Home Forums General Rafting Questions S.F. American rafting someone stuck in strainer swimmer from our boat fail

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    so im not sure where this thread best fits but im gonna put it here..

    me and my group 2 Paddle boats 1 Oar Boat went out this Saturday 4/29/23 found a pretty bad situation under fowlers rock one of the more dangerous rapids on the south fork American especially at high flows, in this clip you can see someone in a pretty bad situation, this was a mess all around but i blame the rafters for not getting our attention earlier also this is a good reminder to wear bright colors on the river that don’t blend into the shadows water or shore, my team has been tearing this apart for a good bit now and we will be a lot more prepared as we continue to hit the water, after we found the victims that was caught in a strainer i whistled to our other boats to get their attention (something that the raft going in for the rescue should have done to us) our oar boat was unable to catch them in time and our 2nd paddle boat had an inexperienced swimmer that we prioritized, all around this was a crappy situation but Everyone was able to walk away unharmed.


    I was guiding the boat following this boat in this video on April 29, 2023 on Fowlers at 7000+ and I think this will be one area people at high water on SFA this year will have trouble. This ledge hole surfs rafters into the trees on river right. The company here involved did a nice job with their rescue and our POD of three boats tried to help but there was not an eddie to catch. Just a good reminder reminder we need to slow it down and not get to reactionary when trying to assess a plan in a rescue situation remembering to point positive not negative. Here’s the another POV of this video from their boat in this same incident. It really ended fine with no injuries.

    Can I and Should I,



    But I think this starts a good discussion about “always point positive” because we couldn’t seethat person in the strainer until after we passed them I think point positive applies more to swimmers someone caught in a strainer isn’t moving anywhere..


    That’s a good point and I think we did a good job with protection with the swimmer on our own team.

    Here’s MeatGrinder at 7000 + that morning- same boat. I was I. Front of them .

    MeatGrinder at 7000+ April 29, 2023


    Thanks for sharing. Here are some quick thoughts:

    – We need to stick with the point positive convention for consistency.
    – It didn’t look like that swimmer was caught on a strainer – were they actually caught on a tree?
    – If I was in that situation I would and the swimmer was caught on a dangerous strainer I would have blow three whistles and then eddied out on the right side as soon as there was a responsible place to eddy out and walk up to assist. My priority would have been the safety of my self and the people in my boat first.

    These are the dangers of hight water boating. A good safety talk that includes information about the additional risk of high water and to avoid strainers when swimming is important.


    Zach I appreciate the insight, from what I hear there were 2 that were caught in striners and one that was attempting a rescue, I’ve watched this video countless times and I can only find the one victim and one rescuer. It looks so different on video I recall them arms downstream but it looks like they have arms upstream, either way there was next to zero attempt from the victims boat to get our attention.

    But back to the point positive I’m still not in full agreement,if the victims boat made noise and took more control over the situation my thoughts would definitely change, im not sure if you can hear but “V’s” boat was yelling stay there don’t move. I agree that we should point in the direction someone should swim but in this situation specifically I believe it’s better to get the upstream boaters attention and make sure they see the problem early enough to help


    What could the upstream boaters done to help? Any boats that went into the trees could have caused more victims.

    With the fast current and loud water noises it’s almost impossible to communicate in that situation. My priority would have been to stabilize the situation and provide downstream safety for the swimmers which would be getting everyone to eddy out.

    From what I saw the person in the trees was in no immediate danger so there was time to calmly assess the situation and come up with a responsible plan.


    I see what you are saying now


    Do you have any advice for calming down and thinking Clearly after taking big hits?


    If nobody is in immediate danger then I relax and focus on not letting things get worse. Once you’re around enough of these situations you find that the response can be worse than the rescue.

    Experience is the best teacher.


    I really appreciate your input Zach hopefully the next time we find ourselves in a serious situation we can focus on thinking logically instead of jumping around like monkeys 😂


    In today’s live show I shared some more thoughts about your video


    I just started watching it and I don’t think you see the person in the big issue 13:53 orange helmet is setung up to rescue the person that has water up to their shoulder blades they look like a pile of branches/leaves just a dark blob


    There are 2 people in the red box thumbnail of my video but I think your thoughts still apply to this. But I’m a big advocate for bright colors after seeing this


    Oh I didn’t see that person. Yikes!

    We’ve been doing a lot of pinned swimmer scenarios and can confirm wearing bright colors is crucial for spotting victims.

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