Boating is such a generic term used throughout our waterways today. There is so much more to know before anyone becomes a skilled boater. I've touched on a few of the very basic safe boating skills of handling a boat and keeping everyone safe. These are simple things that should be thought through before shoving off on any type of waterway excursion.
As a native of Florida and a long time boat owner, I've seen a lot of people who are just starting out in a new boat they just purchased after moving to Florida from an inland state or just purchased after attending a local boat show. You would expect the new boat you just purchased to be equipped with all of the safety features and accessories you should need for safe boating. Right? Think again! Maybe you have the right equipment on board but as a new boater you've never been in a situation where you needed to use it. So, you have all of the safety equipment that's legally required but it's all stored nice and neat under your seat cushions and down in the boat's deck compartments. I can tell you from experience that it isn't always the equipment that's the problem but knowing how to use it, where it is and under what conditions you need to use it.
For example, most boats will always have an anchor on board when you purchase it. But, do you know if the anchor you have is attached to the rope? Or, is the rope still on the rope wheel or is it attached to a hook in your compartment? Is the anchor you have designed to hold onto the silky river bottom where you do your pleasure boating or is it designed to hold against the rocky and thick weeded sea beds. These are all questions that might determine what type of anchor you should have. In some instances you may need different types of anchors and often times, more than one.
The wrong anchor at the wrong time can be more dangerous than you expect. Being hung up when the tide changes or when bad weather is approaching can be very frightening.
Another example is the number and length of dock lines you have on board. Your typical line is about 15-25 feet in length. A 28 foot boat might need at least 3 dock lines on hand, one for the bow cleat, one for the stern cleat and one for the middle cleat if you are in a high current area or need to run a spring line to protect the side of your boat. In my area we tend to raft with other boaters and create what we like to call a river barge! You might have boats tied up to either or both sides of your boat and would need additional lines on board, just in case your fellow boater isn't so prepared.
We also tend to gather at our local riverfront marketplace for music, food and socializing. Here we could have an endless number of boats rafted together against the fixed dock. Our waterway regulations require every 3rd boat to have a dock line that reaches the fixed dock. This would require a longer line that you might only have attached to your anchor. It's always a good idea to be sure your anchor line is at least 50 feet in length and can be easily detached to use as a dock line if needed.
Some states offer free boating classes or a free safety inspection of your boat to ensure you have the appropriate safety items on board. I would highly recommend that all new boaters research your local Coast Guard to see if they offer safe boating classes. Even the most experienced boater can benefit from a refresher course. After all, it's not just having the safety equipment that ensures the safety of all passengers, it is also having the recommended product specifically designed for your size of boat. You also need to ensure that the equipment is in proper working order and easily accessible by the captain. Having the safe boating certificate shows your prepared and could actually lower your insurance rate in certain states.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a native Floridian and an avid boater. My dad was an avid fisherman and pleasure boating and my sisters and I spent most of our childhood on the waterways of Florida. I have so many happy memories and I think boating is one of the best all time family favorites. I've also seen my share of accidents on our waterways and know how dangerous it can be if you are not prepared.
Please visit my website at www.bestdockaccessories.com where you can find everything you need to get under way as a safe and skilled boater. I run specials and add new products daily so visit us frequently. Inventory includes: anchors, dock lines, boat fenders and much more.
By - Linda Langston