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Old 09-09-2010, 08:57 AM
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Default Two Well Experienced SUP'ers Lost in Hydraulic

Just heard about this from Clay Feeter, sincere regrets go out to their family and friends. It seems low head dams have taken quite a few other watermen over the years.


"BAVARIA, Germany - Thursday evening, September 2, 2010, saw the tragic death of experienced standup paddlers on the Mangfall River near Munich, in Bavaria Germany. The two paddlers, Marcus Steininger and Nils Hornischer, decided to go for a quick evening paddle after work on a section of river that they knew well. The river was unusually high, and they were washed downstream quickly and over a low head dam. Trapped in the hydraulic at the dam’s base, the two men drowned. Both were equipped with life jackets, helmets and leashes (which ties the paddler to his board for quick recovery after a fall)."


Diagram of a dam hydraulic feature
From: http://www.seabreeze.com.au/

"They parked their shuttle car at Louisenthal Thalmühle, downriver from Mangfall, and headed out. At 11:15pm his family called the police to report he was missing and an earnest search began for the two paddlers with 200 firefighters and rescue workers scouring 18km of river. At 2:25 am, the bodies were found at Louisenthal.

Marcus Steininger is one of the pioneers of standup paddling in Europe. He worked for Mistral Pacifico and, after a trip to the USA three years ago where he discovered the sport, “imported” it to Europe and has been one of its most prolific spokesmen. Nils worked with Northkites for the last 5 years and was instrumental in brining the brand to the forefront."


A fairly small dam with a slight water boil can still conceal overwhelming forces. It is deceptive.
From: http://www.123rf.com/photo_2457912_l...-colorado.html

"It would be a mistake to point at ignorance or inexperience as the cause of this tragic accident. Both men were very experienced watermen, knew the section of river very well, and had the necessary safety equipment. The truth is that it was a combination of rotten luck and apathy that can occur when experienced athletes practice their sport in a “mundane” environment. When you’re used to pushing yourself and your limits in a hard core environment, you tend to let your guard down when you are in a relatively safe zone such as this section of river during most normal to high flows."

Continued at: http://www.mylocallineup.com/stand-u...-paddlers.html

More at: http://paddleathlete.com/2010/high-w...ddle-athletes/



From: http://www.vcsar1.org/

It is possible the leashes in the tumult, zero visibility and impacts in the hydraulic may have significantly contributed to this sad accident. Even without the leashes watermen are injured in these common waterway features. These two experienced watermen may have underestimated the flood water current that took them to the low head dam. These dams are common in some areas having been very popular for industrial plant powering early last century and for other uses before that. There may be tens of thousands of these dams worldwide.

Looking at the kayaking video below, if you come over a low dam feature and pass well beyond the hydraulic feature out of the rotating current feature you may be ok. If you fall or lack momentum to pass beyond the rotating current you may be held there if you're on an object that continues to float. If it capsizes you may or perhaps even likely will be pulled under the water and maybe even held beneath the water. You will be pulled under even if you are wearing a pfd it seems. The escape sequence shown above shows a method of escaping the rotating current feature or "boil" along the bottom. It seems there may be no other immediate way out from the current other than perhaps working shoreward to either bank into lesser current if this is even feasible. In some ways this is akin to the method used to escape rip currents. Don't fight the current but travel to where it dissipates. In this case you are holding your breath, perhaps in cold, dark, very turbid water in a likely panic situation. It is best to avoid low head dams, their hydraulics in general.

Use of board leashes seems to be a bad idea in this context. Even if you use a weak link, the line may wrap up your leg above it. There may be signs and lines across the river marking these dams, IF NOT, they may not be readily visible from up stream unless you are paying particular attention. Watch for a smooth horizon line where the stream meets the sky as this may indicate a dam is a head. This potentially indicates the presence of a dam. Having advanced knowledge of your paddling route and hazards is recommended. It is said to "Know the river area you are going to float BEFORE you float!" You can also get into trouble if you approach up current to the base of the dam as shown in the animation below. The boil can appear 100 ft. down stream of the dam so it is best to avoid these features by a wide margin. Portaging around them as oppose to riding over them makes sense for SUP'ers. Kayakers may intentionally go over these things, some will have fun, a few will be taken there.


