here is an article that says it much better than I ever have. Wearing or not wearing a pfd is your choice, but this author and his article made a lot of sense to me.
Clearest explanation I’ve ever read on the subject.
It is only a debate for people that do not understand the dangers of cold water immersion.
I generally do not wear a PFD in flatwater. Most of the places I paddle flatwater at are places you can get up and walk if you fall over.
Big water is different and I always wear a PFD there.
Luckily, I live in central Florida and don’t much worry about cold water immersion.
The Dunning-Kruger effect always seems so relevant in these discussions. It addresses a relationship of knowledge and confidence, and seems to apply quite well to kayaking.
On Tuesday I was paddling out of the mouth of a river towards the Atlantic. I saw another kayak that was making approximately a half mile crossing just inside the inlet, and we were close to crossing paths, so I veered out a little to say hello. We said hello, and then he warned me of the currents there, clearly expressing concern for my safety. Now the wind and water were fairly calm there. There were small unbroken swells rolling through off of the ocean. The water was reported at 51 degrees fahrenheit. And I just found it interesting that this gentleman making this crossing with no skirt, no front bulkhead, fishing poles mounted, a back hatch that was open with a kayak cart sticking up out of it, no immersion wear, was genuinely worried about my safety and expressing safety concerns to me as I wore a wetsuit and surf hood, fitted lifejacket, in a fully bulkheaded proper sea kayak. I thought it seemed very kindhearted, and it made me think about this Dunning-Kruger effect. I could tell by the way he paddled, his reactions to hull movements, the way he paid close attention to every swell, that sea kayaking skills were minimal. But I could also see his confidence and that he felt he was very knowledgeable.
It seems to hold fairly true. If you tell someone who’s never paddled before to put on and adjust a lifejacket, they seem to just do it. Then there’s the person that canoed once in high school and rented a kayak on vacation 2 summers ago. Or someone that bought a boat 5 years ago and they get out at least 3 or 4 times every year. These seem to be the ones who know exactly what they’re doing while also being the most likely to be surprised by a myriad of things that a truly experienced paddler would anticipate. The crux of it is that they’re not aware and are hesitant to accept that they’re less capable of good judgement than anyone else participating in the activity.
@CapeFear - I was blowing bubbles with my neighbor’s 3 year old twins over the summer. Molly would gently shake the soap bubbles then pull out the wand and hold it to her mouth and blow gently and a stream of hundreds of bubbles came out every time. She quietly said " I shake it every time". Meanwhile Simon takes a huge deep breath and leans way back and then leans forward to blow and misses the wand by a mile every time. So I tell him that accuracy is more important than power while his twin sister calmly says “like this Simon”. But Simon has apparently gone deaf and just tries even deeper breaths and leaning back further, convinced that success is imminent.
The article makes me think about high performance team principles where leadership focuses on HOW people interact. The article mentions that advice from safety Nazis may be ineffective; my take is that HOW one shares their experience is important (and maybe even an art).
Pelican crap. Appeal to any sane person and their sense of self-preservation.
Explain the body’s relfex to falling in water even cool water.
Appeal to their logic.
I do not paddle with people that don’t wear lifejackets.
I’d have to get divorced and I’d rather not.
Regardless of the situation, when I go out paddling I always wear a PFD. My PFD is like having insurance on my car. I may never need it but it is nice to have if I ever get in an accident.
When I’m on land I wear a vest w/ pockets that have a variety of things that I want to have on me,
When I’m on the water . . . I wear a vest w/ pockets that have a variety of things that I want to have on me . . . and it floats, that’s cool!
I do like that it keeps me on the surface which this body doesn’t naturally do, I float vertically.
Here’s Another example like your person who canoed once decades ago. This was a guy who never practiced any form of self-rescue, or assisted for that matter. But he had done exactly one roll with with someone else helping him, also many years before.
When he finally agree to do an assisted rescue—with him as the rescuee—he kept grabbing the EDGE of his deck, and though I had my body solidly holding his kayak, he kept nearly capsizing both kayaks, ignoring my instructions to quit yanking the edge down. The guy weighed literally twice what I did, but I had always been able to assist much heavier guys…BUT they didn’t pull down on the edge closest to them.
I finally just let him find out the hard way, making sure that I immediately released my hold on his kayak. No doubt he blames the dunking on something or someone other than his refusal to follow instructions.
He didn’t listen to either you or his sister, from what your post said.
People who don’t wear PFDs are counting on always being in control of everything. This is no more rational than a car driver who thinks that safe drivers don’t need a seatbelt. One factor that we can’t control is the behavior of others on the water and accidents that happen to others that need our intervention. Wearing a PFD yourself helps in those cases. I would not want to get hit by a motor boat if I wasn’t wearing a PFD, even if I was close to shore. I wouldn’t want to have to try to help a capsized kayaker if I wasn’t wearing a PFD. If you lose consciousness, you don’t have control over anything. Much better to be floating unconscious on your back with a PFD.
I wear a PFD 100% of the time. It is not uncomfortable. It’s not hot, in fact I often feel like my PFD insulates me against the sun. It conveniently carries my car keys and emergency essentials so that I have them on my person if I’m separated from my kayak.
It’s a probability gamble. If 1000 people aren’t wearing a PFD, some percentage of them are going to have a mishap and need a PFD. It’s so easy to avoid being one of them. At the very least we owe it to people who may have to try to rescue us to be wearing a PFD. It’s not only about you, it’s about the people you paddle with.
in MANY states it’s the law, not an option.
Sort of but not exactly. Most states require minors of varying ages to wear them. A few states require adults to wear them in winter. At least RI, so far as I’ve read, is the only state to require all paddlers to wear one.
Yeah, I stand corrected…since I posted l looked a bit more into the various laws–got to about 1/2 way and discovered that yeah, most states don’t require unless you’re under the age of 12 or 13–or if you’re being towed (ie, water skis)
New Mexico requires all boaters to wear them.
Very few people wear them in German lakes. I have the waist type and a vest to toss but we like to swim.
Everyone doesn’t kayak the same way or in big groups. If I’m wearing neoprene and close to shore, I have lots of flotation.
I think it’s great to have an emergency beacon on your iPhone but I would never tell people they shouldn’t kayak without it because it’s not my decision.
Wear a PFD to assist you to safe another persons life. Montana Mike
So true. And not just paddling…it’s everywhere".