So its July 4th and I decided to head to he harbor for a paddle this evening. I knew that the boat traffic would be a bit nuts and yes it was. Getting back in before it was dark was a smart move for sure and the ridiculousness that followed was well just plain ridiculous. For instance the couple that decided to paddle out in 1 - 1 1/2 foot seas on a tandem sit on top. The lady up front had a raft paddle and at least was wearing her PFD (although not buckled). The dude paddling in the back was way to macho to wear his. Making matters even better there was not a signaling light on the entire craft. In fact of all the "kayaks" that I saw launch this evening it was pretty much the same. No PFDs or PFDs and not being worn and no signaling lights. So WTF? Why is it that people launch with such blatant disregard for their own safety let alone the safety of those with them. They say ignorance is bliss; BS. Ignorance is not an excuse as far as I am concerned but yet I keep seeing ignorant behavior. Oh well. So what role do we as paddlers and instructors play in this mix? Education. Educate these folks that there is a better way. Of course you need to do this in an non condescending way. Explain that its a lot harder to put on a PFD in the water than before heading out. Explain the USCG regs for night operations and that non compliance could end in being ticketed or worse being struck by a power boat. Most people that I have spoken with are very receptive and say........wait for it "I did not know". Bingo, education kicks ignorance in the junk. Thought, comments, concerns?
Here is a good resource: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/boating.html