Safety makes me sad…=-(

17 07 2011

This what I love about SUPing...

When I saw my first stand up paddle boarder [SUPer] down in Hood River OR I loved how simple an activity it was. You just needed a board and a paddle. You could use it on a lake, river or in the ocean. You could paddle for distance or catch waves. So simple. So much fun. I got a couple SUPs and have enjoyed them in Canada, the US and Mexico. It’s a great way to get some exercise and so easy to teach someone that it’s an awesome way to get your friends out on the water.

Sadly my days of SUPing like in the photo above have come to an end – at least at home….=-( The local Coast Guard has decided that a SUP is a small boat and must have life jackets aboard. There is some uncertainty if a SUP also needs a throw rope, a signaling device and other safety gear…*sigh*! Trying to SUP with a life jacket on is hard and not much fun due to the paddling motion. The rules don’t actually require you to wear the life jacket so if you can figure out a way to attach it to the board you can paddle without one on, but now it catches the wind and makes staying on course harder.

What’s really dumb of course is that a SUP is a personal flotation device! A much more effective one than a life jacket – especially one you don’t have to wear. SUPers have tried unsuccessfully to argue that the rules should require a SUPer to wear a leash which keeps them attached to their board rather than requiring a PFD. Under the current rules a SUPer could fall off their board and watch it sail away out of swimming distance with the PFD legally secured to the nose acting like a sail! Unfortunately this is far too rationale an approach for the authorities.

I’ve heard arguments made that SUPers need a life jacket because they could fall off their board and hit their head on it rendering themselves unconscious. It sounds reasonable, but upon further examination this is just more safety illogic. First off the rules don’t require SUPers to wear a PFD. They just have to have one aboard their vessel. Secondly the approved PFDs a sea kayaker or SUPer would wear do not support the head out of the water so an unconscious person will drown – it will just be easier to find the dead body!

So what am I going to do?

  • I haven’t SUP’d near home in Victoria this year and I’m not highly motivated to given all the stupid rules being enforced for my safety.
  • There is no Coast Guard presence up at Nitnaht Lake and SUPers can paddle their boards with sanity prevailing at this remote lake.
  • Mexico doesn’t have any Safety Nazis enforcing goofy rules so SUPing there is still sensible and I’ll bring my SUPs south of the border when I can.
  • I’m looking at an inflatable PFD at MEC. It costs $150 adds nothing to my safety given my 200L SUP flotation device, but it would get the authorities off my back so I may have to get one.
  • I won’t modify my SUPs to strap a life jacket to the nose because 1) that’s a stupid place for a PFD and 2) I take them into the surf and any thing that can catch on your skin/wetsuit when tumbling in the waves is a safety hazard for real!
  • Bottom line I’ll just SUP less than I would have last year when they didn’t enforce these rules.

Prior to the enforcement of these idiotic rules I was really hopeful that SUPing would be a game changer as it’s the simplest and cheapest way to get folks out on the water for some fun exercise. However, making people wear a PFD which hinders their ability to paddle or forcing them to spend $150 on an inflatable PFD will just add another hurdle to the process which will simply mean less people getting exercise and being a bit healthier.

I think we should start a new safety campaign – “Be most saferest! Stay at home in front of your TV and order a pizza. No helmet or life jacket required!

What really makes me laugh is that kiteboarding is way more dangerous than either biking or SUPing and no helmet or PFD is required. Not to mention that I can skateboard around Victoria without a helmet, but if I want to ride one of those dangerous bicycles I have to strap on a skid lid ’cause the can kill you….LMAO!

If our goal as a society is to make getting exercise outdoors a pain in the butt we should congratulate ourselves – we are succeeding!



21 responses

17 07 2011
Steve Jones

I always believe that the best safety precaution in any activity is common sense and always wonder why..the authorities ( who should be informed enough to know better if they are responsible for making regulations)…seem to have the least amount of this commodity when making stupid rules.
i guess even though they DON’T kiteboard, skateboard, SUP or perhaps even ride a bicycle, they are EXPERTS in these outdoor activities.!!! in a similar fashion should someone who has never flown an airplane or knows nothing much about flying draw up the safety rules for pilots and air traffic control?
and they think a board is a boat? Whaaaat?Since a skateboard has four wheels do they think that it is a car? Are they going to implement airbags and seatbelts on skateboards?? the mind boggles! Do they understand that you STAND on a board and balance and that you SIT in a boat?
I’m all for safety but not without common sense.

