Boston Station Safety Officer Brian Guck had a recent experience that may be a good lesson for all of us. Here's what happened.
One morning, a week ago I was heading down the Warren River out into Narragansett Bay when I saw a small flash of white along the shore of Rumstick Point to starboard. I grabbed my binoculars and saw a rowing shell moving along the shore. Except for that one flash of white the boat and its rowers were all but invisible.
My long time serious rowing friends (multiple Head of the Charles, Olympic rowing sons, etc.) had gone out rowing in their Chesapeake Light Craft Annapolis Wherry that they had built at the Wooden Boat School earlier in the year. When they returned I commented on their "invisibility" and mentioned that a lot of fishermen on the Bay wore HiViz shirts and you could spot them a mile away even when they were sitting in a small Boston Whaler.
Two days ago my friends went rowing again, very early in the morning as is their wont. This time they were both wearing Hi Viz shirts and they stood out against a very dark background before the sun broke the horizon. What a difference!
This summer more people are working from home and are looking for ways to get out and enjoy life amid this COVID-19 world. As a result, there seem to be many more kayaks, paddle boards, small rowing boats, jet skis and dinghies on the water. Many of these people seem to be enjoying the water for the first time. They are all essentially invisible without some bright bit of clothing.
The mixing of slow invisible craft on busy waterways and out on the open Bay is dangerous without HiViz clothing or paint on your boat or paddles.
If you are paddling or rowing in a high traffic area with fast fishing boats in abundance, consider adding HiViz shirts to your kit. Grab a can of HiViz spray paint at the hardware store and paint the tips of your oars or paddles. Flashing HiViz paddles stand out just like a flare that is being waved from a boat in distress. Maybe add a HiViz flag on a pole if you are going out into open water where even the smallest of waves hide your kayak from view.
Finally, on land, many more people have the time to enjoy a walk around their neighborhoods. Many of these people walk with their backs to the traffic, listening to music, talking on the phone, walking abreast in threes or fours, pushing baby carriages with dogs attached, etc. They are often drably dressed and are also invisible and have no idea of what is coming up behind them.
Grab some HiViz and stay safe out there.