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Shuttling Secrets Revealed

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schessl |
Published Saturday, June 01, 2002

Shuttle SecretsShuttling is the process of moving people and gear from one off-water location to another. If your adventure starts and ends at the same place, such as a trip around the local reservoir, there's no problem and no shuttle. However, should you finish 20 miles downriver, you need to know the secrets to shuttling to avoid a really long hike.

To begin, let's review a few terms used by paddlers. The first is put-in. This is, as the name implies, the location where you put-in your boat. The next term is take-out. Besides a preferred way to order late night Chinese food, it's also a term used by paddlers for the location where the boat comes out of the water. The last term is deadhead. Jerry's gone (sorry Deadheads), so now the word means "park your car here".

Secret #1: When arriving at the put-in first, drop off all boats and at least one person who should assemble gear and keep watch to make sure none of the stuff walks off on its own. Drive all cars to the take-out. Deadhead all cars, except one which the drivers use to return to the start. Paddle to the take-out. Load boats and return to the put-in to pick up the last car.

Secret #2: If you arrive at the take-out first, deadhead one car and everyone heads to the put-in in the remaining cars. Unload and paddle to the take-out, where all drivers head for the put-in, pick up their respective cars and return to the take-out. The person staying with the boats at the take-out can begin cleaning gear while waiting for the shuttle vehicles to return.

Secret #3: One car or one driver shuttle. If the put-in and take-out are close together and you don't mind the additional exercise, bring a bicycle. Drive to the take-out first, lock your bike to a tree or other immovable object, drive to the put-in. Paddle downriver and upon reaching the take-out, unlock your bike, lock your boat, and peddle back to the put-in to retrieve your car. A friend of mine calls this form of shuttling "biyaking".

Secret #4: Car keys are important. You don't want to arrive at the take-out only to find that you left the keys in the car at the start of the trip. Make sure that everyone knows who has the keys and where they are kept. You might want to hide a key at the take-out just to avoid this potentially nasty problem.

Secret #5: Think alternatives. The logic problems can drive you nuts when it comes to figuring out the best solution for your particular number of cars, people and boats. You might want to try a few alternatives. First, go with an outfitter. They are then responsible for transporting you and your belongings. How about bringing a non-paddling buddy or spouse who doesn't mind waiting for you at the take-out? Or if you are making a long trip, you can hire someone to drive a car to the take-out for you.

Now that you know the secrets of shuttling, give that one-way river or coastal trip a try. Have an enjoyable and safe summer 2002 paddling season.

Stay Wet,

Ed Schessl

Last update Friday, January 30, 2009

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