Using Playboats On White Water. Bad Idea?

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ERU
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Using Playboats On White Water. Bad Idea?

Post by ERU »

I was recently reading this fictional story and it actually got me thinking ... is using playboats on white water a bad idea? I know a lot of people have been converted this winter due to the 'real rain' but running grade IV+ in a bath tub ... well comments below ...
The shock of the locked boat, paddle blades and finally a lifeless paddler emerging from the foaming froth stunned the onlookers into a brief moment of inaction and disbelief. Knowing glances were exchanged of something alien they had read or heard about many times before. Thoughts of what could happen in the mysterious green room, hidden underneath the surface, flashed though the group’s mind like arcing electricity. All finally knew and understood without speaking.
Steve knew in the cold 6am morning meet in a Coventry dwelling that something sinister awaited but couldn’t quite put his finger on what it might be. It had been a dire week at work and his Volkswagen Transporter nicknamed ‘Bumble’ had been consistently breaking down. Subsequent to getting up belatedly yet again, and to arriving 20 minutes late, he was surprised to be queried by the other nine paddlers where his boat was; only to discover he had overlooked the most important piece of kit used in the game branded as kayaking. The raging Welsh white water rivers considered for the approaching day required the largest cubic volume boats that 1.5 meters could offer. Steve grumbled as he trekked back to collect his submarine stating “if you have a good roll, anything can be run in mine” referring to his insignificant play boat designed only for stunts or tricks. All the warning signs were undoubtedly at hand, to be mulled over, whilst trekking to the liquid paradise of North Wales.
The familiar journey to the opening river was uneventful, as the group of veterans followed their routine of a café breakfast, finding themselves misplaced on the map and presenting differing emotions of flooded watersheds in-between the continuation of elated banter. Everything was set for another fun, but due to the high water levels, serious raid into dragon country. Even getting down the initial tributary, used as an entrance exam, ensured everyone could cope with the big boily water and tail squirts present in the gloomy gorge. Each and every line carved in the water being as smooth as velvet, while the group was once more bonded, sealed and sent.
Tensions soon mounted as the group struggled under the weight of their burdens towards the access point of their ultimate river. As the paddlers frequently stopped to catch their breath, they took note of the growth present on every inch of the trees lining the soggy banks, where living things, jaded mosses, lichens, flora and the golden winter leaves had long lived undisturbed from mankind. A syrupy smell, pungent at first, but in time pleasant, filled the nostrils which would soon be chocked with alien fluids.
Whilst each limb drew nearer to the target of the unrelenting silver vein amid the trees, the friendly voices at first grew louder, in contest to ITs din but eventually gave up competing with ITs forceful power. The compulsory silence had in due course arrived. Some tried to joke but the experienced knew this was only an effort to break their tension and seek to settle doubts. Each mind was secretly dwelling on the approaching unknown. Already many became disorganised in the thoughts of the countless diverse outcomes, all unspoken, yet all understood.
IT promised an exciting trip. Levels were high as the boats slipped into the uninterrupted flow of animated wave trains. Each paddler quickly grabbing at the first available eddy. To make the last minute adjustments that had already been completed. Time had after all run out and it was time to descend.
The longer IT is not visited, the further IT is able to conquer another mind, but as the group passed or portaged the fences or trees, IT would gradually become controlled and beat. IT slowly began to loose the fight but the qualified is acquainted with how IT is always watching for that opportunity to strike back.
Soon the dramatic gorge was entered as boats scrapped rocks and boulders. Their owners swiftly gliding their paddle through the waters own living body, ensuring complete control through the two constrictions and tight drops which came as both a surprise and joy. The subsequent falls were effectively a double drop with a small pool in between and were both run blindly by all. The water pounded round tight bends, with small eddies and boils, but the lead boats were unconcerned whilst looking for something of interest that was soon approaching. Then a cry went up! “break out”. The next drop needed inspecting.
