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View Poll Results: Do you use a PFD when paddling?
Yes 163 75.81%
No 52 24.19%
Voters: 215. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-17-2010, 05:07 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Do you use a PFD when paddling?

Just curious... I never ever do.

Last edited by fisher39; 05-17-2010 at 05:09 PM.. Reason: Whoops! In my excitement to test my new poll, I hit "yes" when it should have been "no."
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:03 PM   #2
charlie wilson
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Of course yes!

I'm fairly fit, swim like a fish and have better than average stick skills. I always WEAR a newish, good fitting, high-end PFD.

I have buried friends with the same skills and fitness who died without a PFD. In case of a maximum credible accident that I survived, I'd be extremely embarrassed trying to explain why I wasn't wearing one. We just never know when we'll hit our head, get rammed by a motorized craft, dump in cold water, etc.

On the other side of the issue, we have a planet with a holding capacity of some 3 billion humanoids with a current populate of same pushing 7 billion, so sure, the young who have not started families should be encouraged to paddle without PFDs. Those making that choice will be making a bold choice for a better planet and also slightly improve the species!

Last edited by charlie wilson; 05-01-2013 at 01:30 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:03 PM   #3
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Though an ocean swimmer,

Originally Posted by fisher39 View Post
Just curious... I never ever do.
none of my advanced swimming skills would count for squat, if I hit my head and was knocked unconscious as I exited one of my canoes or kayaks: I paddle mostly solo and multi-season in Northern NY and Canada.

Also as a graduate of several UASF aircrew survival schools, I vote for PFD's! We got to practice "drown proofing" in the swimming pool with our arms and legs strapped to our sides. Divers in the water keep anyone from actually drowning.
With due apologies to Neil Young: "Keep on paddling in the free world!
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:58 PM   #4
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Always, always, always. Yes I can swim. No, I am not going to take that chance.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:02 PM   #5
somewhere out there...
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Just curious, fisher39...why do you never use one?
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:06 PM   #6
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Always when on any larger open water and especially if it is windy or inclement weather. Must confess that sometimes while paddling small ponds and channels we leave them off, but always have them with us in the canoe in case conditions change.
Overall, we wear them more than we used to. I think the key is getting ones that are very comfortable so they don't seem like an annoyance. It's like the seat belt thing in the car. We grew up not wearing them and complained when the law changed and we were required to-then we got used to them and now wouldn't think of not putting it on.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:21 PM   #7
Rusty and the Maniac
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I started paddling in whitewater, so it's just habit for me now.
"Ahh! The old fishing hole... so peaceful and relaxing. Doesn't even matter if I catch a single fish -- ah! Come on you stupid fish, take the bait! Don't make me come down there!" -Homer Simpson
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:29 PM   #8
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I always wear my PFD. I am a good swimmer; do laps in the pool every week and ocean swims each summer. I also paddle alone alot. Like Charlie said, you never know if you are going to hit your head or somehow become unconscious. The PFD gives you a better chance.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:30 PM   #9
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I figure I can only reach for one thing if I capsize...and that's gonna be my elderly dog. I need the PFD to be on already. To me it's the difference of saving her or not. I'm in the process of trying to find a different PFD for her. It's hard for her to wear the ones that go around the stomach.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:38 PM   #10
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I am a very strong swimmer, paddled over 1000 miles last season, and every one of them, even in 100 degree temps on flat water, I wore a pfd AND a skirt on the kayak. Kind of like wearing a seatbelt... probably never need it, but the one time I don't wear it will be the first time I did need it. Why NOT wear one???
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:20 PM   #11
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The only time I don't wear a life jacket is when I'm paddling on a very small pond in a canoe. I still probably should, and sometimes I do, but not always. I always wear one in a kayak.

Not wearing a life jacket in a canoe or kayak is now illegal in New York between November 1 and May 1.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:30 PM   #12
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I wear my PFD, happily. I also do not wear cotton when I paddle. And early in the year as well as later in the year I wear a wet suit.

