When crossing deeper river, over crotch deep, use your pack as a flotation device. Place your pack on your chest and strap it up over your shoulders as you would normally. It is best if u have a large plastic bag sealed inside to pack you gear into as a liner this will make your pack water proof. Try it in a good safe pool first and u will find that u can swim for as long as u want in safety or just drift with the currant till u are safe...
Some good hints, I'd just like to add that I like to keep the shoulder straps loose and chest and waist clips undone and hug the pack to me when crossing a river in case I go over, I've seen someone get their pack tangled on something when they fell in the water and it was a scary tense few seconds until they were free.
There is always the potential in water crossings to come unstuck. If u are unsure of the crossing because the water is a bit dirty and swollen, you can just take the extra time to check the surface and take note of any ripples that are visible. Hidden logs/branches/objects will quite often display themselves by a v shape ripple on the surface. Learn to read the "mood" of the rivers when u are out there, it becomes part of your "bush-craft" safety and will stand u in good stead when you are tired wet and hungry.
I floated down the Horomanga on three deer tied together years ago when the water was too high to ford safely. I tied their belly's/neck and ring hole up with a strip of skin and they floated perfectly. I used a pole of manuka to help control them till i reached my Landy. Sold the meat in Rotorua and got top dollar for them. Back home with my darling non the worst for wear.
Not at all Rob. Bleedin hard work but better than packing them out, which was the usual way before choppers were used. My meat shooting over those years helped pay for a small farm block out of Rotorua and at one point i could make more on a wk end out of deer than a full wk at work. Thats "bushcraft".
Yep, those were the days. Hard life but a good one... and some great memories and stories to tell the grandkids.
I was taught to undo your chest strap, make sure you belly one is working and lay back, feet downstream and moving like a cycle when going down a rapid. I find this much more comfortable than on your front and easier to team up with a mate or two, and at the far side just stand up,button up and continue. to link with othersJust loosen your shoulder straps and thread your arms under them, grab the strap on the other side, and pull in tight so your hips ar firn amd you are one unit. You should also be able to float upright like this and ferry glide across. If in a rapid, feet first, use your arms like oars, don't stop using them, and cycle your feet so they don't get caught. Head first can be a problem if you get caught against a boulder and the water rushes up over your head. I have shot some fairly big rapids like this for fun. The Gisborne Mountain Safety Council run an awesome river safety course in the Waioeka gorge... They have had participants come from Auckland and Wellington just to do the course... and have said it was worth it and fun too.