Before you hit the water make sure to do a thorough check of your onboard safety equipment. You can also reference this guide for any federal requirement questions you may have.
1. Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) – First, verify that all PFDs are in working condition, and your type IV throw-able PFD is stored in an easy to access place. When checking the condition of each PFD look for frayed spots, broken buckles or straps, and mildew and rips in the fabric. Be sure to examine inflatable life jackets’ CO2 cylinders, and auto-inflate systems to confirm they are all functioning and have not been used. It’s also important to check your type IV throw-able PFD, as these tend to damage easily from elements of the weather and wildlife. If you find after examining each PFD that some are not functioning correctly, then check out www.lifejacketsplus.com to purchase a new PFD.
2. Signals – Now you need to check all your distress signal devices. The majority of boaters who operate where visual distress signals are required use pyrotechnic devices – either meteor, parachute, hand-held or smoke flares. These need to be stored in a dry and cool location aboard your boat. Each device has an expiration date. Expired equipment cannot be counted towards your visual distress signal requirement, but can be carried as extra. A minimum of three signals for day and three for night are required.
3. Communication Equipment – Most boaters take out their electronics and store them at home during the winter months. However, if your electronics spent the winter stored in your boat, then you need to check a few things. First, check your radio’s antenna, microphone and power connections for corrosion. Regardless of where you stored your radio over the winter make sure to conduct a radio check with either the marina or another boater to verify that the radio is receiving and transmitting correctly. If you own an Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB), then you’ll need to check a few things on it too. Make sure your EPIRB is registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), check the battery and confirm that it’s not expired, and ensure it has no physical damage.
4. Fire Extinguisher – Fire extinguishers need to be Coast Guard approved and in good condition. Before you head out on the water, make sure all the gauges are fully charged. Some extinguishers may even have pop-up charge indicators.
5. First-Aid Kit – Whether you’ve packaged your own first aid kit or you bought a commercially packaged one, make sure it is fully stocked. Check all medicines to verify that they are not expired.
Across the country, boats are being removed from winter storage and prepared for boating season. When you clean and prepare your boat remember that what goes on your boat will go in our waterways. Review the tips below to help keep our waterways and environment safe.
1. Examine ingredients – avoid products with ammonia, lye, phosphates, bleach and petroleum distillates. As with foods, be suspicious of ingredients that are hard to pronounce such as methylene chloride and perchloroethylene. Some other products to avoid are those with a skull and crossbones symbol or a poison warning. These aren’t good for you to work around, and they certainly aren’t good for the waterways. After examining the ingredients, check with other boaters to see which safe products work best for them.
2. Check your paint – whether you paint the bottom yourself or have a professional do it, ask for the best available low-toxicity antifouling paint containing the least amount of copper for the type of boating you plan on doing. You can also inquire about toxin-free antifouling products. One company, ePaint supposedly prevents growth without poisoning the environment by generating minute levels of hydrogen peroxide around the hull, which creates an inhospitable surface that deters the settling of hard shell-type larvae.
3. Watch what you trash – many boat related materials and substances aren’t considered common trash. Batteries, oil, oil filters and antifreeze need special handling and careful disposal. Keep each of these items separate and in their original packaging to prevent cross-contamination. It’s best to consult with your marina manager, municipality or a local service station about proper collection and recycling.
Being conscious of what you use on your boat and how you dispose of waste will help protect our waterways from pollution. Although these may seem like minor details, each little step makes a difference and will help preserve our waterways for future generations.
With NBOA’s Gulf Coast Open just around the corner, we thought it would be an opportune time to share some tips on how to be a courteous boater around those who are fishing. Many anglers have numerous stories of how boaters have fouled-up their fishing efforts.
Surveys conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard specify that the majority of powerboats are used for fishing at least once in each season, which means most of us aren’t familiar with how to operate our vessels around boats that do fish. Here are some tips to follow around fishing boats.
1. Watch your wake – even a small craft can carve waves capable of causing an anchored or slow-moving boat to pitch and roll dangerously. When approaching an anchored, trolling, or drift-fishing boat you should slowdown to minimum wake speed and swing wide around the boat to allow your wake to disperse before it reaches the vulnerable craft.
2. Look for lines – fishing lines are frequently cast or trolled as far as 100 feet or more from the bow, beam or stern of boats engaged in fishing – another reason to give fishing boats plenty of room. Boats moving slowly with rods sticking out of the transom or off the gunwales may be trolling, or towing baits behind them. Crossing their lines can be detrimental to your engine’s lower unit as well as their sport. It’s best to pass trolling boats across their bow or far astern.
3. Sound savvy – not only do wakes spoil an anglers day, but the sound of an approaching boat, the roar of an engine starting, or loud music can also. Sound travels extremely well both on and in the water, and can spook fish from a surprising distance. To be courtesy of anglers please keep your sounds to a minimum when in the vicinity of those fishing.
