Be sure not to be ‘that guy’ by having a PFD
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At some point this week, the schedule will lighten up, the stories will be sent a little early, the call of the water will become overwhelming and the sports editor will go to a late lunch and just forget to make it back to his desk.
At any age, there’s just something fun about being in or on the water that only intensifies during a summer holiday. As a little one, that usually meant a combination of canoe, paddle boat and swimming in Byrd Lake in Crossville. In college, it meant a friend’s lake house and wake boards. I’m more nomadic year to year these days and this time it’s likely a certain cove on Center Hill Lake rather than a pilgrimage to visit the Hoppers Bluff Yacht Club or a run out of Choto on Fort Loudoun.
No matter the lake, nor how long ago, there was always two constants over the years: some fellow water lover became a menace — due to a lack of intelligence, aquatic experience or chemical inconvenience — and there was always something close to my hand that was able to float if my body lost its ability to do so.
The second is rather because of the first.
I’m not an every weekend lake lover due to schedule and finances, but fortunately have enough friends who are that my occasional forays put me with good hands and generally coinciding with holidays allows first-hand viewing of some of the busiest and worst lake conditions. My personal standard is watching the no-wake zones. While not a undeniable law of the universe, it’s generally proved an accurate guiding principle that the boat ignoring that one is also the one that’s going to forget to watch for skiers, miss buoys and generally create little pockets of minor irritation and occasional havoc to every other craft they come near.
I’ve long suspected but never proven that those who fall in the more money than brains category are also the ones who tend to think Mercedes means “I’ll drive as I please and ignore the suggestions of those street signs as I need.” Not saying every Mercedes driver is a road hazard. The silver one that passed me on a double yellow — as well as the other three cars going along at just slightly over the limit — on Sevierville Road to go into 13 Curves at close to 80 miles per hour certainly fits that category.
It’s the category that in the back of your mind you want karma to come around for a visit. You secretly hope that Perpetrator of Disregard for Others ends up with a tree limb bending the prop before a skiers limb does the job. Or ending up with a BUI like the one reported during Operation Dry Water as the cause of a weekend water rescue following a collision on Norris.
It’s the people like this that make me know exactly where the life jackets are on any boat I’ve bummed a ride on before we leave the dock. If the vest is one of the newer models I’ll generally put it on rather than a shirt to avoid the windburn. If it’s the big orange vest I remember from my childhood I note it and take a moment to place both its location and access firmly in my mind.
And it’s never been because I didn’t trust the people on my boat, but because I’ve seen enough stupid moments that I watch for the other boat who can create the circumstance where a PFD may be needed for myself or to help someone else left in their wake.
So before I slip away from the office this week, readers remember to secure that something that floats before you take to the water this holiday and keep a look out for “that guy.”
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com