Few members of the group dared to move forward to the last eddy of controllable water and gaze at ITs next challenge. The drop presented a nasty slot that dropped river right, into a seemingly undercut near vertical fall and had a boily pile to the left of a slot. The slot then persisted downwards for ten meters before the chasm released the violence being withheld. Slowly but knowingly carving through this unwelcome barrier, IT was finding a direct route to the sea.
One short glance by a skilled eye ensured many soon made their judgment to scramble past via the left most rocks. Steve quietly stood still and guarded his expanding fear of running the serious but wonderful rapid. He was already dreaming about the challenge in his mind before then entering his boat above.
As he made his way through the water into the main stream, a line off the drop was clearly imagined but as he twisted and closed distance, each feature became altered within the maelstrom approaching. Steve hoped he could make minor adjustments at the last moment but from within knew this was going to be severe. IT had been watching and began sniggering as the boat snatched at the final lip with no clear direction to travel.
With no time left to panic the boat fell into the now unrecognisable slot and came to an unexpected stop, echoed by a sound Steve knew to instantly recognise as ‘Shlaaaack’... the sound of a stone tomb lid closing. Steve felt undisturbed; as he knowing accepted he had become trapped without hopes of a rescue. Strangely no panic arose as a stream of logical thoughts drifted to the green room Steve was now sitting in. A room with no air.
Initially an attempt to use the paddler’s blades was considered but the hands quickly replied that they had already tried before the pain started. Then a strong lean to the sides confirmed the boat had become wedged in the front via an undercut rock. Peacefully Steve then became aware of the pain around his legs from the thundering power against his back, as IT locked him tightly to the seat, unable to move. The severe power of the water flapped both arms out in front, blown by the wind, IT began to tie more chains around the ensnared victim. Steve tried to reach forward and push against his greyed friend who he imagined to be in front but aborted further thoughts of the smooth limestone’s aid. Energy was sapping and time still running out. Steve sat still in the boat temporarily in the hope of a new strategy arising. Palpable thinking was inconceivable but slowly thoughts were developing into inevitable choices. The most ravenous thought of all was to reach for the surface; despite meaning the energy required would condemn it to be the last possible deed. Steve paused and with every ounce of stored force struck at the ceiling of the room. His hands moved up less than 10 degrees before IT threw them back in front to wave into the flow. He was trapped too deep and now accepted it.
The battle was over but yet the expected terror had still failed to arrive. Steve didn’t wish for it either, as he realised he should be very afraid now that his approaching death was certain. He uncomfortably sat, exhausted, and wondered about what would come next, unconcerned but immobile … waiting. A flash of humour flew about his lifeless body as he realised the futility of escape. “Fair enough. I made a mistake and you got me. Fair is fair I guess” he remarked to IT telepathically.
Thoughts casually drifted to a failed relationship, but ultimately Steve determined he wasn’t going to wait any longer for whatever he was waiting for. Gulps of water were inhaled as he agreed he had done more than anybody else could. A pain now comparable to the one in Steve’s legs now spread to his chest, as fluid began to drown his body. Peace had by no means deserted him, as he began to loose consciousness in the lonely and quiet space concealed from the world above. Sleep became overpowering and welcoming to the fatigued paddler, as a deep slumber creep in.
‘Shlaaaack’... the sound of a stone tomb lid closing was again replayed in the dream. The throbbing in Steve’s legs vanished and unseen forces began to wash him about. Daylight shone through closed eyelids only to return to green once more. People’s voices could be heard but not understood. Steve strained his eyes open as the daylight appeared again and glimpsed a rope. A kayaking rope! A kayaking throw line! He listened to the voices again only to now recognise them. Someone was shouting “line!” while a thud of realisation hit that this wasn’t a dream. The prospect of being washed into sumping water ensured that Steve weakly grabbed the next line thrown. A new energy filled his body, as he was skilfully swung into the next eddy and dragged into the friendly grey limestone rock recently searched for.
“Get me out I’ve swallowed a lot of water!" exclaimed Steve calmly at his rescuers, who sensing the strugglers strength rapidly ebbing in the bubbling fluid below, rapidly swung through the well drilled motions of a rescue they could now effect.

