As you get ready to enjoy your boating summer, try to give a little thought to the unexciting topic of safety.
Boating is a tremendous sport, but there is some potential risk to it. Add an unforgiving environment like frigid Alaska waters, and it makes being ready for problems a must. You can be the best operator in the world and someone or something beyond your control can turn a great day into a rescue operation in a heartbeat. What can you do?
First and foremost, have adequate survival and protective gear on board and use it. You've heard it over and over…"if only he'd been wearing his personal flotation device". If you don't put it on and wear it, it won't do you any good when you most need it.
The US Coast Guard specifies minimum requirements for onboard equipment. Though the list depends on boat size, the items are pretty straight forward. Each person needs a proper fitting personal flotation device (PFD). Boats over 16 feet need and additional throwable PFD, a ring or a cushion. Some sort of audible signaling device is necessary, like a whistle or horn. Visual distress signals are also a requirement on most waters. If operating at night, you must have at least three devices that are visible in the darkness. Last but not least, a fire extinguisher is a requirement for inboards, and a very smart item for any motorized craft. There are other items for larger boats. Come in or call us for more detail.
Having and using all the equipment is an excellent start, but letting someone know where you're going is also a very wise action. Anything can happen, and knowing where to begin looking helps any rescue efforts immensely.
Don't let the preplanning put you off. None of this is intended to dampen your enthusiasm for the sport and enjoyment of boating; on the contrary, it will help you enjoy it that much more and continue to enjoy it for many years to come.