All Aboard !!!

Updated: Mar 4

All Aboard !!! … The temperatures are gaining and the virus is waning. Spring has sprung, bringing with it increasingly warmer weather, sunny days, and an growing number of boats on the water. Many folks have already put baited hooks down, gotten their sea legs back in-shape, or headed out to their favorite cove for lunch. Now that we are about to leave the docks, moorings, and trailers behind, it’s a good to time to refresh our memories regarding those pre-underway, risk management tasks that should become second nature to all experienced boat owners and operators. The 2021 boating Season is Here ... Shrink wrap is off, the hulls are getting polished, bottoms are being painted, repairs are underway, and cruises are being planned. Winter flounder season is only a month away and it will soon be followed by many other species. Plus, let’s not overlook the ramp-up of other watersports such as skiing, tubing, and paddle craft. With so much launch preparation happening it’s that time of year to make sure your vessel is equipped to be as safe as it can be by checking items often not included in the yard’s commissioning activities. Safety Equipment …Take the time to ensure that you have the correct number of good quality PFDs on-hand while remembering that PFDs are not one-size fits all. This means that you should be able to accommodate children through large adults. Also, store all PFDs in a place that is easily found and readily accessible in an emergency. In addition, other tasks include being certain that your first aid kit is properly stocked, check the dates on flares and spare batteries, plus load test the ship’s batteries, tune up engines, inspect sails. Check too, that your tool box and tools are in good shape, and that the ship’s inventory of spare parts is sufficient. At the Ship’s Helm … Test your hydraulics and look for any leaks that need fixing. Confirm that all electronic equipment is in good working order. This includes hand-held and console radios, loudhailers, navigation lights, hand-held spotlights, the ship’s whistle (and back-up), electronic navigation consoles, radar, and a handheld GPS. Navigation Supplies … If you are planning a cruise to a new destination be certain that you have up to date paper charts of the areas where you plan to be boating. Also check that your manual navigation set is onboard, and fully equipped with the following: A divider, a parallel rule, two lead pencils with a pencil sharpener, a protractor, and a small supply of maneuvering boards. In addition you will need a flat tabletop. Or, if you are onboard a small boat without a table you can use a suitably sized portable, and ridged surface. I recommend using a small piece of marine board. Softer options can be found art supply stores. Additional Supplies … Other manual instruments would include a hand held compass, binoculars that can be used to site landmarks and buoys, plus a bright flashlight with fresh batteries, and a loudhailer. These items will be very helpful if your electronics somehow become disabled while underway. File a Float Plan ... In its simplest form a float plan is taking the time be sure someone you know is aware of where you are going on the water, and what you will be doing: fishing, skiing, inland waters, nearshore waters, in the ocean, etc. Also provide an estimate what the you expect to return. Additional information should include a description of your boat’s color, make, and type; center console, cabin, etc. Lastly, list the vessel’s name and State registration number. Armed with this information, a concerned family member or friend can let authorities know details that will help them locate a delayed vessel that may not be reachable by cell phone. Serious boaters might want to download the U.S. Coast Guard App. This enables a skipper to file a float plan directly with the Coast Guard. Passenger Safety … Other pre-season safety checks involve your potential passengers. Remember to store your lifejackets, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and flares in an area that is easy to find and accessed . Briefly discuss your trip, weather, and sea conditions. Make certain everyone knows what to expect. Talk about keeping a good lookout for approaching boats, floating debris; and most importantly, other passengers who may be sitting on the gunnel, or worse … standing or sitting on the swim platform while underway. It is also prudent to ask if any passengers have allergies (such as to bees), or if anyone is taking medications that could cause a reaction. Ask what you can do to help them if an unexpected event occurs. Safe Boating Classes … If you are a first time boater, be certain to attend a safe boating course in your area. These courses are usually one eight hour day if you want to learn from experienced instructors. The Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Power Squadron, and many state boating agencies provide live classes. Online options are available in most states too. For a complete list of online options go to You will find links to state classes in Stormalong’s Blog … Remember, Smart Boating is Safe Boating !!!

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