Insurance on the waterFor those of you who have loved ones who spend time on the water, now before Christmas is the time to think about that special gift for the person that has everything - a life jacket/personal floatation device (PFD).

Sound different? It is, but it could also save your partner's life. We are also, in my estimation, getting very close to the point when it will be mandatory for recreational boaters to wear a floatation device at all times while on the water. You may also be required to don a lifejacket on a charter boat when crossing the bar.

In this day and age there are many variants of the bulky old "Mae West." The new "lifesavers" come in vests, jackets, coats, suspenders as well as very comfortable lifejackets. If your fishing partner happens to be a canine, they have vests for pets. Just because your dog is a Labrador retriever does not mean it can swim for miles against the current.

That old adage that "real men" don't wear lifejackets is B.S. Check out the professionals that work around water or on the water - PFDs are a must.

Drowning accounts for 70 percent of all boating fatalities. Wearing a proper-fitting life jacket can be the determining factor between life and death in many boating accidents. Simply having a PFD on board the boat may not be enough if an accident happens. Of the 498 recreational boating deaths due to drowning in 2001, the Coast Guard approximates that 420 lives could have been saved if the victim had been wearing a PFD.

The marine environment can be very hazardous at times. The addition of alcohol to the mix can be deadly. Alcohol contributed to 34 percent of all boating deaths in 2001, and boaters with a blood alcohol level above .10 percent are 10 times more likely to die at sea than those who consume no alcohol.

PFDs can be found at almost any large sporting goods store, for example Dennis Company, Jack's, Bob's in Longview, Englund Marine (Ilwaco/Astoria) or can be viewed on a Web site at (http://www. stearnsinc.com). You will find PFDs priced anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on your choice.

If you are not smart enough to wear a PFD for yourself, please wear it for the spouse and children you might leave behind.

The sea takes no prisoners.

Nautical TermsUnder the Weather - If a crewman is standing watch on the weather side of the bow, he will be subject to the constant beating of the sea and the ocean spray. He will be under the weather.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - The devil seam was the curved seam in the decks planking closest to the side of the ship and next to the scupper gutters. If a sailor slipped on the deck, he could find himself between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Ron Malast is the owner and captain of the charter boat Big Dipper, operating out of Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco. For questions about the outdoors call 665-3573.

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