Dory Swamped At Havasu

A non-commercial river trip swamped an aluminum dory in the rocks just below the mouth of Havasu Canyon on September 1, 2007.

The group of river runners with two dories, three rafts and a kayaker had spent part of the day at Havasu Canyon. As the group left Havasu, the dory was the last boat in the group to exit the mouth of Havasu.

The boat, with three people on board, became pinned sideways in the jumble of large rocks just below the mouth of Havasu Canyon.

While there is a clear channel on the right side of the Colorado River at Havasu Canyon, the actual mouth of Havasu Canyon, a popular attraction site forriver runners, is on river left.

Rescue efforts were undertaken to free the pinned boat, including using a tarp to block water from pouring over the upstream side of the boat and into the cockpit. This allowed the boat to be bailed out, but attempts to move the boat were unsuccessful.

A larger tarp was used to shield the boat, but in the process of changing tarps, the boat once more filled with water and had to be bailed out again. Six motorized tour boats assisted in the rescue, one of which attempted to tow the craft off the rocks. This effort also failed to budge the boat.

The rescue effort lasted for over three hours. As evening approached, the boaters were forced to offload all the cargo and abandon the boat. One passenger was towed to shore by the trip's kayaker. Most of the river gear in the boat was retrieved, including the oars.

River trips passing the mouth of Havasu Canyon over the next few days said the boat was not visible when they were there. It is surmised that the water level rose the night of September 1, and the dory was flushed off the rocks and into deeper water.

River runners are advised to not take the pull-out at Havasu lightly. While there is a small rocky left slot for rubber rafts, dories must exit the mouth of Havasu well up in the eddy, and maintain a good ferry angle, rowing upstream across the river to avoid floating downstream into these rocks.

It is suggested that river runners leaving Havasu should wait in the calm waters just below Havasu Rapid to be sure all members of their party have safely exited the mouth of Havasu Creek before continuing downstream.