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Thread: Safety on the water

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Safety on the water

    Trip planning and safety

    I have been getting a lot of calls/e-mails this week about the Gulkana and lots of “What do you think about” questions. No problem asking questions guys as there are many of us with lots of experiences in the country and on the rivers of Alaska. The more questions you ask the better prepared you will be when you take that next trip.

    Two of the calls this week included trigger words that set me back a bit and I think its worth sharing with you. The words “COLEMAN and SEVOR rhyme with backyard pool or pond and should never be seen on the wild rivers here in Alaska. The upper Gulkana is a wonderful river that all of us should experience sometime in our lives but we need to understand the limitations of the gear that we are going to use. Class II and III water will eat lesser equipment and there is evidence of this carnage every year on rivers like the Gulkana. 4-5 days in the wilds will test the best of equipment and destroy the rest and then you become a burden on the group that is lucky enough to come upon you I hope.

    As many of you know I operated out of Kotzebue for many years outfitting hunting, fishing and eco groups into unit 23. I had an experience with one group back in 2004 or so who arrived and rented a camp from me for a 5 day float trip on the Kelly River which is about 65 miles north of the Arctic Circle. As I dropped them off at their flight service I asked them about their raft which I did not see come off of Alaska Airlines. The group leader then pulled a box out of his back pack and handed me a PVC Sevor 6 man raft that was no bigger than a child’s sled. It took me an hour to convince that his life was at risk if he took that PVC toy into the wilds for NW Alaska. I ended up giving him one of my rafts at no charge for a week because I knew what was about to happen with this trip. They took my raft and the “Toy” and guess what happened to the toy?

    Clint Eastwood said one time “ A man’s has got to know his own limitations”

    Let’s look at a area of real concern to me especially as we near the 4th of July weekend.


    Do you have a float plan? A float plan should be a written document that is used to help you plan and to help others know where you are going to be so if you don’t show up on time some one can look for you. My float plans always include a list of needs and back up plans when things go bad and they will go bad sometime in your Alaskan outdoor life.

    *Do you have extra food, water, clothing and the ability to survive if all hell breaks loose?
    *Can you repair your raft, canoe or ATV ect when you are out there? Don’t count on others to fix your problem because there may not be any one to assist you so you are the MAN!
    *First-Aid kit, do you have one? If not why not?
    * What are you going to do if you dump your raft/canoe and things get wet?
    * Think about Bear protection, really think about it.

    This list can go on for a long time and I hope others put their 2 cents worth in because I am not the Guru of the River to say the least but please take time to consider what can and may go wrong in the country and that way you are prepared for the worst and will have a safer and more enjoyable trip into Alaska’s Wild Country.


    Gulkana River Raft Rentals
    Mile 127.5 of the Richardson
    Rafts, Canoes and Camps

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    Thanks WaltGreat description of what to plan for. I'm going to drift from Paxon lake to sourdough next June and I know where to get my gear.Tom

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Great post Walt

    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  4. #4
    Member Lake creek fishermen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Skwentna, AK


    Good post. Good read as im getting a raft soon enough
    -Its better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.
    -Put some excitment between your legs, ride a polaris!
    -Local 907 Riders Union

  5. #5


    Hi Dan!

    Long time no ear. Been fishing up north this summer yet?

  6. #6
    Member Steve Springer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks, AK


    Don't forget that Sat. Phone either and maybe take that Wilderness First Responder Training, I did and I am a lot more confident. The swift water rescue coarse really taught me some very valuable lessons and made me even more confident. Every floater should take both these classes IMHO.

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