Across America at boat launch ramps, the familiar growl of boat motors waking up from their long winter nap heralds the start of the boating season. But what makes boating, fishing or sailing this time of year different from all others? When it comes to safety, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has three tips to answer that question:
An accidental slip into the water this time of year could mean big trouble.
1. The water is still cold. Darn cold. Even though the white stuff is gone and you’re in a T-shirt and can feel the sun’s warmth on your face, lurking beneath your boat’s keel is water that could make breathing difficult or disable you in minutes after an accidental fall overboard. It’s a good idea to wear a comfortable life jacket, and if solo, rig a self-boarding ladder that can be deployed while in the water.
2. Have backup plans. For a routine breakdown while underway, having an on water towing plan from BoatUS can help. However, most important is to leave a note, or “float plan,” for friends or family members advising them of your expected return. That’s because early in the season there are way-too-few boaters out there who could provide aid if something unexpected happened, and if no one knows where you are, you could be in a heap of trouble. A sample float plan can be found at: BoatUS.com/floatplan.
3. The number one reason why boats sink in the springtime is being in a hurry to get in the water. Check every engine hose and clamp. Remove leaves in scuppers and clear clogged cockpit drains. Check to see that freezing water didn’t crack the sea strainer or seacock/valves. Go to BoatUS.com/springchecklist to get a copy of a Spring Fitting Out Safety Checklist.
About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):
BoatUS is the nation¹s largest organization of recreational boaters with over a half million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We help ensure a roadside breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and on the water, we bring boaters safely back to the launch ramp or dock when their boat won’t, day or night. The BoatUS insurance program gives boat owners the specialized coverage and superior service they need, and we help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the non-profit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.