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Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs
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Author:  Watersong [ October 8th, 2015, 10:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

Calm day...warm shallow wind....shore close by...

Leave me in peace if I choose not to wear a PFD

Author:  yarnellboat [ October 9th, 2015, 12:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

"For me there is a HUGE difference between the personal decisions each of us may make for ourselves about our own paddling risk & safety & the responsibility that we have when we are in the role of promoting paddling."

Thanks for the reasoned response Steve. I get where you're coming from, and respect it, and share the same personal behaviours, but I guess I just don't feel as strongly about the responsibilities of manufactures or other publishers that you advocate, as I long as don't think what they are showing is unsafe.

When comparisons are made to seatbelts etc. it's a slippery slope whether the discussion is about the responsibilities of manufacturers or personal decisions and whether the decision should be regulated, so I think it's natural that the discussion has include all those contexts.

It's a debate as old as the hills, and like LittleRedCanoe, though for opposite reasons, I can find it frustrating, but it's something I feel strongly about, so can't help myself from speaking up. Passionate people on both sides of the discussion make useful to re-visit, but also useless.

A reason I feel strongly comes from having worked for a canoe-tripping organization that instituted an all-the-time-no-matter-what policy. As a leader of 6-week wilderness trips, where all conditions are experienced, including extreme heat and next to no water, I found it an unreasonable, even mean-spirited policy, and one that unduly shifted liability from the organization to the leaders.

It was basically a given that during the course of living 42-days of canoeing in all conditions/environments PFDs would not be worn all day everyday regardless of conditions, and so, to me, it shifted a burden of negligence to leaders who would not be following policy if something happened. Kind of a moot point since I was comfortable we could exercise good judgement (as the long history of these trips always had), but it was the principles that got me:

1. That it seemed unreasonable to the leaders, and
2. That the absolute rule was against the entire spirit of the tripping program, where learning about freedom and decisions and consequences and leadership and judgement and so on (along with safety) were core elements of this unique opportunity for youth.

That stuck in my craw enough that I've also been happy to see people in the canoeing industry willing to show responsible use of canoes with no PFDs. To me it's consistent with the spirit and joy and value of canoe tripping.

The starting point for wanting to show PFDs all the time is that canoes are a dangerous product to everyone everywhere and that always wearing a PFD is a best practice, and I just don't see the need to go quite that far with it, so, to stay on topic, I liked the video as-is.


Author:  my_self_reliance [ October 9th, 2015, 4:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

Why is it that full time lifejackets are promoted in canoeing and kayaking but not in stand up paddle boarding or surfing, which are inherently more dangerous? At the beach, even my own kids will take a board out with their cousins and not think twice about going out well above their heads yet I seem to be the only one to react.
Google "stand up paddle board" and look at the images page. I see only one pfd, but then again, it appears this sport is restricted to young, fit and attractive women, according to the pictures and advertisers.

Author:  SteveBoal [ October 9th, 2015, 7:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

Ghost wrote:
I find it annoying every time a non-swimmer drowns there is a big push to make everybody and his dog wear a pfd all the time, every time.

Actually many excellent swimmers (including some wonderful and well known paddlers - drown when not wearing a PFD, especially in cold water conditions. Usually this is attributed to hypothermia, but long before hypothermia (lowering of the body's core temperature) sets in, blood retreats from the extremities and a person loses the ability to effectively swim. (Most of us have experienced a smaller version of this, when we have removed our gloves in cold weather & lose manual dexterity).

Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses in this thread.

Author:  frozentripper [ October 9th, 2015, 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

As former gummint workers, we were at one time advised in a memo that face shields MUST be worn at all times when working with any toxic substance... eg. paint - read the label warnings. Otherwise an official reprimand on the work record.


The memos stopped once the new supervisor came down to earth.

As far as PFD wear being enforced, I imagine that intoxicated paddlers should be made to wear PFDs at all times... although the level of intoxication that makes PFD wear mandatory is open to debate. IIRC it was Dean Martin that said if, after several drinks, you can still hold onto the ground without falling off, you're OK.

Author:  JCooper [ October 9th, 2015, 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I am currently reading Jared Diamond's book "The World Until Yesterday: what can we learn from traditional societies?" Early in Diamond's career (1960's) he studied birds in the mountains of New Guinea. He hired locals to help him. Where he thought was a good campsite the locals did not agree - they were afraid (based on past experience) of being killed/injured by falling trees. Diamond learned to camp where the locals thought was a safe place to camp. Experiences like that plus many more from traditional societies around the world lead Diamond to come up with the concept of "constructive paranoia". "If there is some act that carries a low risk each time, but if you are going to do it frequently, you had better learn to be consistently careful if you don't want to die or become crippled at a young age". Situations for us include driving a car; having a shower; climbing a ladder; walking on slippery sidewalks; travelling in a boat; etc.
Bottom line is what you do to be careful in an often low risk activity is your choice - but history shows that being careful improves your chances of living a longer life.

Author:  chris randall [ October 9th, 2015, 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I don't feel that folk should be made to wear PFDs all the time but the problem I have is figuring out how to get them to wear them enough of the time. I wear mine 99% of the time. It is rarely warm enough on my trips to go without and I value the pockets for all sorts of bits and pieces that come in handy during the day. I think that because my custom and practice is to be wearing it not only am I more likely to have it on but I am more likely make the decision to put it on for those times when it really is an issue. If my custom was to not wear it I think I would be less likely to think about putting it on before I got into trouble. I think the same goes for other safety practices, humans are not great at making decisions under pressure. Some paddlers are more likely to worry about spilling their beer when things get rough than putting on their PFD!

