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The Branchburg News • June 2012 • Page 13 Up the Creek Without a Paddle, Part 1

Christopher E. Mosko, Grandson of the late Eva Jane and Milt Mosko

Contrary to popular belief and established wisdom, canoeing the South Branch and lower section of the North Branch does not man- date a downstream journey. Without question, it makes per- fect sense to take advantage of the direction of the river’s current and “go with the flow” unless you re- ally want to go upstream. The im- perative and desire to travel against the current appears to have been lost over time as expectations, wa- ter conditions and skill sets have changed.

Intimate rivers like the South Branch and lower North Branch are perfect for upstream travel with the use of a “setting pole” to navi- gate shallow stretches of fast water where the use of a paddle is imprac- tical. It is even possible to navigate some shallow drops or rapids if an unobstructed path among the rocks can be found.

Navy Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, 28, died in a bomb attack in Af- ghanistan on April 26, and was honored in New Jersey when Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at state buildings on Monday, May 21.

Mosko was the grandson of Eva Jane and Milt Mosko of Lamington Road. Milt had been a school board member, and Eva Jane was the sec- retary at North Branch Reformed Church, and pre-school teacher there. Both passed away in 2010. Christopher’s dad John grew up on Lamington Road and graduated from Somerville High School in 1974. Christopher’s mom, Gayle

(Gwasdacus), grew up in Somer- ville and graduated from Immacu- lata.

Christopher graduated from high school in Eau Claire, WI, and was a 2007 graduate of Drex- el University in Philadelphia. As a Navy officer he was stationed in San Diego.

His dad John wrote to the Branchburg News “Chris’s real connection to the area was in the summers when he would come up to go to Vacation Bible School at North Branch Reformed Church with my mom. Chris and my dad had a closeness due to my dad’s serving in the Army in Korea.”

Red Cross Lists Training in June

Now, assuming you have a rea- son and truly believe it is possible to travel upstream without the con- stant use of a paddle, let’s look at some of the assumptions, skills and tools required.

Paddling downstream is of course a prerequisite to accumulate much of the knowledge you will find use- ful when traveling upstream. Balancing a canoe properly comes with awareness of the need for balance, as well as experience. It is painful to watch occasional or neophyte paddlers struggle with a canoe, trying to use strength to overcome an out-of-balance boat. The poor bow paddler often falls victim to the struggling captain seated in the stern. It helps to imag- ine positioning the fulcrum of a lever to gain maximum effort with minimal work.

After you get your “sea legs” and feel somewhat confident standing in the canoe, try some slow-moving shallow water to learn how to use the “setting pole” and keep your balance centered. – photo by Lindsay Mish

One of the most overlooked as- pects of paddling a canoe is where the paddler’s weight is positioned in relation to the balance or “trim” of the hull. The downstream end of a canoe should initially be set slightly lower in the water than the up- stream end, under most conditions. The intent here is that as the boat is being powered, the front end will actually lift to restore trim, hull ef- ficiency and handling. This is criti- cally important for paddling effort during focused travel.

Poling upstream also requires the same downstream end to be lower but in this case it must remain low- er to lighten the bow to avoid be- ing pushed around as you are now heading into the current. This one fact seems to be the most critical in learning to pole a canoe upstream.

Once you have the canoe trimmed properly it is time to ob- serve the dynamics of flowing water in relation to the canoe. The profile of the river bottom is reflected by the movement of the water in the form of wave length and amplitude which translates to how busy the surface of the water appears. Read- ing the water can be like looking at a sonogram of the structure hidden below. The smoother or less busy the water the deeper the channel. The more obstructed or shallower the water the more ‘river dancing’ becomes a required skill as dramat- ic course corrections take on the movements of a dance.

Watch the water as it passes around obstructions that sit above or just below the surface of the wa- ter. Typically water swirls below a rock to create an eddy of recirculat- ing water which acts as a still pool and provides refuge from the fast flowing current. An eddy provides a safe harbor in an otherwise raging current when going downstream and acts as a stairway when travel- ing upstream. Often in upstream travel the strategy in fast water is to ferry across the current from eddy to eddy while making forward progress.

Ferrying is another useful skill which allows the canoe to travel across fast water, from bank to bank, simply by holding the canoe

at an appropriate angle in relation to the speed of the current. Ferrys can be performed facing upstream or downstream and requires the up- stream end of the canoe to face the direction of intended travel. Editor’s note: This article origi- nally came in as one long piece, so Joe decided to cut it in two. We hope to run Part 2 next month.

The Greater Somerset County Chapter of the American Red Cross is offering the following courses in June: Adult First Aid/CPR/AED on June 3 & 22. Adult CPR/AED on June 6 & 11.

CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers & Health Care Providers Review on June 25.

Babysitter’s Training on June 9.

For more info or to register, visit, select “Prepar- ing and Getting Trained,” “Take a Class,” and enter your zip code. For any issues registering online, call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Space is limited so register early to reserve a seat. – Jessica Alfrey, Major Gifts Associate


(908) 526-3600 (908) 707-4578 (Fax)

Christopher “Kip” Bateman

New Jersey Legislature Senate

36 East Main Street Somerville, NJ 08876

Senator, 16th District Somerset-Morris Counties


• On-site Patient Care, Surgical Center, Physical Therapy & X-ray Imaging

• Electromyography & Nerve Conduction Studies • Same or Next Day Emergency Appointments

• New F.D.A Approved Procedure: Artifi cial Disc Replacement

• Computer Assisted Knee Replacement

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