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Table of Contents
Some things have changed since 1976. The river rating scale is somewhat modified (see "American Whitewater" September/ October 1997, page 95) but the essentials are the same. The gear list can be enhanced with more modern materials, such as, polypropylene, fleece, dry suits and water filters. Some safety equipment might be added, such as, prussic line, webbing and carabiners. For paddle signals refer to the AWA safety code. Ammo boxes are out and plastic boxes are in.
However, the most important change since the '70s is that the legal system has made trip leading not only passé, but downright dangerous to your financial well being. Calling yourself a trip leader exposes you to lawsuits by injured or inconvenienced individuals or their relatives. As a consequence, the current practice is to call club outings a "shared adventure" and to avoid any appearance of anyone being in charge of anything (refer to the AWA safety code). Instructional trips are the exception. Instructors cannot avoid being in charge. Of course, many excellent leaders and instructors have stopped sharing their knowledge with us for fear of being sued. The "Cruise Leader's Guide" contains the knowledge they would have shared.
It is in that spirit that RiverGrizzly issues
Whitewater paddling should be undertaken only by groups of individuals all of whom have prior training and adequate equipment. The information on this web site is provided only as a convenience for such individuals. RiverGrizzly and its principles assume no liability for accidents that may occur in the pursuit of activities based on this information. The sole responsibility for safety lies with the participant.
So, without further ado, we present the ACA ...
CRUISE LEADER'S GUIDE
The following is a compilation of existing information which has been used for years. This is a guide to help sanction, organize, conduct cruises and camping. Remember that you are the American Canoe Association so treat people as you yourself would want to be treated. Always keep learning, keep an open mind, and keep thinking of ways to run safe and interesting cruises. Recreation is a cure for social ills; so let's have a healthy attitude.
I also want to thank everyone who contributed to this
TABLE OF CONTENTS
( 1 )
Cruising Leaders Training Classes: Classes should be given by the Divisional Cruising Chairman once each year or more often, at the beginning of the cruising season in your area. Announce the class in your divisional newsletter to interest new people in leading cruises and reorganize people who have led cruises in the past.
Encourage leaders to communicate with other leaders and share
bad experiences on cruises so everyone can profit. You will receive
personal rewards for your efforts and many new friends as a cruising
Membership: All cruising trip leaders must be American Canoe Association dues-paid governing members of family members.
Why a Leader and a Sweep? If each member of the group
for himself and his equipment, and lend a hand when there is a job to
done, no one will complain. However, the group welfare may be neglected
unless made the specific responsibility of the leader and the sweep.
leader must be considerate. It follows that the others should consider
his feelings. Remind each member of his individual responsibility in
the group compact and intact between the leader and the sweep.
the sweep (capable rear boater with knowledge of rescue) before the
If he is unable to make it, the leader will have plenty of time to ask
another capable paddler.
A) What rivers have you paddled?
B) Who was the leader?
C) What kind of boat do you have?
D) What paddling classes have you taken?
E) Whom did you learn from?
F) Who is your partner and has he/she had training?
G) Have you been on a camping trip before?
H) What kind of camping gear do you have?
I) Are you an ACA member? (If the answer is no, bring extra applications)
J) What is your present physical condition and your partners?
( 2 )
People will usually answer you honestly. Remind them that you are concerned about their safety and that you don't want them to get hurt or scared and never boat again. (The welfare of the group comes first and you must balance the experienced with less experienced paddlers.) Additional adult paddlers may be required for young and beginner boaters. 2. You should keep a 3 x 5 card file of names, addresses, phone numbers, and information which will help you remember the paddlers. 3. Your trip will normally be closed three days before the date you have set, or you will not be able to mail the necessary pre-trip information and directions in time. Last minute paddlers, unless you know them, never seem to work out. 4. Mail out pre-trip information and directions to the put-in. Draw a map if you can, and double check your information for accuracy, or your trip could start out poorly before you get on the river. How much confidence would you have in a leader who couldn't give you adequate directions to get to the put-in? 5. Request self-addressed, stamped envelopes for returning information.
Skills required: Events are classified according to ability levels: Class , II, etc., beginner, novice, intermediate, advanced, and expert. The trip leader may disqualify any paddler who does not have proper equipment or paddling skills required for the trip. Paddlers are required to provide their own equipment. (The leader may bring a spare helmet, life jacket, and spray skirt, as these are the most commonly forgotten items.)
Changes: Rapidly changing weather or water levels may
the rating and classification of a trip. This may force cancellation or
choice of an alternate run. For this reason be sure to contact the
at least one day in advance for final instructions. If a change is made
from one run to another the difficulty should not be raised.
