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Thread: Saw a cataraft get pulled under a sweeper...

  1. #1
    Member AK-Bandit's Avatar
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    Default Saw a cataraft get pulled under a sweeper...

    Long story short;
    We were about 30yds away from a 16' cataraft that highsided a sweeper, then capsized it and sucked it under. It was on the upper Kenai just before the steep cutbank where the river gets a little deep and bends to the left (about 3/4 of the way from Sportsmans to Jims). It was that sweeper on the outside of the bend that I've always seen there.
    The 2 passengers were able to jump off the cat and get to shore just as it highsided. The rower was still sitting in his seat when it flipped and went under. We had our throw bag ready, but he made it to shore after being under the boat for 5 seconds or so. When he got to shore I saw that he was wearing chest waders but no PFD (dumb!). I rowed like hell and we were able to catch their flipped cat floating down the river. When we got it to the next gravel bar and flipped it back over, this thing was a wreck. Oar snapped in two (no spare), lost a seat, lost their tackle, lost their anchor, destroyed their rear plywood deck with seats mounted on it. They finally hiked over to where we were and they accessed the damage. I let them borrow my spare oar until we hit Jims.
    It was an eye opener and reminder to me that even on very tame rivers like the upper Kenai it is important to wear a lifejacket.

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    That sucks! Good for you to help them out.

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    "...reminder to me that even on very tame rivers like the upper Kenai it is important to wear a lifejacket."

    So true! Sweepers are my worst river fear, and they can appear almost anywhere. Boaters need to be prepared, even on "safe" rivers.

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    Couple of years ago me and my brother in law came up on a sweeper on one of the side braids of the chulitna. We tried to get pulled over to go around it but the current pulled our back end around and pinned us up against the sweeper which was about a foot off the water level. The raft started vibrating and then woosh us and the raft were swept under that sweeper and popped back on the other side. Brother in law managed to hang on to the raft while it floated downstream upside down. I was hanging on for dear life on the other bank until the current pushed me down river. I was able to regain my footing and got over to where my brother in law was. It took all we had to get that raft flipped back over by holding it up and pulling stuff out and throwing it up on the bank. watched a few things float away but couldn't do much about it. All in all we were very lucky branches underneath the sweeper didn't pin us down there. We both had life jackets on and i think that helped up bob up right away. Lost a few things including my 338 and one of my oars. Didn't have a spare but rigged up one of the oars as a rudder and then used my spare paddle up front for the last day of the trip. Actually it didn't work too bad. Almost all our gear was strapped down so that saved us from losing everything. I'm now really anal about strapping crap down and wont hesitate to pull over to take a look at a situation up ahead on the river.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Wow, I hoped they learned something from this. I wonder if they have any idea just how close they may have come to death. Even on a nice day with warm temps that water's cold and even if they didn't have waders on, to fill up and suck them down, that water will still zap your strength and cause you the cramp up, it's usually over at that point. I'm glad to hear things worked out for them, I just hoped they learned something from the experience.

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    Member jdcollins86's Avatar
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    yeah that was pretty bad... i saw the aftermath at jims. turns out they lost a rod in a tree and wanted it back... so they dropped the anchor on the out side bend and it didnt hold... then they hit the sweeper. hell i my look like a tard but i wear my PFD when i land my boat and im just wadding in the river

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    Member Mark Collett's Avatar
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    AK-Bandit,
    You are a true hero........at least you saved those folks bacon.
    Well done sir. And all to save a rod........hmmmm.........musta been a nice rod.

  8. #8

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    nice work, way to be alert and prepared. it is simply astounding that anyone gets in a boat without a PFD, period, these folks were extremely lucky.

  9. #9

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    I liked your final assessment of the situation. Even on very tame rivers always be prepared and vigilant for danger. My wife and I had a similar but not as costly situation last fall on the upper Kenai. My wife and I just floated past the sanctuary area. My wife just caught and landed a nice 26" rainbow. We drifted down just a little further and I wanted to pull over to shore to fish a back channel. The current was fast and deceiving. Just before we got to shore I instructed her to jump to the bank and grab the bow line. She attempted to but the current was moving much to fast and pulled her down into the fast water. Fortunately she was wearing her life preserver. If she wasn't I am quite sure she wouldn't have made it because she was wearing chest waders. Anyhow, I began paddling to try to catch up to her and we both went under a sweeper. Just after we went under the sweeper I managed to grab her life jacket and throw her on top me. Just as she got in the boat, we smashed into another sweeper and became lodged up against it. My sage fly rod snapped in three pieces and she lost her lamiglass fly rod when she went under. I don't exactly remember how, but I managed to manhandle the boat and get it dislodged from the sweeper unharmed. We pulled over at the next gravel bar. Got her into some dry clothes and proceeded down to Jim's. It could have been much, much worse. But I can definitely relate to your story and I agree that even on mild rivers you must be prepared and cautious at ALL times.

