I just wanted to share a quick little experience I had a couple weeks ago on the Kenai River that almost resulted in giving a boat load of kids a swimming lesson!
I took a bunch of my nephews and neices (one 7 year old, three 11 year olds and an 18) fishing for the afternoon from Skilak down to the moose. I have made this float and many others all over AK without incident over the last 15 years, so I felt somewhat experienced and comfortble. Just upstream from Naptown I had everyone check the PFD's to make sure they were tight and strapped everything down that was loose on the boat, making a big deal about it as a safety example for the kids benifit! It was a hot sunny day and as usual they wanted me to get them a little splashed in the short rapids. The water was high and pouring over the biggest 2 rocks down there so I decided to dip part of the boat over the 1st one to create a splash, which we did just fine as I expected it would be. But when we approached the 2nd one, I got lazy with the oars and did not turn the boat enough to keep the majority of the raft (18' leapard) out of the suck hole behind the rock.
Weeeeeell when the front deck of my cat covered the suck hole, it violently and quickly sucked the front of the boat down hard enough that I fell off the rowing cooler, and 2 of the 3 kids in front were slammed to the bottom of the boat and were almost completely submerged momentarily. The back half of the boat was pushed way up and for a second I thought we were going to swim. But I was able to recover the oars and spin the boat 180 which flattened it back out and I thought we were in the clear to get out of danger. WRONG! Next I dug the oars deep to pull us out of there but the river had a different plan, and at the same time pulled the oars to go down river, the suck hole pulled the boat back up river hard into the hole. This resulted in the oars yanking me off the cooler again and throwing me face down on the now submerged front deck of the raft. At that piont no one was rowing, the boat was 1/2 full of water and pitched I'd guess 30 degress up from bow to stern, bucking hard and everyone was screaming! I told everyone to keep hanging on tight and at that moment I was really sure we would flip! Somehow I scrambled back to the rowing seat and the river finally let us go. There was some cuts, bruises, wet cloths and maybe some soiled pants, but otherwise we were ok.
Not really a big deal or terrible experience, but at that moment when I thought we were going to flip I was thankful for knowing we ALL had PFD's properly strapped on! Im thankful I did not have to rescue 5 children from the river and then have to face their mothers! I could have easily turn the boat more to just skirt the roack, or went around it. But I had done it so many times before without incident that I took for granted the power of flowing water!
Long read I know, but it was a good lesson for me that I wanted to share!!!