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My take on setting up a Z Drag for boat recovery

Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:42 pm
by Henry Gresham
I took Rob Moody's SWR L4 course, and got his excellent instruction on setting up a "Z Drag" rope and pulley system to recover a boat pinned in the river by water pressure. At his suggestion, I bought the parts needed to assemble my own "unpin" kit. But setting up a proper Z Drag isn't intuitive nor easy, so I've been practicing at home. I'm also still trying to manage the finer points of using an action camera and video editing. So I combined these two challenges and produced an instructional video on setting up the Z Drag system, and explaining it. Nothing like doing this to force myself to pay attention! For anyone interested it's on my YouTube channel at:

Hope I didn't goof anything up. Enjoy and/or learn.

Re: My take on setting up a Z Drag for boat recovery

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:18 pm
by okieboater

Thank you for taking the course, sharing what you learned and the interest you have on various techniques.

I am not sure of the date but many many years ago Wayne Sundmacher came out to Hot Springs and put on a week long ACA River Rescue Instructor clinic for us. Not sure but that may well be the first ACA Swiftwater Rescue Instructor qualification clinic ACC put on.

I was and still am impressed by the teaching techniques and the complete detail that Wayne gave us. Wayne and Charlie were just about to publish their book and our class got to review and give Wayne feedback. Over the years I acquired most of the river rescue books, Wayne and Charlie's in depth discussion is in my opinion one of the best and I review my well worn copy at the start of each boating season.

The book is not readily available but my recommendation is this book is worth the search. Like many of us, Wayne and Charlie have been around for a while but the book clearly explains techniques that in my opinion still work well. Both Wayne and Charlie are long time river guides back east on the classic runs. In addition Wayne was Paramedic trained I think. Wayne taught us many ways to setup mechanical systems. He also said in his many years of getting pinned rafts back in action, that taking a few minutes to access the pin resulted in almost all of his pin raft problems solved by proper application of force often just by him. Having said the previous, understanding the various Z drag systems is a great tool to have in anyone's rescue tool box. This is for sure true if a person is on a Western River float and one of the gear rafts gets into trouble.

Whitewater Rescue Manual : New Techniques for Canoeists, Kayakers, and Rafters

By (author)  Charlie Walbridge , By (author)  Wayne Sundmacher ... 0070677906

Re: My take on setting up a Z Drag for boat recovery

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:04 pm
by Henry Gresham
Okieboater, thanks for the post. I'll check it out. My river rescue skills are very basic, mainly from Rob's course. The Z Drag thing was to practice and convince myself I could set it up if needed.