Just out of interest..I wonder how many people have had fatal accidents by SUPing with no life jacket compared to people who slipped in the shower ( after eating pizza and drinking beer) and cracked their head open ( because they weren’t wearing a helmet ), This is why I ALWAYS wear my bike helmet in the bathroom. Ha!ha!

No risk, no fun, no adventure, NO LIFE!

Good post Vic, and something people need to speak up about.

17 07 2011

Actually, there was a commercial like that in USA, I don’t remember what it was for, but it was something like “stay home and watch TV and avoid outdoor dangers, heat, etc”. I think it was a news or sports channel and it was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t.

It’s a good time to be in yellow sticker manufacturing business.

17 07 2011
Todd S.

It won’t be long before there are mandates on how one can walk. They’ve already gotten us talking on their terms: talking about what “the rules” should be for certain activities. Most people never even question the logic behind making rules for every conceivable activity in the first place.

17 07 2011

So, What about wave-surfers and windsurfers??

17 07 2011

@Greco – windsurfers aren’t considered a boat so no safety gear is required and surfboards [including SUPs] in the waves are not considered boats and no safety gear is required. Keeping in mind a life jacket could get you killed in the surf.

When I kiteboard I where a helmet, impact vest which has some flotation and a wetsuit which has some flotation. When I’m in the water I don’t have to swim I bob around without effort. None of that is req’d, but it’s what I feel is appropriate to my skills/conditions.

17 07 2011

So, a SUP in waves is NOT a boat and on flat water it is?? 8-/

17 07 2011
Martin Williams

Hi Vic,
The only failing in Federal & Provincial regulations is that they do not mandate the wearing of PFD’s. Take a quick look at the stats on “pleasure boater” (kayakers, fishermen, sailors etc) drownings in both Canada & the US. Consider the percentage that were not wearing PFD’s.

Very recently and close to home. Ask the parents of a young 16 yr old VI kayaker how comforting it was that their son’s PFD was found on his waterlogged kayak. They still have no closure, as his body has not been found.

I’m a kayaker & SUPaddler. The downside of wearing a PFD … tan lines. Let’s get real.

Want an exemption? Then you, your estate & heirs should be prepared to pay the full cost of CG & S&R services involved in any rescue/recovery attempt. Please sign on the dotted line ………………………………


17 07 2011

@Martin – a SUP is a very large personal flotation device. So large you can stand on it!…=-) If you can’t stay alive with a SUP you are not going to stay alive with a SUP and a life jacket.

As far as the last part of your comment goes I spent 10yrs in the military serving this country so please don’t try and moralize to me about the subject. I’ve lived 42yrs, many of which I’ve spent climbing, kayaking, paragliding, riding motorcycles, etc…, I have not needed any emergency services so far and if I ever do, for whatever reason, I won’t feel badly for one second.

18 07 2011

@Greco – I can’t tell you whether there is any other rules that supersede the small boat rules when in the surf or if the Coast Guard appreciate that expecting a SUPer to carry/wear a life jacket while surfing is crazy talk.

18 07 2011
doug d

It would be saferester if your campaign encouraged people to ride the bus instead of staying home. That way they are more likely to get help when they have a heart attack from their legislated sedentary lifestyle.

18 07 2011

@Doug – good point…=-) But, unless the bus comes to their door it would be way too far to walk to a bus stop…=-)

18 07 2011

I agree that SUP’ers are are an imminent public threat. They don’t wear helmets, they don’t pay taxes and they paddle on the wrong side of marker buoys. They should be licensed and they should be forced to buy liability insurance in case they cause property damage and deaths and injuries to powerboaters they collide with.

Ha, ha! I think the life jacket regulation for SUPs must be directed at children or something. Life jackets do make it easier to recover the corpses of SUP’ers. Maybe some pasty-faced bureaucrat wallowing at a desk in Ottawa decided that the Coast Guard could save money searching for all the SUP corpses by assuming SUP’ers would wear life jackets if SUPs were regulated. However, the next blog entry is about the SPOT, which would be much better than a life jacket for locating dead SUP’ers. If the dead SUP’ers were wearing SPOTS then inexpensive private contractors could be hired to recover SUP corpses.

I don’t know what’s going on in Victoria (it’s the craziest place I ever lived, if you ask me) but I have a hard time imagining the SUP life jacket regulation being enforced anywhere in BC. In 40 years of violating marine regulations in British Columbia coastal waters I have never been questioned by the Coast Guard. What is the Coast Guard going to do anyway? Throw SUP’ers in jail? Keelhaul them? A SUP’er could easily escape the Victoria Harbour Patrol boat just by paddling towards shore into shallow water. What a riot!

