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August 2010

Boating blunders

Avoid the 5 most common mistakes

You can avoid most mistakes on the water by taking a basic boating course, staying focused and following a predeparture checklist. Here are five of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Forgetting to install the drain plug before launching. Don’t assume the drain plug is in the boat. Put this item on your checklist and double-check the installation.
  2. Failure to put out enough anchor rode. The amount of line needed to anchor a vessel is five to seven times the water depth in calm weather, including the distance from the surface to where the anchor attaches at the bow. If anchoring in high wind or rough seas, you’ll need at least 10 times the water depth in rode.
  3. Not carrying up-to-date nautical charts. A smart skipper always carries a chart of the waters on which he or she is traveling. Not only do you need to know where you are and what’s around you, but you also need to know what’s under you. A chart will tell you how deep the water is and if there are any obstructions.
  4. Getting lost at night. If you’re inexperienced at nighttime navigation, allow yourself plenty of time to get back to port before sunset. Take a few runs at night to become familiar with the area and what it looks like after dark.
  5. Overloading the boat. It’s easy to unintentionally overload small vessels with people, coolers and gear, and an overloaded boat is prone to capsizing, even in relatively calm waters. Know your boat’s maximum load capacity and abide by it.

Ship's Store ad for USPS pewter

Rolling hitch

You can use a rolling hitch to secure one line to another line or a smooth cylinder, such as a post floating in the water. The knot grips an object and will not slip lengthwise along it.

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