If safety doesn't matter to you maybe ego does. Don't be a Doofus. Where your PFD. If you want to know who the pro- paddlers are, just look at who is wearing a PFD. When I'm out on the water, I can tell who is a pro just by looking for a PFD. I can also tell who is a rank amateur (doofus) by looking for the lack of a PFD.
It's that time of year again here in Crystal River. Snowbirds and manatees returning. We want to keep them all safe. For the paddler we always run into those who hate to wear a life jacket. It typically go like this:
I’m a great swimmer; I have been swimming for my entire life.
If something happens I’ll just swim to shore.
I will keep a jacket in my boat, and if I happen to capsize I will put it on.
Maybe, but also maybe not and the maybe not is the problem
70% of boating fatality accidents result from drowning, and almost 85% of those who drown are not wearing a life jacket! 70 Also important are preparedness, knowledge, and experience, which take time to develop, but a life jacket is the one quick bomb proof ways to prevent drowning.
A false sense of security often emerges from the environment you are paddling in. The Boat U.S. Foundation has done extensive research and has identified that more than 90% of drownings occur in inland water, most within a few feet of safety and involve boats under 20-feet long. Don’t be deceived by what seems familiar to you. Sudden changes in weather, medical emergencies such as heart attacks, boat collisions, and mechanical injuries can all hinder your ability to survive.
Kayak Dave puts it this way: "Saying that you could put a life jacket on after a capsize is like saying you could put a seatbelt on before a crash."
Just last year, the Canadian Safe Boating Council hosted a trial among experienced boaters to test their ability to put on a life jacket in the water. Not as easy as it sounds.
The Environment: Manatees
Clueless paddlers (many of them in the doofus category) are creating more and more problems for manatees. People need to understand that manatee well being is not strictly about being hit by boats. Any disturbance that makes a manatee move when it is trying to stay warm or nursing a calf causes stress. Touching or petting manatees effects their behavior. So does feeding or giving them water. These last two acts are enumerated under the ESA. We do not think swimming with manatees is good for the animals because of the lack of enforcement and the increasing volume of clueless people. Efforts to work with the swim programs to promote a no touch ethic have proved largely futile. That is why we do not rent kayaks for the purpose of swimming with manatees. Please practice passive observation.
Before paddling on Kings Bay, please take the time to watch Manatee Manners for Paddlers
The Treasure's of the Trails Paddling Edition is getting close to publication.
Click here for a preview(not to be used for navigational purposes) of adraft partial section from Matt, Max, and Tom's Citrus Paddling Trails Book. (PDF)
Many of the POI's in the Paddle Citrus Link below will be covered in greater detail in the book. The book will cover the coastal, lake, and Withlacoochee River areas of Citrus County in much the same format as the currently available Finding the Treasures of the Trails (Hiking, Biking, and Birding)