Well! What an awesome Guide’s Course it was for 2016!!!
Amazing feat of training, rafting, camping, drinking (and mooning of course!) was organised by none other than clubs trusty Training Officer Kath! (Who moonlights as a med student in her spare time away from organising awesome rafting adventures!)
The format was slightly different this year with the participants lucky enough to be able to get a soft bed and homecooked dinner for the first night of the trip and much of the theory sessions done at the sheds before going near the river. However this didn’t detract from the cohesiveness of the rag-tag bunch of budding guides in the slightest, with most trainees able to recognise each not just by face, but also by moon!
The first day started with learning about gear, what it is, how to pack it and why you might need it. After kitting everybody up with all the required safety gear this was followed by a trip down the Derwent from above Broken Bridge to Railway Bridge where everybody got to practice safety briefs and our intrepid students’ first taste of jumping on the guide stick and trying to steer straight (mostly successfully), a bit of swimming and self-rescue training at Broken Bridge combined with throwbagging practice was thrown in for good measure. At the a few of the more keen students did a second self-rescue swim through Railway Bridge, the keenness of the guides-to-be was not lost on me, things were looking good! Finally to round out the day there was 7-man stack in one of the Angel Rains (the least stable raft I’ve been in not to flip so far!) as some bemused Asian tourists watched on and tried to figure out what on earth we were trying to achieve!
Day Two: The Point of No Return
For this was the day where the camping would start, by the end of the day one would soon learn that they were to be stuck on the highlands in the middle of Tasmania with a bunch of drunk, moon-worshipping, smelly rafting maniacs (with no hope of return for another 2 nights and days)! The day started at the sheds with more theory (Z-drag and foot entrapment practice) and thanks to the FAF-averse and prudent suggestions of our supremely wise President the trailer had been left packed from the day before so there was none to be done!
As we drove up to New Norfolk to our great delight, unlike the Good Friday Subway Debacle of the day before, we found that the good people of said town had decided to open up the bakeries once more…. and there was much rejoicing, mixed with Hugh’s Spike Ball game in the entrance of Banjo’s that amazingly ended with an injury tally of zero!
After a flat tyre and a confused car shuffle everybody was amassing at the Broken Bridge get in and the trainees were preparing to give safety briefs!… BUT WAIT!!! There was a whistle and the chaos that is the notorious suprise rescue scenario had been launched into action! There were two foot entrapments and a beached punter with a raft… who were being rescued by some guy who claimed to know what he was doing but quickly was added to the victim tally, and the trainees went to work, even as the tally continued to climb. This turned out to be a great learning excercise, most of the basics went well, but there are always mistakes, otherwise how would we learn?! However the hilarity of watching the rescue raft dump half its own crew on the first ferry attempt may have caused a few to double over with laughter. Needless to say hasty recovery was enacted and a dogged attitude of perseverance (a key guide trait that is very hard to teach) got the rescue raft where it needed to be, with some excellent use of eddy-hopping techniques.
The day ended with another rescue scenario (requested by none other than the trainee guides themselves, showing a level of determination to have a go that is both highly commendable and noteworthy!) at Railway Bridge and quick drive up to Brady’s Whitewater Course whose reputation for bruisings and general carnage well preceded having laid eyes on it! Camp was set up and there was much drinking and not much rafting theory covered (but then again, drinking, not on river mind, is a favourite past time of many a guide and this only went to illustrate the point further). Under the giant tarp set up, those who had enjoyed a bit of “stacks on” earlier in the night ended up having a bit of a four-or-more-way love in while the rest of us retired to our more civilised tents.
Day Three: D-Day
With hangovers aplenty and the fresh, chilly air of the Tasmanian highlands plus wetsuits, socks, thermals and shoes that were soaked and chilled it was time to test the mettle of this year’s crop of trainees and see how they handled the notorious Brady’s before the cocktail party!
