Packraft Wet Reentry
Foot entrapment among submerged rocks is the leading killer of whitewater boaters. Think about it: the most common way to die while boating is by doing something OUTSIDE your boat! DO NOT stand up in rocky bottom waters until your own bottom is hitting rocks near the shore’s edge. This is one of many topics best covered in a whitewater rescue course. Take one!
Most often, when you fall out of a packraft, you fall backwards, or back and to the side, having been bander-snatched. Hopefully, a helmet will be on your head when this happens.
If you flip with a spray deck/skirt and cannot, like most of us, roll your packraft, disconnect the deck/skirt’s Velcro from around your waist and push yourself out. If possible, right the boat and jump back in, placing your paddle across both tubes to keep it from flipping as you flop in.
To right an upside down and loaded boat in the current, get upstream of the boat, turn it sideways, then reach over and grab the downstream tube, pulling backwards and out of the water toward you. This forces the upstream tube down and into the current, where the force of the water helps right the boat. It works like a charm. Once righted, reach across with your paddle to hold the boat and launch in belly first, rolling your butt onto the seat.
Anchorage Packrafting Safety Class:
(back row, left to right) Roman Dial, Dorte Krough, Jeff Conaway, Joe Stock, Dano Michaud, John Evingson, Brad Meiklejohn, Scott Solle, Ian Lleshi
(front row, left to right) Barkley Broeder, Peggy Dial, Doug Jewell, Agnes Stowe
Turn the boat sideways, reach over, grab the upstream tube, and pull it backwards and out of the water toward you (as Roman is doing with his paddle). This forces the upstream tube down and into the current, where the force of the water helps to right the boat.
Hold your paddle across the tubes to stabilize the boat as you begin to kick your torso into it.
Continue to kick and porpoise into the boat, rotating onto your butt when you’re far enough in/on the craft.
Hold your paddle out of the way and swing your feet over the edge. If you’ve done this reentry correctly, your feet will not have touched the bottom at any time.