I suggest that when the subject of the thread changes, perhaps we should
also change the subject line of the thread. That would also help in
separating posts about the death itself (which may be of particular
interest to some) from the instructive topics that usually are spawned
from the incidents.
>Not to be so crass...but I think it's getting a bit out of hand.
>This is the only NG I know of that has the bulk of the posting on death.
I have no idea why we're so interested in the deaths of our fellow
boaters, except that perhaps we see that "there but for the grace of
God go I".
I'm fascinated by it from a how did it happen/how can I avoid it
perspective........ I think.
If someone figures it out, let me know.
For the best in whitewater paddling videos:
I agree wholeheartedly! RBP is starting to resemble RBP.deaths!! Or
more correctly, RBP.death.and_n-number_of_symathetic_followups.
I am particularly chagrined by this because I personally have a
difficult time (somewhat) refraining from following up with my
particular views and opinions on the whole thing, which as we've seen
recently can get me into trouble.
John Kuthe, aka cec.wustl.edu@jwk1, St. Louis, Missouri | MWA Homepage: |
First Job of Government: Protect people from government.| home.i1.net/ |
Second Job of Government: Protect people from each other.| ~akravetz/mwa.html |
It must *never* become the job of government to protect people from themselves!
Also, in aviation, my other passion besides whitewater, many of the trade
publications have columns where acidents or critical situations are discussed
for the benefit of all to learn from. No one in the flying community wring
their hands about how aviation may be percieved and, believe it or not,
accidents certainly do not characterize aviation either.
Looking over this newsgroup I see a mix of discussion on gear, places to
paddle, requests for advice and replies, long threads about relations with my
colleagues in the law enforcement field, and retellings of critical incidents
including drownings. I see no evidence of some "obsession" with death. If
there was an obsession here it would definitely be how unfair it is for
kayakers to be caught violating the law.
Confronting the risks we face in our pursuit of fun is healthy. I think,
IMHO, that Daniel J. Weiss was looking for something to whine about here and
should be taken for .02.
>As a veteran professional in the fire and rescue service, what seems to be
>going on here is similar to the critical incident stress debriefing most of
>us "in the bizz" go through after a particularly stressful situation. It is
>considered mandatory by many departments. It allows an airing of emotions
>including grief, an opportunity to share observations and learn from them,
>well as a chance to confront how each individual met the challenge and
>change or modify his or her approach to it in the future.
>Looking over this newsgroup I see a mix of discussion on gear, places to
>paddle, requests for advice and replies, long threads about relations with
>colleagues in the law enforcement field, and retellings of critical
>including drownings. I see no evidence of some "obsession" with death. If
>there was an obsession here it would definitely be how unfair it is for
>kayakers to be caught violating the law.
You forgot the Chatty Banter! And what about the search for the Ultimate
Boater Babe (or Boy)?
>Confronting the risks we face in our pursuit of fun is healthy.
Healthy and I feel necessary.
But there's one thing that I do notice-- most people that post in this group
consistently (with the exception of a few notables) have not been in the
sport for very long-- most have not boated for more than 5 years. Most have
not had friends die. Most have not had to answer those questions about what
boating is really all about-- at least for those of us that have boated for
a long time.
The way I look at it is this: the majority of the folks in this newsgroup
are in love with paddling. But quite frankly, it's an adolescent love--
full of excitement, new places and new people. A lot of the love involves
fascination with appearance-- boats, places, festivals. THere's little talk
about the love of rivers themselves, or the beautiful places that rivers
traverse. When someone dies, and folks are forced to reconcile the very
deadly nature of the sport with their viewpoint, they blanch, and instead
try to redirect this very different experience back into some type of "young
love". The posts that do this follow the line of "they loved what they were
doing" or "you have to live your life to the fullest." Sorry, folks-- this
is not a sophisticated interpretation of the reason that we paddle. Maybe I
should just speak for myself and say that it's not the reason that I paddle.
For me, I love the sport, but more I love the places that the sport takes
me. I have had friends die-- I have almost drowned myself at least three
times in the course of 20 years of boating. It is an old love, this one,
perhaps the most abiding love I have ever known in my life. But when I put
on the water, I have a jaundiced eye toward the river. Like any
relationship where one of the sides cares not one whit for the other, the
one holding the affection always must watch the unsettled mistress. It is a
complicated relationship, this one-- one that is difficult to describe. But
I will always need beauty in my life, and rivers will always be part of
that. And I know that I can die when I put on any river, and make my
I guess what we are seeing is the vanishing of new love. For those that
stay, it will be replaced by a different kind of love. But I'll tell ya,
things will never be as simple as they were in the beginning of the
>On Wed, 6 Oct 1999 12:56:18 -0400, "Daniel J. Weiss"
>>Not to be so crass...but I think it's getting a bit out of hand.
