Demonstrate line ferries using swimming, boating, wading and throwing techniques
If you have ever tried to ferry a line across a fast moving and wide river, you know this can be a real challenge. First off, get a person or two across to form the receiving party. If there is a narrow section reasonably close, you can often toss in the normal manner. Once received, each side simply walks the line upstream to where it is needed. Sometimes you can cheat and wade into the water to an eddy or rock to reduce the throwing distance. Since everyone is supposed to carry a throw rope, have someone toss you another and tie together with an inline figure 8 knot. Sometimes you need to ferry the line via a boat. If available, use a raft or canoe so one person can concentrate on keeping the line out of water. Start high on the shore as well. Thin lines provide far less drag than thick ones. This is a great use for multiple 1/4" lines ties together. Once across, you can simply tie the big rope on the end and quickly pull across. When ferrying a rope, be extremely generous with rope length. If the crossing is 100', tie together 2 or 3 long lines as the boat will most likely drift downstream. Since the line typically drags a boat downstream, plan ahead and start high in the rapid/current and ferry quickly on an angle downstream. People on the other side should be ready to grab the boat or rope ASAP.
Simple line crossings
One of the fastest ways to cross portions of a stream is to swing the swimmer on the end of a throw line in a pendulum. The belay person acts as the base of the pendulum and the water current speeds the traversal. They can be hooked on a rescue vest tether, great for holding an impaired victim or simply holding on with their hands over the shoulder. An extra person on shore can speed the process by holding on to the line and simply walking down the rope using the vector pull technique. The belay person can also retreat further up the bank to increase the angle and speed landing on shore. This is great for breaking a strong eddy line. For longer traverses, you can set-up a chain of belay persons. After each individual pendulum sweep, bring the person back up your eddy and hand them the end of the next throw rope to continue their traverse across the stream. This is similar to how Tarzan traversed distances via swinging on vines in the jungle. This video shows a variation of a zip line crossing: Zip Line Crossing.
You can also try pulling the swimmer directly across via a tag line. It helps to have multiple pullers, especially when the current is stronger. Simply keep pulling up the slack via moving your hand positions down the line towards the swimmer. This technique works best in calmer water as a steadying measure for wading.
Another useful approach reminds me of a children's telephone line. This approach strings together several ropes. This can be quite useful when there are obstructions in the way. The first person tosses to someone midstream. That person tosses to another further across the river, and so on. Tie the ends together and take up the slack.
Boating, swimming, and wading techniques
When researching rescue techniques, it seems there are a number of different terms for the same thing. A great case is the Armstrong or 10 Boy Scout Method. Rescue books use the term "Reverse Ferry" instead of the ACA term "Reverse Pendulum", they are also the same thing. The reverse pendulum is a good way to use your boat to quickly get a line across a river. Basically, you start from and upstream position and ferry quickly in the usual manner. The current and probably rope dangling will pull you downstream on an angle but at least you don't have to fight your way upstream. The belay person on shore could move downstream with you as well thereby using a lot less line. If you have a larger boat like a raft or canoe, you can add a person to keep the line out of the water (very important to avoid getting tugged downstream). Kayakers are more at a disadvantage since they sit low and close to the waterline. If you have a rescue PFD, you could attach to your tether. If you lack a rescue vest, some other methods that provide a way to quickly ditch the line are bite with your teeth or make a fixed loop and carry on the downstream side of the boat. We used to use a downstream loop out of webbing for towing swamped kayaks in the old days. In these more challenged situations, consider using thinner line (1/4") to get across, tie and drag the big line afterwards. Swimming and wading can use these same techniques but are typically not as fast as a boat.
The name of the game is CHEAT! Just like baseball, you can choke up on the bat. In our case, we simply throw across in a narrow spot and walk up or down to the desired location. Another way to cheat is shorten the throw via wading out to a safe mideam location. A snag line or tethered swimmer is another way to shorten the distance. If trees or boulders are in the way, cross higher or lower and move to the desired point in the stream. It always helps to have a receiver (or two) on the other side. Once the line touches the water surface, it typically moves quickly downstream. Do whatever you can to keep the line high and out of the current. This often requires starting up the river bank, perhaps feed from a tree. A canoe or raft can hold an extra person that can concentrate on keeping the line out of the water. If feeding from shore, the boat can tape or tie on the end of a paddle to reach even higher - like a flag mast.
Whenever working with lines that cross a river, rescuers need a rescue knife or trauma shears. Also, warn upstream boaters that it isn't safe to go downstream. Place persons with throw lines downstream and have safety sweep boaters downstream as well. People that are focused on the rescue instead of where they are going may flip - be prepared.
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