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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my pet peeves is about those who consider PFDs a nuisance, so I decided to make this post and share some information.
I was fishing on lower Santee River on Friday afternoon of last week and a little after 7:00 pm, I decided it was getting late and that I should be heading in before dark, since there are lots of snags and shallow areas. I cranked up and headed downriver some 10 miles to the landing, but I stopped at a creek mouth to see if my grandson and his two friends had come out of the swamp where they were fishing in small boats. I thought I heard a someone yelling, but only saw one other boat up in the creek, then heard another shout. I shut down the engine of my 17' boat, and soon heard someone yelling for help! It was about 30 minutes before dark, but I could see orange about 1/2 mile downriver, and someone waving their arms, so I cranked the engine and struck out for their position, thinking it might be the grandson and friends. When I got close, I spotted a 14' jon boat overturned in the water, and a man holding on the the rear of the boat. I got to him and verified he was ok and only two people involved. The second was about 75 yards downstream, standing on a fallen tree trunk. He was the one doing the yelling.
I managed to get the guy out of the water, then moved to the one on the tree trunk, and got him aboard. They were wet, but ok; just frightened, and very thankful that someone had responded to their calls. They told me that the boat suddenly started filling with water and they didn't even have time to get some 75 feet or so to the bank before having to abandon it. My point here is that things happen quickly and when a PFD is needed, there may not be time to hunt for it! Both of these guys were older men and were wearing their preservers, otherwise the story might have ended on a much more somber note. The one I pulled from the water could not swim at all; he was frightened, but did the right thing staying with the boat. The second guy couldn't make it back to the boat, but the current carried him to a waiting tree trunk. They had been in the water for quite some time when I came along.
I helped them recover their ice chest near the bank, then we managed to turn the boat back over and tie it to the side of mine, idling another 1/2 mile or so to the ramp. I managed to put the boat onto the ramp, still full of water, then returned to check on the kids, who I was getting concerned about, since it was almost dark. (They were fine, btw, just lolly gagging along, as kids will do.)
As I was talking with the guys who had sank the boat, and they were thanking me, of course, for being there to help. I quickly stopped them and noted they should be thankful more to themselves for having the foresight to wear their PFDs. Think about it, guys; will you have time to pull that PFD from it's storage location, or even grab it from where you laid it on the floor?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the young kids caught a lot of bream and some bass in the swamp, and this old guy didn't do half bad upriver, either. I offered to share some of my catch with the two guys from the sunken boat, who had just started fishing when their bad luck day started, but they declined.
Y'all be safe out there, hear!
 

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Very good point. About 6 or 7 years ago two friends and myself were fishing lake murray. We was casting jigs to the rip rap near the damn for bass and decided to go to another spot. As we passes the Yacht cove area we saw the hull of a sail boat poking out of the water. we went to investigate and found an older women clinging to the boat with the help of a young man that had jumped in and same to her to help. They had just launched the boat, she put on hewr PFD and her husband ( a seasoned boater with 30+ years in sail boats) was reaching for his when the boat flipped. He was knocked out cold and was found the next day 3 miles or so from the accident site.

So I second the point that stuff happens fast.
Be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, Doug; that's my whole point.
These guys were lucky, as they only lost one fishing pole and maybe some tackle. They still had their battery, gas tank (it helped keep the boat floating level, even upside down), trolling motor, even the anchor, which kept the boat from drifting. Most of all, they had their lives, though!
 

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I never wear a pfd. I always felt they were an annoying pain and always in the way.
I also feel like I'm a good swimmer and I will be fine.

Something last year kind of got me worried though.

It was early winter and I set a few loglines the day before. I needed to get my lines out of the water the next day. So after work I rushed out to the river and took off in my boat alone. No one else was on the river. It was snowing pretty hard and I was bundled up with multiple layers of clothes for warmth with big boots on. Also it was getting dark faster than I expected and my vision was limited. I caught one fish that night. A big blue. I got so exited when I saw him that I paid no attention to how my boat was drifting. I had the fish on the boat trying to unhook a big viscious circle hook when the line started getting tight fast as the current takes my boat. But That just made me work faster to get him unhooked. I did get him unhooked right before I could no longer hold the line. The hook caught on the sleeve of my coat. I Instinctivly ripped and pulled as hard as I could and tore free.

I brushed it off and admired my catch a while and released him unharmed.

But when I think back to that evening on the river.
I had a perfect recipee for my own death.

BTW I still dont wear a pfd.
 

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Great post! I think we all need a reminder at times of just how bad things can turn and how fast it can happen. Thankfully no one was hurt.
 

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Thanks for the post and yes, it happens fast. I lost a boat to Moultrie 10yrs ago and even though my life vest was near by (i hang them over the seats in ruff sea's) I had time to grab one but never could get it on. If you can swim or not you need one on and if you are determined not to wear it, have it close by. I have warned many other brave boaters of the speed that it can happen.

And before i forget, its good to have boaters like Tommy that are willing to help and know what to do when someone does sink there boat. They probably owe you there life. Gators look fr folks hanging onto boats and tree's in the middle of the night
 

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Tommy thanks for being there for those guys. I don't wear my PFD all the time, but I always have it close and when conditions get out of the Norm it goes on. I grew up fishing Jocassee and the storms sneak up real fast. That lake can go from flat calm to 5 foot seas in a matter of minutes, so I have learned to have a lot of respect for the waters I fish. Mother nature and equipment can throw all kinds of kinks into a fishing trip, with that said you can never over prepare for any situation.

Thanks again Tommy for the great post and for taking care of those guys.
 

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I have to get a pfd that is more comfortable, I will admit that I dont wear mine unless I am in unfamiliar waters, which I know is stupid. I do wear my kill switch 100%, and wear my pfd if I have the kids with me. There is still no excuse not to wear them 100% of the time. Thanks Tommy for opening my eyes again.
 

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thanks tommy,a great post & reminder of how fast those incidents can happen.they can sneak up on you also,not with some of the jet skies & crazies out there either...some years back my cousin jeff & i were night fishin the hartwell dam in some chops,i was inthe rear nxt to the engine when a couple of the caps cleared the aft end & got me wet & woke up real quick!headed back to landing on ga side, couldn't get up to speed,plane or bail.you probably know what happened next.soon as we throttled down @ the landing... down we went...ice chests,live wells,pfds,us justfloating &dog paddlin in.turned out to be a wet,miserable adventure gettin home,(alive, although maybe by the skin of our tails,rare even then nobody else much on the water @2am) later found a hairline crack in the transome.thanks for bringin up this subject.
 

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Better to have then not have but they don't always work.
Had a Fountain go down this week off the coast of NC.
One of the three wearing a preserver made it. The other two...shark food by now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Way to go, Tommy - you're somebody's guardian angel!!!!
Thanks, Pat, but nah, I just happened to come along at the right time. Anyone else would have done the same. I read some statistics some time back that stated 90% of SC's boating related drownings were not wearing PFDs. That an eye-opening fact.
 

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Best money spent beyond a life vest.
An Epirb or something along those lines.

Just like those guys on the Fountain. Same with the football players in Florida last year.
Own a 150,000 dollar boat and can't spend 700 bucks on an Epirb that will relay your exact position to the Coast Guard.
Makes no sense to me.

The basic devices are like a 100 bucks.
100-1000 bucks can just about assure you'll get home.
 
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