Contributed by Crystal Keill
People are drowning. At Sea. In Lakes. In Rivers. In Texas Floods. Lots of people. In record numbers this year. And almost all of those people could have avoided their deaths by wearing a life vest of some sort.
As a kayak angler, there isn’t a single part of my brain that understands this blatant disregard for life. I’ve seen anglers attach rod floats to their custom rods while explaining that, “that sucker cost me $300. I don’t want to lose that fine piece of work.” I’ve seen anglers buy floating keychains, floating fish grips, floating measuring boards, floating sunglasses. These kayakers will buy paddle leashes, zip-ties, action cam mounts, floating stringers, bungees, etc.—- all in the name of protecting their precious cargo. But God for-freaking-bid they protect the most precious cargo in that boat… their own lives.
There are plenty of excuses, and I have an answer to all of them:
PFDs are uncomfortable. Yeah, well, so is a jock strap and a cup— but I’m sure you don’t mind protecting those jewels.
PFDs are expensive. Yeah, well, so are funerals.
PFDs are bulky and make me look fat. Yeah, well, birth control makes you look fat, but I promise you look more fat when you’re pregnant.
PFDs are constricting. Yeah, well, I bet you won’t be able to move around much after you’ve drowned either.
I can’t find a PFD that I like. Yeah, picking out a casket is hard too.
If you think I’m being too harsh, I don’t care anymore. I most certainly am judging you if you aren’t wearing a PFD while you are on the water. You might think – “well, I’m familiar with this area of water.” No. No, you are not. Unless you’re freaking Jacques Cousteau’s genius mentor/ submarine guide to the entire oceanic floor, then you are NOT familiar with that water. That water is an unpredictable beast. She is a doting wife one second and an angry mistress the next. If you think you can clock her movements, with observable science, you need mental help. If you think that you aren’t hurting anyone else, you are dead wrong. That sea will swallow you whole and look for her next snack while your family and government employees lose weeks of sleep and suffer irreversible trauma because of your negligence.
I’ve got those excuses too. I still haven’t found my go-to life vest because I need:
An appropriate length. I’m 5 ft. 10 inches. Not all chicks are 5 ft. 2 inches. It would be awesome if it didn’t look like I was wearing a toddler life jacket every time I sat down in the yak.
A cost that isn’t higher than my wedding ring. Seriously— if it costs that much, my husband might feel that my priorities were a little sketchy (Who am I kidding- we all know he’d be proud).
Cute colors and a fitted shape because I am not trying to be one of the guys. I’m a woman- and that PFD better be damn awesome if it’s gonna be covering up my Rowdy Maui shirt. Maybe some girls want to wear RealTree Camo print, but I’m just fine NOT shooting a deer from my yak. Plus, I’d really like to NOT be “invisible” to nearby boaters.
Room for actual boobs to actually exist while breathing at the same time (not the kind that are paid for and just stay in one place, not the tiny runway model kind— the kind that fed two kids and shift around during movement). Also- I have hips. Please account for that extra space, so my vest doesn’t ride up and give me double chins during my grip and grins.
While I’m at it— Can I get an “AMEN” for top-loading pockets? Who in the hell decided that women’s PFDs needed no pockets? Who in the hell thought side-loading pockets were convenient on a life jacket? I mean- I’m girly, but I damn sure don’t take my purse out on the yak with me, C’mon y’all. For Real—–> top loading pockets, please.
And a convenient place to clip my pink Smith and Wesson knife.
What it all boils down to is that this buttercup is gonna suck it up. I just flat out don’t care anymore about any of those excuses. I have them all too, but there isn’t a single part of me that thinks I will look cute getting sucked into the vortex that is Charybdis, grasping for my life or stuck under the root of a huge tree in the Trinity River while Equisearch and my family scour a grid on a map looking for my dead and bloated gar-eaten body.
I will continue to sport a cheap Stearns life-jacket from Walmart until my design demands are met, but you (without a doubt) won’t catch me in the yak without it because forgetting your PFD is just like forgetting you left your baby in the backseat of the car during an August heatwave. Both actions can destroy the most precious cargo.
*Opinion articles like this one are written by the contributor and may or may not represent the views held by Kayak Fishing Blog. We do however encourage safety on the water 100% of the time.