Don’t forget about your
vessel’s safety plan!
By Wayne Spivak
You’re just about to set sail for the ocean blue, your favorite
fishing hole, that islet beach or just a jaunt around the bay. Have you crossed
your all your “T’s” and dotted or the “I’s”?
In the last article in this two part series we touched on owner responsibility,
offshore operations, fuel management and nautical charts. We again urged you to
increase your nautical knowledge by taking appropriate boating courses. In this
article, we’re going to expand on the items that should be part of your boating
Boating Check List: If it hasn’t been obvious, we’ve been creating a boating
check list. Whether it is written, as is required if you fly a plane, or simply
kept in your head, you need to develop that check list and check it twice,
before you leave the dock.
Part of that check is, which isn’t in your head, is your Float Plan. A Float
Plan is a document which details every aspect of your boat, its equipment, your
boating plans and you and your crew. Don’t have a Float Plan? We’ve developed an
on-line form. You fill it out, hit submit and then print it. It’s located here:
Once you’ve printed your Float Plan, give copies to your neighbors, your marina,
and send a copy to each stop along the way, if you’re going on a trip. Should
you fail to arrive, when your plan states you should, it will be these people
who will contact the Coast Guard.
Do not give the copy of your Float Plan to the Coast Guard; in most instances,
your local police won’t accept it either. A Float Plan is to guard your
interests should you miss a check point, so if you know you’re going to be late,
call ahead! Nothing is worse than having the Coast Guard start the Search phase
of a SAR (Search and Rescue) case.
Weather & Sea Conditions: Most Americans listen to some type of news show or
read the newspaper every morning. One of the first questions is always, “What’s
the weather like?” Well, weather and sea conditions can turn a fun day on the
water into tragedy, if you don’t keep an eye on the weather.
When the weatherman says “chances of thunderstorms in the late afternoon”, you
should take heed and plan on keeping both your choices open for protecting your
vessel and crew, as well as taking constant note of weather conditions. Learning
more about weather, its telltale signs, and what weather does to sea conditions
is a great first step in protecting yourself. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has such
First Aid: This paragraph will be short. Take a First Aid Course. Take a First
Aid Course. Oh, yea, before I forget, take a First Aid Course.
In addition, you should carry an appropriate first aid kit on your boat. For
more information, see
Survival Tips: Do you know what to do if a fire breaks out on your boat? Do you
know what to do if you go aground? Do you know how to call for help? Do you know
how to use, and what channel to use on your VHF radio?
What do you do if a thunderstorm actually overtakes your? How do you handle a
dangerous following sea.
The Boy Scouts of America have a motto, which every boater should take to heart.
“Be Prepared”. The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is Semper Paratus, which means
“always ready.” As a boater, you should be prepared, and we hope this series of
safety articles have at a minimum enticed you to learn more about boating,
piloting, safety, and first aid.
For more information on boating safety, the specific courses mentioned, above,
or the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, look us up on the
web at www.uscg.mil or www.cgaux.org.