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How do I avoid getting carried away?

5 replies to this topic

#1 FirstChAoS

  • Regional Rep

Posted 28 May 2020 - 02:34 AM

I have an issue with river snorkeling. I prefer rivers to lakes due to their diversity but in rivers I usually cling to rocks or crawl on the bottom due to the issue that water moves and I am bouyant.

To make it worse three times I nearly got carried away. Not as in excited, but as in losing control in current.

The first two times I made,a mistake of being impatient and entering the river when the water level was still slightly high.

The first was in the Connecticut River, I was in a shallow sandy area so had no risk as I could just stand up. However the current was strong enough that fighting against it got me no forward movement and I exited downstream from where I entered.

The second was in a section of the Ashuelot in Keene. I was watching minnows and decided to move downstream, only to hit a deep spot and start losing control. I swam a cross current (I heard that is what you do when stuck in current) and then pulled myself upstream with tree branches (half of which came loose) to reach shallows again.

And the third time was my first snorkel of this year, just yesterday. The water level was not high this time but I was still almost swept away.

Yesterday I tried out my new (since Christmas) go pro like camera:unit GoPro brand but almost the same) In the ashuelot. I saw a darter and a small fish but the video barely shows them.

Then I tried going deeper and started getting swept downstream, rocks rolling out from under my feet and hands. When I did manage to grab on the current pulled my body sideways., the current pulled down my swim trunks.I struggled to the shallows and waited catching my breath. I lost the snorkel on my diving mask (it was a new one with a snorkel that attaches into the top as part of the mask). I caught my breath, pulled up my pants, went back to my starting spot and only saw crayfish. I tried recording them but forgot that unlike my GoPro session I have to press to record, so I only had the first video.

So how do you actually swim snorkeling in a river without the river taking you. If I can hold on to rocks in the shallows I am fine, but actually swimming in current gives me troubles.

#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 28 May 2020 - 05:17 PM

Sounds like you are starting off in water that is too deep.  You might be surprised at what lives in very shallow water.  In many instances of snorkeling I am actually laying on the bottom of the creek (snorkel still above the water).


Now I have been washed downstream a little in the past (its part of the game, I almost never get out where we got in), but it is not the norm.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Chasmodes

  • NANFA Member
  • Central Maryland

Posted 29 May 2020 - 07:24 AM

I'm not trying to be funny, but I was thinking, what about using a kayak anchor?

Kevin Wilson

#4 UncleWillie

  • NANFA Member
  • Georgia

Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:02 AM

Staying put in swift currents can be tough.  I wouldn't necessarily pick tough areas to snorkel for fun.  But when I was snorkeling for a living, sometimes we had no choice and had to snorkel the transect we were given.   But here are my very generalized tips:

- Go shallow.  Like Michael said, you may just be trying to go into areas that are just too deep and too swift.  If you are trying to stand upright in swift current with toes on the bottom and snorkel above water, you are just going to act like an underwater kite.

- Get to the bottom and stay there.  This goes with the above statement.  Don't stand vertical, get horizontal to minimize drag.  If you are bound to staying in deep fast water, you're going to have to be able to hold your breath a while.  You'd be amazed how secure you can get if you hug a boulder and get your belly to the stream bed.  This will be hard to explain, but a good way to get to the bottom quickly without losing ground is by creating an "A" with your body when you get back down after getting air.  Imagine facing upstream, and bending at the waist to get your head down, butt up, and toes dug into the substrate.  The rushing water pushes down on your back and will help pin your body downward relatively fast so you don't get swept backwards.  This can also work once you get to the bottom.  If you feel your body coming off the bottom, dig in the toes, and get your butt above your head and you'll get pinned back to the bottom.

- Add weight.  All of this will go smoother with a weight belt around you waist.

- Add an anchor.  What Kevin said isn't that silly of an idea.  For the most part if you need an anchor it's probably not worth it, and I usually won't sample that spot.  There was one time surveying for Olive darters where we used a boat anchor with nylon rope and knots.  But this was still difficult and hard to come up for air while holding onto the rope.  I wouldn't recommend this is deep turbulent waters.  BUT i suppose it would work fine in deep areas that are not so swift.

Willie P

#5 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 29 May 2020 - 11:53 AM


I would urge you to stay out of big rivers.  Do not use anchors or weights or straps.  Stay in small creeks and streams like the Lamprey in New Hampshire, at the Center of the Universe.

You will be happier, safer and eventually get good videos.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

#6 Isaac Szabo

Isaac Szabo
  • NANFA Member
  • Marble Falls, AR

Posted 29 May 2020 - 03:08 PM

Willie has some great advice for a person who has an important reason to be snorkeling deep/fast water (i.e. it’s their job). However, that kind of situation can be quite dangerous and is generally best avoided by the casual snorkeler (especially one going solo). In your case, Josh, I think Casper and Michael are spot on. Since you’re only doing this for fun and aren’t the most experienced snorkeler and are probably alone, minimizing risk and difficulty is very important. I see no reason for you to be trying to snorkel deep/fast water. There’s plenty to see in calmer water. You’ll be much safer and have a more pleasant experience, and it will be much easier to get good photos/videos.

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