( 3 )
Types of boats: Allow all types of craft on your trip which are appropriate for the class of water you intend to paddle. Every member, whether he has a folboat, "rubber duckie", raft, canoe, or kayak is a paddler and we should encourage unity, so we can communicate when important legislation or harmful regulations threaten us.
River conditions: Have knowledge of the river and
of the run at the relevant cfs level, the variation of which can change
the difficulty of the run. If the trip may be necessary in
Participants (put-in): Inform participants of expected river conditions, and where lunch-stop and take-out will be. Determine if prospective paddlers are qualified for the trip. All decisions should be based on group safety and comfort. Difficult decisions on the participation of paddlers with marginal ability must be based on the balance of experienced paddlers to the total group strength.
Limit the size of the group: 1. Limit the size of the group to the number of boats the leader can control (usually eight for each leader and sweep). Keep your impact to a minimum on the land and in the eyes of those along the river. The easing of tension will be rewarding. If the group is larger than ten boats, divide into smaller groups, each of appropriate boating strength. Designate group leaders and sweeps. Sweeps should be of same ability of leaders. At this point it is important that there be a clear understanding of location of lunch stop, rest stops, and take-out point. 2. Never paddle with fewer than three boats. 3. The leader should pause soon after the start to make sure that every-one's equipment is working well. 4. Rest stops should be frequent enough to allow paddlers adequate time to stretch, and contain enough brush to provide needed privacy for paddlers to answer Nature's call (girls upstream, boys downstream). 5. When making rest stops the leader should make sure everyone gets an adequate chance to rest. Too often the leader will wait for a short rest until the sweep canoe catches up, only to strike out again, refreshed by his pause, the moment the tired sweep comes into view. 6. To prevent boats from bunching up at the top of a rapid or tricky spot, make each boater responsible for the paddlers in front of and behind him. Before each boater proceeds through the rapid, he should be sure the preceding boat has made it through. After each boater goes through the rapid, he should check to make sure the boat behind him has made it, and then proceed. 7. Control the pace and watch the time. If the group is spreading out, it could be the result of a novice having trouble with equipment, a blister, or the wind; or someone having a hard time catching up. (A paddler holding up the group may be peeved at the group for going too fast, and at the same time, feel guilty for holding it up.) He could tactfully be moved to the front of the group. There is a definite lift for the boaters who go first, and a corresponding let-down to being last. 8. Photography can make about as many momentary enemies on a trip as it makes fast friends back home. The paddler who himself does not see a good shot, often becomes impatient with the one who stops to take a picture.
( 4 )
Landowners: Among landowners there is a strong sense of private property. Many of them don't realize that the public may paddle down their" rivers. Do not try to argue your rights. Make friends with the landowners instead. Ask to have permission as needed.
Fishermen: Fishermen, and everyone met, should be treated with consideration. Slip silently past so that they cannot possible think you scared the fish at the farthest safe distance possible.
"Play the River." Shorten your mileage plans, have more
and learn more canoeing.
( 5 )
Trip Rosters: Cruise trip rosters must be completed at the put-in and turned in to the Division Cruising Chairman. Then forwarded before November to the National Cruising Chairman. Rosters are required for the following reasons:
1. Insurance: Protects leaders on officially sanctioned trips. The completed roster is an important documentation that the trip was an authorized American Canoe Association trip.
2. River use evidence: ACA trip rosters provide clear evidence of the extent of our use of a particular river, and makes it more difficult for government agencies to contend that only an occasional paddler uses the river.
3. Establish navigability: Trip rosters provide evidence for establishing navigability which may influence a decision by a court or government agency declaring a river navigable, thus protecting paddlers from arrest or trespass charges.
4. Reporting accidents: Report all accidents on the ACA
form. A Coast Guard report is required for death, serious injury
medical treatment, or loss of craft in excess of $100.00. An accident
defined as an event or occurrence, which is unforeseen and unintended,
resulting in death, injury, or loss of craft valued over $100.00.
on accident cause, rescue techniques, contributory factors, equipment
etc. Provide photographs or sketches if possible. Please be thorough as
you can. Obtain the form from the Division Cruising Chairman.
( 6 )
Camping Manners for River Cruising: Rivers will remain unspoiled only if protected and cared for by those who use them today. It is important that we set high standards for ourselves and minimize our impact as much as possible.' River cruising makes little impact on the environment. It is quiet and non-polluting. Except for the put-in, overnight campsites, and take-out, paddlers leave no trace. Good camping conduct is needed to keep our rivers clean and their value intact. You will discover an immense satisfaction in enjoying boating without depreciating the river in any way, and leaving no lasting sign.
