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FLOAT TRIP TIPS GUIDE:

Revised: 03/27/2007


**Float Trip Tips for You and Your Group:

  1. Please wear your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) whenever you are on the water. Remember, it is not only the law in Kansas, it just makes good sense.  Before making the decision to take children or a pet, make certain that you provide and ensure that each one wears a well fitted PFD.
  2. Have a "River Plan" with details for equipment, shuttles, gear, good complete river maps, emergency hike out notes, rescue gear, saw, First Aid kit, Put-in and Take-out details, and ensure that everyone knows the "River Plan".
  3. Ensure that your group has the right clothing and gear for the trip.  In cold weather, this means NO COTTON.  Bring a change of clothes in a waterproof bag.  Use layers of polypropylene and nylon pile for the best insulation.  Wool is "old school". Watch your group for signs of hypothermia. 
  4. Ensure that your group has the right skills for the trip.  Ask your trip sponsor and/or most experienced canoeists for suggestions, paddling tips, and help if you have questions.
  5. Steer your canoe away from strainers (trees, logjams, shrubs, & debris). Maintain maximum clearance from all strainers. This is one of the most serious hazards found on most Kansas rivers.
  6. Stay low in your canoe when entering or exiting. Kneeling in a canoe often helps reduce the center of gravity while reducing wind drag under windy conditions.
  7. Use extreme caution when approaching any low-water crossing or low-head dam.  Take-out well above this hazard and portage on the most appropriate side.
  8. Please DO NOT pass the lead boat and DO NOT fall behind the sweep boats.  Communicate on the river.  Use river signals to slow down or stop the group as needed.
  9. Take regular breaks to stretch and for bathroom breaks.
  10. Wash your hands with clean water, soap, or alcohol prior to eating to avoid ingestion of harmful bacteria and other contaminants.
  11. Carry and drink plenty of pure water to prevent dehydration. Watch your group for signs of dehydration.
  12. Use plenty of sun block solution. Reapply after mid-day or after any swim. Always wear a wide brim hat or baseball cap (minimum).
  13. Sunglasses help protect the eyes from glare off the river surfaces.
  14. Tie in all articles in case of an upset.  Wear a glasses strap if you value your sunglasses or prescription glasses.  They will come off in a spill and NO, they do not float.
  15. Don’t take valuable articles along unless they are in a secure waterproof container.  A PLASTIC GARBAGE BAG IS NOT a secure waterproof container.  A small Army surplus ammo box, tied into a canoe is a cheap waterproof container.  Waterproof bags for canoeing are generally available from most outdoor sports stores, outfitters,  or on-line.
  16. If you fall out of your canoe, place yourself upstream of the boat and tow the boat towards the closest-safest land. Take an active roll in your own rescue and swim towards the safest shoreline.
  17. Do not overload your canoe with gear or people. The maximum number in a standard 16-17’ canoe is two adults.  Do not exceed the weight limits of any boat.  Gear should be kept to a minimum.
  18. Be prepared for rain. Take good rain gear or a poncho for protection.
  19. Be able to identify and be aware of poison-ivy when you are off the river, walking.  If you are unsure, ask your trip sponsor.  If you suspect that you have had exposure to poison-ivy, immediately wash any exposed skin with copious amounts of cold water. Do not use soap.
  20. After your trip, check for ticks.  If found, remove immediately & treat.  See your doctor if redness, itching, or swelling occurs.

**NOTE: Your trip sponsors, aka trips coordinators or trip leaders, are along only to address questions and to help coordinate the trip.  There are no guarantees. There is always a degree of risk and you assume this if you make the decisions to float and guide a boat down any river. If you are not comfortable with that, you may choose, at any time, prior to disembarking, to option out of the trip or event.


Float Trip Paddling Techniques Tips:

  1. The person in the back (stern) of the canoe primarily provides the majority of steering. To turn the canoe to the right, paddle on the left. To turn the canoe to the left, paddle on the right. The stern paddler may also use his/her paddle as a rudder to help provide steering.
  2. The person in the front (bow) of the canoe primarily provides power by paddling on either side and is a "look out" for hazards such as trees, snags, strainers, rocks, sandbars, etc.
  3. When paddling tandem (two paddlers in a boat), it is better that each paddler paddles on opposite sides.  For example, when the bow paddler is paddling on the right, the stern paddler should be paddling on the left and visa versa.
  4. Under windy conditions, paddle into the wind and stay low in the canoe by kneeling. If the bow is too light or the boat is trimmed too heavy on the stern, the boat will tend to rise into wind and be hard to steer.  In those cases, move more weight forward. If needed, stop and add sand or rocks to the bow to keep it down.
  5. In some cases during windy conditions, two solo paddlers may choose to tandem in one canoe, while pulling the other canoe.  Be sure that the boat in toe may be quickly disconnected in the case of a hazard broach.
  6. When you hold the paddle, place one hand on the shaft and one hand on the grip (the end of the paddle). It is REALLY BAD FORM to place both hands on the shaft and will immediately brand you as a complete "nub".
  7. A pair of paddlers (tandem) in a canoe should remember to work as a team and communicate when making decisions to "go right or go left".

(See the KANSAS PADDLER Home Page for the most current trip/event schedules) www.kansas.net/~tjhittle


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