Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buyer Beware

Have you every wondered what it must be like to show up after booking a kayak tour and meeting the outfitter you have selected and not feel like basic safety protocols are being followed.

I know that I may be a bit strict in my thinking here but really as a commercial outfitter you would think some things would be basic. Something as basic as wearing a life jacket (PFD) should be a must.

I can hear some of you now. It is 90F outside and the water is 80F. That is true and on your own I feel if you do not want to wear a life jacket then that is your business. But as a professional outfitter you should be an example setter.

In the Pacific Northwest where air temperature is not always that warm and the water is never warm. I still see images of people not wearing life jackets on commercially operated kayak tours websites.

Coast Guard records will show that most kayak and canoe related deaths can be attributed to the person not WEARING a life jacket. Having it simply strapped to the deck or in the cockpit does not count as wearing your life jacket.

Not only is it "my opinion" that it is a bad practice for commercial operators to tell guest it is okay to not wear life jackets. But to have images on their websites is, again in "my opinion", irresponsible.

As a guide I feel it should be your job to promote safe paddling concepts and good stewardship all around.

So if you find yourself in a situation where your outfitter/guide tells you it is okay to not wear a life jacket or any other behavior that does not seem to be obvious basic safety. Don't do it and feel free to ask questions. Any questions of safety should be dealt with and your outfitter should handle your concerns with respect.

Going out with a commercial outfitter is suppose to be fun and above all safe. So pay attention to all the images on the websites when shopping. Think to yourself if what you see in the images on these sites are adhering to common sense safety.

I respect any ones opinion to disagree with me on this topic and hope you can respect my opinion.