Construction: Camp in the river cruising spirit. Minimize building for kitchen emplacements and shelter. Don't disarrange the scene. Use tents or tarps. Never cut boughs or poles, or put nails in trees. Do not harm fragile vegetation.
Fires: Never leave a fire unattended! Build one minimum fireplace if you must have to fire at all. Don't place a fire against a log, back rock, or too close to tents or sleeping bags which blown sparks can burn. When breaking camp, drown the fire completely, stir, and drown again until all ashes are cold to touch. Bury ashes and charcoal. Use existing firesites where found. If necessary rebuild the original firesite. Return all fireplace rocks to natural positions when you leave, blackened portions hidden Keep fires small. Stoves should be used for cooking whenever possible. A 5" by 7" bladed shovel with a 12" handle is required by law to attend all fires.
Wood: Use Dura-Flame or three hour logs whenever possible. Otherwise, use down wood only. Do not cut standing trees, living or dead...not break off their branches. Snags are picturesque and must not be molested. Ax work on down logs and stumps mars the atmosphere. Conserve wood.
Bedsites: Don't excavate. Find a naturally level spot. Erase evidence of your bed when breaking camp. Double check area before you leave; forgotten laundry is litter.
Sanitation: Go far from the water, dig deep, and bury.
Washing: Use a small wash basin for laundry and sponge bathing. Keep soap or detergent out of rivers and lakes. Do your pot scrubbing and washing well back from the shore. Use a biodegradeable detergent.
Garbage: Littering is illegal! Place all your litter in a garbage bag for later disposal. Some may be disposed of in the fire. Burn what will burn. Edibles may be concealed or scattered well away from camp where animals can find them without digging. Be careful with broken glass. It is the duty of the Sweep to double check, making sure the campfire is out, no one has left anything, and the campsite is cleaner than when the group arrived. Carry a garbage bag where it is easily accessible so that you can pick up litter left by others along the river. Don't bury litter, haul it out.
( 7 )
Fish: Catch only as many as you need or can consume. After cleaning fish, bury entrails ashore. Never throw entrails, head, etc., back into the water.
Noise: Be a considerate paddler. Don't crowd other
is out of harmony on a river cruising trip. Radios and pets should be
Waterproof bags: For touring, wet packs to keep camping equipment, clothes, and food dry.
Dry bags: Cheap (garbage bags, plastic bags, plastic mayonnaise jars).
Good Bags: (Black rubber bags, etc.)
Open Water 1. Canoe over Canoe (rescue of others) 2. Re-enter a swamped canoe (self-rescue) 3. Re-entering a canoe in deep water (self-rescue). 4. Hand paddling (self-rescue).
Moving Water 1. Wading and swimming with boat, upstream
made only if it is not near a drop. 2. Swimming without the boat,
techniques feet up (self-rescue) 3. Land extension: line thrown to
(rescue of others) don't tie ropes to people. 4. Towing a swamped boat
(rescue of others) 5. Picking up a person in the water (rescue of
6. Emptying a canoe in shallow water (self-rescue). 7. Roll
( 8 )
Swamping and swimming: Act, don't be caught by indecision. Do something even if it's wrong; you will learn from your mistake. As a general rule stay with the boat (a boat is easier to spot than a swimmer). Stay on the upstream side ot the boat at all times in moving water. To avoid being tapped or pinned against a rock, tree, bridge pier, brush or anything that could pin you or your boat. The force of tons of moving water has no mercy. Hold on to your craft it has much flotation. Try to align it with the current to prevent wrapping.
Leave the boat in dangerous situations if disaster seems certain such as: falls, dams, wiers, high surf, extremely rocky rapids, and numbing cold water. Swim to the nearest safe place and gather your thoughts. Your boat and equipment can always be replaced, but you can't. In a situation where the paddler and boat are separated, get the people out first and then the boat and equipment if it will cause no risk to life.
Extend your feet downstream high on the surface when swimming rapids to avoid entrapment situations. Look ahead and watch for eddies or still-water. Use every opportunity to work .your way towards a safe shore.
It is important to point out to good swimmers that you can not swim in an aerated rapid because the water will not float you. Many people think that wearing a life jacket will make them look sissy, while most of us know that it only enables you to barely keep your head out of the water in any kind of major rapid.
