SUP sans PFD - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 08-07-2011   #1
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SUP sans PFD

Wear a life jacket on the river
*Article Last Updated: Saturday, Aug 8
Just a reminder to all of Durango's river enthusiasts: Don't forget to wear a life jacket. If it wasn't for a young man tubing past me last week underneath the Main Avenue bridge, I wouldn't have taken another breath of air. My paddleboard tipped me off, and I was stuck in an eddy of some sort, unable to get my head out of the water to take a breath of air. He pulled me up. I wasn't wearing a life jacket. I assumed that prior competetive swimming and a summer of lifeguarding would be enough to keep me afloat. I wish I knew the man's name who saved me. Thank you, whoever you are.

Susan Mills

Durango


So here is a LTE in this am's Durango Herald...it got me thinking about what are appropriate precautions for SUP riders. I was raised in the PFD al the time on the river camp...yet, after two seasons of SUPing, I have shed the use of a PFD during low water on flat water/lakes....here we have this letter and the death of another paddle boarder on a lake earlier last week...

Wondering what others consider prudent? I always rock helmet, chaos and PFD heading downstream...I've got elbow/knee pads for the spicy bits when it's bumping...but 32nd upstream, I only wear a PFD at 3000 and above...thoughts on this and the perception that SUP riders are lax when it comes to PFD use?

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Old 08-07-2011   #2
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youre a dumbass if you don't wear it, or so i tell every single person i talk to who's not wearing theirs. i was a competitave swimmer for 13 years, and have guided for 6. swimming experience means jack, even in slower moving water. i wear it even when tubing the small stuff. WEAR YOUR PFD!!, that's what you got it for, right. otherwise it'll be your dead ass we'll all be reading about!!
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Old 08-07-2011   #3
 
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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Why wouldn't you wear your PFD? I never have understood that. I am a recent convert to SUP and I am amazed at the number of people who do not use a PFD. It is required to have the PFD with you at all times when you are on a SUP. At our local state park (Stagecoach) they are enforcing the state laws in requiring paddlers to carry a PFD, but they don't require you to wear it(I never have understood that law). On the river, I wear one at low water so that I have the added protection for my ribs if I take a weird fall in rocky water. I like a helmet for anything rocky too. I just can't see why you wouldn't wear the PFD if you had it with your gear.

Dan Brabec
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Old 08-08-2011   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigben View Post
youre a dumbass if you don't wear it, or so i tell every single person i talk to who's not wearing theirs.
I'm sure you have great results effecting positive change with your soft approach to educating the ignorant...

I guess I feel like heading upstream (32nd heading north) on a river like the Animas at lower water is an acceptable risk. I do understand the unknowns that come with all river endeavors and that a simple fall from the board may result in hitting your head and drowing in very little water...That said, there's many SUPers who cruise without PFDs on and seem far less sketchy than the floatillas of tubers flooding the river. Never wore a PFD on my board in the ocean either. Also have not chosen to bring PFD to flatwater. (i.e.-lakes)

It's easy and ignorant to make this issue so black and white- like if you don't wear it you're gonna die, etc....so eloquent Ben...But, let's get real- if life's about taking calculated risks, then I'd assume to see more PFD usage- but I don't...so what gives- what are people's threshold for padding up?
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Old 08-08-2011   #5
 
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You openly asked what are the thoughts of the community about not wearing your PFD. Then when you get those thoughts you are offended. I don't get it.

Either you want to know what people think and take their criticism or you are going to do what you are going to do and you tell the world to piss off.

But you can't have it both ways.

It is your choice whether you wear your PFD, but this is the kind of response you should get used to.
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Old 08-08-2011   #6
 
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Maybe the transition of the sport from surf to rivers might have something to do with folks not wearing their pfd. I’ve certainly seen guys surfing Lunch Counter with a leash and no pfd, which, right or wrong, is no surprise if they are surfers and not boaters. In the ocean, I can't remember ever seeing an SUP'er or a surfer wearing a pfd in the lineup, I have never worn one while surfing, and I certainly haven’t ever heard anyone catching flak for not wearing one (granted I consider double overhead a big day anywhere). While leashes are obviously not infallible, as a surfer or SUP’er in the ocean, your “pfd” is your board, and the leash is your link. As a sport that originated in the ocean, perhaps the practices surrounding it have carried over too, i.e. no pfd’s. Maybe some folks haven’t come to appreciate the differences once you’re on a river. I never wear a pfd/helmet while surfing, and I wouldn’t ever consider getting on a river without them, no matter what I was floating on.
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Old 08-08-2011   #7
 
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If you're not wanting to wear it on the river you are accepting that risk. The reason others are giving you flack about not wearing one is because it affects how the boating community is viewed as a whole.

We don't want to be involved in a rescue that could have been avoided if someone were to take anothers advice and put on a pfd. It puts rescuers in potentially dangerous situations, and it hurts businesses that depend on tourists coming to our waters.

Every drowning in a river, no matter what the circumstances of that drowning, are publicized by the media around the country. Many raft companies here in Glenwood have a better financial year in low water years, because there are fewer accidents. It doesnt matter if a highly experienced kayaker dies running a first descent, or an intoxicated person slips on loose gravel and falls in. All the midwest hears is ANOTHER DROWNING IN A RIVER.

It's the same reason you can get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

Be Safe. Have Fun. Learn a new skill.

SYOTR-Chase
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Old 08-08-2011   #8
 
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I understand that most water deaths are associated with no PFD. Choose your demographic and the odds associated with that. Even big water surfers are wearing flotation now, not necessarily PFD's but they are wearing flotation vests.
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Old 08-08-2011   #9
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You openly asked what are the thoughts of the community about not wearing your PFD. Then when you get those thoughts you are offended. I don't get it.

I don't get when I say I'm offended? I was just pointing out to Ben that a curt, explitive ridden response is usually lost on the listener...If he'd called me an ass douche I would have been butt hurt for sure. But surely we buzzards can be more articulate and persuasive if we choose.

Rio, I actually totally agree with bigben. I've been around, I'm used to the responses and I'm just struggling because I have put aside what I thought were my ethics on this one...with appropriate respect, you dig?

Any SUPers Care to comment? Much thanks to all for your wisdom.
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Old 08-08-2011   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatdziner View Post
Why wouldn't you wear your PFD? I never have understood that. I am a recent convert to SUP and I am amazed at the number of people who do not use a PFD. It is required to have the PFD with you at all times when you are on a SUP. At our local state park (Stagecoach) they are enforcing the state laws in requiring paddlers to carry a PFD, but they don't require you to wear it(I never have understood that law). On the river, I wear one at low water so that I have the added protection for my ribs if I take a weird fall in rocky water. I like a helmet for anything rocky too. I just can't see why you wouldn't wear the PFD if you had it with your gear.

Dan Brabec
I don't think the PFD law is statewide. I believe it depends on where you are and who's managing the river? But someone more informed should speak to this. I totally agree that the rib protection is huge.
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