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fun hog
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Discussion Starter #1
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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fat guy in a little boat
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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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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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fun hog
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Discussion Starter #4
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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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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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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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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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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fun hog
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Discussion Starter #9
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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fun hog
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Discussion Starter #10
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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fat guy in a little boat
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i'm sick of reading about whitewater deaths. it sucks balls for everyone involved and the boating community as a whole. easy fix. just use common sense. ie wear your pfd every time.
sorry if i'm an abrasive ass douche. thats just who i am. deal with it. you asked for opinions and you got em. ;-)

good luck. be safe. don't drown. amen.
 

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Any SUPers Care to comment? Much thanks to all for your wisdom.
Yeah, two weeks ago I wore a pfd SUP'ing on a flat river. I'm going to do the same Wednesday night when we run a different section with a tiny rapid. Not wearing a PFD is just butt-ass stupid. But I'm not a rad dude and don't care if my pfd doesn't look cool.
 

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mountainjah said:
...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)
As long as you aren't as sketchy as the tubers it's ok.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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Rivers, even shallow flat ones, are not oceans.

There's a reason they call them "life jackets"

Had a trip once we called the "Bronco trip". It was actually a bunch of professional Football players looking to let off a little steam the week before training camp started. There were no actual Bronco football players on the trip, most were from the East Coast, but this was Denver so we called it the Bronco trip.

I knew we were in trouble when they rolled into the put on about midnight in a Greyhound bus they had chartered. For 25 of em. They had stopped at Apple Jacks Liquor on the way out of Denver, and the entire back of the bus was filled with enough beer, booze, peanuts and "natural pharmaceuticals" to tilt the bus back on it's rear axles. A hairy monster ejected from the bus as the door opened (he may have opened it with his head; it was dark and hard to see) and didn't stop until he landed about 10' out in the river. Turned out he was last year's MVP lineman and he weighed in at about 350. And, he damn near drowned before we could rally and pull his ass out of the water.

The next morning as we were loading, a player (who shall remain nameless but was the middle linebacker for the patriots) started to get into my boat without a life jacket. I told him he needed to get one on. He (drunkenly) told me he wasn't wearing no sissy life jacket. I told him, he wasn't wearing a life jacket, he could find another boat. Long spirited discussion took place, during which his team mates began to tease him (AW! lookit the big bad man, arguing with the liddle boatman! Squash him and lets go!) and ending with "me no like liddle boatman!) but he did put on a jacket finally and we set off.

A group of spirited (and spirit infused) football players is a bigger challenge to manage than a group of cub scouts on a sugar high. Water fights degenerated into seeing who could a) flip a boat single handedly or b) who could throw the "liddle man" farther while standing on the bow his boat. Extra points were awarded for pulling me out from under the thwart (where I was anchored after the first launch) one handed. For the record, I weighed about 200LBS on that trip. Everyone of those heathens got extra points.

We ran some nice class III and one class IV before lunch. At lunch, these football players decided, even though training camp started in less than a week, that it was a tremendous idea to see who could run the farthest through a mud flat (mud up to 3' deep; we're talking quicksand here) without falling. Injuries occurred. Duct tape was used to tape one line man's (hairy) ribs. No gauze, nothing but a roll of duct tape around and around his ribs. Tightly. The tape didn't come off for 5 days, and I understand they could hear the scream 5 miles away as his team mates helped him unwrap his ribs.

But I digress. The point is, after lunch we came to a little class one rapid, which the burly football players decided they would do without a boat, and they jumped in. The burly "liddle man" hating line backer was wearing his jacket, but it was not clipped on the top or bottom. I was below the rapid picking up soggy football players when he came through with the jacket wrapped around his head; he had managed to, in one step, to invent water boarding and make himself the first victim. Pulled him out, getting a mashed finger in the process (did I mention this fucker weighed in at about 300 LBS?). The look on his face was priceless; he had clearly seen his God, and he was not confident his God was pleased with him. He wore the jacket the rest of the trip, even sleeping in it (really) and no one dared comment on his preoccupation for his new fashion attire. We had to throw the jacket away at the end of the trip. It smelled like fungus ridden gym socks, and had stains we could not begin to identify.

The thing is, the water in and below that rapid was never more than 3' deep and the current, except for the center of the rapid, was best described as lethargic; he could have stood up at nearly any point and been fine. But, when the current wrapped his jacket around his head he panicked and nearly drowned. Instead, I got a good karma/bad karma memory and a sore finger, and this putz learned first hand why you wear a life jacket, properly fastened, on the river. Always.

And, a year later I had a similar experience on the South Platte at a place we used to call dead dog dam. I was testing a new boat frame and managed to actually flip the damn boat (Only flip of my career I might add) and ended up getting may tagged on the foot of the dam. Eventually I realized I could just stand up, and my only injury was a scalp cut that bled like the dickens. The life jacket probably played no role in my not drowning, but it surely kept me from tearing the hell out of my back on the damn; the back of the jacket was shredded.

So, my advice is wear a jacket every time. No exceptions. Doesn't matter if you are a manly man, a hero, experienced grizzled boatman, or a putz. It doesn't matter if we're talking Lava at 30,000 or an ankle deep creek. If it's deep enough to float your boat, it's deep enough to require personal flotation. Put on the damn jacket, it will save your life at some point,whether you realize it did or not.
 

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Rivers, even shallow flat ones, are not oceans.

There's a reason they call them "life jackets"

Had a trip once we called the "Bronco trip". It was actually a bunch of professional Football players looking to let off a little steam the week before training camp started. There were no actual Bronco football players on the trip, most were from the East Coast, but this was Denver so we called it the Bronco trip.