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Scuba Steve
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Post by Scuba Steve »

Nah!! Playboats should only be used on flat water (joking!!). My thoughts; depends on a ability of boater combined with personal comfort in style of whitewater (eg. big water or tight and technical). A while back before the creek boat revolution, small boats were used to creek and then it became known that creek boats were safer and more comfortable. I will use my playboat on grade 4 if there is a nice cushioning of water and the opportunity of good play. I do not take my playboat (unless its the only option) on anything tight and technical for fear of a piton as my feet are crammed in the nose being over 6ft and size 11 feet. People are still going to go on grade 4+ with their playboat, how can you stop them??

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Post by RobMoffatt »

For a lot of people, they can only afford one boat, or only have space for one boat. This means that if the do a little bit of playing, it makes sense for them to buy a playboat, since they can still play, and they can do a little bit of river running. Obviously the safety features of a playboat, (or lack of) make this a bit more risky, especially when most people (myself included) buy a small boat, and cram themselves in so that there is no free space.

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Dave T
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Post by Dave T »

Obviously playboats are not ideal for steep creeking and other rivers where creek/river runner boats excel but they can be good fun in the right hands. I had a Sub7 as my only boat a few years back that I used it for Lake District becks, a couple of Scotland trips and a French Alps trip, I knew the boat well and was confident paddling it so didn't see any problem with using it on 4/5.
I now use a creek boat as I mostly paddle steep technical stuff and they are a lot safer and ideal for that kind of water.
Scuba Steve wrote:People are still going to go on grade 4+ with their playboat, how can you stop them??
Why would you want to? People should paddle what they are comfortable and confident in.

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Post by steddyjames »

People should paddle what they are comfortable in. I own/have use of four boats. I just use whichever seems like I'm going to have more fun in or is more suitable to what I'm going to do.

The current trend is to use creek boats, that wasn't the case a few years ago and who knows what the trend will be in a few years time. Personally I like the two boat trend because a compromise boat was always exactly that, a compromise.

The fairy glen used to get paddled in playboats, I'm guessing it's not that much anymore.

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Post by herbert »

Where did you find the story?

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Ricks-Freestyle-Mind
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Post by Ricks-Freestyle-Mind »

Playboats are designed for playboating. Creek boats designed for Creeking.

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Post by k.shark »

i have been paddling for 25 years creek boats have ressurected.Asfar as i am concerned that is where they should stay in the past. Since the use of playboats on rivers skills have took off.I am 6foot 15 stone middle aged if i cant play the river i would give it up. rather than paddle a bath tub. If i can happly play down grade 4/5 in a kingpin 6.3 then so can most if rivers are huge i will resort to I.3 pyrahna which can play bigger stuff. so dont be so retro and keep moving forward.

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Dave T
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Post by Dave T »

k.shark wrote:I have been paddling for 25 years creek boats have ressurected.Asfar as I am concerned that is where they should stay in the past. Since the use of playboats on rivers skills have took off.I am 6foot 15 stone middle aged if I cant play the river I would give it up. rather than paddle a bath tub. If I can happly play down grade 4/5 in a kingpin 6.3 then so can most if rivers are huge I will resort to I.3 pyrahna which can play bigger stuff. so dont be so retro and keep moving forward.
So we should all get rid of our creek boats then? I agree with some points you made, skills definately developed when playboats came out but the skills can be learnt in playboats, transfered into creekers and vice versa. There is no question that creek boats are far safer for paddling steep and technical water. If you look at the new creek boats you will realise they are infact a lot less retro than an I3...
Playboats are good fun to paddle on some 4/5 but to really push limits and run big falls etc a playboat rather than a creeker would be a ridiculous choice (In my opinion!).

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Post by k.shark »

I did not say get rid of all creek boats they have there place my local river is full on 5 which i personally will have run the most .which most people would prefer a creeker there but i think it is a scam to sell more boats . I think most of the creekers being sold will never see grade 3 water fashion accessory must have . when the topo came out i thought it was the dogs nuts as i was into running everthing ! right peice of gear for the job and their has been alot of advances new creekers have came a long way they make it easier to run harder stuff .So if you are used to paddling harder runs you will have the skills but if you only use them on easy to medium grades you will not advance your skills so when the next fad comes along they will be stuck. squirt boats next?

