble.
I am aware of the following hazards:
_____ Slippery rocks on and near the waters edge
_____ Diving off of the banks of the river
_____ Loose oars on oar frame boats
_____ Natural hazards such as poison oak, snake, nettles, etc.
I understand the basic whistle and arm signals, particularly:
_____ One arm in the air means, "Help me!"
_____ One whistle blast means, someone is trying to get our attention
_____ Arms making an "O" shape over the head means, "I am OK."
_____ Boatman pointing to river right or left means, "swim in this direction."
_____ I understand that my personal flotation device should be worn at all times while I am on the water and that I should adjust it so that I can get a full breath, but also so that when I fully exhale it will not slip up over my head.
_____ I understand that the opportunity may be offered to me, if the boatmen feel it is advisable due to weather and water conditions, to make a short swim, so that I can practice the basic swimming position. If the boatmen and trip leaders feel such a swim is not necessary, they have explained why not to my full understanding.
(Complete below only if optional swim is offered)
_____ I have been offered an opportunity to make a short, optional swim.
_____ I have / have not (circle one) elected to do so, and this was my own decision.
By my witnessed signature below I hereby agree that I have head all the material above, as indicated by my initials, that all my questions have been answered satisfactorily, and that I still wish to make the river trip starting this date, despite the risks as explained to me above.
Signed ________________________________ Date, Time, Place _____________________
Witness _______________________________ Date, Time, Place _____________________
Waiver of Liability
In consideration of being permitted to participate in any way in the rafting activity I for myself, my personal representatives, assigns, heirs, and next of kin:
Signed ________________________________ Date, Time, Place _____________________
Witness________________________________ Date, Time, Place _____________________