40 years of Orange Torpedo – what has changed

Changes in OTT

I’ve been thinking lately about the changes in Orange Torpedo Trips over the last almost 40 years that I have guided. Our basic philosophy and procedures are the same as ever, but I have seen huge changes in the equipment that we use.

In 1972, our boats were the same basic design, but there were some differences. The PVC material was not as durable, and we stopped several times a day to apply temporary patches that would hopefully last until we made it to the lodge or camp. After dinner each night, we would have “patch parties” down at the beach where we made the boats seaworthy for the next day. Of course, back then there were no self-bailing boats and we had lots of fun teaching the lost art of “buddy dumping”. Valves in the boats were pop-up type valves that we secured with rubber bands. Of course the valves would pop out at the most inopportune moments.

Our old PFD’s ( life jackets ) were all orange horse-collar type design. They didn’t have much buoyancy and smelled to high heaven ! Our new PFD’s have higher flotation, are much more comfortable and include pockets to hold sunscreen, etc. In addition, guides and guests now wear different color PFD’s for easier identification.

Personal gear has changed, too. Sunscreen was not invented until the mid ‘70s. In fact, OTT field tested Johnson and Johnson Sundown, one of the early sunscreens. Prior to that time, we used large beach towels to cover the exposed legs in the boats. An early trip “flip” usually led to a lost towel and a bad case of sunburn. No present day paddler would be caught without their sunscreen.

Guests were usually attired in cotton jeans shorts, cotton shorts, and shoes and socks. In the event of rain, they were encouraged to bring a nylon jacket. In the 1980’s we made a move to rubberized wrestling warm-up tops and later on to wetsuits and splash jackets designed to keep paddlers warm. Current day paddlers usually arrive outfitted in synthetic shirts and shorts ( both to keep warm and prevent sunburn), and some type of river sandal or water shoe.

With all the changes that have evolved over the years, some things have not changed. Our well-trained guides, attention to detail, and emphasis on safety will never change. Join us and enjoy all the changes that have made OTT what it is today !

By Mike Slagle (aka OG, Great One, or Captain Skirt)