Last Saturday I paddled on our local Rivanna River at the highest level I’ve ever paddled it. The Palmyra gauge was somewhere between 3800 and 4000cfs when 3 paddling friends and I launched at 10am from just below the South Rivanna Reservoir.
I knew for sure the river had crested overnight and was dropping, so I felt confident at this level.
The rapids under the railroad trestle became standing waves that were Class II+ – Class III. I was paddling my Nelo 510 surfski in the most challenging conditions yet and I stayed upright the whole time. The bucket filled with water at least 3 times, though, and I learned to open the drain before entering a set of large rapids.
One of our members capsized in the largest of the rapids and her boat had very little buoyancy since there was no foam or flotation in it anywhere. This could have been a very serious situation but we rescued her and her boat, though getting it out of the water to drain it was a challenge with so much water in it.
We arrived at Riverview Park and then I paddled back upstream to Darden Towe Park where FLOW: The Arts of the Rivanna River Renaissance Festival was taking place. There were artists set up along the walkway along the river and there was a boat decorating contest.
It was most enjoyable and I think my favorite were the Earlysville Bluegrass Boys, 3 brothers who are very talented musicians. I wish I could have stayed and listened to them for hours.
I then paddled back down to Riverview Park with a few other paddlers with decorated boats and then joined the after-party at Rivanna River Company.
I came away concluding the Nelo 510 is probably the most versatile boat I’ve ever owned.
And this celebration of our local river is a wonderful event I hope continues. It sure came a long way since last year.