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Any pointers for canoeing?

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I have taken boys on whitewater canoeing rivers for 15 years, but I also have stored away in the back of my mind when I was an Emergency Rescue Technician, pulling an unfortunate canoiest out of the river and hauling down to the morgue. Not an activity I wish to ever repeat, especially not with a boy that has placed his trust in my judgment to keep him safe.



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Rock the boat. Don't rock the boat baby! Rock the boat. Don't tip the boat over!


PFD, PFD, PFD, PFD, PFDs!!!!!!!!!!!



- Don't attempt a long float trip until you have done several shorts

- Know the expierence level of each participant (stronger in the stern)

- Pack clothes in air tight bags

- Anchor food stuffs

- Know the river/lake you will be on

- Inform people of where and when you are expecting to be

- Watch for sweepers on small rivers and underwater hazards

- Have a patch kit for fiberglass canoes

- Kneel don't sit on the benches (a pad or towel to kneel on while help)



PFD, PFD, PFD, PFD, PFDs!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hmm to be perfectly honest I dont know what river it isI think its part of the Savannah River that flows out of Hartwell Lake in Hart State Park (infact I am pretty sure that's what it is)I do know that one side of the river is South Carolina and the other side of it is Georgia since the video was taken the Georgia side has been shut down to the public but the South Carolina side is still open (GA and SC never could agree on anything) they even have a ramp for fishing boats and such.


No worries about drinking, I know this might be hard to believe given our generation but there are some college students out there who dont do it (doesnt strike us as appealing) and even if we did you would have to be a real idiot to do it while canoeing.


As for reading the river and all that some of my friends have been boating on it before during this time of year and according to them while the current is there it is lazy. The water probably is down lower then normal (due to sever droughtwhich is why we cant canoe in the lake) but its so deep it doesnt matter anyways. As for hiking out and everythingits not going to happen. The place we would start has a parking lot and a place to put boats into the water and the river itself follows the roadour friends who have gone there before simply turned their boat around on the river and went back to where they started (that is they paddled back. the current isnt to bad I would then assume) I suppose if we couldnt do that we would just get out somewhere and someone would go back to get the trucks and pick everyone else up.


If we do this it defiantly will not be anytime around when it is dark. We would go in the late morning (tenish) and probably stay until late afternoon (twoish).


We will have spare paddles (they come with renting the canoeat least I would assume thats why you would get five paddles for a three person canoe) I dont think we will take anything else out with usmost likely we will stay near to the shore (but not to close) and wont go down stream at all. As for getting lessons firstthere really isnt anywhere around here to get lessons and if there was we probably couldnt afford them. Our friends who have gone canoeing before (I think one might have been a sea scout or something) said they would take us out in a small lake first and teach us some basic stuff (like how to get in the canoe ;) lol) I dont know anyone who can kayak (much less owns one while paying about $20,000 per year for school) but we are going to make sure that those who know how to canoe are paired with the ones who dont know how and everyone will be wearing PFDs if they wont wear them they wont be allowed in the boat. I will even be wearing one, and I absolutely despise them!




Oh and I actually did some research on canoeing ont he Savannah and found this on a website:


"The journey of the Savannah from source to mouth is a study of contrasts. It originates clear, cool, and free-flowing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, its mountain tributaries are dammed and impounded many times before even reaching the Savannah. The Savannah itself comes into being not as a surging, vibrant stream, but as a still mass of backwater in the Hartwell Reservoir, into which the Savannahs parent tributaries, the Tugaloo and the Seneca, empty."


We are about....two hours from Blue Ridge sooo I think what we have is the 'backwash' I think because the lake exists because the water is dammed I don't think we should have much problem with a current.


Any more thoughts?? Oh, and if you have IM feel free to send me a message I am usually on (since I am usually stuck in my room doing hw anyways):)



Oh and I found a picture and info of where this place is maybe some of you have been there before it's on highway 123 along the GA/SC border...i don't know if the link will work or not but here it is: http://jmichaelk.aminus3.com/image/2007-08-27.html(This message has been edited by WildernesStudent)

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"Hmm to be perfectly honest I dont know what river it is"


Hmmm ... I think that y'all will need to study the river carefully, including put-in spots, any portage places, eddies, rapids, exit locations, etc. Note guideline #7 (Planning) below.


File a float plan with the local authority.


Here is the BSA Safety Afloat guidelines. You should follow them since apparently you have beginners and possibly non-swimmers. We, in BSA, all have to follow these guidelines to the letter.


