PFD/swimming question

The pfd string got me wondering?

If you are a swimmer, and you tipped over in your canoe or kayak about 100 feet from shore and you don’t do a roll and the water temperature is 40 degrees or below would you rather have your PFD on or off?



Have it On!
I’d want my pnet “obituary thread” to be as uncertain and ambiguous as possible as to the precise cause of my foolish demise.

Sheesh Jack
First you almost start a terrorist uprising by not using the proper e-mail punctuation, and now you are questioning the governments wisdom of advocating PFD’s. Before long you are going to do something really wierd like not hauling your medical kit, throw line, spare paddle, spare clothes, spare wet suite, spare dry suite, wheels, and … along with you on you lake paddle.

As to your question. I’d likely be dumb enough to want to drag my boat to shore with me or get back in and with the water that cold I’d likely want to be wearing it.

Happy Paddling,


On for sure
I wouldn’t be in that stuff without drysuit and underlayers and at least one hood (and my ice cap if I was being real conservative), but even just that prickly cold feeling on my face would be enough to challenge my equinamity. I’d take all the help I can get, even if I am a swimmer, in those temps.

OK, now I’ll throw this at you
Next summer when the water is nice and warm try swimming 100 feet as fast as you can with a PFD on vs swimming 100 feet without one on.



I have done that, its pretty much a toss up with the additional drag of the PFD getting canceled by the buoyancy of it. But I do get your point… Just like on the thread about what Color dry-suit. Somebody will always always always chime in about INCREASED VISABILITY. But these same folks would never think about buying a CAR that’s Bright yellow for INCREASED visibility… Even though the odds are far greater of somebody not seeing your car and smashing into you then they are not seeing you in your Kayak and smashing into you… I can see mandatory PFDs for club trips, as you don’t know who is and who is not a good swimmer. And I can see having one on if I was doing some white water. But Mid Aug on the Edistio, I don’t think so…. My take if you want one wear it… BTW I got my daughter one at wally world it’s a swimming PFD… made for swimming, it feels really neat like its made out of sheet of lightweight silicone breasts… That’s the best way to describe how it feels L… any way she LIKES swimming with it on… Probably because she has like NO BODY fat and sinks like a rock when she stops moving!!! BTW the swimming PFD works pretty good for yacking too, and its about ¼ the price…

100 ft swim
12 marine DI’s tried either 100 ft or 100 yards and didn’t make it.

Another thought, beyond just testing out your 40 degree tolerance, how often will you abandon the boat and paddle just 100 ft from shore in calm but cold weather? What will you then do soaking wet on shore, watching the boat drift away?

I propose keep the PFD on. 1) Easier to find the body later. 2) Improved chance to make it to shore when arms go numb. 3) better core insulation when paddling, swimming, and on shore. 4) float higher, much easier to collect paddle and boat, organize, and lunge back onto the rear deck and wiggle aboard the flooded boat, then paddle to shore, dump out, and dry out/change or race for your life homeward 5) even though you take GeezerJock magazine, we still want you around.

In 40 degree water, if I wasn’t dressed for immersion I’d need the PFD to support me during the initial “gasp/contract into a ball/force yourself to breathe normally” phase. If I was dressed for 40 degree air there would be so much clothing drag that I’d rather swim with the PFD than without it.

If I was dressed for immersion, the PFD would allow me to casually bob around and collect my gear before a leisurely swim to shore.

What are the conditions
that causd me to capsize?


Cold water immersion.
As a diver cold water immersion is a normal part of my life. From what I can see most paddlers who paddle in cold water that I’ve seen are NOT dressed for cold water immersion. I think cold water is definitely one of the most commonly underestimated elements that paddlers face. On warm sunny days in particular when the water temps are still very low.

That being said, if a person is dressed appropriately for cold water immersion and both water and wind conditions are fairly calm there should be no reason for them to get in a hurry being within 100 ft. from the bank.

