FAQ15: Hints for in and around WATER!!
by Paul Galioni
I was a very strong swimmer and loved almost every moment in the water -- but can well understand a persons newly acquired fear of water.
If it helps -- which it might -- here is a way to think about it: how many times have you been overboard in a boat since you turned 35, quit drinking a 24 pack, and stopped seeing how high you could jump a wake, see if you could jump your own wake, or how fast you could take a turn?
If your answer was "none" you are probably OK enough to go out on a boat driven by a sane person.
Boats are one of the safest pass times a person can have -- and if you don't do really stupid stuff, like see if you can stand up during a high speed turn or jumping wake, or see if you can stand on the gun'l (short for 'gun rail') while the boat rocks in a deep wake -- or if you don't sit on the rail with a beer in one hand and a skiing flag in the other -- you will be fine.
Most people don't slip and fall and get torn away from shore by nonexistent currents you will be fine.
I honestly think that in all of my adult life I have gone overboard unexpectedly once or twice, slipped in a swift current in a stream or river three or four times, and once got stuck on rocks when the tide came in -- only going overboard and once falling in a rapid would have proven deadly had I been a total.
As I often go out in rapids using a Larkel I can tell you that perhaps 20 times I have slipped would have been fatal if I had not had my Larkel on.
Now, don't get me wrong, I understand completely your fear of water -- and it is a good and healthy fear --- fear is what keeps us alive for so long. I would take Misty! the Wonder Dog of the Universe out for a walk along the creek below my house here in Nevada City and I can't even begin to tell you how long, hard, and often I thought about what I would do if she fell into a swiftly moving part of the creek and I had to go in after her -- especially after her back surgery.
And to tell you the honest from my soul truth -- I don't know if I would go in and try to save her -- or not. Probably try to save her -- and throw the absolute first rule of rescue out the window:
NEVER TURN ONE VICTIM INTO TWO.
(And that doesn't mean that you shouldn't cut them in half . . .:-) )
So -- look at the odds -- and remember that most boats today don't sink like they used to in the olden days -- most are filled with extremely floatable material bonded to a very strong material that doesn't break up all that much: epoxy covered fiber glass -- so you will have large chunks of floating material out there AND you will have some kind of PFD -- 'life vest' -- on.
If you can't enjoy swimming -- at least you may be able to enjoy floating around in a boat, fishing or sight seeing -- Life can be nearly normal again - or as normal as you make it.