Hunter Stenback, Senior Staff Writer

(CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

While “cabrewing” — consuming alcohol while canoeing — has become a popular pastime among Miami University students, it doesn’t go without consequences that could include a night in jail and a DUI.

Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures in Brookville, Ind. has recently updated its alcohol policies to prevent customers from going overboard while enjoying an afternoon on the Whitewater River.

According to Vice President and General Manager Gary Morgan, posted signs and more communication from staff are now necessary to combat the rise in excessive alcohol use on the premises.

“Our policy regarding alcohol is one that we feel we legally need to state, so that if there are any problems with people bringing alcohol, then we’ve at least stated our policy,” Morgan said. “In reality we do not promote alcohol on the river, but we’re not the law enforcement agency that is in control of that. We control it ourselves through signage and informing people of our rules and regulations.”

Morgan said the need for more regulation is the result of the increased potential for liability and because of bad experiences with inebriated customers in the past.

“We’re doing this mainly for the safety of our customers, but we also have to take on the liability,” Morgan said. “It’s just like if you have a house party and people get intoxicated and they go driving down the road and they injure somebody or themselves, the person that hosted the party on private property and opened the door to the drinking is liable.”

Morgan said he finds the most effective way to combat risky behavior is to inform customers of the potential consequences they may face out on the river.

“We advise people to the reality of the rules of the river, which includes being 21 years of age to drink in Indiana,” Morgan said. “Even though open containers for people of a legal drinking age are allowed on the Whitewater River, intoxication is not, and if you are caught over the legal limit then you’re arrested, you’re incarcerated, you have to post bail and you have to come back and stand trial. If you’re underage, then it’s compounded and you have other fines and penalties to deal with.”

According to Morgan, making the move to a stricter alcohol policy coincides with the company’s value of remaining professional and promoting paddle sports as an activity for people of all ages to enjoy.

“Some people get upset when they can’t get drunk on the river while canoeing, or go ‘cabrewing’ as they like to call it,” Morgan said. “But what we find is that non-drinking, under-control groups come back and there’s a surge in the business because people don’t want to canoe with people who are out of their head drunk and are not being responsible.”

Morgan said he has had nothing but good experience with student groups that have made the trip this season.

“We just had a day party from Miami, and they were very well behaved,” Morgan said. “They adhered to the rules of the river, and I did not see any intoxication. We are working in conjunction with student leaders to mainly inform them of their responsibility because canoeing is a great, great sport, but when you add alcohol it really doesn’t mix.”

Miami junior Ethan Carey, who attended an outing to Morgan’s earlier this fall, said it makes sense that more caution is being taken compared to years past.

“As far as the law is concerned, I think people should be more aware of what some of the consequences are for cabrewing,” Carey said. “If you aren’t careful on the water, you could get into some big trouble, especially if you’re drunk.”

At the end of the day, Morgan believes informing customers of the proper etiquette on the water is the best way to look out for their safety.

“We are looking out for our customers and we are happy to work with people to inform them of the proper choices that need to be made to have a successful trip,” Morgan said. “We’re just trying to make it a safer place here on the Whitewater River.”

Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures can be reached at 765-647-4904 or online at http://www.morganscanoe.com/index.cfm.

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