Story #1 - The Blue Kayaker


A friend (raft guide type) worked springs on the Hudson and Moose, and summers on the Kennebec and Penob. He was doing safety boating in a kayak for a raft guide training trip in March just before the Hudson season started. High water and very cold. A training raft flipped at Soup Strainer, and he had a trainee on the bow and one on the stern of his kayak pulling them to shore.

He flipped, and being raft trainees they didn't know enough to let go of the kayak so he could roll back up. After a few tries he decides to bail out and goes to pop his spray skirt.

The previous year, having gotten tired of always getting water into his boat, he splurged on a new sprayskirt that had a rubber sealing strip instead of the usual bungee cord. That rubber strip had now lost its elasticity in the cold and had frozen to his kayak (did I mention it was snowing?). When the guides in a raft saw he wasn't coming up they got to him and dragged him, boat and all, into the raft. He was pretty blue, but still breathing. A quick fire to thaw him out, a stern lecture about kayak rescue protocol to the trainees, and they were back on the river.

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