The
Complete Whitewater Rafter
.
Jeff Bennett. Ragged Mountain Press. Camden, ME, 1966. ISBN
0-07-05505-x. 196 pages, well illustrated. $15.95. Available
through NOC.


Whoa!
The Hawk reviewing a book on white water rafting? Que Pasa?
Rafting is even lower than kayaking. Well, I was finally completely
responsible for all aspects of raft support on this summer’s
expedition to Hell’s Canyon, so I figured maybe a source book would
be a good idea. I searched through all the raft books at the NOC
store and settled on The Complete Whitewater Rafter.

I
wasn’t disappointed, and if you’re thinking of rafting, it’s a must!
Indeed, if you are interested in almost any aspect of white water
boating you should at least look this book over. It includes the
best fully illustrated description of river morphology and dynamics
that I have encountered (with the possible exception of William
Nealy’s Kayak).

Jeff
Bennett has been doing rivers in North and Central America as a
guide, white water instructor, international racer and professional
photographer since the early 1970s. He has co-authored several other
books, including Class Five Chronicles. The Complete
Whitewater Rafter
is the culmination of his river experiences and
the progeny of his previous book, Rafting!. Although sole
author, he envisions The Complete Whitewater Rafter as the
culmination of a river-running evolution that has been ongoing for
the last half century. He has borrowed tips and techniques from
contemporary instructors and classic technique textbooks.

Bennett
characterizes this book as a complete course in river running. For
those who raft, the book has it all, beginning with a chapter on the
Evolution of Rafting: From Powell to Paddle Cats and ending with a
chapter that covers becoming a professional guide, white water
photography, rafting for the physically challenged and rafting with
children.

I
primarily bought the book to get tips on oar rigging, and everything
was there, including all existing boat, frame, and oar designs. The
chapter on gear maintenance and repairs was first rate and complete
(it even included material on maintaining wet suits, dry suits,
lifejackets, and pumps). For those with interests in paddle rafts,
the book covers all the strokes, and more importantly, has an entire
chapter on Paddle Captaining: The Art of Whitewater Choreography.
Several major rafting companies include this as mandatory reading for
guide certification.

Finally,
the book has several chapters on multi-day trips, which review
packing and carrying gear, river camping and cooking, and river
exploration. This material is applicable to anyone who is
contemplating a multi-day trip (whether raft supported or not).

If
you are not particularly interested in rafting, check out the book
for the information in chapters 5, 8, and 10. Chapter 5 – River
Morphology: The Dynamics of Running Water looks beneath the surface
at river mechanics, laminar flow, turbulent flows, chaos, helical
currents, and meanders and relates all this to tongues, upstream Vs,
standing waves, diagonal waves, haystacks, breaking waves and
stoppers, pillows, undercuts, rooster tails, boils and holes. It’s
really well written and excellently illustrated. I will probably
scan in some of the illustrations and make slides to use in lectures
for paddling classes.

Chapter
8 covers running rapids in oar rigs and paddle rafts, but the
information is equally applicable to hard boats. Again, the
illustrations and suggestions on tactical approaches to rapids are
excellent. Finally, chapter 10 – Rafting on the Cutting Edge
discusses class V rafting, including boulders and slots, waterfalls,
high water techniques, and even steep creeking. I hadn’t even
imagined creeking in a raft, but it is done. I have a whole garage
full of hard boats for every possible use. This book has made be
consider getting an R-2 for this year’s creek season.

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