Monday, April 05, 2010

Why I'm Such A Fan of the NY State Lifejacket Law -

Because every spring in the Northeast, like clockwork, the beauty of these first nice weekends ALWAYS end up being marred with stories like this.

In NYS, boaters in pleasure craft less than 21 feet in length are still required to wear their lifejackets while out on the water. That holds true until May 1st. You can't say for sure that things would've ended differently, but the Delaware & Raritan Canal is a pretty placid body of water & I really think it's safe to say that if that young man had been wearing his lifejacket, he would've gone home with nothing worse than a funny story to tell at work today.

Story via the Hudson River Watertrail Association's NYCKayaker.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't the Coast Guard require ALL kayaks to have PFDs at least on board? And wouldn't that supersede NYS laws?

Baydog said...

Wow. I work in Princeton and have paddled that canal before. I know that barges ran up and down it for a long time, but never imagined it to be so deep. Not that you can't drown in shallow water, but I'm sure it was still pretty cold, which doesn't help. Terrible

bonnie said...

Oh Yes! CG regs do require all vessels to have enough properly fitting PFD's on board for all passengers. New York State actually went a step beyond that last year to say that all people out in pleasure craft less than 21 feet in length actually have to be WEAR their lifejackets from November 1 through May 1.

Personally, I wear mine year-round - that's really the most convenient way to carry it, and besides, not to be grim, but the number one summertime hazard for paddlers in my area is getting run over by another boat. If that happens, whatever the outcome, it is better if you don't sink.

bonnie said...

Baydog, I've paddled it too & was also amazed that it was that deep.

The cold was probably the deciding factor. The time I paddled the D&R was in the race they have in the fall. A friend of mine fell off his surfski during that race. He's a big, strong, athletic guy but he got the cold shock thing & he was very glad that there were bystanders there to help fish him out 'cause he was totally discombulated.

And yes, he WAS wearing his lifejacket. I think the race probably requires that.

Don said...

As far as I know the Coast Guard's mandate only applies to waters accessible from the ocean, so our lake counts as it's connected by canals. Many or most states pretty much copy and paste rules about lighting, PFD's etc from the CG book for their lakes not covered by the CG.

Since it was so warm (80) and also windy and water temp in the mid 30's, I figured there'd be at least one local rescue story for the weekend, but nothing on the news today.

Between coming and going from Kingsland Bay we did see 3 kayaks without any protective gear (wet/dry suit or skirt) and one overloaded outboard.

The news did have some footage of people swimming at the beach!

O Docker said...

Curious that you should post this today. Just got an email from BoatUS (supposedly to all members) asking, via an online poll, if members would support the following lobbying efforts on their part:

Would you support or oppose a requirement for all adult boaters to wear US Coast Guard approved lifejackets while on deck underway?

...underway in certain boats?

- jetskis
- paddlecraft
- tenders
- boats under 16'
- boats under 21'

...under certain circumstances:

- winter months
- after dark
- alone on boat
- during small craft advisory
- above certain boat speeds

bonnie said...

Most interesting!

For all I think the NYS law is a no-brainer that IS GOING to save lives, maybe already has - I don't know that I'd support this being a CG regulation. I'd rather see it left to the states.

The requirements for safe winter boating in New York are just not the same as the requirements for safe winter boating in Hawaii.

SoxSail said...

I used to live on a pond, and we were constantly rescuing people who could neither swim nor were wearing a life jacket. Most life jackets are comfortable, affordable, and look ok. There's little reason not to wear one at all times.

bonnie said...

And in the winter, they help keep you warm, too.

paddlingOTAKU said...

I am continually dumbfounded when I see paddlers without a PFD. I paddled with someone recently who said "I don't perceive a risk". I thought you probably don't perceive a risk in your car, but you wear a seatbelt.

thanks for posting this.


Carol Anne said...

I guess if one doesn't perceive a risk, one can pretend it doesn't exist.

Having been dismasted and hit by a boom, and having seen many people go overboard, I do perceive a risk on a boat.

And I perceive a risk in a car as well -- going over a cliff kinda does that to one.

Don said...

re the poll, if they mandated wearing a PFD at all times on commercial passenger boats of any size it would save lives. It's just a question of where you want to draw the line.

New Hampshire does require that for children.

Baydog said...

Carol Anne: You went over a cliff in a car?

Carol Anne said...

Baydog, yes, when I was 14. There was an ongoing debate in the town at the time about whether salting the road in winter damaged the trees.

We took out three on the way down.

bonnie said...

Wow. They started salting again after that, right?

clairesgarden said...

nah, they were probably fined for taking the trees out and made to do community forrest work for 6 months......
I rarely took off my bouyancy aid, only on a flat calm summers day, even then if you're in the water here its always cold.

Pandabonium said...

One day I dug the seat belts out ofthe cracks in the old Landcruiser we were using to get to work and my then-wife and I used them for the first time since we got the vehicle. On the way to work that day I had to swerve to avoid a car backing up on the highway, we went off the shoulder and we rolled, a complete 360. I have never failed to buckle up since that day over 30 years ago.

Nor would I ever think of going out on the water in a kayak or boat without WEARING a PFD (or life vest as I still like to call them).

Thanks for bringing this issue up from time to time, Bonnie.