KAYAK
The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater
Technique
. by William Nealy. Menasha Ridge Press.
Birmingham, AL, 1986. ISBN 0-89732-050-6. 171 pages

generously illustrated, available through REI, Go With the Flow,
NOC.

Don’t
let the title fool you. Yes, I know even the pronunciation of
“kayak” resembles the sound made while choking on a chicken
bone, but this book is really about river rescue. In fact, KAYAK
The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique

may be the best illustrated primer on river rescue that you can buy.
It won’t replace larger specialized texts, but it complements and
extends their material, and more important, it approaches river
rescue from Nealy’s vantage point.

William
“Not Bill” Nealy should be known to virtually every paddler
through his Whitewater Home Companion series, Whitewater Tales of
Terror, Kayaks to Hell, assorted river maps, and other cartoons. He
has been seriously paddling kayaks for at least 12 years.

On
the positive side, he has an apparently serious addiction to steep
creeks and flood-stage white water, is one hell of a cartoonist, and
I seem to recall reading that he has made the move up to C-boats.
Nealy produced this revolutionary book on river safety for
intermediate and advanced paddlers. KAYAK The Animated Manual of
Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique takes up where the
average text leaves off and uses a unique “time-lapse”
drawing style to put everything into a unique perspective.

KAYAK
The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique

begins a bit slowly for my taste. Except for a nice discussion of
Fear and Introduction to Rapid Anatomy, you could jump directly to
page 19, Hydrotopography, where the meat of the book begins.

I’ve
been boating for a while and am beginning to figure out what’s
happening to water above and below the surface in a rapid (in
particular what it’s going to do to my boat). Nealy’s illustrations
of kick, holes, reefs, ledges, Big Drops, and hydraulics was
tremendous. He first explains what forces are involved, then he goes
on to discuss tactics for running these mothers.

We’ve
all been taught the AWA universal river signals and they’re repeated
in most paddling texts and guide books. Nealy goes one step farther
and presents some more specialized hand signals that the probe may
use to modify what y’all learned during scouting. Are these really
useful? Do some creeks with people like Will and you’ll find out.

Swimming
Self Rescue (or “swimming lessons for those who NEVER go
swimming”), pages 63 through 73, presented some good illustrated
advice on using your partially swamped boat to pull through the
backwash in mega-holes, to cross strong eddy lines or eddy fences; on
swimming complex rapids and big drops; and on orientation in big
holes. His final piece of wisdom, “Above all, don’t give up!”

Pages
83 through 109 deal with River Rescue and were intended as a
practical supplement to Bechdel & Ray’s authoritative River
Rescue. This section is great! It is more than a practical
supplement, it illustrates things in a way standard text books
cannot. I have never encountered a more profound description of
Chase Boating than that presented in Kayak.

Chase
Boating is an exciting sub-sport of creeking which involves running
dangerous rapids while in pursuit of or actually towing fear-crazed
victims. Born in the southeast, Chase Boating began as a way to
atone for leaving your rescue rope in the car. Since those early
days, Chase Boating has evolved into a complex and beautiful ballet
of catastrophe. Nealy explains the choreography of this art form and
provides seldom discussed insider information such as the taxonomy of
good and bad victims.

Finally,
The Joy of Flood (or “big water technique if you subtract the
trees and debris”) is the last section on river safety. I’ve
never read about flood stage tactics in any previous white water
book. Should those of you reading
The
Eddy Line
paddle flooded rivers?
Nealy recommends recalling the tired but true, “if you can’t do
the time, don’t do the crime.” He then discusses the time
(trees, strainers, mega-holes, whirlpools, funny water, exploding
waves, etc. etc.).

So,
go out and buy the book. William (Not Bill) can use the money. If
you don’t have time to read the book you’ll enjoy just looking at the
cartoons. Your paddling buddies can read it on the way to the
put-in. It fits nicely into a dry bag so you can take it for
amusement during multi-day trips. More than likely it’ll get lost
because someone borrowed it.

by
William C. Reeves (The Hawk)
From The Eddy Line, December
1996

Editor- William Nealy passed away in 2001.