Safety Afloat


Safety Afloat has been developed to promote boating and boating safety and to set standards for safe unit activity afloat. Before a BSA group may engage in an excursion, expedition, or trip on the water (canoe, raft, sailboat, motorboat, rowboat, floating in an inner tube, or other craft), adult leaders for such activity must complete Safety Afloat Training, No. 34159, have a commitment card, No. 34242, with them, and be dedicated to full compliance with all ninepoints of Safety Afloat.


1. Qualified Supervision


All activity afloat must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of the children in his or her care, who is experienced and qualified in the particular watercraft skills and equipment involved in the activity, and who is committed to compliance with the nine points of BSA Safety Afloat. One such supervisor is required for each 10 people, with a minimum of two adults for any one group. At least one supervisor must be age 21 or older, and the remaining supervisors must be age 18 or older. All supervisors must complete BSA Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense training and rescue training for the type of watercraft to be used in the activity, and at least one must be trained in CPR. It is strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older youth member currently trained as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the planning and conducting of all activity afloat.


For Cub Scouts: The ratio of adult supervisors to participants is one to five.


2. Physical Fitness


All persons must present evidence of fitness by a complete health history from a physician, parent, or legal guardian. Adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event of any significant health conditions, a medical evaluation by a physician should be required by the adult leader.


3. Swimming Ability


A person who has not been classified as a "swimmer" may ride as a passenger in a rowboat or motorboat with an adult swimmer, or in a canoe, raft, or sailboat with an adult who is trained as a lifeguard or a lifesaver by a recognized agency. In all other circumstances, the person must be a swimmer to participate in an activity afloat. Swimmers must pass this test:


Jump feetfirst into water over your head. Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes:�sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating. This qualification test should be renewed annually.


4. Personal Flotation Equipment


Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) must be worn by all persons engaged in activity on the open water (rowing, canoeing, sailing, boardsailing, motorboating, waterskiing, rafting, tubing, kayaking, and surfboarding). Type II and III PFDs are recommended.


5. Buddy System


All activity afloat necessitates using the buddy system. Not only must every individual have a buddy, but every craft should have a "buddy boat" when on the water.


6. Skill Proficiency


All participants in activity afloat must be trained and experienced in watercraft handling skills, safety, and emergency procedures. (a) For unit activity on white water, all participants must complete special training by a BSA Aquatics Instructor or qualified whitewater specialist. (b) Powerboat operators must be able to meet requirements for the Motorboating merit badge or equivalent. © Except for whitewater and powerboat operation as noted above, either a minimum of three hours' training and supervised practice or meeting requirements for "basic handling tests" is required for all float trips or open-water excursions using unpowered craft. (d) Motorized personal watercraft, such as the Jet Ski and SeaDoo, are not authorized for use in Scouting aquatics, and their use should not be permitted in or near BSA program areas.


For Cub Scouts:�Canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and rafting for Cub Scouts (including Webelos Scouts) are to be limited to council/district events on flat water ponds or controlled lake areas free of powerboats and sailboats. Prior to recreational canoeing and kayaking, Cub Scouts are to be instructed in basic handling skills and safety practices.


7. Planning


Float Plan Obtain current maps and information about the waterway to be traveled. Know exactly where the unit will "put in" and "pull out" and what course will be followed. Travel time should be estimated generously. Review the plan with others who have traveled the course recently.

Local Rules Determine which state and local regulations are applicable, and follow them. Get written permission to use or cross private property.

Notification File the float plan with parents or participants and a member of the unit committee. File the float plan with the local council office when traveling on running water. Check in with all those who should be notified when returning.

Weather Check the weather forecast just before setting out, and keep an alert weather eye. Bring all craft ashore when rough weather threatens.

Contingencies Planning must identify possible emergencies and other circumstances that could force a change of plans. Appropriate alternative plans must be developed for each.

For Cub Scouts:�Cub Scout canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and rafting do not include "trips" or "expeditions" and are not to be conducted on running water (i.e., rivers or streams); therefore, some procedures are inapplicable. Suitable weather requires clear skies, no appreciable wind, and warm air and water.


8. Equipment


All equipment must be suited to the craft, to water conditions, and to the individual; must be in good repair; and must satisfy all state and federal requirements. Spare equipment or repair materials must be carried. Appropriate rescue equipment must be available for immediate use.


