Is there danger tying self to raft ????



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  • Is there danger tying self to raft ????

    Hi, This is my first post to this forum. I am planning on getting a raft this spring and spend time alone on quiet lakes with my dog. I can't swim and will wear a PFD. It has always been my habit when out on a lake alone to use a light dog leash tied to the boat and slipped around my wrist. My thinking is if I do fall overboard, the raft won't drift away from me. I can use the raft to get to shore as I never go far from it as I will be photographing. I know if I were on a river or moving body of water this would not be a good thing to do as the raft could flip. I have been told by a knowledgable boat person that I am very wrong to ever do this. Can anyone out there tell my why I would NOT want to do this, when the boat would help me get to shore better than just me dog paddling. Also, my dog will be in a PFD also....don't expect him to save me !! I have done alot of slow rowboat fishing in Txs....and never gone in the drink !

    Thank you so much for any all seem to know your way around the water !

  • #2
    First and indicated you always wear your PFD. Great!
    You can not really sink when you are wearing it properly. So I would advise against the boat leash. In moving water the leash will cause real problems, because in any class of moving water your goal is to get out of the water, if your in the water. Worry about the boat later.

    I do advise that you go to a pool with your PFD. Jump in and you will get a better idea of what your PFD does for you. Also, practice floating on your back and back-stroking with both arms. You can really move yourself around doing this. And this is what you will be doing if your in class II, or above, water.

    I would also recommend using a wet suit or even a dry suit and, while always wearing your PFD, wade out into some shallow water and float around. Try to backstroke with both arms. Do it with a friend so it will not be frightening. In other words, practice for an emergency. After doing any of these practice exercises I think you will not feel the need for the leash to your raft.

    Be careful with your dog if both of you are in the water, even on a quiet still water pond. Sometimes a dog, much like a panicing person, will attempt to climb on top of you. Again, wearing a good PDF you can not sink, but again you should learn how your dog is going to react to that situation prior to a real mishap on the water.

    When you get much more brave, take a whitewater rescue class. After taking a class like that you will be much more "water friendly", and it is a great way to meet other rafters.

    Ponds, lakes, streams and rivers are always cold up here in the great white north, were that PFD.

    Again...lose the leash.

    Imagine (It's easy if you try)
    …miles and miles of mountains…wide expanses of tundra...remote wild waters…
    (Whisper words of wisdom) Let It Be


    • #3
      Few points to consider. Alaskan waters are very cold, even in the summer, you will have only a few minutes to get out before hypothermia sets in. I have boated with my dogs and swam with them, they always tried to swim to me and climb on me to get up out of the water, this could be a problem in a survival situation. The only problems I can see that might cause trouble by tying yourself to the raft is getting tangled in the leash or having wind catch the raft with you tied to it and blow you both farther from shore. If I were you and loved the water I would consider taking some swimming lessons. Spring is in the air, the snow is melting and it won't be long. Have a great summer and be safe.

      Dennis and I were writing at the same time, he gave you some great advice.

      "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"


      • #4
        I would suggest some rafting/swift water rescue lessons. Pick up a book on rafting and white water safety/rescue. Leave the dog at home at first, wear your pfd, and never tie yourself to a raft.
        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.


        • #5
          Only one time did I think wearing a leash was a good thing to do. Oddly that was in the Copper River. It's a huge river with fast current, and nearly constant stiff upriver winds. If I fell out of my inflatable kayak (or raft) the wind would have blown my lightly loaded boat away in a hurry. No way would I have been able to swim to catch it. And the river was so wide that if this happened while I was away from the shore, I would have succumbed to hypothermia before reaching the bank even while wearing a drysuit. Since I knew how to flip my boat upright and get back in quick from deep water, the only safe thing to do was in stick with the boat at all costs. I did put a quick release into the tether, so if needed, I could separate fast.

          If you are sticking near the shore you are better off just making your way to it as fast as possible. The boat is only going to slow you down even if you can't swim. Don't worry, with the PFD you will be able to swim. One skill you might want to learn though is how to get back into your boat by yourself. That said, boating is always 10x safer with a partner -- any partner.


          • #6
            IMO, take the time and effort and learn to swim before taking any WW/rescue course...


            • #7
              Great advice...

              above. The suggestion to learn to swim is excellent.

              The paddling club, Knik Canoers & Kayakers practices getting wet, a very effective safety training technique. You could do the same. In still water, I can imagine the risk of a tether could be low, but the risks of hypothermia-panic-entanglement are potentially dangerous. The comments from Steve about hypothermia are words to the wise, from the wise.

              You could find several safe ways of introducing yourself to the cold water here - maybe beginning with KCK's classes or just contact area pools who are having kayak safety classes and see if you can... drop in. Practice the drill - raft egress, then recovery.

              KCK used to have a still waters summer class and a flowing waters class. Five or so weekend sessions - practicing safety, rescue, paddling. Fine group of folks. You couldn't find a better group to learn from. Their annual (required) safety meeting will be coming up shortly.

              Excellent advice. Consider swimming and KCK safety class.
              No habitat, no hunter.


