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JPTolson 12-01-2010 04:27 PM

Most Embarrassing Paddling Experiences
Since most of my funniest paddling experiences have come at the expense and embarrassment of others, it's only fair to 'fess up to some of my own most embarrassing paddling moments which just might be among someone else’s funniest paddling memories.

Does anyone care to share their most embarrassing paddling adventures?

Of course, the most embarrassing paddling experiences usually come from a flip or capsize. Mine are no different. I can think of three really embarrassing unintentional wet exits where I really wanted to crawl in a hole.

First was a time when I was out with a lady friend on the Violet’s Lock loop in which one paddles down a stretch of the Potomac River and back up to the put in on the C&O Canal. The C&O Canal is about as placid a place to paddle as there is. Next to the canal is a towpath that gets a fair amount of hiker, biker, runner traffic. As we were getting in the boat to paddle back up to the put in, I got in first in the bow. My friend for some reason got into the middle of the boat standing up facing the stern, took one step toward the back of the boat and tripped over the thwart, sending us both into the canal. The instant we both got our heads out of the water and looked up, a good friend of mine had just pulled up on his bicycle and had seen the whole thing, remarking how it must be tough paddling in all the whitewater.

Next, was trip with the Blue Ridge Voyageurs club to Trout Run in West Virginia, a stream barely wider that my canoe at the put in. It was my first trip with this club, and I was a little intimidated by its reputation for doing what were considered more difficult runs at the time. Once everyone was ready at the put in to start the trip, I peeled out of an eddy near the bank on river left where I?d been waiting. As soon as my boat was perpendicular to the current, the top of the bow hit an overhanging root on river right bank. The current was swift enough and the impact strong enough that my weight shifted upstream and I was in the water in about a second. Not a very auspicious beginning with a group of people who I didn’t know, but probably pretty hilarious to them.

Finally, also on the Violet?s Lock loop, I was with yet another lady friend (is there a pattern here?) going down a side channel of the Potomac known as the Virginia Canal. Unlike the flatwater of C&O Canal, the Virginia Canal has some class I and II rapids. As we were approaching the final rapid before paddlers head back out into the main channel of the Potomac, the boat suddenly broached on a rock, swung perpendicular to the current, and tilted upstream at enough of an angle that the current raced in over the gunwales, spitting both of us out, filling the boat rather quickly. The broach was at the center of the canoe so that the incoming water seemed to hit the center of the boat and flow to each end. I watched as the force of the water slowly bent the canoe nearly in two, all the while wondering how am I going to get back to the car. Then about a half dozen boaters appeared out of nowhere wanting to help, but adding greatly to the embarrassment. Luckily, I was able to get the pinned boat off the rock, and the canoe popped back into shape just as advertised, but with a little crinkle on both sides as a permanent reminder of that trip.

clipper1 12-02-2010 08:45 PM

embarrassing paddling situations
I wish I had your memory JP, and I suppose maybe my memory is more selective where all things unpleasent are forgotten, especially on the water.

Two years ago I was invited to maine, to paddle with Friend, and part owner of Lincoln Canoe & Kayak Marc Bourgion. Marc had selected a small, but amazingly difficult river near his home called the Sheepscot. Marc had been a maine guide for twenty something years, and this was his home river; I did not want to get too far behind. Not fifty yards from our starting point, we entered an old mill race that emptied into an eddy with huge granite strainers. The river had twice the flow as my home river, and it picked up a lot more speed in the mill race. Just as I hit the eddy, I noticed Marc had gotten pinned between two large granite rocks that were my only escape through the eddy. Try as I might, all I could do was turn my canoe sideways before I rammed him, as there was no stopping. We both went for a swim in the spring fed Sheepscot, not to mention it was the third week of October.
I had followed Marc to close and we both paid; novice and Guide.

jimbo 12-03-2010 10:47 AM

Duct Tape
It was early April on the Cheat River in WV, and we were attending a whitewater open canoe class. We were sitting in an eddy, and the instructor was about to go down the rapids to set up, and said ?Whatever you do, stay left and don?t switch hands, or we will duct tape your hands to the paddle!?
One of the guys said ?I?ve done this before, I will go first?. We could see through the mist the bottom of his boat, and the instructor throwing his rope. It was good that I had my dry suit on to keep my heart in my chest. I paddled my 13? WW Mohawk canoe out of the eddy and down the chute. The water was pulling me to the right big time, and I thought ?just switch hands and pull the boat to the left?.
My high float PFD got me to the surface quickly, and his throw was right on. We were standing on the shore, water dripping from our helmets, and the instructor looked at me and said ?I am getting the duct tape?.
Later that month we all graduated by doing the lower Youghiogheny without dumping.

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