Enjoy a stress-free boating season by following these safety tips.
By Capt. Gus Cane
School’s out, the weather is warm, and summer is in full swing. That means it’s prime time to be on the water fishing, enjoying water sports, camping and cruising on the nation’s lakes, rivers, and coasts. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when most boating accidents occur. If you follow these simple tips from Yamaha Marine Group, though, risks are minimal, and the enjoyment factor goes way up.
Wearing the right life jacket at all times is the best way to stay safe on the water. Accidents happen when you least expect them and the ability to stay afloat, even when unconscious, is a proven life-saver. Make sure the jackets on-board are approved for the waters you frequent. New styles are lighter, cooler and more comfortable to wear, and automatic inflator, and self-righting types will keep your head above water until help arrives. In most states, juveniles are required to wear life jackets whenever the boat is underway. Adults are wise to follow this rule too. Periodically inspect jackets for rips, dry rot, and mildew. Rinse jackets off with fresh water after use and then let them dry before storing.
Besides life jackets, make sure all the boat’s safety equipment is current and operational. Check flares, fire extinguishers, whistles, horns and other signaling devices. Keep everything dry and easily accessible while underway. A sea anchor/drift sock takes up little space and will help keep the bow in the waves if the engine is disabled. Make sure all blowers and exhaust fans are functioning properly. And don’t rely on cell phones to call for help. A VHF radio has greater range and is monitored by most authorities, including the US Coast Guard.
Watch the Weather
Hot temperatures lead to thunderstorms which can pop up quickly. Smooth, protected waters can become dangerous crashing waves with high winds in a matter of minutes. Check the expected forecast before leaving the dock. Keep a watchful eye throughout the day. Radar is a huge help on larger vessels, but there is software or apps that can be accessed on the boat’s chart plotter or a cell phone as well. If you are caught unexpectedly, lower all antennas, fishing rods, and other lightning attractors. Stay low. Reduce speed to avoid swamping and keep the bow into the waves. Seek shelter as soon as possible without jeopardizing your passengers. There’s no reason to be scared on the water, but you sure better respect it.
Common Sense Prevails
Common sense is paramount whenever you shove off. Always operate at safe speeds and avoid reckless maneuvers. Comply with all navigation rules, local laws, on product warnings and labels, and the product’s owners manual. If you are skiing, tubing or wake-boarding, always have a safety observer on lookout. Never drink and drive. .
Share the Plan
Whether you’re boating solo or with a group, it’s always prudent to file a float plan that outlines the expected trip. Many marinas offer this service, so share details such as departure time, boat description, number of passengers, destination and expected return. Or let a family member or friend know the day’s itinerary. That way, if something unexpected does arise, the authorities can be alerted quickly to get help on the way to the place you were actually boating.
Don’t let this special season pass you by. Get out there on the water and enjoy all it has to offer. Just be safe whenever and wherever you do go boating.
Visit Yamaha Outboards Today!
Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com