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Mason County News
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Soft Boating Week
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 • Posted May 26, 2010

As you are no doubt aware, this is Safe Boating Week in our country (America), and also in the Frozen North (Canada). So if you’re one of those who likes to unsafely boat, you’ll have to wait until next week, because this week it’s just not right. The other 51 weeks of the year you can drive your boat too fast, or crash it into other boats or the dock or even drive it right up onto dry land if you want to. But not this week. So there.

I’ve always wondered what exactly the point was in having events like this, as if the above paragraph were remotely accurate. I know the idea is to make people aware they need to pay attention and not pull bonehead stunts when they’re on the water, but that’s kind of an all year thing, and not just one week. It’s like if some knucklehead with a boat runs over a skier, and he’s asked why he did it, and he says, "Well, it wasn’t Safe Boating Week, so who cares?" And then everyone else looks at each other and says, "You know, he’s got a point."

Nevertheless, some exciting events are taking place to raise awareness for Safe Boating Week, some events you probably never, in your wildest dreams, thought would take place, unless your wildest dreams are extremely tame and boring.

For instance, on May 20 Cabela’s had an event called "Ready, Set, Inflate." It was an attempt to set a new world record. They invited boating safety professionals (I wonder what that is?), the boating community (where they use huge ropes for fencing), and the media to congregate at the Cabela’s store in Ft. Worth. At exactly 10 o’clock everyone simultaneously inflated their inflatable life jackets.

Personally, I can think of few things more thrilling than standing in a roomful of people inflating PFDs all at once, except maybe trimming my ear hair. And I certainly would have been there to be overwhelmed in the heady excitement, but I don’t currently own a life jacket that inflates. All mine are the kind that just sit there. Pretty dull, but there you go.

Inflatable life jackets have always seemed kind of strange to me. The idea is that, since they are smaller and more comfortable and less bulky and more convenient, people will wear them just about all the time, as opposed to regular life jackets, which are the opposite of all those things. Therefore, when something bad happens, such as pirates boarding your boat and making you walk the plank, you’ll have your trusty inflatable life jacket on, just when you need it most.

The only real downside is that inflatable life jackets cost a lot, a whole lot, more than the regular kind. Well, that and they are presumably subject to inadvertent puncture, rendering them hors de combat, usually just when you need them most. But they’re real tough, I understand, so that’s probably not an issue, unless you fish on a whaler, and have a lot of harpoons and such lying around.

And then of course there is the fact that they require a little CO

But if you’ve got plenty of money, inflatable PFDs beat the regular kind all to smash. They just don’t have any other uses. And regular life jackets do.

For instance, when my wife and I first bought a canoe, it was not what you’d call a real expensive model, and the seats were not what you’d call real comfortable. So most of the time, instead of wearing our life jackets, we sat on them, in order to keep the blood flow to our brains intact, if you know what I mean.

You can also wrap a regular life jacket around an ice chest, in case of unintentional capsizing, to keep your drinks from getting away. And in case you’re wondering, most canned soft drinks don’t float. They sink like rocks. And even if you find them after a spill, your ice is all gone, so you’ve got hot drinks. Bummer.

And besides all that, more than a few times I have forgotten to take a sleeping pad on a river trip, and used regular life jackets for padding to sleep on. My sleep number, in case you’re wondering, is four. Five if I need a pillow.

Now, I’m all for safe boating week, especially when people use my boats. I want the boats to come back safe, whether the people do or not. And I’m all for Cabela’s, too. I’m not trying to make fun of their efforts to promote safety. But I think someone needs to start a Regular Life Jacket Appreciation Week, considering what all they’ve done for us over the years.

I guess you couldn’t have a fancy to do like the Ready, Set, Inflate thing. Maybe we could have a Ready, Set, Park Your Tush event, and call it Comfortable Backside Week.