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samw
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Post by samw »

In my view two boats are best if you do both playing and creeking.

However if people want use playboats on g4/5 let them as they proberly got good paddling skills.

After my first two times creeking I felt certain I had done the right thing in getting a creeker. I don't find it dull and boring to paddle ethier it turns, breaks in/out and rolls easily which is what its desingned for. If the river dosnt require my creeker I happly paddle my play boat which I find also does the above with ease.

I couldnt live with one boat know.

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Post by davebrads »

Not all grade 4/5 is creeking; sometimes a creek boat is inappropriate on these grades.

Some grade 4 is OK in a playboat, but only where you aren't actually going to hit anything. I can't think of much grade 5 in this country where a playboat would be suitable - maybe the Orchy?, but it does exist abroad.

I agree with k.shark that creek boats are a fad, just as playboats were five years ago. I have seen paddlers in creek boats and elbow pads on the Tryweryn, bumbling down while the kids in the slalom boats are flashing around them. These guys are never going to paddle creeks, or if they do, their lack of ability is going to get them in trouble, and the boat will not be enough to get them out of it.

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Dr Repper
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Post by Dr Repper »

davebrads wrote:Not all grade 4/5 is creeking; sometimes a creek boat is inappropriate on these grades.

These guys are never going to paddle creeks, or if they do, their lack of ability is going to get them in trouble, and the boat will not be enough to get them out of it.
That's a very important point. I think it's the case that many more people are drowned because of choosing to run water that is beyond their capabilities than choosing the wrong boat to run it.

Personally, if I was going to be running steep, technical hair with little potential for play but plenty for pinning, I'd use a creek boat. I hardly do any of that these days, so I don't own one.

As has been said, there are many different styles of grade 4/5, and not all require a big boat. Anyone fancy paddling a nomad down the Zambezi or the White Nile? Expect to divide your time between being bored and being surfed in holes you'd rather not if you do.
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Post by meatballs »

davebrads wrote:Not all grade 4/5 is creeking; sometimes a creek boat is inappropriate on these grades.

Some grade 4 is OK in a playboat, but only where you aren't actually going to hit anything. I can't think of much grade 5 in this country where a playboat would be suitable - maybe the Orchy?, but it does exist abroad.

I agree with k.shark that creek boats are a fad, just as playboats were five years ago. I have seen paddlers in creek boats and elbow pads on the Tryweryn, bumbling down while the kids in the slalom boats are flashing around them. These guys are never going to paddle creeks, or if they do, their lack of ability is going to get them in trouble, and the boat will not be enough to get them out of it.
There was tons of creekers out at the tryweryn last Sunday/Monday. Personally I think they came away for some big Easter trip but there wasn't any rain :p
Ben

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Post by Tom_Laws »

There are always creekers on the big T. Its an excellent venue for honing your river skills.

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Post by Pete C. »

Mike Dawson. Slalom boat. Nevis Bluff. Balls of steel.

alex4219
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Nice article

Post by alex4219 »

A very well written and pleasant to read article, if I may say so. (obviouslly the subjet is not so pleasant).

Does anyone know where the article came from and which river?

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Dr Repper
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Re: Nice article

Post by Dr Repper »

alex4219 wrote:A very well written and pleasant to read article, if I may say so. (obviouslly the subjet is not so pleasant).

Does anyone know where the article came from and which river?
It's a ficticious (sp?) account so probably doesn't relate to any specific river.
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Post by NPearce »

Steve (ERU) that story sounds a little close to home! :)

I generally paddle what I think will be more fun and/or comfortable on the day. A long weekend in Scotland, hopping in and out of boats everyday to set up safety, take a look, etc etc I usually take a creeker, sure it might be more fun in a playboat but tell my feet that after a few hours in a playboat on the fourth day! Also in a creeker I do not tend to get that stand up, wheres my legs and fall over feeling.

Take the playboat to hurley, a summer session at treweryn or HPP or even a day or 2 on less dramatic more playable rivers and the playboat comes into its own.

