0500 | Monday, April 18th, 2022
It was a sliver past 0500 when we conducted this morning’s boating lesson. This particular client happened to be brand new to boating, knew nothing about her new 40’ center console, and so wanted to start from the basics. So as always, I laid out the cold hard question of whether or not she had known anyone who’d passed away while boating – the answer was a hesitant but thankful, “No.”
All too often in our day to day lives we get accustomed to doing things on autopilot. We get so used to when, what, and how we do things that they ultimately become automatic. Just like fastening your seatbelt in your car, making PFD’s (Personal Floatation Devices) second nature for everyone on board to wear, should be the same. Plus with all the confusion that can be going on around both outside and on board our vessel, a PDF is the last thing we want to find ourselves scrambling for when re
Per the 2020 United States Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistic Summary, of the 5,265 boating accidents that involved deaths, 75% or 3,949 of those were due to drowning. And of that number, 86% or 3,396 were NOT wearing a PFD.
Fast forward to this 2022 boating season, which will undoubtedly see many more boaters enjoying themselves out there on the water, it’s important to keep your wits about you and not get too complacent. You’re in a dynamic environment that’s always changing and moving and so it’s very easy to see how mishaps can suddenly and unexpectedly happen. You need to be ready BEFORE anything should happen.
The same thing goes with running aground or hitting something. Now touch your thumb to your forefinger, as if to say “okay” – that approximate size diameter hole will let in an average of 66 gallons of water a minute – enough to sink a vessel within a minute and a half – fact. We must also take into consideration that most people who hit something (aside from running aground), aren’t even aware of it until it’s too late. Due to the shock factor, it’s said that the boater “sinks under pressure” without having time to don the one thing that could increase their survival rate in this type of situation – their PFD.
Of the classes of PFD’s, the US Coast Guard law requires a TYPE I – Offshore Buoyant (the big bulky orange ones) for all passengers on board. These are designed for when you’re boating in an environment where help may not be immediate. Boaters generally know these as they satisfy the USCG law when getting pulled over however, the reality is that not many adults want to be seen riding around with one on.
The TYPE II – Near-Shore Buoyant, designed for faster rescue, are also for serious inland and near shore cruising. Although not guaranteed to turn all unconscious wearers face-up as are the TYPE I’s, these PFDs have since become the go-to for boating enthusiast who want to be practically safe (aka wearing their PFD) while boating. In addition, new versions also come in a hydrostatic option whereas the PFD will deploy when submerged in a certain amount of water. These vests are low profile, more aesthetically trendy, and are manufactured by all major PFD companies now a days.
We personally choose Mustang Survival HIT Type II PFDs and depending on the situation, will opt for the hydrostatic or manual pull cord option depending upon the activity.
In the end, do your own homework about which PFD will suit your activity – Think Safe and choose the Right PFD for you – and don’t forget to wear it!