A paddler must never attempt to stand up in fast-moving
Feet must always be kept high to avoid entrapment. Do not attempt to
off rocks with your feet, as they could catch in a crevice. The safest
procedure is to swim for an eddy, and then stand up. Walking on the
is safe only if the water is too shallow for swimming, and even then it
should be done with great caution. The hazards may be well hidden and
( 9 )
Safety: Our contribution to safety is through education and example. Your experience with canoeing education and safety which will have the most impact will be practical experience on the river.
Equipment: Test new or unfamiliar equipment in a pool or lake before using it on a river. Be sure your craft is in good repair before going on every trip. Look for cracks, weak spots, air chamber leaks, air bag leaks, frayed lines, etc. and repair these before the trip. Use a check list so you are unlikely to forget anything for your cruise. Inflatables should have multiple air chambers and be test inflated before a cruise. Inflatables and dories must have perimeter grab lines to hold on to during a swim.
Craft Capacity: Craft capacity varies widely with size.
than two adult paddlers in a 16 ft. or 17 ft. open canoe with camping
is recommended. Our policy is two people in each canoe. But possibly
or two small children is O.K. on flatwater or a Class I river. (Make
children wear their PFD (life vest) at all times in the craft.) No more
than two paddlers on Class II or higher. Posted inflatable capacities
generally be halved on white water. Know what your craft capacity is
that it should be reduced for river use. A sluggish boat is not only
but tires you out and is no fun. Consider large raft support for long
to lighten your boats of camping gear. A central commissary also helps
lighten the load.
( 10 )
Clothing: 1. Swimsuit: nylon dries quickly; cut-offs are rugged. Consider what will give protection from chafing of seat and boat interior. 2. Shirts for sun protection. 3. Nylon shells for wind protection. 4. Sunglasses (glasses or sunglasses need holder or strap and defogging) Carry spare glasses. 5. Wool sweaters and/or wetsuits for warmth. 6. Dry change of clothes and towel carried in pick-up car or in waterproof container in boat -- include dry shoes to wear home.
Shoes: 1. Sneakers best, wet suit booties not acceptable alone; foot-wear should be strong enough condition to survive a walk out of a canyon. Plastic sandals over set booties work well. Avoid heavy, clumsy boots or shoes.
Wetsuits: 1. Should not bind your arms. 2. A wet suit is a requirement if water temperature is below 50 F and/or cold weather is anticipated on Class II or higher water.
Sprayskirts: (spray decks) 1. Nylon or neoprene (wet suit material) 2. Proper fit to waist and cockpit rim. 3. Be sure it will release easily from the boat. 4. Keep in good repair. 5. Carry a spare for large groups.
Proper boat flotation: Proper secure-air chambers, or foam in good repair for open canoes. Air bags for decked boats filling 2/3s of the boat.
Float Bags For Decked Boats: Fitted bags are best (as opposed to beach balls and innertubes). Split bags are available for boats with foam pillars. Ruggedness and durability depend on weight (thickness). Inflated and placed in boat be sure no rough edges to cut them. Sun (heat) and altitude will cause bags to expand larger and may damage your boat or bags. Transport your boat with air bags deflated and carry a repair kit.
Painters and grab loops: Painters should be 15 feet long on bow and stern. 3/8" is preferred it will not cut into your hand, generally it is more comfortable. Provides storage for bow/stern lines. Grab loops should be of 1/4" nylon or equivalent and should be big enough for your hand to hold onto.
Maps: Topo-Know the terrain around the river;
you must walk out.
Camera: Camera and film in waterproof container (50
box is good.)
( 11 )
Tie downs: Rope is best (nylon). The bow and stern as well as over middle. Use cradles to prevent deforming boats.
Beware of any items that could prevent complete escape in
A. High water. The river's power and danger, and the difficulty of rescue increase tremendously as the flow rate increases. It is often misleading to judge river level at the put-in. Look at a narrow, critical passage. Could a sudden rise from sun on a snow pack, rain, or dam release occur on your trip?
B. Cold. Cold quickly robs one's strength, along with one's will and ability to save yourself. Dress to protect yourself from cold water and weather extremes. When the water temperature is less than 50 F. a wetsuit is essential for safety in the event of a swim. next best is wool clothing under a windproof outer garment such as a splash-proof nylon shell; in this case one should also carry matches and a complete change of clothes in a waterproof package. If, after prolonged exposure, a person experiences un-controllable shaking or has difficulty talking and moving, he must be warmed immediately by whatever means available.
C. Strainers. Brush, fallen trees, bridge pilings, or anything else which allows river current to sweep through but pins boat and paddler against the obstacle. The water pressure on anything trapped this way is overwhelming, and there may be little or no whitewater to warn of danger.
