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Are You Ready to Get Wet? An Explanation of the Canoe-Over-Canoe Rescue Technique

Maneuvering a canoe does take a certain level of skill. Although one can easily maintain a sense of balance, a canoeist consciously needs to be aware of his surroundings at all time. On occasion, other boaters have been known to (either intentionally or unintentionally) create sets of waves that can topple the most experienced paddlers, in addition to the challenges that Mother Nature contributes.

Developing that experience of oaring proficiency can only occur when taking to the water. As a suggestion, plan your canoe outing with other canoeists. Besides the camaraderie of quality time spent with friends, traveling in small groups provides you with opportunities to perfect the "Cane-Over-Canoe" Rescue Technique. This technique is best performed when on any body of water. Once having mastered this procedure, an experienced canoe veteran not only has greater confidence in his environment, but has the added advantage of being able assist others with a capsized canoe.

So you're enjoying a wonderful day on the lake; suddenly and unexpectedly, you find yourself in the water with a swamped canoe. What do you do next?

1. Hopefully you've kept your composure - you make sure your companions (that were) sharing your canoe are okay - no one is drowning and no one is hurt.

2. Retrieve your paddles and other floating items. (For the sake of this discussion, I am assuming that the occupants know how to swim and that they are wearing their life jackets (PFDs) and not watching them drift away, aided by the wind and water currents.)

3. Transfer the contents of your submerged boat to a nearby and upright canoe. During this time, either a former passenger or the rescuing boat is hanging onto the overturned canoe (so that it doesn't also drift away).

4. Position the upside-down, swamped canoe so that one end is perpendicular (at right angles) to the center of the rescuing canoe (forming a "T"). The rescuing canoeists will need to slide towards the center of their watercraft.

5. Once they are ready to receive the upset canoe, the people in the water will push down the end of the canoe (located at the bottom of the "T"). This motion forces the opposite end of the canoe to lift, enabling the rescuers to pull and drag the (upside-down) canoe across its gunnels and maintain the right angles.

6. After both ends of the overturned canoe are above the water, the rescuers wait for gravity to drain the water from the capsized vessel.

7. Once sufficient water has been emptied, the rescuers will then turn the canoe right-side-up and carefully slide the back into the water and return to their seats.

8. Align and hold the two canoes aide-by-side, allowing the swimmers an opportunity to climb back into their watercraft. (Special Note: Do not transfer the retrieved items back into the righted canoe until everyone is re-positioned within their original boat. Sometimes people swamp the canoe when attempting to re-enter it.)

9. Once the swimmers are seated, the rescuers may hand over the paddles and belongings to the soaking, wet canoeists.

Practicing the aforementioned directions is an excellent method to re-enforce the lesson presented. Please feel free to share this information with others. If there is enough of an interest (at Bunganut Lake), then during my stay at the lake I could provide a "hands on" demonstration of this procedure with others having a canoe.

Special Note: In July 2004, my brother-in-law Mike Stunes and his brother Kevin, assisted me in the creation of a small video. The clip can be viewed by clicking on any of the graphics below. The video, (taken by my wife Joyce) demonstrates the crucial steps, starting at instruction #4. Enjoy! See the video at the bottom of the following page: http://www.bunganutlake.org/canoes.htm and click on one of the canoe graphics.

P.S. Special thanks go out to Karen, for the use of her yellow canoe. For without it, no rescue was possible.

P.P.S. No humans or wildlife were harmed in the making of this video! ;-D

Submitted by:

Joseph J. Breunig 3rd

Joseph J. Breunig 3rd is the webmaster of Bunganut Lake Online.

Visit Bunganut Lake Online at: http://www.bunganutlake.org





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