My wife and I fished a couple of teenagers out of the lake north of DLG on Monday night. Luckily both were unharmed but were WITHOUT lifejackets.
They apparently were trading drivers on a small Lund with WOT when one slipped and fell into the other and they were both thrown from the boat. My wife and I noticed from a distance that the boat was doing spins but at first figured it was just two young guys having fun (as they are wont to do)....after 30 seconds it was clear this was serious and we cranked up and ripped over there with a heavy heart at what we might find. To everyone's great luck, we found two rather rattled but otherwise ok young men treading water as their boat was doing the death spin at one heck of a clip just twenty yards away.
It was 11 pm, the water was 50 degrees, air temp slipping to 45 by nightfall, and they were more than a half mile offshore, and they were 12 miles from the landing and several miles from any campers etc. (if the campers had been awake or had bino's to know what was going on). My wife and I were the last boaters on the lake.
It was beautiful night, the fish were biting, these guys were just fishin, wearing shorts and having fun, but things could have been very very bad for them, and I am just thankful we were within the area when it happened, These are some pretty decent young men, weren't drinking, and are generally savvy from commercial fishing and everything else bush dwellers do for fun and work....but they were still almost snuffed out by one single decision not to have a lifejacket on them...that, and to grab *** at full speed. One of them was confident he could have swam to shore....but I reminded him that the four mile walk to any kind of shelter would have likely left him hypothermic, and there was no telling if his buddy could have made it, or when someone would have found them on a weekday.
I've been remisc on this topic myself over the years and have done lots of solo stuff in the middle of nowhere in the Dillingham area, but have been wearing a stormy seas jacket because I will actually WEAR one of those and my odds of making it become exponentially better with it on. Coming up on those guys the other night reminded me exactly why I always have one on (in the past 5 years), we live in an unforgiving place and we could have lost some good young men the other night. It could happen to anyone.
So please, instill proper boating safety for not only yourselves but your younguns. Get them a flotation device that is actually comfortable so that they will have it on, we're fortunate up here that float coats are a comfort for about 90 percent of the boating we do, due to air temps.
The other night was a cheap lesson for everyone involved, their friends even recovered the boat the next morning (which was still spinning at speed at midnight when we left for the long cold ride back to the landing) . (THEY had our stormy seas on by that point), I still can't believe how these boys came out unscathed, but I'm thankful for it and I'd hope they are making better decisions in the future.