A Note on PFDs


I rarely ever wore a PFD when canoeing. I'd canoe into the Algonquin backcountry with my knees on side of the canoe's hull so that it'd be lopsided and I'd be inches from the water. I can swim, but not good enough to justify this total lack of caution! I'd always have my PFD with me, but never physically on my person. It's very close to worthless if its not on you.

I went canoeing with a friend recently on Lake Ontario which, as one of the great lakes, is huge with a lot of motorized traffic. The waves were high and the water taxies had no problem cutting across our path at high speed I had to constantly turn the canoe into the wakes of these taxis to avoid capsizing, and one time I wasn't fast enough! The canoe tipped and we were in the water.

We managed to get back in the canoe and continue on our way, but if I wasn't already wearing my PFD I'm not sure it would have gone as well. The shock of suddenly falling into cold water with clothes and boots on is not the same situation as a casual swim. You might hit your head, or your friend might. I don't think I can swim to the bottom of a deep lake and retrieve an unconscious friend out of the darkness. Don't canoe without a PFD, and don't let your friend do it either.