No, make that rant !
Umm, no. Make that a “public service announcement”, since I did say that I wouldn’t rant in this blog.
Okay. For those of you who don’t know – my business is Marine Safety. For those non-NZers, or those away from home, we have had yet another tragic loss of life at sea. The NZ Herald has many articles on this latest event, but the first paragraph of this one is the key for me.
For the past three years John and I have been paying good money to display our products at boat shows around New Zealand. These products include lifejackets and liferafts. I could do you a good sales pitch for why you should buy our products, but that isn’t the point I want to make here.
In the first year we attended boat shows we turned up to all of them. By the end of the long and weary-making first one we discovered some very disturbing facts about the NZ boating public. These “quirks” that we discovered have since reappeared at all of the subsequent shows and have been rehashed in many variations. Here are the core issues:
- They know NOTHING about their safety gear !
- They THINK they know EVERYTHING about their safety gear !
- They don’t think they will ever need to use it (“It won’t happen to me; my boat is unsinkable, etc.”) !
- They had no idea what they were buying when they bought it, but it must be good because they bought it and the salesman was friendly and told them it was perfect for all forms of boating !
- They think ALL products give them the same result !
- They would rather spend that huge amount of money for a real lifejacket for their kids on some new fishing kit for themselves ! (Sarcasm is all mine)
So. You can tell that these little foibles really tick me off. Those poor folk on this most recent vessel were apparently not wearing any lifesaving gear, despite the rough conditions. One of the most common reasons given to us for not wearing lifejackets on board is the discomfort. One of the things we are constantly telling people is that in an emergency the ONLY lifejacket that is any good is the one you are wearing ! So you need to spend maybe NZ$50 to NZ$100 more on a lifejacket that you can do this with, so what ?! What is your life actually worth to you?
Here’s that paragraph again:
” Two big waves struck so suddenly and violently that no one caught in the Foveaux Strait trawler tragedy had a chance to react.”
Apparently Kiwis are just not getting the idea. Accidents and emergencies are not patient, wait for you to get yourself organised, events. They are often nasty, violent and unnecessarily tragic. And they certainly don’t wait for you to “catch up” with the situation.
Please, please, please.
If you own a boat, know someone who does, get them to invest in good safety gear – not the cheap and nasty stuff that they won’t use or wear ALL of the time. The ONLY time you want to use these things is when your life depends on it. That’s not the time when you can take your $20 Warehouse foam jackets back and get a refund ! Don’t skimp – good quality equipment, taken care of, will last you nearly your entire life on the water. And will possibly save your life on the water one day.
Don’t buy from the “quick-sale” merchant. If they are offering you a cheap deal you do want to be asking yourself why. There are very few industries where “you get what you pay for”, and this is one of them. Read up, research, ask awkward questions of the person selling the product. If they don’t know an answer, or can’t get you an answer, then don’t buy from them. They don’t know enough for you to give your life into their hands. Unfortunately in this country (NZ) there are some very big names with questionable ethics, so don’t always think that ‘big name’ equals ‘your best interests at heart’. There is a fair chance that the best interest for them is their bottom line.
Buy from someone who wants to teach you everything they know about their equipment, from using it to how to care for it. If they send you away to try other people’s products like we do, it means they are serious about you finding the absolutely right product for you to wear. That means you will have probably found someone who actually gives a damn about your life and not only about their bottom line.
Be proactive. Be cautious. Ask questions. Don’t hold desperately to “it won’t happen to me”. Don’t fall for slick sales pitches. Buy for your use, need and comfort, not for the “boat show special” savings. And don’t give away your power to the sales person. You are the only person who knows what you do on the water.
So. In the end, I ranted. 😦