I knew we were in trouble when they rolled into the put on about midnight in a Greyhound bus they had chartered. For 25 of em. They had stopped at Apple Jacks Liquor on the way out of Denver, and the entire back of the bus was filled with enough beer, booze, peanuts and "natural pharmaceuticals" to tilt the bus back on it's rear axles. A hairy monster ejected from the bus as the door opened (he may have opened it with his head; it was dark and hard to see) and didn't stop until he landed about 10' out in the river. Turned out he was last year's MVP lineman and he weighed in at about 350. And, he damn near drowned before we could rally and pull his ass out of the water.

The next morning as we were loading, a player (who shall remain nameless but was the middle linebacker for the patriots) started to get into my boat without a life jacket. I told him he needed to get one on. He (drunkenly) told me he wasn't wearing no sissy life jacket. I told him, he wasn't wearing a life jacket, he could find another boat. Long spirited discussion took place, during which his team mates began to tease him (AW! lookit the big bad man, arguing with the liddle boatman! Squash him and lets go!) and ending with "me no like liddle boatman!) but he did put on a jacket finally and we set off.

A group of spirited (and spirit infused) football players is a bigger challenge to manage than a group of cub scouts on a sugar high. Water fights degenerated into seeing who could a) flip a boat single handedly or b) who could throw the "liddle man" farther while standing on the bow his boat. Extra points were awarded for pulling me out from under the thwart (where I was anchored after the first launch) one handed. For the record, I weighed about 200LBS on that trip. Everyone of those heathens got extra points.

We ran some nice class III and one class IV before lunch. At lunch, these football players decided, even though training camp started in less than a week, that it was a tremendous idea to see who could run the farthest through a mud flat (mud up to 3' deep; we're talking quicksand here) without falling. Injuries occurred. Duct tape was used to tape one line man's (hairy) ribs. No gauze, nothing but a roll of duct tape around and around his ribs. Tightly. The tape didn't come off for 5 days, and I understand they could hear the scream 5 miles away as his team mates helped him unwrap his ribs.

But I digress. The point is, after lunch we came to a little class one rapid, which the burly football players decided they would do without a boat, and they jumped in. The burly "liddle man" hating line backer was wearing his jacket, but it was not clipped on the top or bottom. I was below the rapid picking up soggy football players when he came through with the jacket wrapped around his head; he had managed to, in one step, to invent water boarding and make himself the first victim. Pulled him out, getting a mashed finger in the process (did I mention this fucker weighed in at about 300 LBS?). The look on his face was priceless; he had clearly seen his God, and he was not confident his God was pleased with him. He wore the jacket the rest of the trip, even sleeping in it (really) and no one dared comment on his preoccupation for his new fashion attire. We had to throw the jacket away at the end of the trip. It smelled like fungus ridden gym socks, and had stains we could not begin to identify.

The thing is, the water in and below that rapid was never more than 3' deep and the current, except for the center of the rapid, was best described as lethargic; he could have stood up at nearly any point and been fine. But, when the current wrapped his jacket around his head he panicked and nearly drowned. Instead, I got a good karma/bad karma memory and a sore finger, and this putz learned first hand why you wear a life jacket, properly fastened, on the river. Always.

And, a year later I had a similar experience on the South Platte at a place we used to call dead dog dam. I was testing a new boat frame and managed to actually flip the damn boat (Only flip of my career I might add) and ended up getting may tagged on the foot of the dam. Eventually I realized I could just stand up, and my only injury was a scalp cut that bled like the dickens. The life jacket probably played no role in my not drowning, but it surely kept me from tearing the hell out of my back on the damn; the back of the jacket was shredded.

So, my advice is wear a jacket every time. No exceptions. Doesn't matter if you are a manly man, a hero, experienced grizzled boatman, or a putz. It doesn't matter if we're talking Lava at 30,000 or an ankle deep creek. If it's deep enough to float your boat, it's deep enough to require personal flotation. Put on the damn jacket, it will save your life at some point,whether you realize it did or not.
Great story! I wear mine every time. Too many people drowning these days.
 

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wearing a life jacket above 32nd St. at these flows would be considerable to wearing a life jacket in the baby pool.... get into trouble? well stand up and now your in knee deep water with no current (baby pool)

i would emphasize wearing a helmet more then a pfd above 32nd St. Falling and hitting your head would be a greater danger then drowning.

but not many people commenting so far are from the dgo area, so i doubt they are familiar with "the lake"

flame on..
 

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Does anyone know if there are PFDs that are longer and would cover more of your torso (i.e. your spine) than a standard kayaking PFD?

I always wear a helmet and PFD when in white water, but I feel like my lower back is left exposed from to a fall into shallow rocky water.
 

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Does anyone know if there are PFDs that are longer and would cover more of your torso (i.e. your spine) than a standard kayaking PFD?

I always wear a helmet and PFD when in white water, but I feel like my lower back is left exposed from to a fall into shallow rocky water.
Check out the Extrasport B-27 line. They go down to your waist and have a belt to cinch them tight.

As for wearing the PFD in calm water, every now and then I'll see a big boil come to the surface and think, "I wonder where that went down and what it would do to someone without a PFD?"

-AH
 

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I see rental SUPers all the time on Brear Creek lake. They put the pfd on the board, not on themselves. If they fall off, the board will go one way, they will go the other. It's a small lake, but big enough to get into trouble. I think the issue is that pfds interfere with a bikini tan.
 
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