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D-1. Northern Riverine Boats

a. Type of Boats. Northern riverine boats are characterized by shallow draft and minimum clearance and good maneuver capability. The boats may be self-propelled or towed, with or without cargo carrying capability. In addition to the types of craft used by engineer units for the tactical movement of troops and their accompanying supplies in river crossing, and the types of craft used by transportation units for the administrative movement of troops and equipment during operations on inland waterways, the movement of troops with supplies requires a different type of craft for northern operations. Indigenous boats of various types can be used for northern riverine operations. One desirable river boat presently in operation in Alaska is 950 cm (31') long and weighs between 600 and 900 pounds (fig D-1). It has a minimum height of 70 cm (27½") and a loaded draft of 25 cm (10"). The boat is made of wood covered with fiberglass. It is ruggedly constructed, quickly and easily repairable, and can be maneuvered at high speed in swift water. The boat is capable of carrying an infantry squad fully equipped (total payload 4,400 pounds) and includes a mechanical lift to raise the motor over obstructions when in shallow water. With a 50 hp motor with a short shaft, these river boats, normally, can navigate any of the typical rivers found in northern regions. Another type of riverboat (fig D-2) is made of marine aluminum. This boat is 792 cm (26') long, 51 cm (20") high, has a loaded draft of 20 cm (8"), and weighs 770 pounds including the motor and motor lift.

b. Boat Selection.

(1) The performance of a small river-type boat is effected by several factors: the conformation of the boat; the material from which constructed; and the weight. The type of motor, type of propeller, location of the motor and the distribution of weight in the boat should be the determining factors in choosing a specific type of craft. When considering the characteristics desired in a boat for military use, the character and velocity of the rivers on which the boat might be used has to be considered. The capacity of the boat must also be taken into consideration. Where secrecy and stealth are prime factors, inflatable boats should be considered.

(2) Nomenclature of boats and parts generally are standard. The front is the bow and the rear is the stern. Starboard and port are the right and left sides, respectively. The bow plate is the part of the boat to which the anchor and rope are connected to the craft. The carrying handles are along the inside of the gunnel at the top of the boat and are used to lift and carry the boat.

c. Stowage.

(1) Items of boat equipment are stowed according to approved load plans for rapid inventory and accessibility. Typical items in each boat are--

(2) Individual weapons should be attached to personnel with a light line so that the weapon can be recovered if the boat is swamped or overturned. The line should be secured to the suspenders with a quick release so that it can be dumped quickly if there is danger of drowning. The line should be 300 cm (10') long unless known steam depth indicates otherwise.

(3) Personnel securely stow and lash other supplies, equipment and crew-served weapons to prevent their loss or injury to personnel if the boat capsizes. Crew-served weapons and squad and platoon radios have a marker buoy and line attached to assist in retrieval. The buoy will have to be improvised locally. It should be about the size of a softball and can be made of any material that will float. Empty plastic bottles can be used in the absence of a satisfactory buoy. Each boat in the formation carries a variety of supplies and equipment so that the loss of one boat does not result in abortion of the mission.

D-2. Care of Boats and Motors

The key to dependable service from boats and motors is meticulous organizational maintenance and proper operation. A boat or motor used properly in normal operations more likely withstands the abuse it gets under combat conditions. Recommended precautions in the use of boats and motors are--

a. Proper Operation.

(1) Operate at moderate speeds to slow normal wear and deterioration of both boat and motor.

(2) Avoid hitting floating objects and sandbars.

(3) Do not allow the motor to run for long periods at idle or very slow speed. Carbon builds up rapidly in slow-running, 2-cycle engines.

(4) Slow the engine before changing from neutral to forward or reverse. A fast improper shift can cause engine breakdown in a critical situation.

(5) Allow the motor to warm up before operating at high speed. Accelerate and decelerate smoothly to avoid straining the engine.

b. Preventive Maintenance.

(1) Keep the boat and motor clean and lubricated according to the technical manual (TM) for the item. Particular emphasis is necessary on boat fittings, underwater body, and motor lower unit.

(2) When operating in brackish or salt water, take the boat out of the water after use. Clean the bottom regularly and flush the motor with clean, freshwater.

(3) Include a set of spare spark plugs with each motor. Operators remove, inspect, and clean or replace them according to the TM for the particular motor.

