Floating the Elbow: How to keep it fun-filled, not fine-filled
It’s hot out – I know. You’re sweaty from wearing tight jeans and cowboy boots all week – I can see that. And what better way to cool off and recover from Stampede than to take a relaxing float down our clear and mellow Elbow river. Right Calgary?
Watch out! Floaters beware! In the past couple weeks, streamfuls of Calgarians have been stopped by the Calgary police for having insufficient boating safety gear.
“The police turned us back, and wouldn’t let us float down,” said Stewart, a Calgary resident who tried to launch his dinghy into the Elbow last Sunday afternoon with some friends. “Most people who were stopped by the police were warned of the penalties for not having safety gear, which included fines.”
So what qualifies as appropriate boating safety gear? Those of you with lifejackets and paddles: nice try. In addition to those basics, you’ll also need a whistle, 20 metres of rope, and a bailing bucket. Even for your little inflatable dinghy.
“We had our lifejackets and paddles, but that wasn’t enough. Most people didn’t even have those.” Stewart explained.
So what’s a determined floater to do? How to enjoy the awesome Elbow without hassle? Here’s how Calgarians were coping this week:
1) Buying boating safety kits.
In addition to cheap lifejackets and paddles, Canadian Tire sells kits with whistles, rope, and a bailer for $10. But few people seem to be aware of this option.
“When I was at Canadian Tire, everyone was buying rafts but no one was telling them that they needed this extra safety stuff,” said Rachel, who learned this lesson the hard way after being stopped by police on the Elbow. “If I was a manager at Canadian Tire, I’d use this as an easy opportunity to up-sell.”
(Sounds like a business opportunity, Calgary. Go get ‘em!)
2) Swimming instead of floating.
This is a weird but true solution. “My girlfriend and her friend put their lifejackets on and floated down in the water instead,” said Stewart.
“If you want to swim down the river, you can do that, but if you want to float down the river in a raft that would keep you above the river you need 20 m of rope, a whistle, and a bailer.” Hmm.
3) Floating anyways.
C.I.A. does not recommend this option. However, last weekend once police were out of sight many floaters got right back in their boats (or in one case, back onto their inflatable killer whale).
“There were only a few police, who seemed to be catching maybe 20 percent of the people,” said Rachel.