Boating in deeper waters
Exercise caution in flooded conditions
This boating season, recreational boaters could find deeper water under the keel, opening a whole new range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation. That same deep water, however, may present unique safety concerns on the water and at the dock.
The Great Lakes in particular are expected to see increased water levels this summer. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Ontario is expected to rise 17 inches higher than last year. Lowland flooding is already hampering the boat-launch season on the lake. The second-largest year-over-year increase goes to Lake Superior, expected to be 12 inches higher sometime in August, while Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are both predicted to rise 8 inches. Lake Erie is expected to be up 5 inches over last year.
If you sail the Great Lakes this summer or find yourself in flooded conditions anywhere else, follow these tips.
On the water: Deeper draft vessels may have more options for mooring, anchoring and slip rental as well as increased access to the water. However, high water shifts sandbars, so you should travel at slower speeds to reduce the risk of grounding or running gear damage. If you’re headed into unfamiliar waters, post an extra lookout, and if you’re traveling far, check ahead as mooring locations may be inaccessible.
On the dock: Many fixed (non-floating) boat docks with electrical service could become submerged, potentially compromising wiring and electrical connections. When waters recede and before power gets turned on, inspect the electrical service and consider installing a ground fault protection device if your dock power system doesn’t already have one. Without it, the risk of electric shock drowning increases. Schedule a dock electrical maintenance checkup at the beginning of each season.