(4) If the boat strikes an object in the water, the hull and motor lower unit require inspection, both for cracks and for damage, to the propeller, propeller cap, cotter key, and shearpin.

(5) Handle the fuel line with care to prevent damage where it joins the connectors.

c. Motor Modification. Motors for use on the silty shallow waters prevalent in northern areas should be modified by the addition of a heavy-duty water pump and the reinforcement of the skeg on the motor lower unit.


D-3. Navigation Techniques

The techniques discussed in succeeding paragraphs are applicable to all northern area rivers and streams.

a. The waterways throughout the northern area of operations are potential lines of communication for operations in these areas. Unlike motor highways, where changes in route are made slowly by men and machines, the route changes in the rivers are made by nature, sometimes, quickly and in accordance with nature's own rules. On the motor highways, signs are placed by man to indicate detours, curves, dips, bumps, obstructions, and safety limits of speed. On the waterways, nature places her own signs to indicate the same thing, but the signs are in nature's language, and the boat operator, who can cruise successfully and easily, must learn that language and how to read the signs.

b. The changes in current, channels, locations of obstructions, and depth of the river may occur annually, monthly, weekly, daily, and even in a matter of hours. This is particularly true of the northern glacial streams. For this reason the boat commander and boat operator must always be on the alert. They cannot depend upon their memory of yesterday's channels, for today's channels may be different. They must know and understand the basic principles of river reading--of reading the water.

c. The waterways of the north are often fed by glacial tributaries which flow rapidly and carry with them a great amount of silt. Much of the riverbank and much of the riverbed is made up of deposited silt that is easily cut and reformed by the current. In the forming process, sandbars are formed. The fast current at certain periods moves small stones to form gravel bars. Banks are undercut causing trees to topple completely into the river where they float until caught on sandbars, starting log jams. Some topple only partially into the water and are still held to the bank by the roots. During high water, these trees, still connected to the bank, may be just on or under the surface (sleepers), or they may be hanging above the water (sweepers). Such trees must be constantly avoided.

d. Each of these obstacles-- sandbars, gravel bars, sleepers, sweepers-- may be avoided because they have a sign, made by nature, either on the bank or in the water that points to their presence.

e. The boat commander and the operator must watch the surface of the water ahead. Certain general rules are as follows: A lightly rippled surface usually indicates shallow water. If there is a wind blowing, of course, the surface of even deep water may be rippled, but lightly rippled water where no wind is blowing indicates shallow water, sandbars, or gravel bars. A long, undulating wave, however, indicates deep water and fast current. The "deep water wave" is formed by a combination of deep water and fast current. A smooth surface usually indicates deep water and slightly less velocity.

f. A V in the surface of the water generally indicates an obstruction, either a rock, log, or tree, that is lying parallel with the direction of current The combination of current velocity and size of the obstruction determines the size of the V. It should be remembered that the V is only an indication of the size of the portion of the obstruction lying very near the water surface and is not indicative of the total size of the obstruction.

g. A "roiled" surface at a particular point usually indicates an obstruction such as a log or tree, lying perpendicular to the direction of current at, or within a few inches of the surface.

h. Whenever a tributary feeds into the main body of a river or stream, a sand delta will be found. The actual location and extent of the sand delta will be dependent on the current velocity of the main stream versus the current velocity of the subsidiary stream, by the angle of joining, and by the composition of each stream and their bottoms and banks. Heavily silted rivers create greater sand deltas than do lightly silted streams.

i. Generally, banks that are sharp and meet the river at a sharp angle indicate deep water. Gently sloping banks indicate shallower water.

j. In general, the greatest velocities of current and the steepest gradients are found nearer the source of the river. Velocities may vary at all points of the river within short stretches or between points across a channel. Flow is swiftest where the channel is constricted and slowest where the stream can spread out broad and shallow. In a meandering stream, centrifugal force throws the water to the outside of curves so that generally the deepest water is near the outside of the curve. For this reason, the boat operator should stay on the outside of curves. Normally this is where the high bank is located, which generally is an indication of deeper water. Sandbars and shallow water will be found on the inside of curves. Even with this general rule, the boat operator must be alert for underwater obstructions that are not visible. These obstructions can be present even in the deepest channels.

k. The best points to remember when selecting a channel is that it should be the one with the least ripples, near the steepest bank and in the fastest current.

l. It should be remembered that a river can be read much easier when going upstream than when going downstream. In addition, when moving upstream, the operator will find that he has more control of the boat and his speed is somewhat less than it could be if he were going downstream.


