Mae West and the Goldfish Club
2018 is proving to be a devastating period of time for boating accidents throughout the country. The tragic events all caused by different factors, most connected by one common thread, Not Wearing a Life Jacket. Personal Flotation Devices also known as PFD’s are the invention of genius. Evidence of their existence and use dates back many years to improvised apparatus, some made from hollow dried animal skins tied together to trap air inside used by Norwegian seafarers. The first flotation device sold at retail in the 1800’s was constructed of cork providing even more buoyancy. Fast forward a few hundred years and there have been vast improvements in the technology ranging from thermal protective immersion suits to upside down looking versions of life-jackets called U-Float.
Mae West was a nickname that was bestowed to the lifesaving cover, referring to the Hollywood actress of movies and stage during WW II, by both sailors and aviators alike. The famous Goldfish Club were distinguished survivors, almost nine thousand members of aviation crashes and wrecks at sea that were saved because they wore a life-jacket, aka Mae West.
Their central theme and core;
“Money, position or power cannot gain a man or woman entry to the exclusive circles of the Goldfish Club. To become a member one has to float about upon the sea for a considerable period with nothing but a Carley Rubber Float between one and a watery death”.
The Burra Record 1945
International and USCG regulations specifically direct the use of Type 1 classification for a PFD that can actually right your face out of the water if you are knocked unconscious, helping prevent drowning. Professional mariners working on a vessel in foreign and near coastal waters have to comply with the requirement. Qualification for certification also mandates attending a training facility to learn the proper use and for assessment by an approved USCG instructor in a pool environment. This one capability of turning you over through innovative design in this hazardous condition is probably the most profound when it comes to life saving scenarios. Other models; Type 2 through 5 are approved depending on their intended use, geographical location, and protection they afford the person wearing them.
That brings this short article full circle back to the opening paragraph concerning wearing a life jacket. There are boaters that forget, others that feel uncomfortable wearing it, and some that just refuse. Can you really forecast with complete certainty what lies ahead of you, regardless of experience level? Collision with another vessel, person in the water, even grounding await those who embrace this type of risk without consideration of the threats.
When things are not going right, or as planned, visibility is diminishing, the water is rougher, weather getting worse, nearby traffic increasing, then put it on please! Something as simple as wearing a life-jacket is a real big deal when it comes to Boating Safety. Look back in history and see for yourself in the…