Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kayak Caught in a Rip on the Colorado River --

Sunday started out like any normal beautiful winter day in Arizona.  First on our list was refreshing the RV with more water and dumping.  We have discovered if you do it early, there rarely is a line.  We were there a little after 8:00 and only one other person was ahead of us.


We were going kayaking and most of us were pretty thrilled about the adventure.  We had scoped out what we thought would be a perfect place to put the kayaks in the river.  It was at Quechan Marina on the California side of the river.

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The marina has a small lagoon for launching boats and other daytime activities.  The water was as smooth as silk.  Temperature was expected to push upper 70’s.  It certainly was a beautiful day.  The kayaks soon started going in the water ..  one by one.

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The lagoon was a perfect place to practice, try out each other’s kayak and wait for the rescue ship to get ready for the big movement onto the Colorado River.  The river was running fast but the rescue ship was equipped with a motor.  We figured with a motor even if we couldn’t paddle fast enough to get up river, the one with the motor could tow us.  That’s what we thought.

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We hung around where the lagoon opened into the Colorado River. 

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Then, when everyone was ready to go, we slowly ventured into the river ….. well, some more cautiously than others.    The paddles didn’t work quite as easy in the river as they did in the lagoon.


The water was fairly low on the California side of the river.  Terry led the pack.  Freddy was close behind and I soon caught up with Freddy.

We could see the water churning (ripping)  in places.  We were trying to go upstream so we could have a smooth float downstream.  It didn’t quite work out like __Jan28_1that.  The only way to get to the smoother area was to go through the pockets of rapids.  Terry took off in his kayak and was through this without much of a problem.  

Freddy was hanging on the shoreline but decided to follow Terry.  I had been paddling like crazy trying to fight the current to stay up with him …. needless to say, I didn’t get much headway.   Here’s a picture of Freddy just before he got caught in the rip current and churning water.  He’s dry and he’s smiling here but that didn’t last long.

Just as Freddy turned and started heading towards the middle where Terry had gone, a rip current flipped his kayak over with him in it.  I was right next to him at the time.  It happened fast.  Down and under he went.  It was scary.

He was completely under the water and the kayak totally upside down.  All I could do at the time was try to push the kayak off the top of him.  Soon up bobbed his head.  He struggled swimming to shore and pulling his kayak with him.  He said he was fine but wanted me to go find his paddle.  It was already heading downstream. Luckily, I found it floating along and was able to grab it.

There was a stir of activity trying to get __Jan28_18everyone’s attention and help.  Terry came back over the rapids to get to Freddy just as Carol and Steve headed in that direction.  The overturned kayak was fastened to Terry’s kayak.    Freddy hung onto the rocks until the Dwyers got there to load him on their boat.  The motorboat even had difficulty in the rip currents of the river. 

Hauling the boat back to shore wasn’t an easy task.  The kayak had been tied on the side instead of the back.  Turning and maneuvering was difficult but the mission was eventually accomplished.

I think Freddy had a premonition that he might get wet.  He was the only one out of the nine of us who had brought a complete change of clothes along with him. 


That was our day on the river.  I think we all learned a lot.  When I got back I pulled up a map of the area we put the kayaks in.  Where Freddy went in the water was deep.  The currents were churning over the shallow water where he was heading.  When you look at the map, you can understand it easier.

The Colorado River has many different areas to kayak. This is what I read online, “Find a section of the Colorado that meets your ability levels. Kayaking on the Colorado runs the gamut from gentle Class I and Class II stretches to difficult and extreme Class V sections.”

Water level also has a lot to do with how the river is going to flow.  I think we didn’t do our research for the type of kayaks and experience level in our group.  It wasn’t just the kayaks that had difficulty either as even the motorboat had difficulty.  Carol indicated they wouldn’t have been able to help Freddy had he gone down in the middle.  That’s something to think about. 


We finished off the day with dinner at the Sizzler in Blythe.  What a day!

(I can't believe I didn't take pictures of Freddy's overturned kayak!  I don't think anyone thought of it.  Some of the pictures here are mine and some are Carol's.  I haven't got Steve C's yet.  Maybe he did)

‘Tis life on the road.

Yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.


  1. That sure was a hair raising experience, glad everyone made it back home safe and sound, although a bit wet maybe.

  2. Wow! Scary time, glad it all turned out okay. Water danger can really sneak up on you. I know (for some strange reason). ;c)

  3. When scary things are happening I don't think about taking pictures and since you were the one trying to rescue him, pictures were not on your mind. Just so thankful everything turned out okay. Big lesson learned - check for currents ahead of time.

  4. Glad everyone was o.k. and returned home safely. A very scary experience for sure.

  5. Holy cow. That's scary. Hugs to Freddy and thanks to all of you for rescuing him.

  6. Glad everyone is OK. If I was there I would have been a basket case. Of course, I would not have been there given my fear of the water following a bad canoe accident.

  7. Thank the dear Lord Freddy is safe. What a scary feeling that must have been for him and y'all. Glad you know now to do more research before heading out the next time.

  8. I must say, you sure had an exciting day. I have been thrown into a river once, back in 1976 in a French river. Boat went to the opposite shoreline. We were a large group, so everyone stopped and helped. My money got all wet and we dried it on the beach, a rock on every bill, so it didn't fly away. I never forget that.

  9. YIKES.....that could have been a disaster! Glad Freddie is safe. Did he get back on that pony and ride? I think I would have sold that sucker the next day. Whew.....

  10. Scary experience to be sure. Glad the outing ended well and everyone was safe.

  11. Whew...what an adventure! That's funny about the change of clothes...might be a lesson in there!


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