Outdoor magazine has a long but amusing story about risk and recreation:
In sheer numbersâ€”including canoeists, kayakers, and raftersâ€”the most common way someone dies boating is in a canoe, on flatwater, with no PFD [personal flotation device], drinking alcohol.
“Fifty percent of people who die in canoes and kayaks are out fishing,” Dillon continues. “They’re not tuned in to the skills and information they need to participate safely.”
Charlie Walbridge, longtime board member of the American Whitewater Safety Committee, has been tracking whitewater accidents for three decades. Like Dillon, he believes a failure to take sensible precautions is responsible for most deaths.
I always wear a lifejacket, but the issue I’ve run into is that the US Coast Guard does not consider 60 newtons sufficient for a recreational lifejacket yet the rest of the world does. It’s actually only a problem if you want to buy one of the new European lifejackets. One afternoon when I crashed an A-Class catamaran at speed, and was left swimming in the ocean swell a couple miles from shore, I have to admit I started to wonder whether the Coast Guard was right and I would have been taking a bigger risk with 5 fewer newtons…rough calculations are one thing, but eventually someone has to draw a line in the sand and we get to test it for accuracy.