Monday, May 24, 2010

A Boat Recovery

G's boat had gone down the No-Name Rapids by itself after it capsized and, amazingly, lodged against a huge standing rock in the Dolores River below. Once all ten of our rafting trip entourage had been safely accounted for and the rest of the boats secured below the rapids, our two river men, G and J, who are brothers, went after it in the largest boat and I went along to lend a hand.

G and J fell to intense bickering like brothers do even as they performed incredible physical feats and at one point I had to tell them to quit arguing as we attended to the boat recovery. We went by the hung-up boat once and missed it in the strong current and had to be hauled upriver by everyone on shore pulling on our tow line for another attempt at beaching on the mid-stream rock with our oar boat.

On the second pass J grabbed the capsized boat's floating bowline as we went by and somehow. by holding onto it, pulled our heavily-laden boat into the lee of the current behind the large boulder. G scrambled onto the rock then and started working on freeing the stuck overturned boat.

At one point our boat started floating away and G, standing on the steep rock, held our towline in one hand and the other boat's bowline in his other hand and I couldn't believe the strength, or will, he displayed in not letting go. He freed his boat alright, but let go of our towline in the process and we drifted away and his boat started floating away too.

The first rule on the river is to stay with the boat and J shouted to him as we floated off, "Jump in and grab your boat!" Which is what G did, executing a prodigious leap into the river for the second time within the hour, this time all the way to his escaping boat, which he grabbed onto.

We oared over to him, took the bowline and pulled the upside down craft to shore. Then, after securing the large boat to the bank, the three of us got in the shallow water and tipped the overturned boat right side up. (Right: Drying our stuff at camp that evening.)

Dress to swim and rig to flip. Incredibly, all the baggage and equipment, except for the oar which A had already retrieved, was still with the boat. (Left: We had a lot of stuff.)

Water had invaded all our dry bags though, and our sleeping bags were wet. It meant for an uncomfortable night for G, Jy and I when the nighttime chill settled in but hey, we were alive and our third day on the river, the most incredible day of my life, finally drew to a close.

1 comment:

Just_because_today said...

is this one in a life time deal or are you planning another trip next year?