Team SK update: RWA Incident Management II class
Incident Management II: Dynamic Waters
By Christine Burris
Rogue Wave Adventures
On Saturday, RWA held an Incident Management II Class (Dynamic Waters) at Deception Pass. NOAA forecast possible sustained winds of 20 to 35 MPH with gusts of 45 to 55 MPH. While considering these potential conditions one of our students decided to cancel the evening before the class. Bob and I applauded her decision, because good self-assessment is the first step in risk management. Down one, four students and three instructors met on the beach at Cornett Bay. Bob reviewed the basic incident management skills, which were prerequisites to the course, and then discussed the plan for the day. Jason covered towing practices and we drilled the class through an obstacle course with wind and mild current. After warm-up we headed (still under tow) into the yet ebbing pass, ducking into the eddy behind Pass Island. And so began the instruction of how to tow with a following current. As the water was ebbing toward slack we practiced eddying out, ferrying, peel outs and S-turns, all while managing a tow. Smiles appeared all around as students began to grasp how to avoid slack in the line and maintain control.
After lunch, we headed around Lighthouse Point and practiced extractions in the rocks and active water, allowing time for the flood current to build in the pass.
The return trip through Canoe Pass was where the fun really kicked in. Students had experienced towing in mild current downstream and now had the opportunity to apply those techniques in faster water. To add realism and stability to the scenario, Bob and I assisted by rafting with the “victims” while Jason held position in the flow ready to assist where needed. Student rescuer Adrienne Worah described the exercise as a “roller coaster ride,” which from my perspective as her rafted victim was pretty much the case. We dropped into a nice whirlpool and Kathy and I called out encouragement to our rescuer who managed to stay upright all the way into the safe zone. On his first attempt, David Crocker’s raft got a bit ahead of him and he went for a swim. But once everyone was back in the eddy, he was all about trying it again. After several more trips across the flow, David managed to capsize and roll back up, his towline still functioning. As the class began to wear out physically, we headed back to Coronet Bay, practicing contact tows across the main pass and back in behind Ben Ure Island. For a final bit of play, Jason and Bob both went for a swim and lost their gear, allowing the teams to collect it. Maxine tore ahead to rescue Bob, only to be rewarded with water filling her back hatch. Not her first class with Bob, she came with float bags fully inflated and paddled to the takeout with her Xcite S still above water, but looking more like a low-volume skin-on-frame.
Usually students that engage in this level of training are looking for challenge. These teams were no exception. At the debrief, when we asked the students at what they would change about the class, they responded consistently with desire for bigger outside conditions and more downstream towing at max flood.