Rafting companies renting, is it safe to go out on a river without a guide?

Use caution while enjoying Sacramento area rivers

Bob Lubeck waited a while before kayaking the Stanislaus River.

“We don’t go any higher than this. This is about as high as we like it," says Lubeck.

He should know. He's lived on the river 15 years in Knight's Ferry.

Lubeck, like many others, is now enjoying this relatively slow moving stretch of the river.

But how safe is it?

“The water is still moving quite quickly. There is a lot of force behind it," said Captain Buck Condit of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District.

Condit doesn't recommend going out on a raft on your own.

But if you do he says you're taking a chance.

“What it comes down to is personal risk. How much personal risk are you willing to take to float the river?" Condit asked.

Rafting companies like River Journey in Knights Ferry have been renting rafts for years.

This year they delayed their usual rental start date of April 15th, changing it to July 1st.

That's because the water running high has now dropped significantly.

“Currently the river is at our spring levels. This is normally what we see in May. We’ve been running at this level since 1985," said River Journey owner Dave Voortman.

Voortman says 80 percent of his business is renting rafts.

With 30 years behind them, his company has adopted a strict protocol, while water levels remain high.

“We raised our age limit so kids have to be at least 7, everybody must know how to swim and no alcohol on the trip. It just makes for a safer trip while you’re out on the water," Voortman said.

If you are still unsure, he suggests rafting the river in late August or September when river levels are even lower.

Still, we found many first timers like Stacy Kinsella of Castro Valley using a guided tour, not taking a chance.

“Drove up, we were in our raft in about a half hour, took us about three and a half hours to go down the river. It was awesome," Kinsella said.

For Isabel Duarte of Fremont, it was her first time, too.

“It was a lot fun, better than I expected. I was a little scared. But it was really good. I liked it," Duarte said.

Bottom line, be smart anywhere around water, wear a life jacket, know your limitations.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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