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Do you use a pfd on a pontoon or in a float tube while wearing waders? I have never really thought about it until recently. I always wear a belt around the waders but should I be wearing a PFD?


Thanks!
 

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Old And In The Way
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Dunno about Washington, but in California you are required to have a PFD onboard if you are in a float tube or 'toon. You don't have to wear it, but it has to be onboard. I normally don't wear mine unless the water gets rough. I don't worry much about my 'toon sinking, it has five air chambers, any one of which provides way more floatation than any PFD.
 

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Not sure about ID, but WA requires you to have a PFD in pontoons but not tubes however you don't have to wear it. However, Coast Guard rules state that inflatables only count as a PFD if you are wearing it, so unless you have a regular PFD onboard, you can be cited for not having a PFD if you aren't wearing the inflatable.

Me, I alwys wear a PFD in a tube or pontoon. I wear an inflatable on still water and regular one on moving water. (Inflatables can be dangerous on moving water.) In a big raft or driftboat on class 1, I often don't wear one but anything class 2 and above I have one on no matter the boat. After 40 years of running all kinds of water in all kinds of boats (and teaching classes how), the one thing I know is it just isn't worth it not to wear one and have your family ask "why couldn't he just have worn a PFD?" as they look into your casket.
 

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Not sure about ID, but WA requires you to have a PFD in pontoons but not tubes however you don't have to wear it. However, Coast Guard rules state that inflatables only count as a PFD if you are wearing it, so unless you have a regular PFD onboard, you can be cited for not having a PFD if you aren't wearing the inflatable.
So is that in salt water? Where does the coast guard have jurisdiction?

WA's boater's education page
WA's parks page


WA state law doesn't seem to have that same requirement.

Not that I think wearing an inflatable is a bad idea, as it's not going to ready to grab like something that already floats is. But I think it's important to for the facts to be correct and people to know their legal rights (and obligations).
 

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Still fly fishing in the PCW
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The law applies to fresh or salt water the same as the rule is about the PFD, not the type of water or which state it is used in. WA law requires one to have " USCG–approved Type I, II, or III life jacket (PFD)". If one reads the label of inflatable PFD's, the label states "That this PFD is approved only when worn..." I have 3 different types of them and used to sell them and this langauge is on everyone of them that I've ever seen (but I haven't seen them all). So, when WA law requires one to wear a USCG–approved PFD and that it be used in accordance with its label, and the label says that it must be worn to be approved ('count'), it has to be worn. To be sure, check your label and follow what it says.
 

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So is that in salt water? Where does the coast guard have jurisdiction?

WA's boater's education page
WA's parks page


WA state law doesn't seem to have that same requirement.

Not that I think wearing an inflatable is a bad idea, as it's not going to ready to grab like something that already floats is. But I think it's important to for the facts to be correct and people to know their legal rights (and obligations).
Legal and alive is better than not legal or splitting hairs and getting dredged out of the bottom of a lake or large woody debris on a river. Trust in Freestone. Trust in your PFD. Many great members here got my head straight on this subject. I have inflatables that I wear on stillwater because I'm not expecting to flip and bash my brain...I've even tested a couple of cartridges out on purpose after jumping in to see how it all worked. On moving water I don't want to take the chance that a pinned oar can spring and knock me out, I can flip or fall into a rock or tree and not be alert enough to pull the firing cord. In those settings I'm rowing or floating with a standard USCG approved PFD, even if where I am is not "regulated" by the USCG. They make safety rules because they are good at what they do.
 

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As I get older and stumble around more I've gotten an automatic inflatable. You fall in it gets wet and poof you get inflated. I figure it's better than wondering all the time so I wear it under my waders and jacket or vest and on top of my regular shirt or t-shirt if it's too warm. I just have to think about holding my breath and hanging on to the valubles. If that doesn't work then i'm gone I guess. I wear it all the time I'm in or on the water unless I'm wading and it's really shallow. Good luck it's not that bad. Usually don't use it if I'm riding the ferry, but that's another story, so's the water bed.
 

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Dunno about Washington, but in California you are required to have a PFD onboard if you are in a float tube or 'toon. You don't have to wear it, but it has to be onboard. I normally don't wear mine unless the water gets rough. I don't worry much about my 'toon sinking, it has five air chambers, any one of which provides way more floatation than any PFD.
Michael: Do you have the regulation cite for requiring a PFD onboard a float tube or pontoon? I can't find it.
 

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http://www.boat.wa.gov/equip-requirements.asp

an inflatable, as already mentioned, does NOT count in your PFD boat inventory unless they are being worn. if you go this route, get a hydrostatic inflatable vest as it won't go off in a rain storm or when the humidity shoots way up. as mumbles has already pointed out, works great in still water, in any moving water situation, get a kayak type of approved vest that is comfortable for YOU to wear all the time you are drifting along.
 

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There is no legal question here.
:beathead::beathead::beathead:

Yeah, there is.

The question is do you want to enjoy your grandchildren or fish for another Steelhead someday?
No, that is your question, not the question.

It is your right to wear one whenever the hell you want. For all I care, put it on before you drive to the lake or river; that way if your vehicle ends up in water, you'll already be prepared.
 

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Great thread.

Here are really hard facts cut and pasted from WAC (Washington Administrative Code):

Chapter 352-60 WAC
Recreational vessel equipment and operation

WAC 352-60-020
Definitions.

"Vessel" means every description of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water, other than a seaplane. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.

WAC 352-60-030
Personal flotation devices required.
No person shall operate or permit the operation of a vessel on the waters of the state unless the vessel has on board United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices as follows:

(1) Vessels less than sixteen feet (4.9 meters) in length, and canoes and kayaks of any length, must have one Type I, II, or III PFD of the proper size for each person on board.

So what we call a pontoon boat appears by definition to the State to in fact be a vessel and we must have an approved PFD. It gets a little more foggy on the float tube question as it relates to the definition of vessel as above. If we call the float tube a "toy" and we can swim, are we legal? Safety of course is another issue.

Ronbow
 

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For what its worth. I asked about the PFD requirement with float tubes. The answer I got from WDFW was that if your butt is above the water you need a PFD. IF your butt is in the water you do not need a PFD.

Don't know if the answer was right or not. But if it is all of you with Fat Cat's have dry butts and need a PFD.

After buying a Caddis u-tube I got a PFD. Just did not trust that tube. My old Insul-Dri tube had a truck tire inner tube and I never did worry about it deflating.
 

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. . . it does not include . . . small rafts or flotation devices . . .
For the moment, the state of Washington and WDFW considers float tubes as falling into the category above, more like air mattresses or inflatable water toys and not as boats or vessels. Since most modern float tubes have two or more independent floatation chambers and the chances of all rupturing simultaneously are slim, when or if one fails, the remaining chambers will provide adequate floatation.

I can count on one finger the number of times in the past ten years that I've heard or read about a catastrophic float tube failure that endangered someone's life. And that one time, the fisherman hung on to his crippled but still floating tube, ended up being quickly towed to shore, stripped out of his soggy clothes and wrapped in a space blanket that one of his rescuers happened to have.

K
 

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For years I tubed without a PFD, thinking myself still bullet-proof, I reckon. Then I experienced a complete & sudden failure of the bladder in my V-boat. . . fortunately, I wasn't far from shallow water & more fortunately, the inflated backrest was sufficient to make reaching wadeable water fairly easy. I've worn either a manual inflatable (on lakes, particularly when it's hot) or a conventional PFD ever since. I'm a slow learner at times, but it only took one "whoosh" to educate me on that occasion.
 
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