12. The Story of the Boatman and the Flood

This is how I heard it.  Some may question the truth of the matter, but I know Dave Edwards and so I’ll take it as fact.

Once a group of rafters with AZRA were tied up at the drainage from Havasu Falls.  It was a clear summer day and folks were blissfully unaware of the flash flood waters until the moment that they hit.  The tributary narrows right there at the opening into a slot canyon so that the water funnels in and shoots out in a torrent.


Havasu flash flood

The folks standing and lounging on the rocks didn’t know what hit them, only that it felt like a wall of falling bricks and then that they were being swept away in the muddy maelstrom of the Colorado.

Dave was in one of the rafts and remembers the chaos of garbage and rocks, of the wall of water carrying ripped trees and flipping boats.  There in the raging torrent coming towards him he saw a woman’s face, and then the face was gone.

Dave grew up with a father, a military man, who made a career out of telling his son that he was hardly the measure of a man, that he wasn’t good enough.  In a way that only that boy now grown to be a man could do, he dove into the water without a thought.  He was swept way in the swift current and he reached down until he felt hair and he pulled the unconscious woman to the surface.  One of his fellow guides threw a float to him, but he was holding the woman with both arms, so he locked the nut in his teeth and in that way the two of them were pulled to safety.  He saved the woman’s life that day.

But he wouldn’t see it that way.  It’s just my job, he might say.

1 thought on “12. The Story of the Boatman and the Flood

  1. I was there in 1984 and have photos of the occasion. I didn’t witness this part of the events (I was upstream) but heard these same details later that night from others. I ended up trapped on the “wrong” side of the canyon with family and other passengers. Dave swam (I kid you not) across the flooded creek with a rope and he and other crew rigged lines spanning the canyon mouth. They strapped us in one by one and brought us to the downstream side. It was an amazing experience and all credit goes to Dave and the other guides.
    David July 2012

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