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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

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By TexasJim
True story. I lived 25 years on an island, where you almost couldn't get out of sight of the ocean. Probably 90% of the "native locals" couldn't swim. They were terrified of the water, and things that swam in it. A friend dreamed up a plan to teach the local schoolkids to swim. A bunch of wealthy people donated money, bought a school bus, and Saturdays, they would pick up maybe 25 kids and take them to a pool and give swimming lessons and lunch. Great program. Worked beautifully.
One day, my friend was approached by the head of the "Marine Police" Unit, basically game wardens and drug cops, and he asked him if they could do a similar swim instruction program for his officers! TWO of the twenty or so "Marine Police" officers could swim! Unbelievable, but true.
It's criminal that, considering they're surrounded by water, they don't teach swimming in the schools. But, who would teach swimming? The teachers can't swim either! I don't think public schools teach swimming either?
You can't fix everything by passing laws. People choose to do or not do what is in their best interest.
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By TroutSupport.com
Hunter safety course are required not optional these days if you were born after a certain date .... yeah guys, I know it's easy to think of this and get all political / anti government, I'm very anti govt myself... and it's not a regulation like you have to have a life jacket that would have to be enforced by a govt agency. This is 'ok, look, you have to take this course before getting your fishing license because you might die. After that you're on your own" is Texas willing to stop complaining about the deaths or is someone going to actually do something about it other than argue about govt? Education is the key and the only thing that will help this situation, at least they would have watched it once and know what to look out for and the risk... 2-3 or more families a year loose a family member.
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By JW FunGuy
I am just going to have to say something here. I taught whitewater kayaking in NM and CO for decades, did all the safety drills, equipment needs etc. There was never a need to explain why, it was pretty obvious. And there were always a few yahoos that would jump in a raft or a second hand kayak each year not knowing what they were getting into and wind up dead. We did lessons through Parks and Recreation and universities but there were still those that wanted to do it DIY, it’s just the Adventist’s spirit. I think what is different here is that it throws fishing into the equation. Anybody can fish right? How are you going to regulate the guy that buys a kayak on Craigslist or borrows his friends or brothers? The best way is through communities like this, and if we see someone who is putting themselves at risk to try and talk to them and help educate them on the potential hazards.
I live in New Braunfels and every summer I see totally wasted tubers floating down the river in inner tubes, some can’t even stand up when they reach their takeout. No they are not hurting anyone, but, they do get in their vehicles and drive! I don’t believe there is a “Tubers Safty Course “
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By Crusader
Guys, did you see what they do with scissors? I've seen someone RUNNING with them! Dangerous as hell!!!!
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By shoffer
Crusader wrote:Jesus, this concern porn is nauseating...

"Concern porn" made me laugh. Nice one, Crusader!
By Dred
@Crusader ... thank you.

I absolutely advocate kayak safety of all sorts for everyone I am responsible for. It is an important list which some of y'all might try to duplicate: myself, my family and folks that wanna listen.


First promise made to me at birth was that life is temporary. We're all going to go. We're all going to have our own take on managing risk.

Kayakers as a group are managing personal risk. People don't die getting run over by speeding kayaks.

I disagree with any idea of mandatory licensing/education. But I would voluntarily pay for a class I believed would make me a better boater or fisherman.

I'm a little jaded. If you have kids, it is your job to teach them to survive - not mine or federal department of survival's. I feel for the folks losing loved ones - that is often difficult and painful.

And, I apologize to the folks that prefer to pass their responsibilities off to agencies. Sorry if your feeling got hurt by my words. But if we are BTB, you are still welcome to borrow my bilge pump if you forgot your own.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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By TroutSupport.com
Crusader wrote:Guys, did you see what they do with scissors? I've seen someone RUNNING with them! Dangerous as hell!!!!

LOL... I think we all know it's beyond that but thanks for the laugh.

Yeah, and no one like the hunter safety course either, but its saving lives. I'm sure stupid shit will still happen, like going to the Dike for a first time trip... wow.
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By Neumie
I’ll start by saying I do not wear my PFD unless conditions warrant it. The recent events have not changed my stance on the matter. This year I’ve looked up how many deaths have occurred in Texas from paddle crafts; there have been 5 that I have found.

