Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last Training Run of 2011 Gone Awry

photo courtesy of Cindy Hiles, July 2011 Kansas River

On December 26, 2011, the 3 Dudes prepared for a causal training run on the Meramec River. This was to be an everyday run up and back from Greentree Park to the 141 Hwy bridge. The main intent of this excursion was to try out the new Epic Mid-Wings that were sent from Santa Claus's house deep in the north pole territory.

We made it to the bridge and decided to proceed upriver through the swift section and take a break at Fish Pot Creek. The swift water pulled our boat to the left and as it did our bodies continued right over the side and into the deep water...the first time in 2.5 years the 3 Dudes put ourselves in the water UN-intentionally. With the ambient air temperature near 40 degrees, the shock of the cold water snapped our breath from our lungs and we stared at each other in disbelief as we floated lazily downriver. A few seconds went by and we realized we were headed for a large clump of wooden debris hung up around the bridge piling. We couldn't turn the boat parallel with the river in time and she slammed against a stump. Immediately we heard cracking sounds and saw the boat attempt to fold. Dave went out furthest, I stayed in the center and Kevin grabbed the stern and through a series of "1, 2, 3 push" we were able to free her from the grips of the river. The boat floated gently to shore where we flipped her over to assess the damage before attending to our cold, wet and shivering state.

No one really said anything once we saw what she had become.

We then began stripping our clothes off and gathering wood for a quick fire. Within 15 minutes of being out of the water our new clothes warmed our brain to a point where we could formulate a plan to get back to the truck. The boat seemed to be floating alright so we doused the fire and boarded our battle scarred ship. A small leaked became apparent as we paddled downriver looking for our one lost paddle. Within a few minutes we saw the lone ZRE slowly spinning in some slack water, plucked it from the river, and headed for the truck. We made it home intact...the boat not so much.

Things that went wrong:
1. We shouldn't have decided to go through the swift section with the wing blades. They were too new for us to get creative with our boat position. However, it was a group decision and right or wrong we stood by our choice after the event.
2. Crappy dry bag that resulted in a damaged iPhone.
3. Sunglasses (SMITH!) not strapped correctly became a donation to the river.

Things that went right:
1. We were all wearing proper PFD's.
2. We were wearing synthetic clothes that helped create warmth even when wet.
3. We had fire starting equipment in a very waterproof container.
4. We reviewed a cold weather boating video posted by the US Coast Guard prior to this trip.
5. We got our boat back...even though she was damaged.

Bottom line....the boat could always be replaced or repaired but it was the preparation of our knowledge, clothing, and fire starting skills that prevented any serious harm to ourselves.

3 comments:

  1. That sucks! Glad you made it out ok, and that you had what you needed.

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  2. You say you intentionally put yourselves in the water?

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  3. Blew it! Thanks for the catch, yes that should be UN-intentionally.

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