A good friend that I paddle with was adamant he would never wear his PFD or cold weather gear, 35 years of paddling and never been wet.
Year ago last Easter it was 35º out and he rolled his Kayak in shallow quickwater. Had all the best of his waterproof hunting cloths on. His multiple layers just held the water close to him and he was pretty chilly by the time we pulled out.
By golly he wears a PFD now and is interested in decent cold weather gear.
I am beginning to realize how hard it is to hold an umbrella while paddling in the driving rain on a windy lake.
Charlie North
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:59 PM   #13
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Same as a couple of others, on small body flatwater, not far from shore, between mid-June and mid-September I might not wear one. Otherwise always.

The key is to get a PFD that is comfortable and does not interfere with paddling, even when racing. On the 90-miler in good weather, with lots of other boats around, most people do not wear one unless on the big lakes - especially in wind. Last weekend on the 'Round the Mountain race (Saranac Lake), it was mandatory to wear one. On the Yukon River, of course, always. When with Boy Scouts or any youth, there is never any question no matter what the season and temperature - always is the only answer for everyone.
"Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

Last edited by Wldrns; 05-17-2010 at 09:23 PM..
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:10 PM   #14
One foot in front of the other
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I'm in the always camp, but would really like to get one that's more comfortable than the one I have. Years ago, while in college, I turned a canoe over in a small falls in Maryland, and my foot got stuck under the seat with the canoe upside down. While turned over, I hit my head, and finally twisted up and freed myself, tearing my ACL in the process. Believe me, a PFD allowed me to be rescued alive, since I was in no condition to pull myself out at that point.
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you're about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you, 'I haven't touched you yet.” Carlos Castenada
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:19 PM   #15
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I always wear one. Would probably feel weird to paddle without it on.
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:39 PM   #16
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Most all the time, yes, in an open canoe. On some very small water, maybe not. In a kayak, always. In a fast sailboat, always, always, always...those things can get far away in a short time when (not if) you go overboard!!
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by allygatt View Post
I figure I can only reach for one thing if I capsize...and that's gonna be my elderly dog. I need the PFD to be on already. To me it's the difference of saving her or not. I'm in the process of trying to find a different PFD for her. It's hard for her to wear the ones that go around the stomach.
Thanks for the practical insight. I'm debating getting one for my springer although he swam across Raquette Lake from Big Island last year trying to catch up to the crew going to Blue Mountain Museum. He typically swims everyday during the summer with us in the pool, but I still wonder if a dog really needs a vest.
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:10 PM   #18
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depends on where i am.

larger lakes, deeper or faster water, yes, always wear one.

home (LA) creeks and swamps, 2'-3' deep, 95* and humid, no. same water conditions but in winter, when the water's cold, yes.
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Old 05-17-2010, 10:38 PM   #19
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While I answered "yes" to the question I was not completely honest, or as honest as the answers allowed.
I have been known to have the pfd with me in the canoe, but not on, in hot weather. Also with water temps above 65. Otherwise it is on my person, which is better than 90% of the time.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:35 PM   #20
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Friends Honor Drowning Victims

By Mike Maslanik & Michele Cutri-Bynoe
Messenger Post
Posted Apr 21, 2010 @ 10:13 AM
Canandaigua, N.Y. —

Randall “RJ” Lis tried his best to get back to shore after falling into Canandaigua Lake last week, but he just couldn’t make it.

“He made a valiant effort to save himself,” Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said. “He was almost there, but he didn’t make it.”

Searchers found Mr. Lis’s body soon after they resumed their search Tuesday, Spike said. He was found about 150 feet from shore in roughly 10 feet of water. His body was taken to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan for examination.

Spike could tell he had fought for his life because Mr. Lis’s shoes and other possessions had been found earlier, indicating he was attempting to maximize his ability to swim.

On Saturday, divers found the body of Floyd “Zack” Frey, 19, of Canandaigua.

Neither man was wearing a life jacket, Spike said, and the water was a bone-chilling 39 degrees on Thursday morning, when it is believed their small boat capsized.

I gotta admit though, I go without one in some situations.
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