It quickly became evident that this year’s bunch were quite hardy with wet gear seeming to cause little of the usual delays or yelps of shock during the donning process. So there they all were ready to go and with Rowan “Monster Truck” Ellery at the helm of the first boat to make the treacherous trip down, proceedings were under way, a successful run with no swimmers. Not much further along in the morning one of the other club guides took a crew down in one of the shorter blue 10 ft’er Sotars and the price of using a small boat with an overzealous crew was paid with a flip and a full crew of swimmers at the Cruncher eddy/Olympic Pool, who thankfully avoided the pain of rectal violation that is known as Mellifont Street thanks to our friendly kayaking paddler Joe! A rescue was enacted and all that was wrong was righted, give or take a few bruises.
Numerous other swims were had, rescues were made and the day wore, however spirits were undampened by these. And then the Angel Rain came out… apparently advice was given to Mr. Monster Truck Ellery and his (maybe half-crazed at this point?) disciple Hugh, to take the kayak line through the cruncher (although one wonders if this would have just resulted in flipping there instead?) needless to say not everything went to plan (does it ever in Angel though, be honest!) and it threw them way over river right at the top of the chute at which point the Monster Truck was turfed in head first into the foam while Hugh was left to manage the bucking Angel. The Angel made the eddy at the bottom, but alas Messr Ellery did not and it looked like a bone crunching swim was on the cards until at the last minute Lady Cliff threw her throwbag for all it was worth and caught one! A BIG ONE… video replays show she was pulled off her feet at this stage! However as all great guides do, she held on and made the rescue to retrieve a rather batterd Monster Truck Ellery from the depths!
This was followed by 10minute call for water going off, the arrival of a one cocktail-master-extraordinaire Monsieur Cowley. In the hype I got on the stick of a 12 footer and bounced my crew down the course (hitting only the Cruncher, the only one that matter right? Dead on)… Followed by Crew Cowley after the fastest and most FAF-free gear donning in the history of the Club. To say the trip down was eventful may be an understatement! The Cruncher was hit, the Cruncher was surfed, and the Cruncher was swum by all three crew, however I hear it was Messr Rees that suffered the most. Pieces were picked up and the run was finished just in time to watch the water drop and expose all the nasty features we had been dreading hitting all day. A quick lesson in river hydro-dynamics was given beer-in-hand and then it was time for food and COCKTAILS!!!!!
Many were consumed and apart from the excellence of their taste most of the night remains in the realms of “So good I forgot it…”, “I passed out” and “What am I doing in a raft?!” the next day (actual quotes there, all anonymous). Awards were presented, missions disclosed, shirts ticked and a generally awesome time was had!
Day Four: Recovery!
Well day 4 was the drive home packing up, being hungover, eating greasey food at Ouse and playing of much Spike Ball whenever cars stopped. Oh yeah and ROHAN P’s BIRTHDAY!.. So yeah hope you had a good one mate! We did ;)
Some excellent things to note over the course were:
The abundance of moon light, I think everyone did a really good job of putting in the hard yards to make sure the moon was always visible!
Everyone seemed to pick-up skills prety quickly and put them into practice which is great to see!
Everyone had a go on big water, this should really give this year’s trainees a lot of confidence with smaller water such as the Derwent and the Picton, so don’t be shy about running trips, just talk to the guides about the club you know for advice on what to do and how (I note Hannah is already on to this! YAY!)
The only thing I was disappointed in was to see two individuals, who shall remain nameless, discussing how to draw great big phallus on someone’s face only discover that they never followed through with the idea! SHAME! SHAME! This is the rafting club after all ;)
Lastly if you want to get rid of the trainee badge that you’ve got for the minute, here’s a list of things to do:
Start a trip log of each day you do on river, what grade, what river, what height/level of water, how many people and anything you learnt from it.
Get 10 river days across a few (at least 3 or 4) rivers and record them in the log.
Make sure a few of the above river days, are trips you organised (intro trips are great!).
Get a First Aid Certificate (the Club may help out with the cost of this if you’ve run a few trips).
Help out at a maintenance day at the sheds.
After that, get friendly with the Club committee and ask them to promote you to a guide at the next Rafting club meeting!
Great times, great people! What more can I say but Thanks For The Ride Y’all!
El Presidente OUT!