D-4. General Procedures

a. The operator must place himself so that he can constantly see the river course and water surface. In most small boats where the operator is in the rear, he can and should stand. In a sitting position the operator cannot see obstructions. By the same token, other occupants of the boat should remain seated so they do not obstruct the view of the operator and so they do not suddenly shift the balance of the boat.

b. The operator should avoid ripples, boils, and other indications of fast disturbed water. These can sink the boat or force it into obstructions that may tear out the bottom. In cold, fast, and silty water, a man cannot survive long.

c. The operator must avoid "sweepers" and "sleepers." These trees are dangerous since a collision with them may cause the boat to overturn or be damaged. An overturned boat in sleepers is doubly dangerous since the branches can puncture pneumatic life vests or the man in the water may be caught and held under.

d. When passing from one stream to another, while moving downstream, the boat operator should proceed downstream past the stream into which he desires to turn, make a turn, then proceed upstream a short distance and turn into the flow of the new current. This will reduce the possibility of the boat running aground on a sand delta.

e. The operator should not go into extremely fast water at full throttle. The motor should be throttled down to half speed until the operator is certain of what lies ahead.

f. Emergency procedures to be followed in the event of a power failure:

(1) The boat should be kept in the center of the river if at all possible, with the bow held upstream until the difficulty is corrected.

(2) If the boat is in calm water or in a slow moving stream, the anchor may be thrown out.

(3) When the failure cannot be corrected, the boat will be landed at the nearest shore for necessary maintenance and repair.

D-5. Procedure for Shoving Off From Shore

a. In order for the boat operator to get away from shore safely and without damage to the boat and motor, each individual in the boat must be briefed on the position he is to occupy and duty he is to perform. This is the responsibility of the boat commander, and no duty will be performed until ordered by him.

b. The boat commander must make an estimate of the situation confronting him each time he is ready to leave shore. He must check the depth of the water, any obstruction to the boat's progress when shoved off, brief his crew, and see that they are ready to carry out his orders.

c. When this is accomplished, the boat commander will have the anchor man place the anchor in the boat and hold the bow of the boat into shore by the bowline. With the motor lift in the raised position, the operator will start the motor in neutral and order the anchor man to shove off.

d. With a firm grip on the bow of the boat, the anchor man will walk down stream with the bow until the stern swings well out from the shore. He will then shove the boat toward midstream, pushing the bow up stream as he jumps aboard.

e. As the boat swings around parallel to the shore, the operator shifts the motor into forward gear and slowly lowers it, by use of the lift, into the water. As the rearward motion of the boat is halted by the thrust of the motor, the operator slowly swings the operating handle toward shore, thus forcing the bow farther away from shore. This must be accomplished at slow speed to prevent the stern from swinging back into the shore. When the bow is at an angle from the shore the operator checks to see that all individuals in the boat are properly seated before increasing speed.

f. In shallow water, it may be necessary to row or pole the boat to deeper water before putting the motor in gear.

D-6. Procedure for Landing the Boat

a. Improper landing procedure may cause the boat to run aground with such force that damage is caused to the bow or bottom of the boat, and to the motor if the water is shallow.

b. When approaching the shore for a landing, the boat is angled upstream toward the shore. The speed of the boat is controlled, so that a very slow approach is made. A landing point should be carefully selected by the boat commander to insure that no logs, rocks, or other obstacles which could damage the boat or motor are present.

c. If the water is deep enough to approach the shore under power, the operator will very slowly ease the bow toward the landing point. The boat commander will instruct the anchor man to be ready to secure the bow of the boat to shore. As the bow touches shore, the anchor man leaves the boat carrying the anchor as far as the anchor line permits and places it on the ground. If the boat can be securely tied to a tree or other natural object, the anchor is left in the boat and only the tie-line is carried ashore.

d. To hold the boat in position until it is secured to shore, the operator swings the operating handle upstream until the boat is perpendicular to the shore. When the boat is secured, the motor is shut off and raised from the water.

e. When approaching shore in shallow water, the motor is stopped and raised from the water. If enough momentum has been maintained on the approach, the boat will continue on to shore. If not, it may be necessary to row or pole the remaining distance.

f. As far as possible, the boat commander should pick landing areas that will allow the troops to debark on dry ground.

