Owning our safety on the water applies to all levels of angling whether you are a boater, kayaker, or wader. Angling is becoming more and more popular and many times the more popular locations can have a lot of traffic from all user groups, making accidents more likely. At the same time, accidents can happen in even the most remote location between the only 2 users in the far reaches of the bay on a weekday.
Just this year alone several boaters have already lost their lives. Whether it be from a mechanical failure or the disregard of personal safety, these accidents can mostly be avoided. Not only do we need to make sure we are wearing personal safety devices, we need to inspire, and be passionate about their use of safety equipment.
Safety awareness also requires all parties involved to stay alert on the water. It doesn’t matter what user group you personally fall under at this point, each user has to own his own safety. For the wade fisherman that may be wearing a bright orange fishing hat or fishing shirt. A kayaker may take it a step further adding an orange flag at the rear of the craft 2-3 feet off the water. While this doesn’t seem like it would be necessary because the color of most kayaks are orange or yellow, the boater driving a meandering marsh cut would certainly appreciate the more vertical display that stands above the marsh grass. And once the 2 are in such close proximity it’s going to come down to visual cues, not sounds. A boater cant hear his own fishing buddy over an outboard, no amount of whistling or hollering is going to get the drivers attention. It has to be bright and movement helps A LOT.
This also brings me to a point about responsibility. It’s easy to say that one user group shouldn’t do ‘xyz’, but none of this is going to improve the situation. If you thought that someone on a kayak was possibly your own son, would you treat them differently? Everyone is someone’s son or daughter. Would you be more assertive, looking out for their safety and experience on the water. The shoe can be on the other foot as well, if you are paddling a small craft would you put yourself in the center of a boating lane if you knew it was your 68 year old grandfather driving his boat from the back of the canal? Everyone on the water is likely someone’s dad or a future dad. Give each other a wide berth if you can while at the same time making sure you remain safe by your location, depth, and your speed. Own your safety on the water and when someone makes a mistake or isn’t where the ‘should’ be, remember how you would talk to them if they were your son or grandfather.