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Old 07-18-2014, 07:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 31
Wear Those PFDs People!!!

Well, it finally happened to me last week. After years of in-season canoe/kayak/boat usage during paddles and fishing outings, w/o an incident (since my high school days), I tipped my canoe over. In a deep lake. I had four consecutive days out on this lake fishing while wearing my PFD. Then, wouldn't you know it, on that fifth day, I decided instead to sit on my seat cushion-style PFD atop the stern seat while solo in my fiberglass canoe. Trolling a fly line and battling the moderate mid-day wind across the lake, a sudden gust caused me to react to counter the drift imparted on the bow, and the combination of the higher center of gravity (sitting on my PFD), sudden bow swing, my counter lean into the paddle, and I suppose the small 'wave' height caused the canoe to roll. Wow - was that unexpected! That's why they call these types of events 'accidents' when you read about them in the news afterwards. The next 20-30 seconds were a somewhat panicked blur where I had to simultaneously and quickly process and assess the 1.) two fishing rods + tackle bag drifting away from the swamped canoe, 2.) the fly line wrapped around my one leg resulting from my initial flailing, 3.) reaching for both the canoe stern handle and the drifting PDF cushion, 4.) reaching for my waistband folding knife to slice the tangled fly line, and 5.) hoping to save the canoe! The next 45-60 seconds had the wind drift me and the whole jalopy mess to a point where my leg somehow found footing on an underwater boulder in about 5.5' of depth ( I had been trolling in about a 9-11' depth of the 70' deep lake). I was able to wade the remaining 45 yards towing the canoe to shore at that point and get things straightened out from there. Lucky. My overall point here is, the 5 or so action items below would automatically be reduced by simply having a PFD worn when falling into the water...would have been one less thing to process and worry about as I scrambled to figure a way out of the mess. Murphy's Law struck, as I had been otherwise wearing it all the previous days. WEAR THOSE PFDs at ALL TIMES!!!!!!!!! ( I lost nothing, except my pride, and did not have to cut my fly line - whew). PLAY SAFELY.

Last edited by fintastic; 07-18-2014 at 07:53 PM.. Reason: Spelling correction.
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:59 PM   #2
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Oops... I just saw the other related thread where I should have harm I guess....
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:12 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2006
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Originally Posted by fintastic View Post
....I decided instead to sit on my seat cushion-style PFD atop the stern seat while solo in my fiberglass canoe...
If feasible, you should sit in the bow seat facing the stern when paddling solo. Your weight will be more towards the center of the canoe and thus more stable.
Good story though, thanks for sharing. Reminds me of the time my buddy capsized our canoe while we were wearing jeans and sweatshirts one late September afternoon. Swimming in a hoody while trying to pull the canoe to shore from the middle of the lake is a great workout! Thank goodness it wasn't October or November, we would've been in real trouble.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:18 AM   #4
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Location: Long Island, NY
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I had a similar experience in the Delaware River. PFD, fishing tackle, and other goodies one big tangled mess. Then trying to keep it all together while dragging a heavy, swamped canoe out of the current and up onto shore.

I'm glad you made it out OK. I always wear mine now.
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