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Choices on Where to Paddle


-By Greg Taylor

According to an article in the Ozarks Independent, a 30-year-old man was probably caught up in a “hydraulic” below a dam on Lake Springfield on the James river in Missouri. From reading the article and a few others from other local news sources, he was fishing from a kayak he had just bought and may have gotten too close to the rushing water and fell in. He did not have a life vest on or the ability to swim and it was dark. I am assuming it was below the dam since fish congregate in the aerated water dams create. Unfortunately, humans are also attracted to that and may not understand the dangers dam water spillover create.

I know most, if not all, of you are considerably wiser than this poor fellow – that is one of the reasons you are reading this now. Understand risk management with boating, and you would not make choices such as these. I am sure your immediate friends would not either – that is one of the reasons you associate with them in the first place. You the informed and intelligent public are what I’m banking on to hopefully talk about some of the aspects of these poor choices among your groups to further the reach of safe boating and better choices in enjoying the rewards of our sport. Remember that exponential growth concept? One tells two who tell four who tell eight and so on?

I know you all understand the better choices to be made and you’ve heard this safety message before, as well as those within your individual groups, but there are those beyond your groups that only the people within your groups have influence on. Friends that hopefully will get it from them in a conversation because of this. If you get a chance, please find a way to bring this up in a conversation. You never know how far your influence can actually travel.

We all have heard stories like this one in one form or another, and it is a shame we must repeat them, but by repeating them we reinforce the positives of what negative risk management can cause. So please talk beyond us about this.