Hall of Shame, part 1.

Some boaters get in trouble on the river, and swim or get stuck somewhere. Most of the time this is no big deal, as they get out unharmed, with only their pride hurt. Although with me and my camera nearby, there is always a certain risk of that being immortalised on film... :-)

The good side to that kind of carnage is that we can often also learn something from it. As much as paddlers usually laugh when someone else gets the living daylight trashed out of them on the water, they don't like to see anyone getting hurt.

On this page I tried to combine both of them, serious accidents as well as funny situations. Everyone in these pictures got out unharmed, except for Milt Aitken, who damaged his shoulder as well as his pride. With all the carnage that Milt has video taped of others, that hurt pride may actually be a good thing, though. :-)

Click on the thumbnail pictures for larger resolution pictures.


Middle Guil river, France. After Roel Trepels swam, his boat pinned in between two rocks, cockpit facing upstream. It took two people to get it out (Roel, wearing a yellow helmet, was so shaken that he actually only hindered the boat recovery operation).
Pruem river, Irrel Waterfalls, Germany. My buddy Steven de Rooij shows his love for trees, the silly tree-hugger! Actually, I was rushing out of my boat over the rocks, when he said:"Take your time, I'm nice and stable.". That prompted this shot... :-)

Had he not ended against the strainer sideways, but gotten his boat stuffed under it, this could have been a lot less happy story.

Bad stern pin on "Double Falls" rapid on the Big South Fork, U.S.A..

Open Boater Richard Hopley showed that he's a good and safe boater by setting up rescue at the bottom of the drop. Shortly afterwards we had this pin.

Without his help, the Canadian kayaker could have gotten in serious trouble.

Same location on the Big South Fork, several days later. Now this female boater got pinned, stern down. Due to timely intervention of David Luinstra, she got out in time. This is a very dangerous spot at this level.
This happened in Greece, on the Acheron river. Out of our group of ten, seven people got broached against a partially submerged rock strainer. A few people swam, others got stuck for a while.
You don't always need the river to get in trouble. Here David Mackintosh helps the river gods to get Mickie Matula out of her boat.
Pruem river, Germany. Niels van den Broek managed to get both ends of his boat broached in the middle of the current. We finally pulled him free with a tow rope.
Pruem river, Germany. Not everything is what it seems. Here Niels is trying to free Marc Kouwenhoven's kayak, after Mark swam. Mark couldn't reach his boat from shore. Niels climbed on the rock from his kayak, helped free the pinned boat and then came back to shore on the back of another paddler's kayak.
Setting up safety for others on "Seven Foot Falls" on the Chattoooga river, U.S.A., Don Kinser failed to attach his boat securely... oops!
After I had had my laughs, and helped catch the runaway boat, I gave Steve Frazier my camera and prepared to run 7 ft falls. Now it was Don's turn to laugh: that is, after he got over the scare I gave him by almost running him off the rock he stood on. Boy, did I have a bad line there, and Steve just kept snapping shots, laughing his ass off.
JB Seay also helped provide entertainment that day, by first sticking his paddle in between two rocks, and then getting his paddle-less boat stuck.

The expression on his face in the second picture is priceless.

This trip got us a lot of carnage. Here Oci-One Kanubi along with his boat is helped onto the last rock by Steve Frazier, just before the dangerous "Crack in the rock" rapid. From that rock, the two of them rescued several people who swam in "Corkscrew" rapid.
Erft river, Germany. This is what you get when you let two strangers paddle your Topo-Duo. The rear paddler managed to roll the swamped kayak by himself, after the front paddler bailed out.
Tallulah river, U.S.. This rapid is called "Tom's Brainbuster". Carnage videoboater Milt Aitken flipped about halfway down, and had to bail out. He wasn't happy about hurting his shoulder, but he was probably just as unhappy to be caught on the wrong end of a camera.
Lower Meadow river, U.S.A.. Jim Michaud is probably one of the best open boaters that I know (so is Steve Frazier). In the first picture, Jim has managed to get stuck in a sticky hole next to a deeply undercut rock wall. After he had to bail out, he followed his boat, that had gotten stuck against a sharp rock, right in front of me, very close to where we had setup two safety positions. As he floated close to his boat, it suddenly folded, cracking the side.

The second picture is where his cracked boat is carried out.

Big South Fork (of the Cumberland river?), U.S.A.. Larry Cable knows this rapid (the Ell) intimately, showing that he can navigate it with his head under water as well! He did roll up, though. :-)

Open boater Barnett Williams seen in a kayak on the Upper Gauley... And no, this isn't a trick shot, no matter how much Barnett might insinuate that it is!

Technically this may not belong here, hadn't there been this ongoing joke between open boaters and kayakers on the Rec.Boats.Paddle newsgroup, as the above picture of Open Boater Barnett shows. I'm the kayaker sitting in front of this open boat, with Kathryn Streletzky paddling stern and Rebecca Lundberg sitting in the middle (she was recovering from surgery). Of course I do sit kayaker style (kneeling simply was too uncomfortable) and I paddle with a two bladed paddle! :-)

Trip Reports.


Copyright 2006 by Wilko van den Bergh