pfd rewind


And there his worship sat in state,
In doublet, and trunk-hose
And quaffed a cup of good old wine,
To warm his good old nose
Like a fine old English gentleman,
All of the olden time.
– Henry Russell

Up early this morning and planning to get out on the trails as soon as it warms up a bit. I’ve been spending the pre-dawn hours doing a bit of clean up work on old Quix posts. When you have 104 pages covering 5 years and 1,549 posts (ah, 1,550 posts counting this one) things get quite messy and it can take some time to bring it up to date. Now you may wonder if it’s worth it. That’s what crossed my mind too, but in going back over all the old posts I’ve found that for the most part all those articles about kit and practice are mostly just as current as if I had written them today. In fact maybe a bit more helpful in that at the time I was taking many of those things on for the first time myself.

One past post that stuck out to me was one I had written in May of 2005 called PFDs & Revolutions. Not simply because the article opened with a quick trek through my warped mind but that the following discussion about PFDs (Which we now call “Life Jackets”…again) would be a rather appropriate post today. In fact it seems almost every year we could talk about choosing a PFD and the sort of kit we should carry on our body at all times. It’s amazing how often you read stories about people getting separated from their kayaks and having no signaling device on their person. Extending on this idea was a contribution by ACA Coach John Browning in the post “Be Still My Beating Heart“.  In this post I get side tracked (as I often do) by an annual physical before John shares with us the contents of his PFD pockets and some great insight into the reasons for each item.

As I sort through those past years I can see why almost 50% of the website traffic each day are folks finding all this earlier information as they begin to research their newly found passion. All the more reason to go back and make sure it’s presentable. Sure takes a lot of time though!

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4 Responses

  1. Paul

    I’m not an instructor, so maybe I’m missing something, but packing a lot of gear onto your PFD seems less than ideal. On my PFD I have a strobe (left shoulder strap), LED waterproof flashlight, plastic whistle, knife, flare, and “waterproof” VHF radio. I also carry a bailout bag (fanny pack) which contains a multi-tool, basic first aid kit, basic repair kit, basic survival kit, about 2K calories of food, and a water filter. The rest of the stuff is under the hatches. The specific contents of the bailout bag get adjusted depending on the trip and anticipated risks. If I’m paddling with a group, then a quick-release towing harness gets added. Of course, by the time you’ve assembled all this gear around you, you’re pretty “thick”. And if you’re paddling in sheltered water at 70F+ and you’re close to the shore, this is overkill. So we have to come to a balance between the practicality of wearing all this stuff, and the actual risks we can be facing.

  2. brad mcpherson

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this too. In Australia where the Surf Lifesaving culture is part of our identity, surf skiers routinely paddle the coast in varied and often dangerous conditions. They are armed only with a pair of Speedos and a small cotton cap. No pfd, no flares, nothing. Also, no casualties due to drowning. Ever. I know it’s not the same culture and these guys are supremely fit but they look at us sea kayakers with raised eye-brows at the amount of stuff we carry.

  3. Marcus

    If you look at surfski.info, unfortunately you do find many reports of surf ski incidents in the waters around Australia, some of them deadly due to drowning.


  4. derrick

    I agree that each situation is different. From a coaching standpoint we tend to always teach the over-the-top approach. Individuals have to bring their own common sense into their personal choices. The problem more often is that enough folks have no common sense and it makes kayakers look pretty stupid sometimes. The one that stands out to me is simply not carrying a communication or signaling device. There are so many options that stories of someone losing their kayak and never being found should be much rarer than they have been recently.

    For what it’s worth, I have a PFD with nothing in it other than a cell phone and my camera for little local jaunts where I know I’m not going to be more than 50 feet from shore… and a McDonalds…