D-7. Rowing, Poling and Lining

a. General. There are times when mechanical power cannot be used to move a boat upstream or downstream. Motor failures, obstructions, shallow water, or accidental cutting of fuel lines will cause an individual, or small unit, to rely on other methods to continue their movement. Under these conditions, the boat may be moved by rowing, poling, or lining.

b. Rowing. When rowing, certain practices should be followed: First, the oars are secured upon order of the boat commander. Second, the oars should extend an equal distance from the oar locks. The depth of the bite taken by the rower should be equal on each side of the boat unless a turning movement is being attempted. Third, stroking by all rowers should be coordinated. On the return stroke, the oar should be feathered until it touches the water. Rowing is a simple process, but it takes practice. Rowing may be necessary to eliminate motor noise when the tactical situation requires such security measures. At such times, the oar locks should be muffled to further reduce noise.

c. Poling. Under certain circumstances, rowing may be difficult or impossible because of shallowness of the water or because of obstructions in the water. In such circumstances, poling will normally be relied upon. Poling is a slow and laborious process. It was the principal means of movement on some of the northern rivers during the early frontier era. When poling, the oars and boat hook may be used as poles. They may be used to keep the boat clear of obstructions while allowing the boat to go downstream, or, when the current is slow enough and water level low enough, poling may propel a boat upstream. If the intention, is simply to ward the boat away from obstructions, polers place themselves in the boat so they can plant the end of their pole on the obstruction and simply shove the boat clear. If the intent is to pole upstream, two methods may be used.

(1) First, the poler places himself in the proper position in the boat, plants the pole on the bank or stream bottom, and pushes to the limit of the pole. The pole is then lifted from the water. The process is repeated by moving the pole forward in the water.

(2) Another method is to start at the bow of the boat, plant the pole on the bottom, and walk to the stern, pushing the pole. Return to the bow and repeat the process. This is practical only when the water is low and sufficient polers are available to maintain continuous push.

d. Lining.

(1) There may be occasions when water conditions make it unsafe to use the rowing or poling method. Then another process known as "lining" may be used. Lining is the process of attaching a rope to a boat and providing the motor power with men. Before resorting to lining, the boat operator should ascertain that it is absolutely necessary. The operator should beach his boat and walk the river bank to inspect the channel ahead to make sure that there is not sufficient water to allow the use of the motor, or that the course is so obstructed and water conditions dangerous enough to justify use of the rope either with or without aid of the motor.

(2) Lining can be accomplished under some conditions by the boat operator alone but in most cases will require a minimum of two men. Single man lining can only be done in relatively quiet water, Where water is fast or where boat guidance is critical, more than one man is required. The current velocity, boat size, and load, will determine the number of men required.

(3) One or more ropes are required when lining and the ropes should be as long as possible without becoming too much of a drag on the man pulling the boat. A rope of approximately 30 meters (100 ft) in length is the most desirable, although shorter ones may be used. If only one rope is utilized, it is tied securely on the bow of the boat for both upstream and downstream movement. If two ropes are available and men are available to use them, one rope is secured to the bow and the other to the stern.

(4) The man, or men, providing the motive power grasp pull only on the bow line; the stern line is used only for control. Ropes are not tied to the pullers, since a slip of the foot on the part of the puller may allow a boat in fast water to get away and drag the puller into the stream. Loops may be made at the end of the rope, and at other points, which allow the pullers to place the loop over one shoulder only so that it may be quickly disengaged.

(5) Before starting, a reconnaissance is made of the bank and bed of the stream. A tentative route for the pullers and for the boat is selected. Pullers try to avoid banks that are heavily wooded or contain sweepers that extend into the water. Trees growing along the water edge which will force the puller to work the rope around the tree should be avoided. This may require that the pullers ford the stream from time to time. Fording spots should be picked in advance.

(6) When selecting a route, look for obstructions in the water which will have to be avoided by the boat. Avoid muddy and crumbling banks, if possible, and try to determine where the critical points occur. In some cases, where tree growth is restrictive or where neither bank can be used because of height or some other reason, it may be necessary for the pullers to operate in the water. Shallow areas with good footing that are free of underwater logs or other obstructions should be chosen.