>>This is the only NG I know of that has the bulk of the posting on death.
<snippage of some wise ponderings>
>I guess what we are seeing is the vanishing of new love. For those that
>stay, it will be replaced by a different kind of love. But I'll tell ya,
>things will never be as simple as they were in the beginning of the
Beautiful, Chuck. There is no way that I could have stated this better.
I especially like this point. For us old-timers, we remember when kayaking and
whitewater had a
truly environmental leaning. I was a way to enjoy the outdoors and the
outdoor experience with a focus on rivers. All things change, but I can't help
but lament a little for the days before the focus was on whitewater hype and
your gear was always safe with the paddling community and two cars passing with
boats on top always brought a wave. Is it too late for the sport to mellow out
It's interesting Chuck, I have often thought of it this way too. For me, the
relationship with my son and paddling (both 16 yrs old)
is indeed an old love, a sustaining one. And these two loves are the only
things I have ever had that have continued consistently and steadfastly for so
long. And just like the love of a child, it goes thru stages, transitions,
better times, trying times, but the love is always there. For me (and maybe
for other long time boaters?), my love of the river and paddling has come to be
a dance, a balancing between days of wanting some adrenaline, and days of being
perfectly content seeing a heron or looking back upstream into a majestic
mountain panoramic shot. There are so many reasons to love paddling and I
think you are right on target Chuck that it changes (matures?) with the years
of boating and life experiences that you bring to the river with you. Thanks
again for such an uplifting and timely post.
Interesting perspective, Chuck.
I guess that part of me is slowly going into that stage of getting into
the beaty and scenery, looking at new paddlers with a mixed emotion of
seeing something that I was and something of what I still am. I do agree
that part of the passion has changed dramatically after Scott has died,
but it is a (different) passion still.
Then there is the curiousity of wanting to see what lies around the
corner, be it of this next bend in the river or around the corner of the
next continent. I know several paddlers that have paddledseveral
decades longer than I have, who still like to go out on that kind of
"adventure" as well.
I guess I need to rethink about my paddling motives, but I like the
sport, that's what matters most right now.
Wilko van den Bergh - Quibus(at)europe(dot)com
Eindhoven - The Netherlands - Europe
I think that paddling is about fun and safety,
you shouldn't have one without the other...
Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.
I know far too many who've dropped out when they grow up and start a
family. This BTW has a connection with the original "death" topic of
this thread: supporting a family implies feeling responsible for your
own survival in a new way. My central obession when joining death
discussions is how to cope with this by making whitewater fun and
safe at the same time. It's a bit sad to see these discussions overrun
by people defending stubborn views and principles instead of finding a
practical approach to making this wonderful sport and open-air activity
available to normal non-suicidal people.
To recapitulate: promote fun-boating emphasizing technical mastery
rather than going dangerous places. Promote river grading that takes
danger into account rather than just defining technical challenge to
raise the status of aggressive paddlers. It's what you do that makes
paddling fun, not how dangerous it is.
> But there's one thing that I do notice-- most people that post in this group
> consistently (with the exception of a few notables) have not been in the
> sport for very long-- most have not boated for more than 5 years.
<<<<<<snipped the rest>>>>>>
I think part of what we see in this news group is different people realizing
at different times that what we are doing for fun really does have a deadly
element to it. I mean really, truly realize it -- even the newest newbie will
generally tell you "paddling can be dangerous," but unfortunately I think it
often takes the death or serious injury of someone close to us for the light
really to go on.
The light goes on for different people at different times, and when it does,
we want it to go on for everyone else, too.
Part of the light going on, I think, is the realization that sometimes deaths
occur in situations in which the paddler has not made "a clearly correctable
mistake." If folks are making decisions based on the belief that they will
only get in trouble if they make clearly correctable mistakes, they can
benefit at least as much from evidence to the contrary as they can from
discussion of things that could have been done differently.
A bit off topic, but I'm even a little suspicious of the notion of the
"clearly correctable mistake." Take this argument to its limit: in an
environment in which one can die even if one does everything right, even
putting on is a "clearly correctable mistake," is it not? Don't like taking
arguments to their limits? Fine. Consider this.