4. Survey the Shore – Wakes and sound waves are as disruptive to shore anglers’ as they are to waterborne anglers. When fishermen are wading, wakes can do more than disrupt the fishing; the rogue waves can create a safety hazard. Therefore, it’s important when approaching a shoreline to look and see if anyone is fishing to make sure you don’t cross their lines, cruise through their fishing area, or otherwise make waves that might ruin their fun.
Most importantly anglers, boaters and swimmers alike need to be aware of each other’s activities. This will create a safer and more fun environment everyone enjoying the open water.
Grounding is more common than most boaters will admit. Fortunately, grounding is more often a minor inconvenience than a danger. The following tips will aid you, should you ever run aground.
Don’t Rush Off A number of boaters have pushed off, or been towed off a grounding only to have the boat sink right out from under them. Do not immediately push your way across or shift into reverse and try to back off, you could only put yourself harder aground. Boats with planing inboards are particularly susceptible to damage when running aground, since the rudders and shafts can be pushed through the boat’s bottom. Despite the “kick-up” feature of outboards and sterndrives, they too can still suffer damage. To prevent causing more damage to your boat, take time to assess the situation. Ask yourself a few questions. Is any water coming into the hull? Where exactly am I? Where might deeper water lie? Does the boat have any leaks? What is the state of the tide?
Wear Life Jackets Even if a thorough inspection of your boat doesn’t reveal a leak, place safety as the upmost priority and make sure everyone on the boat is wearing a life jacket.
Getting Off After assessing the situation, if you determine that you’re only lightly stranded you may be able to get off without the assistance of a tow boat. Since you’ve already determined where the deeper water is, now try to reduce draft. You have a couple options, you can put an anchor our in the direction you wish to move or if another boat is available to help you can run a line to that boat and have it pull you in the desired direction. Even if another boat can’t pull you off, it may be able to help by creating a wake that will lift your boat enough to get it off.
Power Down If you are experiencing a hard grounding, you must shut down the engines immediately and leave them off. Cooling water intakes get jammed with sand and silt during a grounding. Check the sea strainers, and outboards and sterndrives for mud and crud on the intake grates. If you don’t find any restrictions make sure to keep an eye on the engine temperature, there’s no sense in having a destroyed engine from overheating as well as a boat that’s aground. Before, reigniting the engines perform a close inspection. As a bent shaft, prop or strut can cause immediate damage to an engine.
Of course, as an NBOA member you can call our 24 hour dispatch center, and we’ll send a tow boat out to assist in getting your boat off. For more information on how to become an NBOA member, visit www.nboat.com/nboamemberinformation.
« Older Entries
January marks the beginning of a busy few months for the NBOA crew and many others in the boating industry, as the winter and spring boat shows fill the calendar. We’re on the road hoping to see our current customers and members, and meet some potential new ones.
Not only do boat shows offer us a great opportunity to meet customers, but they also offer you the chance to comparison shop and learn general to complex information about the boating industry. This information comes through a variety of sources including vendors, exhibits and seminars. Some exhibits will be featured at multiple shows while others will be exclusive to one show. Visit the website of the show nearest to you to see what vendors and exhibits will be featured. However, before you do check out some of the best of the 2013 boat shows across the country.
Fred’s Shed-Interactive Learning Center will be featured at boat shows across the country. The do-it-yourself craze has finally come to the boating industry. This interactive learning center will educate boaters on maintaining, repairing or upgrading their boats. The learning center will consist of free daily seminars and clinics, which will incorporate demos and question/answer sessions. Topics will include: maintaining a gas engine, installing and maintaining a marine battery, basic Fiberglass repair, etc. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or just interested in learning some basic repair skills, then you’ll want to attend one of the many seminars available at Fred’s Shed.
Another highlight that will be featured at multiple shows throughout the country is the Power Boat Docking Challenge. This exciting radio-controlled boat docking game let’s you test your navigational skills and compete for a chance to earn the Power Boat Docking Champion title. You race against the clock using an actual full-size boat helm to steer your craft down a 20-foot “lake” to the marina and into a slip. The best time will win, but be careful as any contact with the slip counts against your time.
If you’re new to boating, then stop by the Welcome to the Water Center presented by Discover Boating. It’s a great resource for unbiased advice on the boat that best suits your lifestyle, straightforward answers for all your boating questions, and local resources to help you get started. Attendees can register for an assortment of daily courses on a variety of topics including close-quarters handling, offshore cruising and boating safety. Pre-registration is recommended for all courses as each fills up quickly.
You don’t need to buy a boat to enjoy boat show season. There are plenty of exhibits and vendors to keep the whole family entertained.