Part 3 – Safety Skills

  • Scouting basics

  • River signals

  • Throw bag skills

  • Rescue technique

  • Where to go from here

  • Conclusion

Part 1

Eric Jackson starts the movie selecting kayaking gear at the NOC store discussing kayaks, helmets, paddles, life jackets, spray skirts, shoes, warm river clothing, float bags, throw bag, and finally a first aid kit .He goes through the hows and whys of what makes each piece of gear fit you. There isn’t anything really information here that you can’t get from an outfitter, but having it explained on DVD somehow seems more authoritative. It also helps that he is not the salesman trying to push the gear he has in stock and maximize the sale by tacking on all the extra gear he can think of.

River classification discussion covers what makes a class 1 through class 6. There is an enthusiastic endorsement of canoe and kayak clubs to get with a group of paddlers who can help you get started. Portaging rapids beyond your skill was also enthusiastically endorsed.

Tying the boat to the car with either ropes and straps and how to tell if it is really secure was demonstrated.

The next part of the movie also surprised me. There was a decent explanation of how shuttle works, shuttle bunnies, and shuttle ethics! This should be mandatory viewing for all canoe and kayak paddlers.

Part 2

The rivers shown were much bigger and faster than new paddlers want to be kayaking. This could easily be intimidating to new paddlers, but it makes for better explanation of how the water flows. Eddies, eddy lines, holes, hole shapes, rocks, undercuts, sieves, waves. Demonstrations of how to get in and out of the kayak along with how not to do it. This seems simple, but lots of people seem to struggle with it.

Eddying and peal outs are shown. Not to the level of a class, but in enough detail to give a new kayak paddler a great head start. They tried to cover what happens if you don’t lean, but the experience of hitting fast moving water is really the better teacher.


Ferrying was covered along with why that will be important later. Wave explanation and demonstrations showed what to expect. Each part of the river gets dissected and explained. If you have ever had a hard time seeing the down stream “V”s , they are clearly shown and highlighted.

Part 3

The scouting section seemed pretty advanced, but did bring up some good points like, always take your rope. River signals were well covered.Discussion about throw bags illustrated good throws and bad throws along with things that can go wrong. Second attempt tips and how to re-stuff the bag were shown.

Self rescue discussion of when to keep gear versus when to let gear go. Participating in your own rescue was emphasized.

How to advanced took a conservative approach and recommended pushing easier rivers to harder levels instead of making a hard river look really hard.

Concluding Eric asks everyone to be responsible and courteous river users. We should politely share the river with other user groups that we encounter.

By William Gatling
February 2010