A White Water Weekend for the Leaders

At Wild Wolf Explorer Scout Unit we are very fortunate to be able to do a lot of DofE expeditions by canoe. In our opinion, letting the water carry the bags is certainly the best way to do a DofE expedition!

Paddling is just as much fun for the Leaders as it is for the Explorers, so to progress our own skills, this weekend some of us headed to North Wales to do our White Water Safety and Rescue training with Ray Goodwin.

We drove to Llangollen on Friday night and stayed at Abbey Farm – which we highly recommend. On Saturday morning we met Ray at the old mill on the banks of the River Dee and began our course by looking at wading techniques. Wading in fast moving water is very difficult and learning safe ways to do this helped build confidence.

13707703_1067948509925443_1248322986672313414_n Next we looked at how to do a “Pancake dive” and how to swim in white water. We practiced on a fast moving jet of water before moving to swimming through a whole rapid and throwing and catching ropes.

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After several goes each we stopped for lunch, then moved onto boat-based rescues in the afternoon. Sadly the phones got put away at this point so there are no photos for you to enjoy! We all fell in and we all pulled someone else out, over and over again. We finished by paddling the rapids of the day and returned to camp wet through, cold and happy.

On Sunday we headed to a faster river – the Treweryn, near Bala. We were literally thrown in the deep end first thing in the morning with a challenging swim across a flow that was wider and faster than anything we had done the day before.

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Next up, we each swam the entire rapid we would be working on that day, which was Grade 3, and had a number of drops along its length, finishing at the end by being picked out with a throw-rope. Being able to catch a throw bag is just as important as being able to throw it, of course!

CoKRvgmW8AAapyt The next thing we were taught was “live baiting” – going after someone while you are on the end of a rope – where we had to jump into a rapid and catch a passing “casualty” and both be pulled ashore.

13692453_1067948653258762_1480243820867303318_nFinally, we looked at different methods for retrieving pinned boats, using pulleys to gain a mechanical advantage and heave boats free.

It was a really informative (and fun!) weekend away. My thanks to all the Leaders that came, to the 8th Holborn for lending us their boats to use, and of course to Ray Goodwin for providing the instruction.

– Marlon

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