2013 Boating 101 Weekend on the North Santiam River

April 13, 2013 at 8:18 PM

“It looks like it’s burning off” was the catchphrase for the weekend. Despite the mild Siberian weather, (Ever had a Ham, Cheese and Hail Sandwich?) the attitude of the group was sunny!

The put in was at Packsaddle Park where Matt Saucy and Ann Stephenson had artfully laid out a model river on Steve Oslund’s trailer. Both went on to explain the workings of the river. They  made boulder gardens, strainers, twists and bends, river widening, river narrowing, you name it.  Matt and Ann explained each feature concisely. They explained the hazards and what to do as well as how to use river features to eddy out or ferry across the river to a safer spot.

They also explained how to slow yourself down so you can assess or re-assess the river ahead.

Once everybody was up to speed, Julie Nathe gave the safety talk and spent a fair amount of time on signaling and the proper use of. We don’t use signals near enough while we are out on the river.  Having somebody ahead of the group giving signals can really increase your enjoyment on the river as well as warn you away from minor hazards all the way up to a life threatening situation. It all depends on that person up front and each raft/kayak/IK passing the signal back to the people upstream of them.

Then Matt gave the go ahead to hit the water! There were 3 round boats, a hardshell, 4 inflatable kayaks , and Steve who managed to pry the Nimitz away from the Navy for use as the sweep boat.

We practiced finding eddies, ferrying boats, finding lines and everyone have a chance to be the “Guide” on their boat. We had swimmers both days. Had one retrieval using a throw bag and the rest were either close enough to their boat to get back in themselves or close enough to get hauled in by their shipmates.  One flip in particular was near and dear to me as I had the opportunity to inspect the bottom of Julie’s boat. Maybe I can spot potential business for Vic.

For some boaters Saturday was it.  For those staying over, we had accommodations at the Saucy Fairmont in Salem. Matt was nice enough to offer his shop to us where we were able to set up cots and get a good night’s rest out of the weather.  Saturday night we had dinner at a little place right down the street followed by a very unique comedy duo. Matt also laid out a breakfast of coffee, bagels and oatmeal on Sunday morning.

Back at the put in on Sunday, we saw some familiar faces but also some new ones too. We basically went through the same drill and had a great time on the river!

A huge THANK YOU to Matt Saucy whose brainchild this was to begin with! He recognized a need for this type of training in the club and based on the number of participants and the group’s enthusiasm, he was spot on. Also to Cat Loke as our safety and training director, Ann Stephenson for her river model and general river knowledge, Julie Nathe for the great talk on signaling, and Steve Oslund for his knowledge and words of encouragement to the newer boaters.

Matt is going to stage a repeat of this class on the weekend of May 4th & 5th. I would encourage anybody to attend. Marnie Sell offered this quote. “I appreciate the club taking time to organize a nice rafting day and helping OWA members to improve boating skills.  I ‘m thankful to Matt for putting this together and to all of the volunteers too."

You don’t have to be new to boating to learn something here!

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