              • #8
                Loose tethers of any kind are a bad idea

                Back home ( Colorado) where cold water isn't nearly the issue ,this is a debate that came up a few times. The possibility of entaglement / entrapment are always to high. If your arms are tangled, (think flailing and waving of a non-swimmer under water) and your struck by the boat (very possible in a capsize) a tether is the worst possible safety device.
                Most of you have your ideas on oar leashes, and gear rigging, if it's not tight, it can tangle you up.:eek:


                • #9

                  Well- just a couple of thoughts from an old river guide--
                  #1- never tie your self to any thing while in moving water!!
                  #2- if you plan to spend any time in the water in Alaska - wear a dry suit!!
                  #3 FOR YOUR SAKE LEARN HOW TO SWIM!!
                  good luck-- ITS A ONE-SHOT DEAL!!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by goeaux View Post
                    Well- just a couple of thoughts from an old river guide--
                    #1- never tie your self to any thing while in moving water!!
                    #2- if you plan to spend any time in the water in Alaska - wear a dry suit!!
                    #3 FOR YOUR SAKE LEARN HOW TO SWIM!!
                    good luck-- ITS A ONE-SHOT DEAL!!
                    Also a former white water/ touring kayak guide and competitive surf kayaker, this is right on the money!
                    BHA Member
                    Bowyer to the forces of light in the land of the midnight sun.
                    The 3 fold way: Every step we take as we walk through life effects, our family, our comunity and ourselves. One should walk thoughtfuly.


                    • #11
                      Watch out for the dog too

                      And watch out for the dog too. I've had 2 of my dogs freak out in the water, and then they tried to climb on my shoulders, forcing me underwater and scratching me in the face with their front claws. You might want to consider tying the dog to the raft instead. And maybe dangling a little flip line off the raft to help you get back in. If you fall into a cold lake, you have a much better survival chance of making it back to the boat than getting to shore.

                      Your research here is valuable, and practice is priceless. A fun thing would be to go out to a shallow lake with a friend in a spotting boat with your dog and your PFD's and jump in the water. Maybe come to Jewel Lake on June 25 at 6:30 pm when the Knik Canoers are having their BBQ in the shelter off 88th street. And you could learn more at KCK's Safety Meeting on April 16 at 7 pm at Loussac Library Wilda Marsten Theatre. While you are there you might want to sign up for the raft class too. It's a fun safe learning environment for new boaters.


                      • #12
                        When you fall into the water in Alaska, the first thing that will happen to you is cold shock. You will immediately begin to hyperventilate and may inadvertantly swallow water. Swimming in cold water and warm water are very different. Don't think you can learn to swim in a pool and then swim very well in icy water.

                        Second, I always, when boating, have what I call a grab bag - usually its a hip pouch I wear or its next to me. If I go over or the boat sinks it has what I need to survive if I can reach shroe - fire starter, locator beacon, long underwear packed in plastic bag etc...

                        Third - have fun out there!


                        • #13
                          Thanks to everyone for all the good advice ! My friend gave me a copy of Michaels book to read, so it is on my nightstand. I had taken the Coast Guard Safe Boating Class a few years ago and learned good things there. I know I need to learn to swim....I had lessons as a child and flunked out....rather embarrassing at age 7 to be the only one that couldn't learn ! I have seen a dog try and climb on top of someone in Txs at a was my friend out on an air mattress and MY good old lab swam out to her and tried to get on with her....don't know what his little brain was thinking...was she in trouble or what. That IS a good thing to think about, as Odee boy weighs 121 lbs. It is a good idea to carry the emergency pouch on your person too. A match could save my life. My next BIG task is to go look at rafts...and I know it will boggle my mind even further. Has anyone taken a raft with motor out of Whittier ? When I took one of the glacier cruises last year, I kept looking at spots I could pull a raft into. It seemed very gentle out there, just a great place to spend a few days . Thanks again for all your advice, I feel safer already !

                          ~ laura


                          • #14
                            Lots of folks have taken zodiac style boats out of Whittier. Sometimes they only do it once while others have learned how to get out there pretty far. Not without risking a lot prepared or otherwise. The sound can get very ugly and dangerous, take it slow. Safety equipment, Dry suits and the knowledge to use it all mandatory. I would suggest spending more time on smaller water before biting off anything too big. Using common sense will ensure you come home every time. Good luck and have fun.


                            • #15
                              Raft and Whittier


                              I'll be taking a raft out of Whittier, but not in the sense I think you are talking about. We'll be taking a water taxi out ~70 miles then we'll use the raft and a 6 horse outboard to putt around the coves, bays, and fjords that we want to explore. We're going to spend a whole week out there fishing, hunting, and exploring. We will not be heading out in to any sort of open water, and I would highly recommend you don't either if you end up doing a trip in the Sound. Like Whitepalm said, it can change real quick, and if you encounter engine troubles the oars are going to be useless in the wind and tides. Staying close to shore shouldn't be a problem in good weather, but just study the area you'll be in and understand the limitations of your setup.

                              Enjoy it!



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