Water safety in general

Posted by Karl on Jan 21, 2005

There have been a number of safety related threads recently, and I just figured I'd throw my 2 cents in. We all know how to swim, right? It never ceases to amaze me how many casual boaters there are in the world who don't know how, or are not very strong at swimming. My family has had a summer house on a lake in N.H. for several generations. When I was a kid, the deal was that we couldn't take a boat out solo until we could prove that we could swim across the lake (roughly a 1/2 mile ,accompanied by someone in a canoe). While not a great test of one's boating skills, it did make sense on the most basic level. No PFD can take the place of basic swimming skills. They are there to supply bouyancy and to suppliment skills that should already be in place. Even kayaking or canoing on flatwater can turn bad when weather or weekend idiots in powerboats get involved (go to Wes Boyd's Kayak Place website and read his story about the jet ski incident for an example, see link below). If you can't swim, in my opinion you have no place in a kayak. If your swimming skills don't get regular use, consider hitting the local YMCA pool, health club, or even some local high schools and colleges allow public pool access during set hours. Let's face it there're a few of us that could use the excersise in the off season anyway (myself included)! As basic as this probably sounds, it doesn't hurt to make sure that the single most elemental self rescue tool you possess is working correctly.