Summer! It's finally time for long, sunny days, warm weather - and storms, which can cause more damage than just wet clothes and dampened spirits. Strong winds can whip up waves to dangerous heights, and lightning can be lethal.
- Continue ReadingNovember 07, 2016
There's so much to love about autumn: the beautiful colors on the trees, the crisp air, the special blue of the November sky. There's no line at the boat launch, lots of space at the docks, and open water as far as the eye can see. It's nice to have the beach and water to oneself. With the end of peak boating season, marinas scale back services. You might not be able to refuel late in the day if the pumps close early, and you can't count on bait shops to stay open in the evening, either. Take enough bait, snacks, water, and supplies with you, and fill your gas tank before you depart. If you carry a spare gas can, fill it, too, and be sure to store it safely (not in the engine compartment or cabin). How are your lights? The days grow shorter, which means you might be getting back to the dock after dark. Replace burned-out bulbs when you find them. Cold temperatures shorten battery life, both in your boat's system and in flashlights, so carry extra batteries for your small electronics, charge your cell phone, and be sure you've got a full charge on your boat's battery. Temperatures fall after sunset, of course, and sunset comes early this time of year. Check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layer up! you can always shed a coat or sweater if you get too warm, but you can't add one if you don't have one on the boat. Bring along an extra sweatshirt or jacket just in case. Speaking of jackets, where's your life jacket? Carry a personal flotation device for everyone on board, and insist that children wear one. The Skipper recommends that every passenger wear a life jacket, but the law requires that kids under 13 wear theirs. A
- Continue ReadingJune 24, 2016
With several high-profile boating tragedies in the news lately, we wonder: when something goes wrong, will you be ready? Thorough preparedness for marine disasters is beyond the scope of a blog post, so the Skipper suggests taking a boater safety course. The Boat US Foundation has free boating safety courses for each state, and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary has a list of safe boating classes, both fee-based and free. Here are five points for preparedness. File a float plan. Make sure someone knows when you're leaving, where you're going, and when you intend to return. This form from the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary can be filled out online and printed, or printed as is and filled out by hand. Leave a copy with a trustworthy person on shore. A float plan helps searchers know where to start looking for you if something goes badly wrong. Show 'em the ropes. Before casting off, show your passengers where the fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, and emergency signals are. Have a quick lesson in operating the bilge pump, the anchor, and the radio and other communication equipment. Wear it! We cannot overstate it: wearing a life jacket can make the difference between life and death. Merely carrying personal flotation devices aboard your boat is not enough. The law requires children to wear life vests while boating, and the North American Safe Boating Campaign recommends that all
- Continue ReadingMay 27, 2016
This is Day Six of National Safe Boating Week here in the USA, when the National Safe Boating Council highlights ways to stay safe on the water. Whether you're venturing out on the high seas or sticking close to shore, a few simple steps can help you get home in one safe piece. Everything shipshape? Before you leave the dock, check over your boat to make sure everything is working properly. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary has a safety checklist you can print out and keep handy. Wear it! As everyone should know, a boat is required by law to carry a personal flotation device for each passenger; PFD laws vary from state to state, many requiring a life jacket to be worn by children age 12 and under (age 6 and under in Florida). The Safe Boating Council recommends that all boaters, regardless of age, wear a life vest while boating. A properly fitting life jacket can make the difference between life and death. There are PFDs for all ages and sizes, even infants and pets. Make a plan. It's always a good idea to tell someone where you're going and when to expect you back