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JDizz asked for examples of how a person wearing a pfd could possibly drown. I gave him some, and can give him, or you more if necessary.
A person wearing a pfd, with the ability to swim, knowing how & when to swim "aggressively",who has some self rescue skills training will dramatically "decrease" the possibility they will NOT get themselves into many life threatening situations.
They typically will be less likely to panic, less likely to put themselves into dangerous situations, have more confidence in their ability to help themselves, and be more aware of how to assist fellow paddlers. They will be aware of techniques used to assist them in dealing with some problems such as strainers, hydraulics, etc. There are techniques that may assist you; if you know what they are. Having the ability to "swim aggressively" is one of those techniques.
Ask yourself this, "Do you want someone who wears a pfd, someone who can swim & who can swim aggressively when necessary; one who has some training assisting you "when you really need help"?
Or do you prefer to get assistance from a non pfd wearing, non swimmer, who has no training?
Where do you expect these people will be, and what do you expect them to be doing in an emergency situation "in the water".
They will probably be on shore watching; not in the water assisting you. Or they will be the victim in the water, hollering for help.
It is very unlikely that they will be doing things which they have no ability, skills, education, or training to do.
Newspaper reporters love drowning victims & interviewing seemingly helpless bystanders; they make good video copy for the News at 8.
I'm not talking about gender issues, or who might jump you at the takeout.
The "initial issue" was soloing; without the ability to swim, and having no self rescue skills.
I've been watching this thread with interest.
Lot's of good comments here that should cause someone to think about the risks they face.
Because of my (lack of) work schedule, most of my outdoor activities over the last 22 years have been solo. If not for that, my outdoor life would be extremely limited.
Solo adventures require a different mindset than group trips. You must practice consistently good judgment and preparation or you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Preparation, as has been discussed here, includes skills that can reasonably be expected to be put to use in the respective activity (i.e. rope handling/mountaineering, swimming/paddling, etc). There is plenty of information available these days to learn "the ropes" before advancing solo into wild adventures, so there is no excuse for learning the basics "the hard way", and especially for not even knowing for sure what the basics are.
Preparation also includes mental training and decision making that prepares you to accept the limits you will face gracefully. You must be able to identify and back away from those challenges that are unreasonable for you to face alone at your experience level.
I am a proponent of solo adventuring for those that have done "the homework" and are physically capable. Although I do like shared adventures, there is nothing like experiencing the wild on your own. I have learned to love it deeply.
However....If a person has to ask others "should I go solo..." the answer is probably no - or at least, not yet. This is one of those personal things you should be able to answer definitively (and honestly) for yourself. If you don't know the answer, the answer (IMO) is "no".
This is as simple as I can put it....Know yourself, know the challenge, then decide for yourself.
everyone might feel better if you carry a PLB or SPOT.
PLB is for you. SPOT has a PLB function but I find it benefits the family back at home and reassures them that all is well.
Nevertheless using SPOT has its own share of responsibilities and onuses on you the tripper.
It took me a while to realize that while I was fine on my 70 days a year of solo, the family did not know that. And in that respect I was really being selfish.
Some communication with them at periodic intervals during the trip really helped be it SAT phone or SPOT.
Women tend to be more conservative, guys not infrequently are more the try it and if I don't die it must be ok attitude. As a result, Jeff may be edging his boat more boldly than you are or leaning out more over the boat. If he hasn't got some time learning how to balance over that edge, or brace to prevent the capsize, he'll go over a good bit with that.
This is a good thing as long as it is associated with learning what I mentioned above.
It also sounds like there may be some slightly moving water involved, which also means learning how water acts on the boat so that you edge in the correct direction. Edging wrong will capsize you in a New York minute, even in the south. That was probably what happened when you flipped turning to make sure Jeff made it thru OK. You probably gave the current the upstream edge instead of turning on the downstream edge, which is a guaranteed capsize in current.
In sum, capsizing in and of itself is not a bad thing. Continuing to capsize because of failure to learn the skills above is also not necessarily awful, though over time that gets to be an annoyingly soggy experience.
Your responses here and in the older thread tend to get into comparisons of your own and your brother's water experiences that are interesting, but really have no bearing on what you need to do to paddle safely. It's just diversion. You've said you know you need some skills - just go get them. Your brother can make his own choice.
You are doing, at least in writing here, the same thing as Kathy. Talking about who may have done what wrong on the water rather than getting some training to fix it.
It's entertaining for some, but I have the same advice for you as your sister. Forget about that irrelevant stuff and get some instruction.
FWIW, you two are sounding a lot like a cranky old married couple. For the sake of your relationship, you may want to be in separate instruction groups so this kind of thing doesn't happen after every class.