(7) The operator remains in the boat and may, if additional men are available, keep one or more men with him to assist in guiding the boat. If the motor is operating, the operator will use the motor to provide steering and additional motive power. If the motor is not operable, the operator will steer with an oar from the stern or will use the boat hook from the bow. Water conditions will determine where the operator stations himself. If the operator has help in the boat, normally he will station himself in the bow where he can best see what is immediately ahead and under the boat. The helping man is placed at the other end of the boat, and equipped with an oar. The operator is responsible for steering the boat into the easiest water, past obstructions, or into channels where flotation is possible. He must also be on the alert to attempt to control the boat and steer it to a landing in the event that the pullers lose their rope in fast water. He must keep the boat sufficiently far from shore to insure that the rope is not entangled in shore growth. He attempts to keep the boat at a position where the rope proceeds directly to the pullers over water rather than at an angle where it can become entangled.

(8) In extremely fast water, it may be necessary to use a pulley system to get the boat upstream.

(9) Lining downstream is done only when water conditions are such that it is dangerous to allow the boat to proceed without external control. Extremely fast water in congested channels may require lining. On the other hand, negotiation of rapids may be more dangerous with a rope attached than is a free run. The operator must make the decision based on a study of the water. If a rope is used, it must be used from a position on the proper bank so that the boat will not be swamped or swept into rocks or obstructions. The boat must not be held against really swift water to the extent that water will sweep over it and sink it. In many cases, it may be necessary to put a single turn of the rope around a tree or boulder so that more control is exercised. In other cases, it may be necessary that the boat move freely, with the men on the shore running alongside to provide pull at the proper moment to avoid a particularly dangerous obstacle, or move it around an excessively short turn.

(10) When a second rope is attached to the boat, it is used to assist in turning, and is a safety measure to avoid losing too much ground if the pullers lose their rope. The man on the second rope is prepared at all times to snub the rope on a tree or boulder to stop the boat if it should get out of control. He must use judgement as to when and when not to snub. He continually shortens or lengthens his hold on the rope, as river conditions dictate, to insure that snubbing will not pull the boat onto obstructions or into swamping position. In some water, it may be advisable not to attach the second rope but to plan on attempting to ride the boat downstream to a safer area if it gets away from the pullers. Bank conditions, water velocity, and obstructions will govern what action is taken.

D-8. Anchoring

a. The Danforth anchor is the anchor most generally used. This anchor has good holding capabilities in all types of stream bottoms.

b. The anchor is attached to the boat by 914 cm (30') of line. However, the length of the anchor line is dictated by the depth of the stream or river. As a rule of thumb, the line should be three times longer than the depth of the river.

c. When deploying the anchor the bow of the boat is faced upstream. The boat should be held against the current with no headway. The anchor is then lowered into the water until it touches bottom. The boat is then allowed to slip slowly downstream. When the anchor man is assured that the anchor is holding on the bottom he will notify the boat operator who in turn will allow the boat to slip downstream until it snugs up on the anchor line. The anchor should not be used in a fast moving stream because of the danger of the anchor snagging suddenly and pulling the bow under. The anchor will not be dropped under any circumstances except on the order of the boat commander.

d. To release the anchor, the boat is moved slowly upstream. The anchor man recovers the line until the boat is directly over the anchor, at this point the anchor should release from the bottom. If it does not it may become necessary for the anchor man to secure the line in the boat and then allow the boat to proceed on upstream until it pulls the anchor free.

Section IV. SAFETY

D-9. General

Proper safety measures are paramount to success in riverine operations. Personnel must be trained in these safety measures until they become second nature.

D-10. Safety Measures

a. Remove all heavy equipment when entering the boat. Tie it to sides and bottom.

b. To avoid slipping, use caution when entering and leaving the boat.

c. Never tie personnel to the boat.

d. Wear life preserver at all times while in the boat.

e. Remain seated in the boat and keep all movement to a minimum.

f. Keep a coil of rope handy to assist anyone who falls overboard.

g. A man who falls overboard should inflate his life jacket (if equipped with a pneumatic jacket) and head for shore. Care must be taken to insure that inflatable jackets are not punctured by tree limbs or branches in the water.

h. All personnel require training to react to the call "man overboard." When a man is seen in the water, shout "Man overboard," adding "port side" or "starboard," as the case may be. The rescue boat should approach the man in the water from the downstream side.

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