The Fall issue of PDB is officially the bookend to our 16th year as a magazine and we’re already looking forward to 2012. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of changes, ups and downs and everything else in between, but there are still plenty that hasn’t changed. At the risk of this turning into a wet blanket column, I’d like to reiterate our stance on a couple of issues.
For example, life jackets and safety. Although at times we prefer the “fly on the wall” approach when taking our photos, we’ve always encouraged the use of life jackets in our magazine. While having enough life jackets onboard of course is required by law, actually wearing them can be a different story.
As a father of young children, I won’t let my kids on the dock, much less the boat, if they’re not first wearing their life jackets. And because my wife and I have been consistent with this over the years, there is absolutely no fight in enforcing it. It’s like the seat belt rule in our car; our kids just accept it and move on. Besides, they enjoy wearing their life jackets and it’s not until we bring a family with us that is new to boating that we realize how important a good routine can really be.
Now, because most of the time when we are taking photos we’re just capturing life on the water as it happens, you’re not going to see every adult, in every photo, wearing a life jacket and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to promote life jackets or safe boating. It’s just we prefer to show a true reflection of real families boating.
I’ve never hid my displeasure for the mandatory life jacket debate for adults because I feel wearing one when there is absolutely no threat of danger isn’t necessary. I strongly believe it’s always up to the captain to decide what he would like to enforce on his boat.
Not to sound like a hypocrite, but at our annual Shootout Boat Test our staff does wear inflatable vests. Plus, we won’t let a manufacturer run our annual McKainer Barrel Race if he’s not wearing a life jacket, as well as a tether. Supporting safety is something we’ll always strive for with our magazine, even if you don’t see a life jacket in every photo.
An old concern that has recently surfaced again is the dangers of alcohol and boating. I love what Lake Havasu in Arizona is doing with its Designated Operator program and I completely support it. In the eyes of some we might have been a little over-the-top this year with our coverage of promoting the dangers of alcohol and boating, but it’s a message we strongly believe in.
But what can be confusing is the latest trend in our niche of the boating industry, which is the creation of layouts that include bar tables, bar stools, wine racks, etc. We’re not naïve enough to think the optional blender on certain models is just for making fruit smoothies for the kids. Reporting on these new models may again seem hypocritical of us, but I assure you we’re not encouraging drinking and driving. Our stance is, will be, and has always been, to designate a driver and to drink responsibly. This goes double when it comes to boating.
We understand our responsibility as a magazine to promote safety, life-jacket use and the dangers of alcohol and boating. We feel our stance has always been clear on these topics, but sometimes our actions or decisions that appear in the pages of PDB tend to blur this line and that’s not our intention. We take our job seriously and that’s something that’s not going to change any time soon.
Brady L. Kay