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 9th, 2015, 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I think we are all on board that PFD's are a good idea. For some of you with experience you have the knowledge to judge when not using one is OK because you have been out in a variety of conditions and know when waters can get confused and dump you..or when you might not be paying attention and just do an unintended "stoopid"

But where does modeling start for beginners? How do they get to know when it's appropriate to go "commando" and when not?

Should this be up to the ACA and ORCA and Paddle Canada? I wonder; lots of paddlers have never even heard of the above organizations.

I am in no favor of a nanny state either. I really hate my nanny car. When I drive it in New Hampshire on dirt forest roads where you never go over 20 kph, my car beeps at me. There is no seat belt law in NH and I prefer not to wear one on backcountry forest dirt roads. But my frigging car won't let me.

Author:  Kalmia [ October 9th, 2015, 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

Some of us sometimes take off our PFD when we are paddling near shore in placid, warm water conditions. Me too. But when I am teaching, or guiding the public, I always wear my PFD. I am in leadership position then, a leader and mentor, and it's my responsibility to set an excellent example for safety, and for Leave No Trace practices, and for good group dynamics. I appreciate when paddling companies and magazines do the same.

Author:  tearknee [ October 9th, 2015, 7:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I can understand that the promotion of canoeing should also promote safety, yet I certainly pick and choose my moments to wear my PFD. In the summer, on flat water, when the sun is shining, I'm more likely to be using my PFD as a (gasp!) knee rest than stifling in it.

November. Snow. Gonna keep this thing on even on shore.

August. 30 degrees. Can almost touch both sides of riverbank with arms outstretched. Gonna work on my tan.
Good grief, I'm not even wearing pants!

I would personally find it highly irritating to be mandated to wear a PFD at all times. Should a paddling school/tripping camp promote safety? Of course. Should marketers be aware of the image they project by not focusing on safety? Sure. But every outdoor sport has inherent risks, and we wouldn't force adults to wear helmets while trail-running for the off-chance they might trip and crack their head open. And the fact remains that this video is just marketing... they're trying to show how fun and beautiful it is to be outside, especially in their canoe, and if they focused on equipment (and safety and bailers and PFDs and 50 feet of floating rope and a light for night-time paddling and a whistle; add or subtract requirements based on where you live), don't you think people might decide that canoeing is mostly dangerous and shouldn't be attempted unless you're already an expert? That would do nothing to sell the product. I think the video did a great job at portraying the serenity and simplicity of wilderness travel, and most of all the freedom of being in a place where you realize you aren't in control and can choose to assess and minimize risks at your own discretion.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 9th, 2015, 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I get what you all are saying and agree. But unsolicited advice is rarely welcomed on the water ( a rec kayaker with the PFD on the back deck.. "I can put it on in the water"..really... have they tried?)

I figure the best place for good modeling starts with the point of purchase of gear. There are many many people who do not have paddling mentors and do not visit paddling forums not attend instructional events.

I think the discussion has evolved to the point where its not about what I or you do but about how we learn where and when we use PFD's.

Folks its not about us.

Author:  yarnellboat [ October 10th, 2015, 2:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

There is no way around the fact that learning this sort of risk management depends on people getting their own actual experience, regardless of what they are shown or taught. It does come through trial & error - and we all know that can take time, can take luck, and sometimes doesn't end well, but I don't think society can or should manage that by regulating too many decisions, or advertisements - keeping everyone safe from everything is an impossible task that gets silly and counter-productive. I'm all for regulating some of what's been mentioned: cigarettes, alcohol, cars, and more; but PFDs in every public image of a canoe is not my list. I'm OK with there being an onus on people to be responsible for themselves and to look beyond YouTube or being dependent on unsolicited advice when learning a new activity.

My basic challenge with Steve's critique of this video is that I do not equate showing people without PFDs paddling canoes as modelling an inappropriate or irresponsible or unsafe behaviour. I see it as a totally realistic, healthy, and appropriate reflection of the decisions people are faced with.

Unlike Kalmia and others, I don't see showing people paddling canoes in calm conditions without having their PFDs on as universally inconsistent with demonstrating safe practices. Sure, err on the side of caution and accept a role as a leader/mentor - yes, in a public area I'd also choose be a mentor and set a good example by wearing my PFD - but I don't take an absolute position on that as far something like this video.

Wearing your PFD is a practice when appropriate (even if that's almost always), but I don't think it helps to present it as an expected best practice all the time, everywhere for everyone. it's just not realistic, so I don't see they need or value in portraying things that way. Same could be said for drysuits - yes, hypothermia is a major killer if a canoeist takes the wrong kind of swim, but I don't think manufacturer's should feel compelled to show all their canoes being paddled everywhere only by people in drysuits and PFDs.

So, to me, the question of what should be expected in industry videos & photos is: "safe or unsafe?", not simply "PFD or no PFD?".


Author:  paddlenorth [ October 11th, 2015, 10:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

The original post asked whether a canoe company should create a promotional video that showed canoers without PFDs. To me, this was not a question of whether canoeists should always wear PFDs.

Would the video have been less effective if they were wearing PFDs?

I don't know what the purpose of the video was, but if I was making a promotional video for my company, it would be a no brainer that everyone wears PFDs. I'd also try to target a more diverse audience than white haired men - but that's a different issue....perhaps the video is targeted to older males who identify with not wearing PFDs.

Author:  wotrock [ October 11th, 2015, 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Feel good paddling vid... with no PFDs

I don't see much of an issue here. In most all the scenes they were quite close to shore and it looked like summertime paddling. Under those circumstances I probably wouldn't wear one either.

As others have said, it's about making personal choices based on knowledge and experience rather than have 'one size fits all' rule/law.

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