Yesterday I was in the Wasaga beach area and ironically nearby this happened.
This is both sad and infuriating because it is so preventable.
1. Wear a Lifejacket.
It's not cool to go without a lifejacket. When you are in a small boat anything can happen. Even if you are a "strong" swimmer you didn't grow up a life guard in the ocean, and even if you did anything can happen. A life jacket give you the ability to survive. You never know about current, water temperature, waves, etc.
2. Dress appropriately. You can only survive cold water for a short amount of time. Unless water is in the 80's you should have some form of neoprene on.
3. Don't drink. Why people mix boating and alcohol is beyond me. The effects of the hot sun and dehydration with alcohol is sever. And it affects judgement and ability to survive an incident. Wait to have your victory beer when you return to shore safe and sound.
4. Learn. A lot of people just hop into a rubber dinghy or rent a boat and think its nothing. Would you ride a motorcycle or fly a plane without some knowledge and gradually accumulated skills. Becoming an experienced waterman takes time. You need to learn skills and about things like boats and conditions. You need to learn about local conditions and hazards wherever you go. The sea can be an unforgiving beast. Poseidon does not take lightly to foolishness. Respect the element if you wish to enjoy it safely.
5. Equipment. It's amazing how many people have drowned when their boats have overturned and they couldn't climb back -- which is what happened to these poor unfortunate souls. Sometimes even a lifejacket isn't enough or neoprene isn't enough to survive a boat overturning incident. Most boats are not designed to right easily or have an easy method to climb back in even though they should be.
This is one of the factors we look for in the products we carry. Take Takacat for example. The open bow provides a dry boating experience yet is incredibly easy to climb back in should you fall out. People have bought them so their dogs can come on the boat and go for swims and climb back in on their own. Because of this people have used them as swim and scuba platforms. But ultimately its an amazing safety feature and Takacat has been recognized as a safety leader by the New Zealand Coast Guard.
Our sailboats are also easy to right and climb back in. But is that enough? You should practice under safe and controlled conditions, preferable with a support boat nearby, how to right and re-enter a capsized vessel.
To be safe on the water I heed these points. As an instructor and guide I also look for things such as emergency protocols. When I show up at a beach or teach at a location I look for the indicators to give emergency response personnel if something should ever happen to someone. For example, if someone needs CPR, while being administered someone else should call 911. You will need to provide the exact location. Look for markers and indicators to give First Responders so they know where to find you.
And as for kiteboarder, many don't wear life jackets and I don't know why?? More on that in another post. Until then have fun, stay safe and make this a good summer not a tragic one.
Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the loss of these two young men.