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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 14:32

Anchoring A Precautionary Tale

Written by  Bridgett Howard
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Image provided by Jason Stark Image provided by Jason Stark

Last Saturday was a balmy 44° and the rivers were running just below the 75th CFS percentile, so I decided that with the forecast full moon it would be a good day to head to a spot on the East Fork of the Stones I'd been meaning to explore.

I knew the entry was a little hairy (down a pretty steep drop and directly into current), and on arriving saw that the river looked pretty intimidating. A couple even stopped by as I was unloading to caution me that the river was running pretty rough. I assured them I was fine, showed them my lifejacket, pocketknife and drybag with a change of clothes in my hatch. I slid the Coosa down the hill, plopped in and headed on.

I floated maybe 100 yards when I realized I could hear rushing water. I then realized I hadn't done my due diligence and checked the river thoroughly on Google maps (or done a run in slower flow conditions) before setting out. Anchor time.

On the topic of my anchor, I'd been meaning to fix my drag chain for a while - it was a little jinky. Not my standard Flexi leash, but a Dollar Store knock-off with flat tape instead of cord. Instead of a single sufficiently heavy drag chain, a pair of three-pound handweights added to an insufficient drag chain. When I kicked the anchor rig off the back it didn't go under the back 'anchor groove' properly, but fell off to the side. The Coosa kicked sideways in the current, I felt the anchor grab the bottom... and then GRAB the bottom. I sat perfectly still. Considered grabbing my rod. Felt quoozy as the Coosa swayed in the current in a wholly unnatural manner. I decided it was time to use the pocketknife on the anchor rope... and shore fish for the rest of the outing.

 kayak pulled off the creek

I pulled onto the little rocky shoal on the side, went down and investigated the rushing water... if I'd have gone through, I would have been in some serious trouble. I know the Coosa could likely handle the water... but no way did I want to test it out by myself on an unfamiliar stretch of water with water temps in the mid 40s.

Rough day overall. I lost a mess of lures (being able to collect them from the kayak is definitely an advantage), and there was no way to go back up against the current (I'm usually a 'there-and-back' paddler). I ended up climbing up a seriously steep grassy bank... but wait, it'd been raining recently, and rain + grassy banks = mud. I dug some footholds and muled the yak up and onto the road.

Skunked to boot. But I did relearn a couple of things...

  1. 75th percentile of flow on an unknown stretch of river can be pretty fierce
  2. NEVER anchor in extreme current
  3. Keep your pocketknife accessible (I had it Velcroed to my life jacket)
  4. Don't explore 'unexplored territory' alone
Read 3300 times Last modified on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 14:51

Comments  

 
# hickoxp 2013-02-07 15:48
Glad you made it out without too much loss. Its amazing how close we get to catastrophe and that one decision keeps us from harm.
 

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