Anyway, boat safely this week, especially if you use one of my canoes . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who always includes life jackets with his boat rentals. And paddles. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

2 cartridge to operate, and you have to make sure you have one of those handy in case the lanyard on your jacket catches on something and you blow up unintentionally, or something. Don’t you hate it when that happens? It’s worse, I guess, if you’re a terrorist, but still.

ger/may 26 col-kendal

Soft Boating Week

Kendal Hemphill

As you are no doubt aware, this is Safe Boating Week in our country (America), and also in the Frozen North (Canada). So if you’re one of those who likes to unsafely boat, you’ll have to wait until next week, because this week it’s just not right. The other 51 weeks of the year you can drive your boat too fast, or crash it into other boats or the dock or even drive it right up onto dry land if you want to. But not this week. So there.

I’ve always wondered what exactly the point was in having events like this, as if the above paragraph were remotely accurate. I know the idea is to make people aware they need to pay attention and not pull bonehead stunts when they’re on the water, but that’s kind of an all year thing, and not just one week. It’s like if some knucklehead with a boat runs over a skier, and he’s asked why he did it, and he says, "Well, it wasn’t Safe Boating Week, so who cares?" And then everyone else looks at each other and says, "You know, he’s got a point."

Nevertheless, some exciting events are taking place to raise awareness for Safe Boating Week, some events you probably never, in your wildest dreams, thought would take place, unless your wildest dreams are extremely tame and boring.

For instance, on May 20 Cabela’s had an event called "Ready, Set, Inflate." It was an attempt to set a new world record. They invited boating safety professionals (I wonder what that is?), the boating community (where they use huge ropes for fencing), and the media to congregate at the Cabela’s store in Ft. Worth. At exactly 10 o’clock everyone simultaneously inflated their inflatable life jackets.

Personally, I can think of few things more thrilling than standing in a roomful of people inflating PFDs all at once, except maybe trimming my ear hair. And I certainly would have been there to be overwhelmed in the heady excitement, but I don’t currently own a life jacket that inflates. All mine are the kind that just sit there. Pretty dull, but there you go.

Inflatable life jackets have always seemed kind of strange to me. The idea is that, since they are smaller and more comfortable and less bulky and more convenient, people will wear them just about all the time, as opposed to regular life jackets, which are the opposite of all those things. Therefore, when something bad happens, such as pirates boarding your boat and making you walk the plank, you’ll have your trusty inflatable life jacket on, just when you need it most.

The only real downside is that inflatable life jackets cost a lot, a whole lot, more than the regular kind. Well, that and they are presumably subject to inadvertent puncture, rendering them hors de combat, usually just when you need them most. But they’re real tough, I understand, so that’s probably not an issue, unless you fish on a whaler, and have a lot of harpoons and such lying around.

And then of course there is the fact that they require a little CO

2

cartridge to operate, and you have to make sure you have one of those handy in case the lanyard on your jacket catches on something and you blow up unintentionally, or something. Don’t you hate it when that happens? It’s worse, I guess, if you’re a terrorist, but still.

But if you’ve got plenty of money, inflatable PFDs beat the regular kind all to smash. They just don’t have any other uses. And regular life jackets do.

For instance, when my wife and I first bought a canoe, it was not what you’d call a real expensive model, and the seats were not what you’d call real comfortable. So most of the time, instead of wearing our life jackets, we sat on them, in order to keep the blood flow to our brains intact, if you know what I mean.

You can also wrap a regular life jacket around an ice chest, in case of unintentional capsizing, to keep your drinks from getting away. And in case you’re wondering, most canned soft drinks don’t float. They sink like rocks. And even if you find them after a spill, your ice is all gone, so you’ve got hot drinks. Bummer.

And besides all that, more than a few times I have forgotten to take a sleeping pad on a river trip, and used regular life jackets for padding to sleep on. My sleep number, in case you’re wondering, is four. Five if I need a pillow.

Now, I’m all for safe boating week, especially when people use my boats. I want the boats to come back safe, whether the people do or not. And I’m all for Cabela’s, too. I’m not trying to make fun of their efforts to promote safety. But I think someone needs to start a Regular Life Jacket Appreciation Week, considering what all they’ve done for us over the years.

I guess you couldn’t have a fancy to do like the Ready, Set, Inflate thing. Maybe we could have a Ready, Set, Park Your Tush event, and call it Comfortable Backside Week.

Anyway, boat safely this week, especially if you use one of my canoes . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who always includes life jackets with his boat rentals. And paddles. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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