The first was January 3rd at San Luis Pass. The kayaker’s dry bag was found washed up on shore and his kayak was later found with PFD attached. On January 12 his body was recovered. Cause of death was self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

The second was on January 21st and involved three men in two motorized canoes on Lake Belton. The three men went fishing the afternoon where it’s believed one canoe flipped and while trying to correct the swamped canoe the second one flipped in the process putting all three men in the water. One was able to swim to shore and start a fire for warmth, the two other men did not survive. None of the men were wearing PFDs. One body was recovered on the 22nd, while the second body wasn’t recovered until February 5th. The weather conditions the day of the deaths was a Low of 33, high of 63 (cold front had blown through the day before), winds were SSE 20-25 and gusting 30+ mph, and water temp was in the mid 50’s degree. Given the water temp it is reasonable to believe hypothermia could had played a role. At those water temps exhaustion/unconsciousness sets in 1-2 hours with expected time of survival 1-3 hours.

The third incident happened on Lake Ray Hubbard just east of Dallas on February 23rd. A group of 5 college age kids rented kayaks for an afternoon paddle. Rough water caused all five kayakers to enter the water. Two were able to swim back to shore, while the other three were rescued by a boater who had spotted them. Two of those kayakers were conscious but the third was unresponsive when they were pulled from the water. It’s unclear whether or not PFDs were worn. The weather conditions the day of the death was a low of 48, high of 70 (time of the incident the air temp was in the upper 60’s), winds were SW 25-30 and gusting 40+ mph, and the water temp was around 50 degrees. Again hypothermia could have played a role as I did not read how long the kayakers were in the water until their rescue.

The fourth incident we’re all aware of happened at Texas City Dike on April 30th. First time kayaker launched at is agreed upon, probably not a location a first time kayaker should be at, and without a PFD. Although I’ve never been there I’m going to base this next statement from my experience with the Corpus Christi ship channel: being adjacent to a major shipping channel there’s always the potential for large, rogue waves to be thrown by passing ships. The weather conditions the day of the death was low to mid 80s, winds were SE 15 gusting to 20 picking up in the afternoon to 20-25 and gusting to 30+, and the water temp was in the mid to upper 70’s.

My initial reaction is weather, specifically wind, was significant factor which ultimately lead to the 4 deaths. Given the unknown time the first three deaths spent in 50 degree waters it reasonable to suspect hypothermia contributing to their deaths, which may or may not have been mitigated had a PFD been worn. I do believe the most recent death could have been prevented had the paddler worn a PFD. However, all four of the deaths could have easily been prevent had they just looked at how hard the wind was blowing.

After looking back at my fishing logs my go/no-go forecast wind speed is 15-20 with gusts to 25. Even then I research and select a location which offers protection from the full force of the wind. This is where experience factors in. I’ve paddled in worse, and have put myself in situations where I felt I was not in a safe situation. My PFD gets put on when those few occurrences happen.

While on the topic of PFDs it’s important to mention most, if not all, PFDs designed and worn by paddlers are Type III. Type III PFDs will not turn an unconscious person face up if they are face down in the water. Whether you enter the water unconscious from a medical condition (heart attack, stroke) or become unconscious while in the water (hypothermia, hitting your head) your chances of death increase even if you are wearing a PFD. Those cheap orange PFDs are Type II and offer more buoyancy than a paddler’s PFD.

I know this long, and thanks for reading through my thoughts, but I’m going to end with this last argument. In Texas, between 2010 and 2016 there were 362 bicycle deaths (52 a year, which is slowing increasing). Although the numbers support helmet use Texas does not have laws for mandatory helmet use. Certain cities, such as Austin, have mandatory helmet use for those 17 and under, similar to the 13 & under PFD law. I don’t spend any time on bicycle forums or groups, so I don’t know if the pro-mandatory helmet law group is as loud as the pro-mandatory PFD law group with each death. According to average there have already been 19 bicycle deaths in Texas compared to 4 paddle craft deaths. Of course I don’t know what the percentage is compared to the overall user group population. Heck, there’s not even mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists in Texas.