I guess it echos the feeling of paddle what you are comfortable with, I have reached a point in my paddling where I tend to err towards physical comfort over pure fun factor. I can still have a great day on the river in either boat but do I want to spend 30 minutes trying to mould my feet into their correct shape before I drive home?

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Post by caturner »

I paddle my necky chronic quite happily down 4/4+ rivers in this country and in the french alps. It certinly makes them playful and has made paddle with good technique or i get a beating. Just got a H3 for the bigger volumn stuff in Austria this year and amazed at how forgiving it is. If i paddled a creek boat instead of my playboat down some of the harder rivers i don't think i would have developed the level of skill that i have.

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Post by Johnno Manc »

I have a proper stick up my arse about creek boats. They're good for, as has been said, creeking and carrying kit. Fair dos if you're running silly creeks down steep mountains etc but the number of people I know who paddle creek boats but only do grade 3/4 medium volume rivers is unbelievable. Am I wrong to think this just make you a lazy paddler?

Johnnox

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Post by ianjohn »

The fictional report above is infact Steve's own account of a near fatal incident on the Dulas in mid Wales http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/dulas.htm

He ran a narrow slot which must have been undercut and disapeared for almost a minute. I was stood no more than 2 feet away from him and yet could not see him and was unable to help him out. I threw a line into the hole hoping he would feel it and then grab hold - but the line just flushed out into the current. For the next 30 seconds or so two of us just exchanged a knowing glance. Our friend had killed himself and we would have to call out mountain rescue or police divers to ever recover his body. His paddles appeared but still no sign of Steve. Then his boat and finaly and very dazed and almost blue Steve surfaced. Several lines were thrown at him and he eventually managed to hold onto one, and was finaly pulled to safety.

Steve had picked a bad line - had very little forward speed and was paddling an S6. Thankfully he is still alive to tell the tale and is currently looking for a real boat should anyone have one to sell him.

Steve also goes by the name ERU on this forum.
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Post by steve t »

Guess I'm about to become a lazy paddler.

I started paddling 20+ years ago at University and afterwards - paddled a Premier 2 slalom boat down everything and was more than happy running grade 3 (occaisonally 4) in it. Cost me loads in glassfibre though.

The real world kicked in , and I took 15+ years off, became born again 4 years ago and have been paddling a boat at the playful end of river runners (Savage Maniac) since. It's allowed me to get to at least the level I was years ago, but now I've got to the stage where I want to do some playboating so I got a proper playboat.

So instead of paddling the Maniac down the grade 3 stuff that I'm doing at the moment, I've flogged that and bought myself something bigger, more comfortable, with room for kit (and butties) and with enough volume to give me some more confidence to push the grades a bit. I don't NEED a creeker but it would fit the bill.

I've just bought a second hand Fluid Solo. It fits my spec. exactly but it won't be used to its full capabilities while I own it - I'm under no illusions that my limits will be reached before the boat's, but that's the way I'd prefer it, thank you.

I've owned two 4x4 vehicles in the past. I didn't NEED 4 wheel drive, but they did exactly what I wanted at the time. And the fact that they are more capable than you need can get you out of trouble, or, more importantly, keep you out of trouble in the first place.

So I'll stick with the Solo, you can point and laugh at me on the Tryweryn, and I'll probably get another 4x4 at some stage too.

My 2p worth.

Steve
Last edited by steve t on Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by steddyjames »

meatballs wrote: There was tons of creekers out at the tryweryn last Sunday/Monday.
And 4 or 5 years ago it would have been full of playboats.

I had my first visit to the Tryweryn in 3 or 4 years recently and was very surprised at how few playboats there were compared to my previous visits.

I was paddling a small 4twenty and really was the odd one out.

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Post by clairenewman »

I used to paddle playboats / crossover boats for my main river running, which was at the time up to grade 4+ (not creaks or bog drops), however I decided to change to an H3 and then a Burn for my river running as I felt it would be a safer option.

I found that I got into more trouble in the H3 & Burn than I ever got into with my ZG48. I found that the extra responsiveness of the ZG helped me catch micro eddies better and use the rivers features to my advantage.

