Boat Safety… What’s That?
Looking out across the water I can see at least five spots where an unmarked rock or shallow reef currently lies less than two feet below the surface.
Any one of these formations could tear the lower end off a motor in an instant, and easily launch an unsuspecting boater overboard. At this time of year, the water level can change as much as a metre in a week, turning these normally visible obstacles into submerged death traps.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I counted thirteen boats that passed by my property. Life jackets were being worn by the passengers on only three of them.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Every year across Canada and the U.S., hundreds of people are killed in boating accidents. Sadly, many of the casualties occur in cottage country. While it may be impossible to prevent all boating deaths, the simple act of wearing a PFD would save a large number of lives.
Why, then, do we continually refuse to wear our life jackets?
According to the law, there must be a PFD in the boat for every passenger, so the investment has already been made. Handing the jackets out and putting them on doesn’t require a lot time or effort.
So, what’s the issue?
Anglers don’t like to wear a PFD because they claim the jacket impedes mobility. Ironically, it is the anglers who commonly fall out of their boats and drown.
Young people don’t like to wear life jackets because they don’t look cool, and most kids consider themselves to be immortal. Yet every year, the recklessness and inexperience of youth unfortunately results in boating tragedies.
Older boaters don’t wear their PFD’s because they believe that they are experienced skippers and know the waterways like the back of their hand. Inevitably, they push the envelope too far, and try to navigate back to the cottage after dark, or in bad weather. In these conditions anyone can hit a floating log, or misjudge the location of a rock or reef.
We all have our excuses and everyone believes the accidents only happen to other people. Yet people continue to die every year, and many of these deaths could be prevented.
If you don’t want to wear the life jacket for yourself, at least have the courtesy to wear it for the people who care about you. After all, they are ultimately the ones who will suffer if you don’t come home.
Written by: Andrew Walker