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As summer nears, we inevitably will hear of boaters who are missing after falling overboard. Do you wear your vest when out on the water? I will be the first to fess up that since my new to me purchase last year, I seldom if EVER wear it anymore. I had a 19ft center console that whenever i was solo I have a pact with the wife to wear my vest. Now in a 25ft walk around I never wear it, the likelihood of falling out has been greatly diminished with the new vessel. I will have it on the back of my chair when I am approaching docks as that is when I would most likely have the opportunity to fall overboard, when going forward to secure lines. I think i will be a bit more diligent moving forward before the inevitable happens.....
 

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Even though I run a pilot house it goes on before I leave the dock! All you have to do is go aft to take a leak and have a rogue swell toss you! I’m a former lifeguard instructor but don’t trust my swimming at 74 and might even get knocked out So I use an auto inflater though John makes a good point below!
 

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I was a guest on a friend's boat in 1987. The boat took on water and we capsized several miles from shore. None of us were wearing PFDs and could not easily get to the PFDs stored in a compartment on the overturned hull. We began swimming and my friend's wife panicked. My friend and I had to support her body to keep her afloat. In the mean time, my wife drifted away from us. We were all rescued 30 mins later by a passing boater, but it was a frightening experience.

After that, I always wear a PFD when operating a boat or kayak, and usually when on someone else's boat. I prefer a full-flotation PFD to an inflatable. If I have a medical emergency or hit my head while falling overboard, I do not want to rely on a water-triggered inflation switch to keep me afloat.
 

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I have a 22 ft bay boat and always wear an inflatable when I'm on the boat alone. I previously had a pilot house and still wore it because of the reasons stated above. You never know when you might get hit by a rogue wave that can toss you overboard. I find that now that I'm in my mid 60's my balance is not what it used to be and I don't want to be a statistic.
 

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I had a stroke in 2016 and my kids got me an auto inflate which I always wear now. I never go out on the water alone anymore either. I only have a 19' skiff but if something happen, you would never grab me in time covering
the length of the boat before I went over.

Mike
 

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I fish alone a lot but whether I am alone or have a guest, the rules are the same.
From my early days of bass boating and bass fishing rules.
If the outboard is started, have the PFD on AND KILL SWITCH ATTACHED.
So may people do not use the kill switch lanyard let alone a PFD.
You do not need to fall OUT OF THE BOAT to have an emergency.
Fall in the boat, get hurt while under way making way and not be able to get back to the helm in time, or at all, to slow or stop the boat from making the situation worse. Not just for you but any boaters that may be around you.
In fall, winter and spring weather, I typically never take the PFD off all day. It helps to stay warm also.
If you have guest, be sure they can operate the vessel in an emergency.
Be able to find your Lat/Lon location if you need help.
.
 

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Not as much as I should.

Years ago, a guy on this site posted his overboard story. Not only did he go over but went under the boat with it bouncing from the waves. Only one side of his life vest inflated but it was enough to keep him floating. Perhaps he’s still on and can chime in.
 

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Never liked the auto inflating vest. While they may be more comfortable and keep you afloat (if inflated correctly) they seem they would be a hindrance if trying to get back in the boat.

I'm also not a fan of auto inflating vests. I don't want a vest that "might" save my life........ Gary
 

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Hell yea I wear a PFD when boating alone. I'll sometimes put one on in rough water when with others. I should probably start wearing the kill switch when alone as well..
 

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Hell yea I wear a PFD when boating alone. I'll sometimes put one on in rough water when with others. I should probably start wearing the kill switch when alone as well..
Per USCG, now it is law to wear your kill switch when operating. From what I heard its gonna be a hefty fine but idk how true that is as I have not seen the penalty posted.
 

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Always when alone and always in the winter when catfishing regardless of alone or not. Cold water kills!!

Summer it depends on situation.

My auto inflatable has gone off every time it has gotten wet enough to activate the inflator. By design, rain and spray won’t do it. This includes accidental dunkings (long stories) and intentional tests when replacing the cartridge and/or bobbin.

Chris
 
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No. Never. If it is so rough out that I see it as a risk to my life that I have to mitigate, I mitigate the risk by going home and mowing the grass. Or taking a nap.
 

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Here's a personal experience that might give you pause. In December a couple of years ago I was shucking oysters on my dock. After completing that task I decided to load trolling rods on my son's 33 Bertram which was tied at the end of my dock in preparation of an upcoming rockfish trip. I was dressed in knee high Converse rubber boots, long underwear, jeans, heavy shirt, and hooded jacket. Long story short, I was stepping on board the boat with 3 rods in my hands, when I tripped on the spring line and went overboard rods and all. I remember looking up and praying that I would surface which I eventually did. I hugged a piling and tried to think how to get out of the mess I was in. I thought about going under the dock to the low dock but thought I might get hung under the main dock trying to get there so didn't try that. Eventually, I pulled myself along the main dock hand over hand until I reached shallow water and walked myself to shore. Since then I wear an inflatable vest on my 24 Grady and my 16 ft. open skiff and when I go down to the dock alone. I try not to fish alone but sometime do or I just wouldn't go. In any case I was happy to survive the cold water dunking and am now an advocate of PFDS. Inflatables are not perfect but are comfortable except in hot weather and better than nothing. Besides I'm not bullet proof at age 71 like I was in my younger years.
 

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So I am hit or miss. But I do wear my auto inflatable one because of comfort and when semi rough out.. Question though(with respect of course): if you are of the mind to ALWAYS wear one when alone, why not when someone is with you? The likely hood of someone pulling you out of the water if you fall over and sink is minimal, so why not be adamant about wearing whenever on the boat? . Especially in the dark, dirty, cloudy bay waters... Just curious....

Unfortunately, I'm one of those "it's prolly not going to happen to me" people;; so you'll hopefully you won't be reading about me this summer--(knock wood)
 
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