I was telling Maria, a friend of mine in Colorado, that I went rafting on the Dolores River in Colorado and Utah last month when she informed me that she was a river guide and had traveled down the Dolores River plenty of times herself. Since I almost drowned when the boat overturned in a rapids and I became trapped underneath it, I asked her how you get out from underneath a capsized boat.
"Keep ahold of the boat and let it pass over you," she said, "by using your hands to pull yourself upriver as it floats downstream. Use the air pocket under the boat to breathe, and when you come to the back of the boat, duck under the gunwale and come out behind the boat, holding onto to the boat until you can determine whether you want to stay with it or take your chances swimming down the rapids."
She added that you don’t want to come out downstream so the boat is pushing you, because it might hit a rock and pin you between it and the rock. Better to emerge upriver and have the boat pull you, so you can let it go if need to achieve separation.
"Maria," I said, "there was no air under that boat. The current had pinned it against a rock and it wasn’t moving."
"Oh, you were under a wrapped boat," she said. "That’s different and very dangerous. You have to get out from under a wrapped boat any way you can, although you still want to try to get out upriver, in case it suddenly starts moving." (Right: A wrapped boat.)
I got out from under the wrapped boat downriver, on my third try with my life hanging in the balance, after failing two times to get out upriver. Maria is the first person I have talked to about the situation I was in who immediately understood that there was no air pocket down there, which gave my efforts to escape an air of immediacy which fully garnered my attention.