WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The P.F.D. is the smart (and mandatory) in-vest-ment

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The P.F.D. is the smart (and mandatory) in-vest-ment

Record-Journal

P.F.D., a.k.a. “Personal Flotation Device,” a.k.a. “Life Saver!”

Got it? WEAR IT!

Sad to say, way too many recreational boaters, canoers and kayakers are apparently not wearing one when they should be.

This past week was National Boating Week and one of the downsides to recreational watercrafts, especially kayaks and canoes, is that way too many folks simply ignore one of the prime safety rules: wearing a P.F.D.

When boating, the law requires that you have a P.F.D. for everyone on board. Even if it wasn’t the law, common sense should dictate wearing them, especially if you are in a canoe or kayak or small cartop boat.

Over the years, I have personally witnessed both the folly of not wearing a P.F.D. and the saving of the lives of persons wearing them. For some of our readers, this might seem repetitious, but if it saves one life it is worth it.

I will NEVER forget the time on Cape Cod when a pleasure boat was bouncing around in the waves off of Head of the Meadow Beach in North Truro where our mom and dad lived. None of the people in the boat were wearing a life jacket and a wave caught the boat just right, tossing a young girl overboard.

She did not come to the surface. A couple of days later her body was recovered, and the sight of what was left of her should never have to be witnessed by a parent or any person in charge of operating a boat.

Another time I was on Gardner Lake and a sport in a canoe came paddling by me. He was not wearing a P.F.D., but there was one that would fit a child in the bottom of his canoe. He figured that by having the lifesaver in the bottom of the canoe he was legal.

It was a little windy this particular day and, a short time later, I heard a funny sound, but could not figure what was making it. I turned around, looking back to the middle of the lake and saw just a part of the canoe sticking up out of the water and the paddler was clinging to it for dear life and screaming for help!

I made my was over to the distressed canoer and I still don’t know how I did it, but I got my own P.F. D. on him while he was moaning that he had asthma and could not swim.

I then told him that I was going to grab onto the lifesaver with him in it and fall back into the boat, and he would have to try to help me by scrambling over the side and into my boat. He fell into the bottom of my boat, gasping for air.

All of his fishing gear was lost, although we did manage to save the canoe and the kid’s lifesaver that did not fit him anyway.

There was another incident with a canoe that did not have a happy ending. A young father was canoeing on a river with his son and neither of them had on a P.F.D., although they did have a couple of boat cushions on board. A power boat came racing by and the wake capsized the canoe.

The father came up to the surface. The son did not.

Another time, back on Cape Cod, we were out fishing with brother Dave and a buddy of his who lived right on the beach near the tip of the Cape. We were all done fishing and were gliding into the beach to drop off Dave’s friend when a women came frantically running up to our boat.

“Could you please help?” she pleaded. “My daughter and her boyfriend went out in a kayak and we can no longer see them!”

Dave headed his boat back out into Cape Cod Bay and, after some searching, brother Paul said he saw a flash of yellow about a quarter of a mile away.

Thankfully, it was part of the overturned kayak and both occupants were wearing P.F.Ds. They were safely returned to the worried parents back on shore. If they had not been wearing a P.F.D., this might have had a more tragic end to it.

Like I said, when out in a boat a P.F.D.is required by law for all occupants. I have spent some hours with DEEP enforcement officers and have seen them make a boat owner show a P.F.D for every occupant.

One time, while fishing off Cape Cod Point with brother Dave, a Coast Guard vessel came up on us and wanted to see P.F.D.s for all onboard.

Another time I accompanied a game warden on Gardner Lake while he did a boat check on the fishermen that were on the lake. We came upon a boat with a couple of sports on board. When asked to show P.F.D.s, the owner of the boat said they had left them back in the truck.

The warden then proceeded to write out a ticket (at that time it was $45) and gave it to the owner of the boat. Looking at the condition of the occupants and the boat, I thought it was “unfair,’ but I said nothing.

After we left them, the warden said to me, “I bet you think I’m a #*#@## for giving him a ticket.”

“YES!” I replied.

“I could have given them two tickets, doubling the fine,” the warden explained, “but I figured that having to pay for just one will make them aware of the fact that they need a P.F.D. for every boat occupant. Supposing he had some children and no P.F.D.s?”

I had to agree with him on that one.

From where I sit, and watching the tragic news about the apparent loss of three kayakers in Long Island Sound, maybe a bit more emphasis should be put on safety and P.F.D.s for those new to the sport.

Catfish update

YES, I know that there was a catfish die-off at Mirror Lake.

I received an email from a friend about it and called Mike Beauchene at Inland Fisheries and he said that there is NO reason to be alarmed. It is an unfortunate incident that happens every once in a while when transporting fish, especially over a distance as far away as Arkansas.

Mirror Lake was not the only stocked water that this happened on. There were a couple of more. Again, sometimes transporting fish stresses them out, resulting in a die-off like that at Mirror Lake.

There is no reason to fear eating fish there, according to Inland Fisheries.  

In a perfect world this would not happen. Unfortunately, we humans sometimes make mistakes — like those that continue to feed the waterfowl at Mirror Lake. Enough said!

3-D Archery Shoot

There will be a 3-D Archery Shoot this Sunday, June 10 from 6 a.m. to noon at the New Haven Raccoon Club.

All proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The kitchen will be open. 

Fishway update

The fishway report on diadromous fish passing through the fish ladders on the Quinnipiac River in Wallingford and Hanover Dam is as follows:

Haakonson in Wallingford: 3,007 alewife, 35 blueback herring 8 gizzard shad, 103 lamprey eels and 1 American eel.

Hanover Dam Fishway: 14 alewife, 1 gizzard shad, 2 sea lamprey, and 1 American eel.

That’s it, gang, See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.


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