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Learning to read the water

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Learning to read the water

Postby smitty » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:29 pm

"The best way to learn to run rivers is to learn to read the water"

Ok, how does one learn:

a) from a book
b) from verbal instructions
c) conversation
d) utoob videos
e) just get out there and do it, either you run aground, hit a rock, sink your boat, or you make it
f) college degree
g) ride along with a pilot who can think out loud

Don't get me wrong... if this was easy, it wouldn't interest me.... it wouldn't be my calling.

Thanks to:

1) my Dad (40 plus year float boater, with friends who were legendary j boat pilots) - he is the reason I'm even here and wanting to be on the the Lower Salmon / Hells Canyon
2) lovetheedge - your printed instructions "Recognizing river patterns"
3) viking - you not only define progress, but you encourage others

viking - this young guy was the old fella on our HC trip

Fellow river boaters: how did you learn to read water??
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby riverboater » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:31 pm

Ride with lots of different folks in as many different boats as you can. Everybody reads water a bit different than the next guy, 18 degree with no plastic takes a better eye than 8 degree with plastic. Overall skills are similar just a bit more important depending on water levels. Practice in clearer water so you can see the bottom when in 2 or 3 ft of water. This way you can see what is under the surface disturbances, wind, waves or sunshine can change the visual appearance of the same piece of water. So get comfortable on one particular river and then boat that same water in several different conditions to see how the surface story changes. Only time and practise will make you better at reading water, meantime boat with helpers on board, a second boat and lots of rope make new water less stressful.
Next summer I am offering free water reading instruction, training can be arranged around your schedule. Depending on the speed you would like to train at one can anticipate a maintenance fee of aprox 10 - 25 gallons of premium per hour. I will supply lunch.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby viking » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:57 pm

Your first assignment: diagram an acceptable line at 0:19 in the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNckW8UkJqo
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Hooterville T » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:38 pm

A tip someone gave me and I pass on is to look for where most of the water is going. Until you're on the water and looking for it it doesn't make much sense but when you start to pay attention to it I really think it helps, Rocks will usually show themselves and looking for the V helps but if you try and look for where most of the water is going it seems to help me anyhow. We don't have big water where we boat but we run a lot of skinny water. A couple feet of water seems like a ton to us.

Regards T.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby warfighteroutfitters » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:37 am

I think one of the best learning tools I have ever had to read water is running drift boats. I did a ton of it as a kid, and even more as an adult and it still makes me appreciate hydraulics at different flows. The hard part for guys who paddle is to look back at what you just floated and break it down from down river.

I think the most crucial part of learning when powerboating is the "right seat ride" effect with someone who knows the waters. These are not only good times for questions and answers but also good for the longevity of the fellowship of skippers.
This is what I do.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia-Zk2yx7qE
This is where you can help. www.warfighteroutfitters.org
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby steelheadfreak » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:14 am

Time on the water is the only way to learn.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Crawdad Johnny » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:10 am

I agree with Steelhead Freak. Nothing is a better teacher than experience. The more time and the more years you spend on rivers, the better you will be at reading water. There is no "silver bullet" in my opinion.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Toddco » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:05 am

After years and years of jet boating, I concur with everyone on here. You can learn something from all of the above statements. I still use books, vids., advice and experience from all who jet boat. You are never to old to learn something new that can be useful somewhere at some time. Sometimes it can be hard to sort through what is bull---- though! Lol. I always take what is offered and filter it myself, then make a decision that i am comfortable with. :Drink:
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Hell Yes » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:54 pm

Age is not a factor to qualify advice. Being old or young does not qualify or disqualify you for sharing advice. I have learned from a 15 year old how to run rapids but he was the son of a river guide.Listen to it all and pick out the stuff that makes sense.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby smitty » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:20 pm

Hell yes

I see you joined in 2007. Did the internet even exist back then?
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby lovetheedge » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:41 am

Become active in the decision process when learning on another boat. When you ride with someone, you pick your line, if the driver does the same it confirms what you know, if he picks something different, ask why?
I also learned a good technique from another driver teaching his kid to learn the line. As the student place yourself standing immediately behind the driver, place your hands on each of the drivers shoulders, never taking taking them off his shoulders. You squeeze his shoulder when you want to turn, squeeze left shoulder to turn left, right to turn right and no squeezing to go straight, watch what happens. If it is really the wrong line, he should not go. It's a great confidence builder.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby smitty » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:00 am

Crawdad Johnny wrote: ....There is no "silver bullet" in my opinion.


Agreed.... but in target shooting, being safe is easy, missing the bullseye has little consequence
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby riverboater » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:50 am

Water is getting very easy to read in our area, COLD, SLICK, and to thick to pump.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Midwestjet » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:47 am

I've been using Google Earth a lot...I pick a stretch I will run then using the "Clock" button ( historical imagery )
go back in time to see how the channel changes over time ( high flows/low flows, etc. ). Using the dates given
I then go to the NWS river gage site and look up the historical data base to see what the nearby gage was
when the photo was taken. Maps are OK but never show a recent picture...in the alluvial stream beds of the
mid west sand/gravel is always moving with the flows. Not a perfect system but at least I get an idea where and
when rocks/bars will come up for air. Another thought that in the age of drones it may be worthwhile to follow a
boat up/down through a troublesome chute(s) at various flows to see the tract and how it changes with the
given CFS when the video is shot...betcha you'll have folks wanting the video for their personal use. Where I
run you don't see other boats ( outside of a few canoes, kayaks ) so I've had to attend the school of hard knocks! Noticed
that when you hit a rock it sticks in your brain! Google Earth is also great for showing preferred places for unplanned
stops ( places where you could walk out to get help ) should the need arise. Have not had to do this...yet...but
always good to prepare. Going to the Sangamon River next week and even though it drains the flat "Prairie State"
of Illinois there are some big honkin' rocks where you don't expect them...glacial till remnants. Problem is the
flow is very low this time of year and hard to see water breaks, so "hopefully" will remember where I hit last time!
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Hell Yes » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:32 pm

Smitty, I helped Al gore invent it!! :Laugh1:
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby viking » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:46 pm

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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Calredneck » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:00 am

Try looking at this might help

When I was new, I wish I was told these things /webmain/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=18977&p=156137#p156137 :Drink:
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby Riverjohn » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:28 am

Calredneck wrote:Try looking at this might help

When I was new, I wish I was told these things /webmain/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=18977&p=156137#p156137 :Drink:

Fixed it :Drink: :Drink:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=18977&p=156137#p156137
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby smitty » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:34 pm

viking wrote:Your first assignment: diagram an acceptable line at 0:19 in the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNckW8UkJqo


Made me think of the bumper boats you were enamored with

https://youtu.be/Cxw21DTHl7I

Have read the post by lovetheedge and have it printed out.

Appreciate all info thus far.
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Re: Learning to read the water

Postby scenicjetboats » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:46 am

Talk to the guys who have done it and floating in a drift boat, all times of the year. Grew up floating rivers. The slow pace of a float gives you time to look, learn and appreciate. You can watch the ripples and hydraulics and learn from it. I'm sure not all but a lot of the guys on here started floating rivers before they were very old and if you have to row you learn reading water pretty fast :rowing:
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