Paddling is a sport in which part of the allure is placing oneself in an
environment in which many decisions with consequences have to be made. What
should I wear today? What river should I paddle and what level is it likely
to be? Am I putting on early enough to complete the run without rushing?
Which boat should I paddle? What equipment should I bring? What is the best
line through the first rapid? Am I good enough to hit this line? If I miss
it, what are my options? Am I comfortable with these options? Should I eddy
out and scout first or just run it? Should I wait until by buddy has eddied
out or should I just follow her down? Opps, I screwed up, should I stay in my
boat and keep trying to roll or should I punch out? Answering these and the
many additional questions we confront every time we put on requires judgement,
skill and unusual self-knowledge.
In a situation in which so many decisions with consequences have to be made,
we are sometimes going to make choices that, in retrospect, look like
mistakes. Usually it won't matter -- the river may be a harsh mistress but
she is usually quite forgiving. But sometimes it does matter. In retrospect
we may say,"hey, there's a mistake she made, she died because of it, so if I
can learn from it I will avoid her fate."
I don't think it is quite this easy. I think that as humans choosing to put
ourselves in an environment in which many decisions with consequences have to
be made we have to recognize that sometimes (perhaps often) we are going to
make decisions that, in retrospect, look like mistakes.
Are these really "clearly correctable mistakes" from which we can make
ourself save through discussion, or are they just an intrinsic part of the
part of the environment we are placing ourselves in the same way a deadly log
hidden in a drop is?
My suspicion is that the number of deaths from "clearly correctable mistakes"
in the sense that most competent paddlers wouldn't have made the same choice
in the same situation are relatively few. I can think of many situations, not
all hypothetical for me, unfortunately, in which it would be difficult if not
impossible to say whether the death or serious injury was the result of an
unambigously "clearly correctable mistake."
Unable to distinguish with confidence the "clearly correctable mistakes," and
believing strongly both in our right to make our own choices and our
responsibility to be fully informed when we make those choices, I think the
discussions of accidents on this newsgroup both healthy and important. Fully
considering such issues is an integral part of being a boater. They are at
least as important as discussions of the relative merits of various boats, the
finer points of technique, hints for avoiding speeding tickets in West
Virginia, and beautiful places to boat and to look after.
I have only been kayaking for about a year and a half and I appreciate
the examination of unfortunate events. It reminds me not to get in
"over my head" and makes me think about what is necessary in order for
paddling to remain fun!
>I think part of what we see in this news group is different people
>realizing at different times that what we are doing for fun really does
>have a deadly element to it. I mean really, truly realize it -- even the
>newest newbie will generally tell you "paddling can be dangerous,"
>but unfortunately I think it often takes the death or serious injury of
>someone close to us for the light really to go on.
(Snip the rest. If you haven't read it, go back and read it. Ain't been nothing
so worth reading in weeks, maybe *months*.)
Chris, there are about a few hundred posters, readers and lurkers right now,
nodding their haids and saying to theirselfs "Yeah. Whut HE said," and "Why
couldn't *I* have written that?" (There are several reasons why the rest of us
*couldn't* of writ that; they have to do with years of experience in hard
whitewater [including experience with river accidents], a clean, clear writing
style, and, perhaps most importantly, an impressive capacity for independence
of thought.) I know you don't play with yore website as obsessively as some of
us, butt I do believe you should add this little minithesis to the bod of work
referenced there (though DéjąNoose seems to be on the Fritz with wrt RPB, so
maybe you'll have to do some cut-n-pasting or somethang).
Since you don't advertise your website for all to see, kinda maintaining it as
a Stealth Site, accessible to them whut wants to dig for it, maybe you'd like
to give Pete S. premission to include some of yer gems, like this one? Or,
Pete, maybe you should link to Chris's site?
Just seems a shame for a master work like this one to be hidden in obscurity.
Okay, I can't resist quoting Chris's closing lines:
>I think the discussions of accidents on this newsgroup both
>healthy and important. Fully considering such issues is an integral
>part of being a boater. They are at least as important as
>discussions of the relative merits of various boats, the
>finer points of technique, hints for avoiding speeding tickets in West
>Virginia, and beautiful places to boat and to look after.
Riviera Ratt # 77, Charter Member of PFA, 4/14/99
No longer Rattless in '99!!!