I'm certainly not saying that everyone should get rid of there river runners and creekers as they ARE more suitable as they are designed with that particular use in mind. However for me and my paddling style the smaller kayaks worked better. I've now sold my Burn and I'm going back to crossover boats.Still not sure what I'm going to do about steeper rivers though.

John
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David McCraw

Post by David McCraw »

The first time I hit something really hard without a full-plate footrest, I was sold on the idea of creek boats. My legs don't go to sleep either, and I can take far more kit (my peli, a throwline, water bottle &/ flask, for starters).

Playboats can't compete with river boats at their intended purpose, or vice versa. For the huge middle ground surely it's immaterial?

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Post by Mr Hoppy »

I think this comes down to what you call a playboat.

A few years back a short playboat was 2.20m and there was a reasonable distribution of volume, a few years prior to that you were looking at 2.40m. They gave you some reasonable speed, space and features and didn't look an awful lot different to the river play boats you see now. In those it was reasonable to run harder rivers (hell I ran the Mellte in a trickster) and have one boat only.

Now a playboat is 1.90m ish with extreme volume distributions for pop have no speed, your feet are jammed into the ends and there is no space for safety kit. It's not so sensible for stuff other than park and play or bigger volume play runs. Because of that people are running 2 boats if you want to do harder rivers, by getting a creek boat you increase the range of rivers that are open to you.

I've also seen the light when it comes to how I run rivers, before I used to try and play every tiny wave and take forever whereas now I'd rather skip over playing so much and do another river.

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steve t
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Post by steve t »

steve t wrote:
... something bigger, more comfortable, with room for kit (and butties) ...
morsey (in another thread) wrote:
What is that all about then? I've paddled a fair few rivers, the odd sea adventure and a bunch of lakes with night stop overs. Maybe I'll eat the odd power bar during the day if energy levels are flagging and I'll happily carry a few treats to munch at the end of the day whilst sorting shuttles etc. But stopping for lunch, cant say as I've ever done that. An hour sat on the bank in wet kit, then ninety minutes waiting for digestion before setting off again seems like a whole bunch of faff to me! Are rec paddlers not wise the use of power bars, gels, carbo & eletrolytic drinks?

... I've been rumbled ...

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Post by davebrads »

David McCraw wrote:The first time I hit something really hard without a full-plate footrest, I was sold on the idea of creek boats. My legs don't go to sleep either, and I can take far more kit (my peli, a throwline, water bottle &/ flask, for starters).

Playboats can't compete with river boats at their intended purpose, or vice versa. For the huge middle ground surely it's immaterial?
You are using the terms Creek Boat/River Boat here as though they are the same thing, which they aren't. I have no beef with paddlers using River Boats rather than Playboats for paddling regular rivers, I appreciate the extra comfort and safety of these boats over the Playboat, and in fact the river boats have all the performance the average paddler will ever need.

What I am saying is that paddlers are buying inappropriate boats. Five years ago it was Playboats, when a fraction of the people that bought them would learn the techniques to use them properly, and now it is Creek Boats, with so little useful performance on the kind of rivers that most people paddle that they don't develop any skills at all, just relying on the boat to keep them out of trouble, when they miss that last eddy or fail to get the right line for the umpteenth time.

For the huge middle ground it is not immaterial - paddlers should be using the boat that is appropriate for the type of paddling they are doing, and the current fad for Creek Boats is putting them in the wrong boat.

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Post by clairenewman »

davebrads wrote:What I am saying is that paddlers are buying inappropriate boats. Five years ago it was Playboats, when a fraction of the people that bought them would learn the techniques to use them properly, and now it is Creek Boats, with so little useful performance on the kind of rivers that most people paddle that they don't develop any skills at all, just relying on the boat to keep them out of trouble, when they miss that last eddy or fail to get the right line for the umpteenth time.
Agreed! It is interesting how the views on kayaks necessary to run rivers has polarised over the last three years. Three years ago you could run everything in your tiny kingpin and now you need a creek boat to run general rivers. Personally I feel that cross over kayaks such as Inazone, recoil, Outlaw etc make very good river runners. Not convinced about creeking though.

John
Claire & John

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