When you throw high wind, waves, and strong currents into that scenario it’s really a matter of asking whether the person should be paddling in those conditions in such cold waters to begin with.

Even then, they are still much better off with the PFD on IMO. At the least you still have a chance being seen and being rescued if you can’t make it to shore on your own.

Simple equation
OFF: Firsr minute or two or three spent wasting time and core temperature locating boat, retrieving PFD, donning PFD.

ON: Immediately swim for shore. No time or core temperature wasted.

Of course, life is full of choices.


I don’t qualify for “Geezer Jock”
…But I read it.

It comes free to Nanci since she qualified for the National senior games in the cycling.

So with those marines was it both 100 feet and 100 yards or one or the other.

I couldn’t make 100 yards, but I did 100 feet in 38 degrees water as a test.

Besides jar heads never learned to swim like us swabs!



On, doing the lifeguard stroke because
most of the propulsion comes from the legs and the submerged arm which will be unhindered by wearing a PFD. The protection from the cold will be more than compensated for the additional immersion time. The extra layers will help prevent the gasp reflex.

You can always remove the PFD as you get closer, depending on how your feeling. Leaving it behind eliminates this option.

I think that anyone who sez "OFF"
should be subjected to having a paddling companion sneak up from astern, capsize (unannounced) the individual, and when said individual surfaces the companion should say “Capsize drill!” in a cheery voice and then stand back to act as a safety boat.

I volunteer to be the capsizer/safety boat. Great entertainment!


ON, and use the right swim strokes
The PFD acts like a big layer of fat. I would definitely have it ON for any paddle in cold water. It helps keep you warm.

I once went for an (intentional) swim while wearing the PFD. I wore a bathing suit plus the PFD. Even when I got out of the water (which was a mild 65 to 68 deg), I wore the PFD, because it cut wind chill as well as providing extra insulation in the water.

The catch is that certain swimming strokes work better than others when wearing a PFD. I found either the sidestroke or backstroke to work well. Crawl, not so well.

Is it legal for kayaking?
The swimming PFD sounds great!

Wet Suit?
Well, not really in the context of the original post, but…

I would have on the PFD in 40 degree water in case I get shocky or cramped up when I hit the water, but I would prefer a wet suit. It cushions the shock of the initial immersion, adds buoyancy, and still allows swimming.

I am not so good about wearing PFD, but I am careful about being dressed for immersion in cold water.


– Last Updated: Dec-30-05 12:56 PM EST –

Wha Ho, Wet Pilgrims;

Per-soon-o-lee, ah's always waars me' lifevest even in 6 inches o' water an ah's been canooin' all sorts o' water fer pert near 43 years mostly in the cold weather (ah' doon't like de heat over 60-65 degrees). All de talk 'bout swimmin' 100 feets ta shore be all well an good fer ye folks dat can swim good, butt dis here varmint sinks ta de bottom like a'hunk o' pet-roo-fied Spam (me'gots waat ah' calls "heavy fat") wittout a Pfd. Wet suit, drysuit, doon't matter. Ah's be better off walkin' along de bottom like dem lobster critters do. Anywho, me'reckon's alot depends on yer nat-oo-ral bouyancy an' swimmin' ability. Ah, finds it too much work ta stay afloat, let alone swim a 100 feet witout me lifevest on. Dis boy needs an above average bouyancy rated jacket ta boot, ah's still has trouble stayin' afloat wit 15 lbs.

Fat Elmo

In those conditions
The PFD becomes less important than proper immersion gear. But how often are you really going to be just 100 ft from shore? When you paddle and say " I am going to stay close to shore" How far out do you go in reallity. I got sucked out of my boat once about 75ft from a jetty. I was sure glad I had my PFD on when a 6 ft breaker slammed me into the rocks chest first.

cause it’s safer. Cold shock and immersion cuases a involuntary gasp. I would rather be floating while choking on water than sinking.