Turning You can perform single-oar turns using a back row or a portegee. Use the previously described technique for either stroke but use only one oar.
- Pushing forward on your right oar turns the boat left.
- Pushing forward on your left oar turns the boat right.
- Pulling back on your right oar turns the boat right.
- Pulling back on your left oar turns the boat left.
- Do double-oar turns using a back row and portegee simultaneously.
- To turn right, portegee with your left hand and back row with your right (figure RA6.1a).
- To turn left, portegee with your right hand and back row with your left (figure RA6.1b).
- Tips: The double-oar turn is more powerful and versatile than the single-oar turn. Mastering it, however, can be challenging. The easiest way to remember which way your boat will turn using the double-oar technique is that the back stroke is the strongest stroke and will turn your boat that direction.
Shipping When traveling through narrow channels your oars may be too long to pass through without damaging them. In this case you will need to ship your oars to pass through safely.
- When using frames with oarlocks, shipping your oars is easy work. Pull straight across your chest with both arms at the same time. This action will quickly reduce the length of your oars.
- When using frames with pins and clips or stationary oars, your options are to ship forward or backward. To execute this maneuver, complete the reach phase of either the back stroke or the portegee with a little more exaggeration.
Activity 2: Maneuvering (Time as Needed)
Running a raft down a river requires the ability to read water at a distance. Rafts are much larger than canoes or kayaks and require more time to set up for a desired route. Beginning rafters may have difficulty staying in the main current.
You can teach maneuvers in a variety of ways, depending on the students’ background knowledge. Students with little knowledge benefit from discussion and demonstration of maneuvers using toy boats and mock rivers drawn in the sand. After giving explanations, the ideal progression is to find an appropriate place in moving current to practice ferries, eddy turns, and so on. You should row on the first moving-water experience to allow students to begin to use their river-reading skills to identify river features and the habits of the current. Allow students to get on the oars during flatwater sections or in an eddy to practice the strokes. Maneuvers such as eddy turns, ferries, and peel-outs are discussed in other water-based units. Specific tips for maneuvers are discussed here because they are the most common and needed maneuvers.
Ferrying Ferrying is used to get from one side of the river to the other while losing minimum ground. The technique is also used to avoid danger.
- Back ferries are initiated by turning the bow opposite the direction in which you want to travel and using a back stroke.
- Forward ferries are initiated by pointing the bow in the direction in which you want to travel and using a portegee.
- Maintain a 45-degree angle to the current when using either ferrying technique.
Eddy Turns and Peel-Outs Eddy turns and peel-outs refer to entering and exiting the water feature known as an eddy, covered in earlier units. Eddies provide places to stop or slow the pace of your group.
- The angle of entry into an eddy is critical, as explained in other water-based units. Power is needed to break through strong eddy lines.
- Warn passengers that the upstream tube may be sucked under if a tight eddy turn is needed in powerful current.
- The upstream tube may be sucked under and flush passengers out during a peel-out in strong current.
- Back rowing is the most effective method for breaking strong eddy lines.
- The best place to enter and exit an eddy is often farther downstream in the eddy where the eddy line is typically not as strong.
Paddle Assists Under certain conditions, such as extremely technical water, participants may need to assist the rower by paddling in the bow of the raft with a raft paddle.
- For example, smaller oar rigs that navigate technical water benefit from paddle assists. In this case, the raft is commonly rigged with stern frames. This setup provides more room in the bow for paddlers and reduces the likelihood that the oars will hit the paddlers.
- Center frames are more common on multiday trips in which large, heavy loads are carried and must be balanced in the center of the raft.
Maneuver Practice (Time as Needed)
Find a challenging place on the river where the current is powerful. Practice various maneuvers in challenging water as the students’ skills develop. Have students take turns executing the maneuvers. An ideal location would be where students can easily recover and row back into the eddy for multiple attempts. Consider placing students downstream to practice throw-bag throwing to assist rafts in moving back into eddies.
Running Rapids (Time as Needed)
Each day on the river, cycle through your students to allow them to take challenges when they are comfortable. Take advantage of all flatwater opportunities for practicing. The American Canoe Association recommends 14 hours of on-river experience before becoming certified as a raft guide.
Check that students understand specific rowing techniques by having them explain the strokes needed to move the raft to the desired location.
Confirm that students can analyze moving water and pick appropriate maneuvers to navigate a variety of river conditions by consulting with them on the routes that they wish to take and the reasoning behind those choices during a trip.
Verify that students can demonstrate proper rowing techniques by observing them practice each of the rowing techniques during the obstacle course exercise and while on the river.
Check that students appreciate how specific strokes relate to desired maneuvers by observing their improvement as they face more challenging situations.
Using stern frames allows you to teach oar strokes as well as crew management. If you have many students on a course, stern frames allow more room with fewer rafts on the water.
Before you teach this lesson, cover river reading and boat placement for executing maneuvers such as ferries, eddy turns, and peel-outs. Lessons on these topics are found throughout the paddling units, such as in lessons 5 and 6 of unit 6.
Rafting on several rivers allows students to experience different currents and rapids, which builds the knowledge that they need to make informed judgments on future river trips.