There is a GOOD animation of a low head dam, some of the hazards and means of escape at: http://www.boat-ed.com/images/animat...whead_dam.html


http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...4409391034920#
A safety video about low head dams.


Dangers to Boaters:

Dams are difficult to spot from upstream and often are not marked by signs or buoys.
Dam hydraulics are unpredictable.
Dams can deceive even experienced boaters.
The concrete walls at the side of the dam face block the exit route for individuals trying to escape.
Areas immediately downstream also present risk as the water is flowing upstream.
Rescuing trapped individuals is dangerous and often unsuccessful.

It is nearly impossible to escape the strength of the hydraulic when trapped. The best thing to do if in this situation is to tuck the chin down, draw the knees up to the chest with arms wrapped around them. Hopefully, conditions will be such that the current will push the victim along the bed of the river until swept beyond the boil line and released by the hydraulic.
From: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/watercraf...7/Default.aspx

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Last edited by RickI; 09-10-2010 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:53 AM
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Some more photos of low head dams. Some of these dams look harmless, even the mild ones seem to have killed people however. You get caught in the hydraulic and repeatedly pulled under to exhaustion, you can be caught by submerged debris at the base of the dam and/or hit by debris sweeping over the dam. If the waters are cold, hypothermia can sap your strength as well These dams can be hard to see from upstream and you can be in them before you know it.


http://www.fremontrescue.org/low-head_dams.htm



"Low-Head Dam - Envision a horizon line with a riverwide keeper at the base. These dams are often small in size and appear runnable. They are not. You will die. Don’t even think about it, portage these killers."
http://connecticutwatertrails.com/CW...erminology.htm




and


From: http://www.iowawhitewater.org/



"I've seen washing-machine-like turbulence in rivers below low-head dams. If you dumped in the wash below such a dam, it looks like you could go round and round just about forever. Am I right?

You sure are, Ric! ALL low-head dams and weirs are dangerous, but some are even more dangerous than others. The risk to life is greatest when the lip of the dam is smooth and the volume of water flowing over the drop is high—as it probably will be in springtime. (The drop needn't be very high, though. Six-inch-high weirs have drowned people.) A dangerous dam will have a distinctive "reversal"—a sort of trough in the river—extending four or more feet downriver from the lip, with a big stopper just below that. As the name suggests, the surface flow in a reversal is UPSTREAM, and the trough is often full of debris. Such reversals are, in effect, river-wide souse holes without exits, and they can be deadly.

All dams should be scouted before running, of course. If the reversal extends more than a few feet downstream, or if you see debarked tree limbs in it, tumbling round endlessly and stripped of all their branches, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT RUNNING THE DAM!"
From: http://www.paddling.net/sameboat/arc...meboat117.html



"There are at least three dangers associated with the hydraulic conditions described above when a person is ensnared in the water downstream of a low-head dam. The first danger is the overflowing water, which generally produces a large dunking force on the person. The second danger is from entrained air, which inhibits the dunked person from resurfacing. Not only is buoyancy reduced, but swimming thrust also loses much of its effectiveness. Finally, when the person does manage to surface, the hydraulic pushes the person into the overflowing water to begin the process again. This results in a perpetual dunking machine that wears out even a strong swimmer in a short span of time.

Floating debris and water temperature represent additional non-hydraulic dangers associated with being trapped in the hydraulic. Floating debris represents a danger if it passes over the dam at the wrong time because it can strike a swimmer, producing blunt force trauma. Once debris passes over the dam, it too can become trapped in the hydraulic and represents an obstacle to a person trying to escape. If the water temperature is low enough, hypothermia can reduce a persons strength and even cause death if trapped in the hydraulic long enough."
From: http://www.cenews.com/magazine-artic...dams-4918.html
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Last edited by RickI; 09-13-2010 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:31 AM
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Spring (summer?) floods are on, remember what happened to SUP'ers Marcus Steininger and Nils Hornischer at a low head dam in 2010. Had no idea there were so many hydraulic hazards beyond that in fast flowing inland waters, more at http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?566



Surface signs of underwater hydraulic hazards



Other things to understand and be aware of on rivers



Sections of some underwater hydraulic issues.


The above images are just to prompt your curiosity and get you thinking. You need to read the article they came from to get the full point at http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?566


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