A Day on the Pemi and A Pinned Grumman Canoe

A Day on the Pemi and A Pinned Grumman Canoe

by Ben Natusch

Sunday was beautiful and the Pemi in Bristol, NH was at a perfect level.  I had a buddy that had done a bunch of surf kayaking but had never paddled whitewater and wanted to get into it.  During college the Pemi Park and Play was one of my favorite spots and during the fall semester we would make the trek up to play there once or twice a week.  I had only run the river once or twice so it seemed like a fun spot to spend the day.  We spent the day playing with river features and fine tuning maneuvers.  There are some really clean wave trains that are perfect for big kickflips and wavewheels.  While the level was too high for the park and play spot to be in, there was a really fun seam in its place that was perfect for enders and eddyline cartwheels.  Towards the end of our first run, we came across a Grumman canoe that was folded around a rock.  Everyone was safe but the boat was pinned pretty well.  There were three paddlers eddied out behind the rock trying to get the canoe unpinned.  We caught the eddy behind the pinned boat and hoped out.  In any pin, there are a few forces at play.  The force of the water is the obvious force that is often the strongest and the hardest to fight.  There is also gravity pulling the boat down and friction between the boat and the object it is pinned on preventing it from sliding to the side.  As long as these forces stay balanced, the boat stays pinned.  We decided that gravity would be the easiest force to fight and started trying to lift one end of the boat.  As soon as we had lifted the end enough to reduce the amount of water hitting the boat, the current pulled it off the rock and we were able to swing it into the eddy behind the rock.  Unfortunately the hull was pretty creased and there was a small tear in the metal.  Using a center mounted float bag might have prevented the pin or at least kept the boat from folding when it hit the rock.  Because this boat was pinned in the middle of a fairly wide section of river, any rope systems, especially systems requiring shore based anchors would have been fairly hard to work with.  It is important to practice river rescue skills and to constantly be thinking about the what if situations on a river so that when something does happen you are prepared to deal with it.

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