18 07 2011

I squirt boat, what used to be a simple afternoon delight is no longer possible, why?

Old Scenario. Total Price $30.00
2011 WDFW Parking Pass $25.00
Gas to Get to KanPalmer State Park $5.00
Squirt Boating in great place: Free

New Scenario. Total Price $228.00
2011 WDFW Parking Pass $25.00
Gas to Get to KanPalmer State Park $5.00
Ticket for Squirting Boating with no PFD: $99.00
Ticket for parking without Discover Pass: $99.00
WDFW used to cover the park and although they sold them this year they stopped honoring them, now you need to buy a Discovery Pass Too.

I think that Pizza and TV sounds pretty good. But if I were a politician I would make a Pizza tax because why should anyone be able to do anything for free if they can afford not too!

18 07 2011
Martin Williams

@Vic You lost me, military service … PFD’s?

18 07 2011

@Martin – “You lost me, military service … PFD’s?”

I’ve spent a decade + doing public service so I understand what is being required of search and rescue personnel. In the unlikely event I’ll ever need such services I won’t feel bad and I’m almost 100% sure it won’t because I didn’t wear a PFD on a 200L SUP.

20 07 2011

Local marine patrol here in Florida is enforcing the pfd rule for paddleboards. You must have a pfd and whistle on board at all times. And you must have a light if paddling at night. You can use your paddleboard in the “surf zone” without a pfd but the “surf zone” is undefined. The Coast Guard is considering a new regulation that will require adults to “wear” the pfd at all times. Currently you just have to have on on board. These stupid regulations are hurting the sport and ruining the experience for me. I am considering selling my paddleboard and just go back to surfing.

3 08 2011

Oh no the safety brigade. My husband’s sister was saying how it is becoming impossible to do anything in the UK because they have gone overboard with safety precautions, rules, regulations to the point where is no point even doing whatever it was you thought you would do. A visitor from Ireland asked me recently about the drinking laws in BC and cycling. It’s pretty much one drink now for drivers, no idea for cyclists. I said that the police never bother with cyclists out here, but in Vancouver they might stop cyclists. But in Ireland it is illegal for cyclists to ride after consuming any alcohol!
Back to SUP, it hasn’t been regulated on the sunshine coast that I know of, however pictures in the local paper from a sports store demo showed people in lifejackets. I do see people on their SUP’s without lifejackets though….
and how many times have I seen people in canoes and kayaks without life jackets? In my mind a stand up paddle board is a surf board, isn’t that where it came from? People getting onto the water when it was flat? If you fall off, all you do is get back on, or lie on it and paddle. Nor do I ever see people going very far or fast, they only seem to come out when the ocean is calm, looks pretty relaxing. Crazy…

And as for kiteboarding, I rarely see kiteboarding out here, but last week after work I saw someone go off at a beach and they went far very far out, crashed a few times in the water, did not have a wetsuit, not even sure he was wearing a life jacket…. I didn’t stick around long enough to see if this guy made it back, but he seemed out of control. So, if that isn’t regulated, how can any district regulate standing on a floaty board by calling it a boat?

11 08 2011

Just buy a manualy inflated PFD belt. They’re cheap and in the event that your paddleboard gets away from you youv’ve got enough floatation to not drown. I’m in the CG up here in Alaska and doing commercial fishing vessel inspections. While we realize that enforcing PFD regulations is annoying, statistics by NIOSH show that drowning related deaths are way down. Sadly the people that do drown are the strong swimmers who insist that they dont need to wear a PFD for whatever reason. In 55 degree water and lower your chances of drowning are exponentially higher due to involuntary cold water muscle reactions.

11 08 2011

@Jeff – if the concern was flotation than the logical and useful response would be to mandate leashes on SUPs not PFDs.

19 12 2011
Kris Kringle

Need to go after the life preserver companies lobbying politicians to pass this law in order to get a nice big sales increase. There must be some group out there willing to send some letters and check public records for what companies donated, how much and to whom. Then rally to hold those politicians responsible for serving interest groups instead of the people they were elected to serve.

4 01 2012

Anyone SUPing in False Creek/ Kits/ Jericho beware, tickets ARE being handed out right here in BC. We may not like it but it is what it is at least for now. I have a light weight inflatable PFD that isn’t a hassle to wear. Next to the $1800 I dropped on an SUP and paddle another hundred bucks is trivial. All that said, sure I’d prefer not to be wearing one at all. But for those rolling their eyes and going out without one, a note of caution, one fine and you could have bought TWO inflatable PFDs….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: