River Incident Report #9807000027

Date of Incident: August 21, 1998
River: Green
Section of River: Stillwater Canyon
Location on River: Water Canyon, Mile 4.5
Relative Flow: Low
Gage Reading: 4,170 cubic feet per second
Difficulty: Flat Water
Type of Incident: Runaway canoe
Injuries: None
Type of Trip: Private
Type of Boat: Canoe

Description
Camped near the mouth of Water Canyon, a visitor and his companion awoke to find that their rented and unsecured canoe had abandoned them in favor of the Green River. The couple, leaving most of its equipment at camp, hiked toward the confluence with the Colorado River, 4.5 miles distant. About half of the way to the junction they encountered and recovered the undamaged canoe, and paddled to their scheduled meeting with a commercial boat operator. The visitor reported the accident to The Island In The Sky and two days later the equipment was retrieved by the Canyonlands River Patrol and dispatched to its owners.

During the night of August 21-22, a local storm not suspected by the canoeists, raised the level of the river somewhere upstream from their camp. While they slept the river rose and subsided, and during the interim the River Gods furtively escaped with floating booty.

In Retrospect
Most boatmen tie their boats upon landing and generally improve security before turning in for the night. Some even sleep across their bow or stern lines in order to be wakened by any undesired movement.

At night all boats should secured beyond any reasonable doubt of dislodgement. Canoes, kayaks, and small boats may be carried high above the water line, but being light and vulnerable to the wind, it is safer if they be tied even there. All larger craft should be secured by at least one line, preferably a high line, and where exposed to currents, two and even three lines are appropriate.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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