The Dechutes ,Salmonfly’s,whitehorse rapids and a wooden boat PART2

June 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The next night was much the same. We fished at whiskey dick till dark but the fish seemed off the bite or they were just full from eating so much. The next morning came and it had rained so we waited for the sun which came out and dried our things. We loaded the boat and I kept saying I think we are still too heavy.

Now I want to say something here because this is important. If you even think that the boat is over loaded this is the time to get rid of things you might not need. This could be coolers, this could be clothes, anything weighing down the boat. You should know the weight capacity of your boat. This should have been taken care of the first day, but if you feel it is too heavy get rid of things you can live without !!!!!!!! If you feel like you are littering trust me someone else will put it to good use at some point.

We got the boat ready and started rowing, it was lighter but she still wasnt moving right. We came around the bend to the whitehorse and you can pull over to check it out before you go through. This is a class IV rapid so it is a good idea to check this thing out.

Things you should do before you go over the rapids, take off your waders, make sure you have a whistle. Wear a life vest!  Have through ropes ready in the boat. Look for loose items in the boat. Stash loose gear in dry bags. Secure your bags and make sure not to have too much weight in the rear of the boat, try to balance the boat out. This helps a drift boat maneuver. Do not exceed the weight capacity of the boat.

At this point in the journey you have the option to walk around the rapids, if that inner voice is telling you something isn’t right you should listen! This will also help lighten the boat. This helps the oars man maneuver through the rapids. It is better to be safe then sorry!

The next thing is to help the oars man by staying in your seat, never stand up even if you are going to hit something, this is a fatal mistake. It is the one thing that the oarsman can’t control and that is you the passenger. If you do stand up you will set the boat off balance. If you hit you have the chance of bumping off. If you don’t then is the time to make decisions.

So here is what happened to me and some friends. We headed out behind another friend who hit the line but wasn’t over weight. At the top of white horse you have to go through a channel which sweeps to the left toward rocks they call the knuckles. We were over loaded! As we went through the channel the sweep caught the rear of the boat. We had the line picked out fine and were on a good track, but the weight of the boat caught, which took the rear of the boat into the knuckle. This pushed us toward the rocks below the knuckle they call the can opener. I corrected the boat as much as possible in the rapids but was headed for the can opener. Just before we hit the old man in the front stood up and had a push stick and tried to push us off the rock. This was the worst thing he could have done. As soon as he stood up the boat tipped and swung us up on the can opener, throwing me from the boat.

I was shot out and driven back at the boat, which was laid up on the rock and the other passenger was on top of the boat. I slammed into the side of the boat and was sucked under the boat and down under into the rapids.

This is where it got really crazy! I hadn’t thought about it and had my waders on. This was a huge mistake. I had not respected the river enough to even think about what could happen. The waders filled instantly. Moments are lost here for me from the time I went under the boat and then surfaced again. I know I was under then in a wall of water and then came out somehow by the grace of God, to tell you the story. God you say? Let me tell you if you don’t think there is one take a ride through the whitehorse and you will know! When I came up I caught my breath and was taken down again. Something snapped in my head and said fight! That is all I remember and I started swimming. I came up again and laid backward and stuck my feet forward then rolled and swam toward shore and rolled over on my back again some how I made it to shore. My waders were filled to the top !

I got lucky very lucky, I shouldn’t be typing this to you all now. I am typing this to hopefully make you think twice about what you are doing when you are out fishing. I’ve been in boats all my life and this one time, when I got lax about safety something happened. We got lucky no one died and some people where there to help us out. We were in the middle of nowhere out there.

Some of you out there will make fun of me for crashing.  I’m going to say this I learned from this. Go prepared, be ready for anything, because out there it could happen. Two way radios or even a tracking device could save you. One of the guys was washed down stream pretty far. He didn’t have a whistle with him so we didn’t know if he was ok till much later. Personally I would never do this in a wooden boat again. If we had been in a raft or a cataraft we would have most likely just bumped off the rock.  Think before you act and remember to listen to your oars men. As a passenger you endanger everyone on the boat if you don’t listen.  This was one of the scariest moments of my life. If you think you are stronger then the water I’ve got news for you.  Mother Nature has all the control out there and the river could take you at anytime. Even experienced guides die out there as well so think before you act.



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  1. what a great site. and story.

    • thanks hailey ,It is time to get this info out to people ,if you have more saftey tips please post them

  2. Someone was watching over you on that day for sure! Thankfully you made it through. True that- respect the water. I hope a lot of people read this and head the message. Too bad there wasn’t some dude named Rich standing on the bank shooting photos- coulda been a riveting photo essay to go with the story. Glad you made it through.

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