The widespread fascination with adventure sports has also spawned an interest in river rafting. River rafting or white water rafting, as is known in many parts of the world, requires that you navigate a river, usually comprising of rapids and steep bends, atop a rubber boat.
The difficulty of a course is measured in a scale of 6, where 1 is calm waters while 6 represents an impossibly hard to navigate course.
The primary reason why river rafting has caught on like anything is because it not only offers adrenaline-pumping action for the adventurous lot but also ample scope for nature lovers and solitude seekers to soak in the beauties of nature while floating along lazily. For both temperaments Turkey has on offer both rivers with treacherous courses and gently floating rivers with hardly a bubble in them.
River rafting, apart from the exhilaration it provides, is also ideal for exploring virgin landscapes lying along offbeat river ways, which are otherwise inaccessible by road.
River rafting, requiring almost no effort from the rider just the ability to swim and to cling on to the boat, is ideal for even those who have never visited a playground before.
River rafting is also extremely environment friendly, considering that you are not depleting natural resources in any form when you engage in this activity.
Below are the six grades of difficulty in white water rafting. They range from simple to very dangerous and potential death or serious injuries.
Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level: Very Basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experience)
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)
Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous as to be effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill level: successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill)
Rafts in white water are very different vehicles than canoes or kayaks and have their own specific techniques to maneuver through whitewater obstacles.
- Punching – Rafts carry great momentum, and on rivers hydraulics that are dodged by canoes and kayaks are often punched by rafts. This involves the rafting crew paddling the raft to give it enough speed to push through the hydraulic without getting stopped.
- High siding – If a raft is caught in a hydraulic it will often quickly go sideways. In order to stop the raft flipping on its inside edge, the rafters can climb to the side of the raft furthest downstream, which will also be the side of the raft highest in the air leading to its name. In this position the rafters may be able to use the draw stroke to pull the raft out of the hydraulic.
- Dump truck – Rafts are inherently stable crafts because of their size and low center of mass and often they will shed gear and passengers before they actually capsize. In the industry if a raft dumps some or all of its passengers but remains upright, it is said to have dump trucked.
- Left over right or right over left – Rafts almost always flip side over side. If the left tube rises over the right tube, the raft is said to have flipped left over right and vice versa.
- Taco – If a raft is soft, or underinflated, it may taco, or reverse taco. Rafts are said to have tacoed if the middle of the raft buckles and the front of the raft touches or nearly touches the back of the raft. This often is a result of surfing in a hydraulic. A reverse taco is when the nose, or stern of the raft is pulled down under water and buckles to touch the middle or back, or nose of the raft.
- End over end – Occasionally rafts will flip end over end. This is usually after the raft has dump trucked to lighten the load, allowing the water to overcome the weight of the boat flipping it vertically before it lands upside down. Rafts will usually taco and turn sideways, making an end-over-end flip a very rare flip in most rafts.
- Flip line – The flip line technique is the most used in commercial rafting where flips are common. The guide will take a loop of webbing that has a carabiner on it and attach it to the perimeter line on the raft, Standing on top of the upside down raft they will hold the line and lean to the opposite side from where the flip line is attached, re-righting the raft.
- Knee flipping – Capsized rafts that are small enough with little or no gear attached can be knee flipped. This involves the rafter holding the webbing on the underside of the raft, and pushing their knees into the outer tube, and then lifting their body out of the water, leaning back to overturn the raft.
- T rescue – Much like the kayak technique some rafts are large enough that they need to be overturned with the assistance of another raft or land. Positioning the upturned raft or land at the side of the raft the rafters can then re-right the raft by lifting up on the perimeter line.
White water rafting can be a dangerous sport, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel has typically been associated with greater risk
Depending on the area, safety regulations covering raft operators may exist in legislation. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures. It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip. The equipment used and the qualifications of the company and raft guides are essential information to be considered.
Risks in white water rafting stem from both environmental dangers and from improper behavior. Certain features on rivers are inherently unsafe and have remained consistently so despite the passage of time. These would include “keeper hydraulics”, “strainers” (e.g. fallen trees), dams (especially low-head dams, which tend to produce river-wide keeper hydraulics), undercut rocks, and of course dangerously high waterfalls. Rafting with experienced guides is the safest way to avoid such features. Even in safe areas, however, moving water can always present risks—such as when a swimmer attempts to stand up on a rocky riverbed in strong current, risking foot entrapment. Irresponsible behavior related to rafting while intoxicated has also contributed to many accidents.
One of the most simple ways to avoid injury while out of a raft, is to swim to an Eddy (a calm spot behind a rock in the water which the current disperses around) to avoid being taken downstream.
To combat the illusion that rafting is akin to an amusement park ride, and to underscore the personal responsibility each rafter faces on a trip, rafting outfitters generally require customers to sign waiver forms indicating understanding and acceptance of potential serious risks. Rafting trips often begin with safety presentations to educate customers about problems that may arise.
White water rafting is often played for the adrenaline rush and this often becomes a problem for people and their own safety. White water rafting accidents have occurred but are not common.