Subject 5's Experience

Mark H. – Paddler

Mark grew up on and around the water from the age of seven. He has experience on outboard boats, sailboats, paddleboards, and small cruisers, and is now a canoe instructor and a canoe ‘tripper’. He is a volunteer with Scouts Canada, so spends most of his time teaching either adults how to teach kids how to paddle canoes or teaching young people how to paddle canoes.

Watch Mark H. go through the experiences below.

Stand-Up Paddleboard
Fishing Boat
Cold Water Tank
Warm Water Tank

When Mark was younger, he remembers you had to be able to swim otherwise you had to wear a lifejacket. He took his first lifesaving course when he was 12 years old, and once he passed that he says, “you magically became clear to leave the lifejacket under your butt”.

When he was 14 or 15, he and two friends set out for a canoeing day trip on a small river and were coming up to a portage around a small, little rapids. They were crossing from one side of the river over to the other to hit the portage. None of them were wearing life jackets. It was a hot, lazy summer day and the person in the middle of the boat was half asleep. The current made the canoe wobble and the person in the middle fell over to the edge and the person in the bow grabbed hold of the far side as the canoe started to rock and they just flipped over. It was around 85 degrees that day and the water was probably about 70 degrees. It happened very quickly, and Mark stated “That was a shock. And I would have said that could never have happened to me. But it did! Thankfully everyone was okay, but it was a surprise.”

"You just feel wrong when you're out there without it."

That accidental immersion experience did not change Mark’s lifejacket wear habits, but when he joined and started volunteering with Scouts Canada, the rule was, if you're on the water, you wear a PFD - it doesn't matter how good you swim, that's what you have to do. Mark says “Now it's like walking out of the house and forgetting your pants. You just feel wrong when you're out there without it.”

After going through the Virtual Reality (VR) experiences. Mark stated that he assumed he was going to fall at some point, but he didn’t know when, so even though he was fairly comfortable with his balance, it caught him off guard, it was a shock, and he did gasp. He said “I don't know what happened. I guess it's one of those boating accidents that happens where you just weren't paying attention.”

“No one plans for an accident. Accidents happen usually when you're least prepared."

With the dunk tanks, even though he is fairly accustomed to cold water, Mark found that when you suddenly find yourself immersed in it, it can be quite the shock, especially if your face and head go right underwater, which they're more likely to do if you're not wearing a life jacket or a PFD.

After going through the 4 experiences, Mark stated “No one plans for an accident. Accidents happen usually when you're least prepared. But I know there are a lot of people who say warm water, warm weather, you don't need your PFD on, but the fact is, if you tip over on a boat or fall out of a boat and you don't have a PFD on, any type of wind can separate you from your PFD.”

“I'm a big PFD person. I don't set foot on the water without putting one on. I'm a strong swimmer. I'm still a qualified lifeguard and I was a former competitive swimmer. But when it catches you off guard, especially if the water is cold, it doesn't take long before you're beyond your capabilities.”