D. Weirs, Reversals, and Souse Holes (Keepers). The water drops over an obstacle, then curls back on itself in a stationary wave, as is often seen at weirs, and dams. The surface water is actually going UPSTREAM, and this action will trap any floating object between the drop and the wave. Once trapped try to swim out the end of the wave or a swimmer's best action is to dive below the surface where current is flowing downstream.
( 12 )
Scale for Grading the Difficulty of River Cruising: Rivers have "variables" with water levels (cfs flow), temperature, craft you intend to paddle, and your skill in that craft. (i.e. beginner, novice, inter-mediate, advanced, and expert). A river could be Class III 1/2 in spring runoff or a heavy rainy season and an easy Class II at another (summer) level. If the temperature is below 50 F. and/or cold weather is anticipated on Class II or higher water the river should be considered one class higher than normally. The river is rated by obstacles, temperature, waves, speed (cfs), drop, power of the hydraulics, ability to rescue, etc. However, a Class III run may be an intermediate run in a kayak and an advanced run in an open canoe. Have a realistic knowledge of your skill level in the craft you intend to paddle and find out as much information as you can about the run before you attempt it. Don't forget your friend may have run the same run at low water and when you attempt it could be a full class higher. Learn to make your own judgments based on your ability and skill. Line or portage your boat if you don't feel up to it; no one will think any the less of you. Always wear your Personal Flotation Device (life jacket). Never travel with less than three boats and always check weather forecasts,
Flatwater: Pools, lakes, estuaries, bays, etc. Paddlers have an average swimming ability, knowledge of rescue, and the basic boating safety good physical condition. Wind and tides are sometimes problems. (Always check tide tables). If heavy motorboat traffic stay close to shore and approach their waves at an angle to 45 degrees to 90 degrees.
Moving water with a few riffles and small waves few or no obstructions. Have the skill to paddle around major obstacles bridge piers, well spaced rocks, avoid brush, be able to self-rescue, good physical condition, and average swimming ability* (do not boat on flood control ditches or canals) can spot eddies and knows their effect.
( 13 )
Wear a helmet. (This includes open boats.) Be a good swimmer* with an ability to handle yourself under water. Be experienced in a wet exit from an overturned craft. Be able to self-rescue and rescue others. You should have an ability to spot submerged rocks. Easy rapids with waves up to three feet. Clear channels usually obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering is required. You should have a good ability to judge which rapids can be safely run in the craft you are paddling and estimate in an open canoe waves that will ship water. Be able to keep your craft under good control to stop or reach shore before any danger. (Strainers, etc.) Plan your route and boat the route planned. Do not enter a rapid unless you can see the bottom of it or are reasonably sure you can navigate it or swim the entire rapid in an upset. A wet suit is required if water temperature is below 50 F on Class II or higher water. Be able to cross good eddy lines, and brace instinctively.
Rapids with high irregular waves 4 to 5 feet, capable of swamping an open canoe. Complex maneuvering is required. Scouting from the shore is suggested. Have a good ability to evaluate the difficulty of a rapid and make your independent judgment as to run it or not. A strong swimming ability. A good ability to rescue others and to perform a self-rescue (roll) in a tip-over. (A decked boater should be able to perform a reliable roll when planning to run higher class rivers where a swimmer would have trouble reaching the shore) be able to judge the effects of large hydraulics, reversals, holes, fast jest, drops, and strong eddy lines.
Usually not possible for open canoes except experts. Long difficult rapids with constricted passages, requires precise skill in boat placement in turbulent hydraulics. Have a good knowledge for handling unusual circumstances, turning drops, strong side currents, strong reversals, and big holes. Scouting from shore is necessary and conditions make rescue difficult. Very strong swimming ability*. Excellent physical condition, and a strong reliable roll. Must be able to roll on either side and have the ability to stay in your boat in very turbulent water for third and fourth attempts to roll.
Extremely difficult, long and very violent rapids with highly contested routes, which must be scouted from shore. Rescue conditions are very difficult in the event of a mishap. Very expert development of all boating skills in very big water is required.
Difficulty carried to the extreme. Very dangerous. Rescue questionable with all precautions taken. Cannot be run without risk to life or limb.
( 14 )
SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT LIST:
Adapt it to your personal needs and the time of the year or
*Synthetic materials such as polyester Fiberfill II and Polarguard have good wet characteristics, and are less expensive than Down which is nearly completely worthless when wet and may take a day or more to dry.
( 15 )
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