Scouting & Portaging
When paddlers get out of their boat and look at a rapid its is called Scouting. Scouting is a very important skill that allows us to safely assess the oncoming water, check out and plan lines and routes down rapids and prepare any necessary safety. If a kayaker looks at a rapid and decides they don’t want to run it and that they prefer to walk around the rapid this is known as portaging or walking.
How to scout a rapid
It is possible to scout a rapid from the bank and from on the water. In some situations paddlers will scout from in their boat by stopping in eddies above rapids and looking downstream. However, in most situations a bank based inspection is used as it gives a better view and perspective of the rapid.
Another boat based inspection called read and run can also be used by paddlers. This involves the paddler assessing and inspecting rapids as they paddle down through them. This is often used by paddlers who are well within their comfort level on a rapid or run and who have prior knowledge of the section. These paddlers will constantly be alert to suitable stopping points (eddies) ahead of them so that they can stop at any stage they need to or in the event of an emergency.
Whenever you get out of your boat to scout take your throw line and paddle with you so that you can provide instant assistance to anyone who needs it without having to go back to your boat first to get your rescue equipment. You never know when someone may fall in the river or another group may come past and get into trouble.
Never run any section of river blind (without inspection). It is always advisable to inspect a rapid before running it. Whether you know the run or not ‘never’ run a rapid, fall or corner blind (without looking). You never know if a tree maybe down or another new hazard may have appeared in the river since your last paddle or what might be around the corner.
Always wear your PFD and helmet when on or near the water.