Another heartbreaker.

This tragedy is especially poignant because of the two little boys.

Paddlers, be kind to those who love and care about you: wear your PFD.

Why does the spokeman say that wearing a PFD “doesn’t apply in this situation”? Unless that is a mis-quote, it’s incredibly dumb. The fact that small children survived while wearing their vests while their father drowned is so obvious I can’t believe an authority figure would still be so wishy-washy as to suggest that PFD use shoukd be in any way optional.

The stupidity of most states mandating that PFDs be simply carried in a boat continues to baffle me. I know of NO instance where anyone was able to locate and then put on a PFD AFTER they were dumped in a capsize or crash. The regulation is as idiotic as saying that you don’t need to fasten your seatbelt as long as there is one in your car or that you don’t need to wear a motorcycle or biking helmet as long as you carry one strapped to the bike.

Libertarians will squawk, I’m sure, but as long as people are going to be oblivious to their own safety, I believe the state has a responsibility and a vested interest to require their citizens to mitigate risks, especially when it is so easily done with simple basic safety gear. Even when it isn’t required, I always wear my seatbelt in a car, my helmet on a bike, a hard-hat, safety glasses and protective shoes on a job site and ALWAYS a PFD on the water.

If your PFD annoys you, invest in one that fits better. Get used to it, just like you get used to a bike helmet or seat belt. Eventually, like me, you will feel naked and vulnerable without it.

because he’s a DNR officer

– Last Updated: Jul-06-16 11:26 AM EST –

and clearly ignorant. Even the article subsequently mentions that he went under water after the boat began to sink.
I'd think that if anyone from the USCG reads that, they won't like it. Whether they contact the guy is another matter.


– Last Updated: Jul-06-16 11:29 AM EST –

A high school teacher from near me. Only 42. The high school is understandably grieving, he sounded like a great guy and well-liked.

Nothing to be said that hasn't been said here a thousand times before: wear a PFD. If you're paddling the Great Lakes, have a boat equipped with flotation.

Also - I've paddled this area several times. This is an attractive area of shoreline with outcrops such as Turnip Rock nearshore, and a lighthouse about a mile offshore, and a popular summer destination with plenty of waterfront cottages. It's tempting for novices to paddle on sunny summer days. I've been there enough to see plenty of people ill-equipped for the Great Lakes. Conditions can change pretty quickly due to shoals and while the bluff shoreline is low, it still refracts. People jumping in to paddle on calm warm days don't know what they don't know.

Wondered the same thing.
An incredibly stupid statement if in fact the paper quoted the DNR officer accurately.

I was in that area for the PAKS symposium. Turnip Rock is maybe a four-mile round trip from Port Austin. Lots of places to rent kayaks. I estimated over 100 rec boats on the water one day, all headed for the rock. Saw only two people wearing PFDs.

News reports claim the family was in one kayak. Is there a four-person kayak?

This one really bothers me because of the two little kids who lost their dad - and more.

I just don’t get it.

I never wore a PFD
for the majority of my life while out canoeing, kayaking, or fishing. I have always been fit, a very good swimmer and the law stated that the PFD must be in the boat, but not worn. It seemed like a perfectly rational approach, so I did just that.

It wasn’t until I got involved in the sea kayaking community where everyone wears a PFD and discusses it plenty that my attitude changed. I picked up a PFD and always wear it regardless of the conditions.

I would assume many or most people not involved in a kayaking community believe as I once did.


– Last Updated: Jul-06-16 9:16 PM EST –

the law not requiring PDF be worn is stupid. I swim decent but I even keep my PDF on at the floating docks at my house when pulling the kayaks out. I could slip when shoving them up on the dock. Plenty of people slip and hit their head on docks and boat and drown. Cramp, heart attack, or some thing else that can disable you and a jacket helps.

you have to be prepared
I read the annual reports our state publishes on deaths on the waters. Virtually all the people who drown in boating related accidents are not wearing PFD’s. The very few who were found to be wearing flotation generally have succumbed to things like heart attacks or trauma from collisions, or (in rare cases) from prolonged exposure with inadequate protective clothing. The number of solo boaters found dead (sans PFD) in shallow streams and ponds in fair weather is striking. The fact that so many people venture out who can’t swim or don’t know how to re-enter a capsized boat, let alone w/o a PFD, boggles my mind as well.

Like the statistics that most vehicular accidents happen less than 25 miles from home (which is the radius that most of us drive most often, the statistical likelihood that you will need the support and protection of a PFD is highest when you are out on a day trip in familiar waters, even on a very nice day.

Most outfitter liveries ask or even require renters to wear PFD’s, but without state regulations mandating it, this is difficult to enforce.

We’ve all been down this road before.

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 1:09 AM EST –

My only concern about mandatory PFD laws is that they don't make sense if we consider all the other things we do that can kill us. My standard example is, sure, we could save dozens or maybe more than a hundred lives a year by forcing all boaters to wear PFDs, but we could save many *thousands* of lives a year by making all drivers and passengers in cars wear full-face helmets. Who here thinks head injuries only happen to bikers and motorcyclists? Dream on.

