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Canoeing and kayaking are potentially life threatening sports.  Participants on trips promoted and organized by Cedar Valley Paddlers should accept responsibility and liability for THEIR OWN personal preparedness, skill, and safety and for the current water conditions you are paddling.  All trip leaders are volunteers and organizers only and not certified experts.  “You are responsible for you”.

Please note:

PFD’s are required to be worn while paddling on trips organized by Cedar Valley Paddlers Club.  They should be snug fitting and all closures should be secured. If you do not have a PFD, you will not be able to attend the trip. No exceptions.

To be prepared for the best day on the water, it is best to bring adequate water, snacks, and lunch, your PFD, a paddle.  Also, to be prepared for asst. weather and conditions, bring… rain gear, head lamp, hat, extra clothes in a dry bag, insect repellant, sunscreen, extra paddle, and anything else you may need to be comfortable or if you tip and get wet. A hat is vital during rain. Thanks, Pam


Recommendations of members and event guests:

  1. “You are responsible for you”. Paddlers should accept responsibility and liability for THEIR OWN personal preparedness, skill, and safety. 

  2.  It is recommended you be a competent swimmer and can handle yourself under water if need be.

  3. Helmets should be worn if you decide to play boat waves or other similar activity where boat capsizing is a possibility near rocky conditions or where obstacles exist.

  4. Spray skirts are recommended in cold water/ low air temperature events. Wetsuits are also recommended.  Hypothermia is a real possibility if you capsize.  Be prepared! If the combination of air and water temperature equal less than 120 degrees, wear a wet or dry suit and neoprene foot wear. Or if the water temperature is under 55 degrees.

  5. Do not wear cotton, as synthetic is best if you do not have a wet or dry suit during cold weather/water conditions.  Cotton holds moisture when wet and cools the body down.

  6. You should NEVER boat alone, always paddle with a buddy and NEVER leave the group to explore alone.

  7. Know your abilities and do not paddle beyond your abilities.  We are a club of like enthusiasts, not an outfitter who is watching over you. 

  8. Learn First aid, CPR, and rescue skills. Learn how to use a throw rope, paddle float and learn one and two man rescue techniques, and the Eskimo roll.  Learn how to do a wet exit. 

  9. Eye glass wearers should use eye glass holders to avoid loss.

  10. PFD’s are required to attend CVP events.  They should be snug fitting and all closures should be secured.

  11.  CVP does not support the use of alcohol while on the river or lake or if driving to or from the trip. NEVER boat under the influence.

  12. CVP does not support verbal or sexual harassment towards members/guests during CVP sponsored trips.  You may be released as a club member, as a result. 

Several items will be passed prior to each river paddling event.

  1. Paddle floats, throw bags, and bilge pumps will be provided for the Lead and Sweep positions prior to each event for preparedness while on the water.


Possible Hazards/ obstacles you may encounter while paddling:

  1. Low-head dam:   You can be trapped in a hydraulic and unable to escape.  If trapped, try to dive below the surface when the downstream current is flowing beneath the reversal. These low head dam hydraulics are called “drowning machines”.  ALWAYS   portage around them.

  2. High water: High water can exist when a river narrows or when recent rain has increased the current flow and depth.  Consider these conditions before making the decision to paddle as an individual, even if the trip leader decides to paddle under these conditions.  YOU are responsible for your own decision to make the trip. 

  3. Strainer:  Anything that blocks passage, but allows water to flow through.  These items can be…. brush or fallen trees, bridge pilings, or undercut rocks. They can allow the river current to sweep through and can cause capsize and or pinning or can hold you under the water trapping you.  Avoid these obstacles and be able to know and have the paddle skills to avoid these.

  4. Broaching/Pinning: When a boat is pushed sideways against a rock or other hazard by a strong current. It may collapse and wrap around you and trap you inside your boat.   This is especially true for kayaks. To avoid pinning,   it is best to throw your weight downstream towards the rock or hazard.   This may allow the current to slide underneath your boat hull. Remember to “Love the obstacle “. (lean toward)

  5. If you capsize:  Try to hold onto your boat if possible by keeping your boat in front of you, (heading down river) Never allow the boat behind you or the weight and current pushing on you can cause safety issues such as pinning , foot entrapment, broken bones, etc. 

If you cannot hold onto your boat, LET GO!  Do NOT ever try to stand up in fast moving current. Stay floating on your back with your feet held high and pointed downstream and try to navigate to shore. You may need to swim at times to avoid obstacles. Other paddlers will try to help get your boat and gear for you.   If you try to stand, it is possible for your foot to become trapped in an underwater obstacle causing a pinning hazard that can result in drowning.  Only stand up in moving water if it is shallow (less than knee deep) or in “slow” moving water.

When helping another paddler, help in this priority order:

1. Help paddler first. 2. Locate paddle. 3 Try to catch boat floating downstream, or pull to shore if possible and remove water by bilging out or turning upside down over your kayak or on shore. 4. Locating lost gear is last priority.

Each trip should have a designated Lead and Sweep positions:

  1.  Lead: Person at the front position looking for hazards and possible obstacles ahead, and then communicating the conditions to the paddlers behind them.  They are not to go too far in front of the pack and never alone. They should also be on the lookout for a good break or lunch sandbar stop mid-way of the trip.

  2.  Floater (optional):  Person designated to float among the middle group of paddlers making sure all is well and keeping the group proceeding ahead.   They are responsible to count and keep track of all paddlers and know where they are at all times. Weaker or new paddlers should be in the center of the group. 

  3. Sweep:  The last paddler bringing up the rear and making sure there are no stragglers and keeping the group from lagging.

River paddling misc.:

  1. Keep to the inside bend of the river so you can see around the corner to be able to make fast stroke decisions. Rivers run deepest and fastest at the outside bends. Debris will pile here causing strainers.  Seek the outside bends only when the river is sluggish or in low water times. 

  2. On low water trips, keep looking downstream, the high bank side typically has the deepest water.

Kayak Terms:

Stern:  the back portion of the boat

Bow: the front of the boat

Cockpit:  the opening where you sit

Deck:  top of the boat

Foot braces: Pedals or ridges you rest your feet on

Blade:  the flat section of the paddle

Tip:  the end

Shaft: the section between the blades

Powerface: the side of the blade catching the water

Backface: the opposite side

Launching your boat:  launch and board parallel to shore using your paddle for support


Please note:  the safety information, terms, and misc. information was sourced through assorted publications, online sites, various DNR brochures and assorted readings. Please check with Pam Wolter for the source list and questions. 319-231-0541.   


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