I know we had a recent post on this but I cant seem to find it. If you have a type I, III or V does that do it? Last time I was there, the rangers were checking them more closely. I am taking first timers and want to make sure they get the right life pfd's.
Your permit and the WestWater web site will have clear instructions on the PFD requirements. Yes, they check carefully after a guy died in the Room of Doom a few years back wearing a water ski life vest.
If I remember correctly, you need a type III or V life vest that explicitly on the label says it is for paddling or kayaking. I don't know about type I PFD's.
I have a permit for tomorrow and according to the 2004 River Use Stipulations included with the permit you need : "a properly-sixed whitewater type I, III, or V life jacket (approved on the label for paddling, whitewater, kayaking) in good working condition for each member of the party" Have a great trip!
I just did westwater about a month ago and if you have anything wrong with your PFD(tears in the fabric or buckles missing) even a patch sewn on then you can not use it . Also make sure that the tag that states the uses and type is legible if the sun has worn it out then they will not let you go. Very strict policy. Hope you have fun and hit every hole( maybe not skull)
I paddled Westwater at the end of last season and had heard about the PFD checks. I just bought a Stohlquist Ed Lucero PFD which is probably the safest PFD on the market, but it is not Coast Guard approved.
(Stohlquist says it is too expensive to submit for approval such a low production vest, but I wonder if the armor plating might also be an issue for USCG.)
Anyway, at the put-in, I had my Stohlquist Brik available if they checked closely, but I had plans to put that one back in the car discretely after the check and use my safer Ed Lucero PFD.
They did only the mildest of checks, looking at breakdown paddles and the like for the whole group. I was never personally inspected.
I am not a big fan of flatwater anyway, but if I ever do return to the long suffering journey called Westwater, I will use the same switcheroo plan with my PFD's in case the inspection is more thorough next time around.
If you are interested in reading more about the now discontinued Ed Lucero PFD, there are comments about it in the latest uploaded entry on my kayaking web photo journal. An elaborate PFD specific journal entry is also on the way. http://www.savagesnow.com/whitewater_kayaking/pdhtml_kayak_paddling/pd042_first_threat_american.html
We did westwater over easter and had no problems with the pfd check, although we had one guy whose pfd was old, ripped, and not very good and they did not let him down with that pfd. Otherwise they didn't check any labels, just safety gear and extra paddles and stuff. Make sure your pfd is in good condition and you should be fine.
Yup, watch the stipulations. They enforce the PFD rule b/c they fall under Utah state law on the matter somehow, so they it's really a state law the BLM guys are stuck with. Don't assume that they won't read the label. They don't always, but they do often.
Inside scoop on alterations: No stiching allowed; gluing a patch on is ok b/c you don't break through the fabric. I was present when Alvin (the head ranger) said this to a group of trainee ramp volunteers.
As for the rescue PFDs that aren't USCG certified, that rule sucks, but the BLM guys are not unaware of the switcheroo people try. Just remember that it's about a $200 fine and you could get blacklisted in the permit program. The guys at the ramp are just doing their job; if you are later caught wearing a non-approved PFD, you made the right choice for safety and they will know that. Be penitent, have a good attitude and you're likely to get a word or letter of reprimand at worst. Lobby the Utah state gov't if you hate the rule.
Also, to the best of my knowledge the guy who died at Skull in 2001 was not wearing a water skiing vest but USCG-certified vest. He died b/c he was entangled in a rope. The raft went downstream, he went into the Room and was held just under the surface by the current. His family later unsuccessfully lobbied the state for a rule requiring all PFDs to be sold with a knife.
I had a lot of problems one day at Westwater with ranger PFD concerns and wrote about it on "alerts" under the mountainbuzz.com forum index. It is still there and talks about all the rules and regulations you have to follow (One of the posts written by the Utah BLM). The name of the post is Westwater Ranger Issues with Lotus PFD's. I hope this helps.
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