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    Member jdcollins86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    I liked your final assessment of the situation. Even on very tame rivers always be prepared and vigilant for danger. My wife and I had a similar but not as costly situation last fall on the upper Kenai. My wife and I just floated past the sanctuary area. My wife just caught and landed a nice 26" rainbow. We drifted down just a little further and I wanted to pull over to shore to fish a back channel. The current was fast and deceiving. Just before we got to shore I instructed her to jump to the bank and grab the bow line. She attempted to but the current was moving much to fast and pulled her down into the fast water. Fortunately she was wearing her life preserver. If she wasn't I am quite sure she wouldn't have made it because she was wearing chest waders. Anyhow, I began paddling to try to catch up to her and we both went under a sweeper. Just after we went under the sweeper I managed to grab her life jacket and throw her on top me. Just as she got in the boat, we smashed into another sweeper and became lodged up against it. My sage fly rod snapped in three pieces and she lost her lamiglass fly rod when she went under. I don't exactly remember how, but I managed to manhandle the boat and get it dislodged from the sweeper unharmed. We pulled over at the next gravel bar. Got her into some dry clothes and proceeded down to Jim's. It could have been much, much worse. But I can definitely relate to your story and I agree that even on mild rivers you must be prepared and cautious at ALL times.
    thats insane!! if that would have happened to me i wouldn't touch the water....last February i took my wife skiing for the first time and she broke he ankle... she still wants to ski, but im afraid ill break her arm this season

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    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK-Bandit View Post
    I rowed like hell and we were able to catch their flipped cat floating down the river. When we got it to the next gravel bar and flipped it back over, this thing was a wreck. Oar snapped in two (no spare), lost a seat, lost their tackle, lost their anchor, destroyed their rear plywood deck with seats mounted on it.
    Nice work on the raft recover and reflip!

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    I am very glad these people survived the day, although with some loss. Water is cold in Alaska, so is the weather often. Wearing a PFD not only will save you life, but will keep you warm along the way. Never let anyone ride your watercraft without wearing a PFD, nuff said.

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    I was a raft guide on class 3 and 4 AK whitewater for 6 years. I wear a pfd on every river trip. I recommend that anyone planning to raft (passenger or oarsman) take a swift water rescue class. These are available in the spring throughout the state. It could save your life or help save the lives of those around you.

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    Great stories here! I am glad there are folks willing to junp in and help.
    After being on the water alot in some other states, I was very cocky about wearing life vests until I got to Alaska and realized how cold the water is and how deceptive some of the 'gentle water' is. I wear one now even when wade-fishing in most water. As Lonn from Hellbent Fishing Charters says "They make the difference between a rescue and a recovery".

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    I'm constantly telling my hunters to wear a lifejacket on the river, even on the Class I stuff. And to tie EVERYTHING down with a cargo net or something. Situations like this are exactly why. A nice sunny day on the river can quickly turn to disaster. There's a lot of hydraulic pressure in moving water and it can do some really crazy things very quickly.

    A good reminder!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    I am planning a rafting trip in Alaska with my sister in March out of Hope, AK with a outfitter named Epiquest. This will be my first trip to Alaska and I'm very excited. We have a lot of the details worked out except does anyone know of a good rafting shoe? I hear the water can be pretty frigid even in March. I was planning on bringing hiking boots for excursions, my dansko shoes for night, but haven't nailed down what to wear in the boat. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Plan on water temperatures of 32-36 degrees. March is still very snowy up here to say the least.

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    Default lanyard

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    And to tie EVERYTHING down with a cargo net or something.
    I put a lanyard on everything important except people and they wear PFDs.

    With a spool of parachute cord, and a handful of cheap carabiners, it just takes a few minutes the first time and less than that every subsequent time to have everything lashed down. Never needed it. Hope to never need it, and hope my preparations will allways be a waste of time. Kind of like an unused insurance policy.... a good thing.

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herberthums View Post
    I am planning a rafting trip in Alaska with my sister in March out of Hope, AK with a outfitter named Epiquest. This will be my first trip to Alaska and I'm very excited. We have a lot of the details worked out except does anyone know of a good rafting shoe? I hear the water can be pretty frigid even in March. I was planning on bringing hiking boots for excursions, my dansko shoes for night, but haven't nailed down what to wear in the boat. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.

    wait wait.......in march? sixmile creek is still locked up in ice at that time i would think.....march is one of our coldest months of the year here...spring doesnt even get under way until mid april at the earliest....you mite wanna poke around a bit and make sure you know what your getting into....can anyone else chime in on this?



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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herberthums View Post
    I am planning a rafting trip in Alaska with my sister in March out of Hope, AK with a outfitter named Epiquest. This will be my first trip to Alaska and I'm very excited. We have a lot of the details worked out except does anyone know of a good rafting shoe? I hear the water can be pretty frigid even in March. I was planning on bringing hiking boots for excursions, my dansko shoes for night, but haven't nailed down what to wear in the boat. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.
    March is probably too early for Sixmile... lots of ice still, and that river flows through a canyon that doesn't see a lot of sun even in summer. Hmmm. I would do some investigating on this company if I were you. I looked at their site and they feature a trip for kings on the Talachulitna, but the Tal hasn't had king fishing the last couple of seasons due to low numbers. They either need to update their site or...

    But to answer your question directly, you need a dry suit and booties. And a helmet and gloves.... insulated layers under it all. Talk to Jim Strutz here in the forums. He's done Sixmile a bunch of times.

    At any rate, you're in the right place to get the straight story on this.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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