Education/awareness works; laws, not as much and they open up the "if this, why not that?" problem mentioned above. When I was a kid, ours was the only family I ever met that wore seatbelts (our early cars, like all others of the time, had no seatbelts, but my dad installed them himself. He did the same on later cars that had no belts in the back seat, and in one car he installed shoulder harnesses in the front years before the first cars (Ford) ever showed up that way from the factory). From my earliest recollections until I was about 16, I *never* saw another person wearing a seatbelt outside of my own family (and even by then it was exceedingly rare). When other people rode in the car with us for the first time, they were shocked that the driver would insist they buckle up. Most had never done it before in their whole life. Now, virtually everyone wears them, and that was true before the recent (non-enforceable) seatbelt laws appeared.

Oh, one more thing about laws. If it weren't for the fact that I often paddle on crowded city lakes, I wouldn't have even seen a law-enforcement officer on the water in at least 10 years, and prior to that it must have been 20 years, and I'm on the water a lot more than the average boater. The average boater in the midwest will go their entire life without seeing anyone who could enforce a PFD law, so what would be their motivation to comply? Yet as we all know, a little bit of awareness is all it takes for those of us who have it.

I’ll never understand…
…the “you should have it on the boat” approach to PFDs. Totally worthless. Have you ever tried grabbing your PFD and putting it on while in the water/in distress? I tried it once out of curiosity, to make a point to a friend. It’s really, really hard.

I think there is a state by state
movement to require PFD’s to be worn.

When we were in Arizona I kept getting reminders that mine was required to be worn by AZ law on Facebook. Surprisingly ( not ) FB knows what I do.

I agree a PFD putting on in the water contest is interesting. It can be very hard without some mentoring of the easy ways that MIGHT or not be possible without getting your head wet.


I don’t think required PFD use will be legislated in Michigan; three years ago the legislature repealed the mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. The biker death rate has increased by 26 percent since then but there’s been no movement to bring back the helmet law.

I still don’t understand how two adults and two kids fit into one kayak nor has it been stated whether the family owned it or rented it.

Very simple.
I wear my pfd, but I don’t want anyone telling me I have to–especially some government dipwad who has no idea what it’s all about. Here, it is already required that children under a certain age must wear a life jacket while boating–fine. I still believe that in order to maintain some minimal sliver of liberty, Adults should be able to make adult decisions without overbearing government mandates.

Not to make a direct comparison, but my state at one point during the seatbelt controversy, had drawn up regulations that even motorcycles would have to have seatbelts and they would have to be worn. I don’t trust government and believe it should be the least intrusive in our lives as possible.

How far a stretch is it for government to also require swimmers to wear a pfd? Don’t kid yourselves–freedom and liberty can disappear very quickly if left to the do-gooder regulators.

to play devil’s advocate
Seat belt use in my state increased dramatically after enforcement of the law here.

A lack of seatbelt use caused all of us higher auto insurance premiums, and prompted the development of air bags. Additionally, seat belts can help keep you in the seat, instead of sliding around the inside of a car. When you lose that position, it’s more difficult to control your vehicle, making you a danger to other drivers.

Seat belt laws don’t just protect you.

Any jackass…

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 1:20 PM EST –

Anyone who writes, votes for, or promotes a law requiring motorcyclists to wear a seat belt is NOT a knowledgeable motorcyclist.

They are a jackass........

The last place you want to be, if you drop a motorcycle you're riding, is strapped to that motorcycle.

I base my opinion on 50 years of riding experience.

Wearing high quality safety gear is the best bet a motorcyclist has.

I always wear my pfd when I'm canoeing; year round, including summer.
Don't want to wear yours; that's your option. Creates no issues for me.


Viewpoint of a different Devil

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 1:17 PM EST –

In my earlier post I said seatbelt use had become the norm before the implementation of seatbelt laws, but you are correct that once the law was in effect, seatbelt use increased even more. But when that happened, what was the role of perceived consequences? I think perceived consequences, the fact that the police might notice non-use of seatbelts , was a big factor in getting that last bit of the driving public to buckle up (even though there are still a few that don't). Do you believe that if the average driver could reasonably expect to never see a police officer for the entire rest of his life that the same thing would have happened? I don't, and the average boater is in exactly that situation, being fully aware that he probably will never encounter someone on the water who has the authority to write him a ticket. That's why I think a PFD law would be useless across much of the country. Since we'll probably never have the money to hire more law-enforcement officers, promoting awareness of the risk/benefit aspect of PFDs would do far more.

Heat stroke
Not to say that it was not a tragedy that some one died. Just try to be on the water in central Fl in the summer wearing a life jacket. Used up eight gell ice packs in two hours in an experiment to figure out if it was possible to wear a PFD in summer after 10:00am. Gell packs were under the PFD. Heat and PFD do not mix. Even the self inflatable ones are HOT. So make PFD mandatory and kill all non powered boating in hot areas. Any one who keeps on demanding mandatory life jackets should come out with me. I dare you. Will have a rescue team waiting for you for heat related illness. I am off the water by 10:00 am and still it is too hot the last two hours for a PFD.

I never mentioned motorcycles
Go back to sleep

Heat stroke?
I paddle in central Florida several times a week, and I always wear my inflatable PFD.

You’re probably right
I think the analogy is flawed, in that lack of driver seatbelt use (in a CAR, Bob) is much more likely to have consequences for others than a paddler not wearing a PFD. And it would be difficult to enforce.

Sadly, the most effective way for one to become convinced to use either is to be without one when you really needed it. Maybe someday, with virtual reality…