9. Discipline


All participants should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures for safe unit activity afloat. The applicable rules should be presented and learned prior to the outing, and should be reviewed for all participants at the water's edge just before the activity begins. When Scouts know and understand the reasons for the rules, they will observe them. When fairly and impartially applied, rules do not interfere with the fun. Rules for safety, plus common sense and good judgment, keep the fun from being interrupted by tragedy.


Note: For cruising vessels (excluding rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and rafts, but including sailboats and powerboats greater than 20 feet long) used in adult-supervised unit activities by a chartered Venturing crew/ship specializing in watercraft operations, or used in adult-supervised program activity in connection with any high-adventure program or other activity under the direct sponsorship and control of the National Council, the standards and procedures in the Sea Scout Manual may be substituted for the Safety Afloat standards.


Reference: Safety Afloat, No. 34368 and in the Online Learning Center


Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) must be worn by all persons engaged in activity on the open water (rowing, canoeing, sailing, boardsailing, motorboating, waterskiing, rafting, tubing, and kayaking).


Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved equipment (types I, II, or III) is acceptable for use in Scouting aquatics. Ski belts are not acceptable. Scouts and unit leaders should learn which type is appropriate for each specific circumstance and how to wear and check for proper fit.




Since you indicate that you will have folks who have never done this before, it would be wise to do the training as your friend suggested on calm, flat water such as a lake first. Maneuvering a canoe is not as intuitive as it seems. It is even more difficult in moving water, even in Class I rapid. Beginners who have never done moving water canoeing will get themselves in to big troubles with Class II and definitely Class III. It is necessary to figure out how to deal with eddies and how to get out of them. Moving water canoeing will require quick decisions in terms of strokes to avoid flipping over. If you were to pair them up, one experienced moving water canoeist should be paired with a beginner. Definitely make sure you plan and plan well! This includes knowing the weather and the movement of the water. What is one day a Class I rapid can turn into a Class III or IV because of large amount snow melt as indicated before.


Bottom line ... nothing beats training, planning, and understanding!


PFDs may not look cool, but they save lives! So, PFDs, PFDs, PFDs, and did I mention PFDs? One final advise, the PFDs need to be worn correctly ... not drape over for the sake of wearing them!


Best of luck!



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One more thing...see your insurance agent and take out an umbrella liability policy...about $5 million should do it. No youth leader should be without it.

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Canoeing in Georgia? I think there was a pretty good movie/documentary back in the 70s about that. Check it out at NetFlix or Blockbuster. I think it was called "Deliverance".

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I know the place very well. It's actually one of the areas where I've watched fools do stupid things. That state park is not on a river, it's on Lake Hartwell. In order to get to a 'river' you'll have to put in below the dam. The dam doesn't operate very often (thanks to the drought) and if it's not operating you'll get to have fun carrying the canoes over big slippery boulders and bedrock.


However, if the dam IS operating you'll have maybe 30 seconds of fun in what's left of the Savannah River before you arrive in....the next lake, Richard B. Russell Lake. Then you can paddle maybe down to the 181 or maybe 184/368 bridge to take out. Or you can go a few miles farther down to Lake Russell State Park, also on the GA side (BTW, it's a really nice, under-used state park).


Folks, most of our fears can be set aside. Assuming they manage to even get into the canoes without tipping over, they'll be on flat water almost the whole time.


One word of caution, even in warm weather, you must be prepared for hypothermia. Even in the summer the water from that dam comes off the bottom of Lake Hartwell and it is cold enough to support a trout fishery. A dunking will be...invigorating.


Another word of caution, if you decide to keep the canoes on Lake Hartwell, be very careful. That lake, on nice days, is loaded with idiots who are themselves...loaded. Fat, bloated rednecks in low-slung, metal-flaked, overpowered boats are well-known for example, accidentally cutting catamarans in half, or running right over smaller craft...and then keeping on going because they were too far into the drunken haze to notice. BUT, it's gratifying to know that in THIS country, they can do that until they're 40 years old and if their daddy has good connections, they'll still have a chance to become president.


So I advise you to stay close to the shores, lest you mess up the chances for some future presidential candidate.