If you pass a law saying kayakers must wear PFDs while on the water. What about canoeist? SUPs? Float tubes? Surfers? Windsurfers? Kite-boarders? Inner-tubes? Pool floats in public water? Where does the line get drawn?
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By TroutSupport.com
its really all about education. without education it won't get any better. Even with education it might not getter better, but a least they'll have had a chance. I know almost all styles of craft need education to prevent or at least allow the new angler to prepare. it's up to them to actually take the steps to do it.
By jiggy-z
This is a pretty nuanced issue.

One thing that has not been brought up is what about all of the near misses or deaths/injuries prevented by wearing PFDs. Of course, there will never be a way to accurately quantify it, but we all know it is a lot more than zero.

Another issue is that kayaking is only becoming more popular and our state is also growing. That means more beginners on the water, more individuals with compromised health on the water, and more opportunity for kayakers to interact with increasing boat traffic. This is simply not the same environment that many of us started out with.

From the civil liberties side of things, a kayaker is not like like a boater in that there is no vectoring of damage or life lost caused by a kayaker not wearing their PFD. The damage is restricted to the individual(and their loved ones), wrt PFDs (There is a completely separate discussion to be had on the actual safe operating of the vessel, but that is a separate matter).

On the other had, it does take public resources for dealing with a preventable kayaking deaths that could be used elsewhere.

I think where this is headed first is a a law change requiring wearing of PFDs at all times. Enforcement will be by ticket just as it is now for requiring possession. Such a proposed change is likely to encounter stiff opposition from boaters even if the law excludes boats. Slippery slope and all that. Also, there is the risk that in an increasing regulatory and money grab environment that kayaks would be required to become registered, but perhaps not. Maybe the state has mulled this over and does not want to mess with the extra enforcement and paperwork for registration.

I know things can get freaky on the water in a hurry. The most experienced yakers I know will always wear their PFDs. I do not always wear mine. But if the law were to change I would comply and make sure others do as well....just like I did for seat belts way back in the day.
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By Earl
Crusader wrote:Guys, I totally agree. We should also require fitness and swimming tests -- there were so many deaths because someone who can't swim even 20 yards under 10 seconds goes and starts paddling. One-a-month cardio tests should be a requirement too, as well -- too many deaths can be attributed to a stroke because of heat and extensive paddling. Mandatory fluid injection devices are a good idea too. Plus we should cap the age of participant at about 55.

Jesus, this concern porn is nauseating...

X10 on this. Could not say it any better. Live life then you die. Be smart and prudent but most of all live and die FREE.
By Kayak Kid
There have been some pretty good arguments given within this thread as to why we needn't wear our floatation gear all the time when kayaking. I'm pleased to note that we do not have a law requiring us to wear one, and that we are also free to make our own decisions as to what is best for us and our families.

I've been around and involved with kayaking for the past seventy one years. Having served my military obligation in the U.S. Coast Guard, I was privy to knowing about many boating mishaps that occur throughout our coastal waterways. As a certified Red Cross small craft and sailing instructor, I am aware of the many dangers adherent to boating, and to the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid many of them them.

Not claiming to be an expert on the subject of kayak safety...,or anything else...,I am forced to revert to my personal experiences, along with what common sense I might possess, to formulate my decisions on wearing a life jacket while kayaking.

As follows:

I am definitely not in favour of a law being instituted. Too many restrictive and unenforceable laws as it is.

I and everyone I kayak with will wear life jackets at all times when on the water.

Further, my conclusion..., my set-in-stone decision...,is to make every attempt possible to educate my fellow kayakers on why they should make wearing a life saving device an integral part of their on the water activities, and to convince them of their irresponsibility if not doing so.
By Q-man
yodaddi wrote:I can be in inches of water but I'm still gonna wear my PFD, mainly becuase I don't know how to swim or keep afloat. I'm too cautious/paranoid to take that chance.

Being able to swim doesn't matter if you get KO-ed from hitting your head. Always wear a PFD.

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