Click of the Week updated 10/8/99
For a good time, call http://members.aol.com/RivierRatt/ratthole.html
>A bit off topic, but I'm even a little suspicious of the notion of the
>"clearly correctable mistake." Take this argument to its limit: in an
>environment in which one can die even if one does everything right, even
>putting on is a "clearly correctable mistake," is it not?
well stated. My only quibble is that 'clearly correctable mistakes'
in the guise of 'near misses' can and do result in changes.. to
those involved and those that watched. Sometimes the difference
is razor thin and sometimes the result is merely a close call and
sometimes the result is tragedy. The point is that in either case..
folks often re-evaluate the danger and take concrete steps
to address it. This is called learning and it is healthy.
I think it is safe to assume
that anyone who has read the detailed thread about the Koontz
Flume incident will take a 'much closer' look at it on the next
go around and some folks have already weighed in with line
suggestions .. i.e. a 'safe' line.. and otherwise. Again.. this is
how we learn.
Anyone who thought running Great Falls was okay as long
as your 'line was right' probably has re-thought the whole
concept of what the consequences are if your line is
'not right' or whether, indeed, one should be there in the
etc. etc... so I maybe don't think it is the discussion of death
that is the real issue. Whether it is a close call or a death..
IMHO.. it should rightly be mulled over by those who do
have questions.. and yes.. you have to put up with the
ambulance chasers as part of the package.
>Unable to distinguish with confidence the "clearly correctable mistakes,"
>believing strongly both in our right to make our own choices and our
>responsibility to be fully informed when we make those choices, I think the
>discussions of accidents on this newsgroup both healthy and important.
>considering such issues is an integral part of being a boater. They are at
>least as important as discussions of the relative merits of various boats,
>finer points of technique, hints for avoiding speeding tickets in West
>Virginia, and beautiful places to boat and to look after.
damn, what a great post! clearly, to look, to question, "was this a
correctable mistake" is but one pov amoung the many and, as you pointed out,
when taken to its limit ends up full circle begging the question of the
validity of gettting in the boat in the first place.
wheather we realize it or not, the experience resultant from this forum and
its myriad of perspectives has an infulence, an impact on the individual as
well as the collective consciousness of all of us in whatever form we are
present here and all that has an impact on the evolution of the entire
boating experience for each of us and for all. and that, in the long haul
is a good thing.
we didn't have this forum when i started boating. i wish we had as it
"speeds up" the learning process and leads to pose realities that i hadn't
even considered in my own limited wierd lettle werld.
In the early 19th century, the infant mortality rate ( in the US) was close
to 20%, and the risk of a woman dying while giving birth was greater than
10%. Off hand, I believe that the average life expectancy of white males was
less than 52 years of age. The vast majority of Americans lived in rural
area; the few Cities existing were considered hot-beds of depravity.I think
the Whigs were a major political influence back then.
Here's to the 19th century and it's practicalities....! Huzza, huzza,huzza!
I beleive that the American Whitewater readership exceeds 10,000
paddlers. Everyone learns something from each of these accidents.
Hopefully, the same mistakes are not made twice. If the accident is due
to chance, at least, paddlers become aware of the risks even if they
can't be avoided.
Please don't cut of this valuable source of information because it
clutters up the newsgroup.
Thanks for the post, Eldridge. This is exactly the reason we need to continue
posting accident/ incident reports. But at the same time, we always need to keep in
mind that accusations or 'blame-posts' don't always help, as we often are not aware
of all the details of an incident. It may be a simple and ego-boosting exercise to
harshly critique the actions or inactions of another person, but we should always
keep our motives in mind: what *really* happened, how did the people *at the scene*
respond, how similarly would we have *really* responded, and was it *reasonable and
prudent* action, in the face of the situation (which we here may not have a real
Keep in factual, keep it accurate, and learn from it. If it gets too personal, then
people won't learn from it.
I agree 100%. Note the first line though, "The deaths are reported in
this newsgroup so we can learn from them." Please let's try and keep
the discussions in that vein. This NG becomes cluttered when everyone
wishes to let the entire world know how much they sympathize for the
family and friends of the deceased person, and I apologize for my part
in perpetuating this type of nonsense recently in this newsgroup.
Please send the condolences via email directly to a party who can
commumicate them to the appropriate parties. And please try and keep
the "armchair quarterback" discussion to a minimum, and keep the
discussions relevant and useful. (I will do so similarly, as I am one
of the worst!)