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"Swimmers must pass this test:


Jump feetfirst into water over your head. Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes:�sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating" OneHour



Holy frekin crap! People can actually do that! I don't know anyone who can do that not even my lifeguard friends (no wonder the BSA has their own lifeguards) Thats completely and utterly it, I want to swim like that! And I am being completely serious! I've had swimming lessons but nothing like that (why is it exactly they are taught so much?) I think they should teach all children how to swim like that(it would prevent all these drowning accidents) I've already decided that I am going to work on my swimming this summer (its very rusty..) I don't know how it's going to go though....I have a bad knee and also hurt my back last summer (I completely deserved it...stupid stunt) but does anyone know where I can learn how to swim like that and how long it would take? I have an Eagle Scout friend who might be persuaded to teach me but we'll both be pretty busy.


hmm maybe we should just wait on the canoeing and then do it sometime when a scout troop is...that way we wouldn't die and they could get their life saving badges!! (yeah yeah..bad idea I know lol)


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"oly frekin crap! People can actually do that! I don't know anyone who can do that not even my lifeguard friends (no wonder the BSA has their own lifeguards) Thats completely and utterly it, I want to swim like that!"


If I ever ran across a lifeguard who couldn't swim 100 yards without stopping, I'd avoid his area.


I'm a horrible swimmer but I can still pass the BSA test. I'd like to do a mile.



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Like I told you about Backpacking and Canoeing, find your local scout shop and purchase a copy of the Swimming merit badge pamphlet. It has lots of great tips on swimming. It is one of the oldest scout merit badges (created in 1911) and is required to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. Ask your Eagle Scout friend about it. IMO, every scout should earn it. The pamphlet only costs about $3.00, and it's well worth the investment.


Here is a website that will detail the requirements for this merit badge:




Also, like we've said before, don't underestimate hypothermia. Many an outdoorsman has succumbed to it, so know how to recognize, avoid, and treat it if necessary. It's all about being prepared--a BSA thing.


Be safe first, and have fun always.


(Edited to fix merit badge link)

(This message has been edited by Ohio_Scouter)(This message has been edited by Ohio_Scouter)

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Good info all around.


As far as personal gear, sunglasses with croakie and sunscreen. You can get a lot of bounce of sunlight off of the water so even protect the underside of the nose. Boonie style hat to protect your head and neck. In case of rain showers do not bring a poncho that turns into a shroud if you go into the water. Take a rain jacket instead. PFD! PFD!PFD! Take shoes that can be discarded after the trip as river soaked shoes tend to get a bit ripe later. No cotton clothing if you can help it as it takes forever to dry, wear nylon or other similar fabrics that dry quickly. If you wear glasses use a croakie also as it is a very bad feeling to watch them go to the bottom. Each conoe should have a throw rope in case someone needs help. Each person should have a whistle around their neck to summon help if they flip or need other emergency assistance (three blasts will summon help). A small/medium camp towel to dry off. Small waterproof cushion to sit on while canoeing and while on the beach. Each person probably should have at least 2 liters of water. Plenty of rope to tie everything to the canoe is a good thing. Be sure to leave a note with someone to let them know who is going, where you are going and when you expect to be back. Oh, and let them know when you are back so a search is not started. Can be embarrasing.


Quick thoughts and have a good time.


Common sense is always something to pack when on these trips.



red feather

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So, now I see what you mean about water being colder then you think. I just got back from our annual 'end of midterms polar jump'.... 20 degree water in 59-degree weather.... I don't recommend it...though I'm sure that once I get the feeling back into my body I will feel invigorated (or just plain cold). Anyways, maybe we should wait until it's warmer for our little outing I do not want to have to swim in water that cold...I don't think I would be able to. I don't know, what do you guys think?

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20 degree water? I wasn't a science major but I do believe they call that "ice." At least, up here in the frozen north they do.


Personally I would wait a while. As others have said, hypothermia can set in surprisingly quickly when you're talking about really cold water and 50-60 degree air, especially if there's a breeze. And reality is that with a group of inexperienced people you WILL get wet even if you don't capsize. By the way, in a deep river you should know what to do with a canoe that has capsized/gets swamped and maybe practice it a time or two before you go out for real.


At the very least, do some reading about hypothermia, symptoms, and what to do about it before you go (try the swimming or canoing merit badge books, or the first aid one). Otherwise we'll all be worrying about you!


And seriously, what's stopping you folks from starting a Venturing crew? Maybe find out what the local BSA council in your area is and call them up. You can do all of the things you've posted so far - hiking, backpacking, canoing, as part of the BSA and get access to all kinds of resources to help you improve your skills along the way.

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I've been canoeing recently, and I'm north of you. But I'm pretty sure our water was above 20 degrees.


On flat water on a nice day this time of year, I wouldn't think twice about doing what you're thinking of, I'd go right ahead. I would definitely have everyone wear life jackets, but really, I doubt that these other worst case scenarios are likely to materialize. Our kids had a great time on the river.

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