3 tips for starting the season safely
The familiar growl of boat motors waking up from a long winter’s nap heralds the start of the boating season at boat launch ramps. But what makes boating, fishing or sailing different at this time of year for many of us?
- Beware of cold water. Even though you’re in a T-shirt and can feel the sun’s warmth on your face, the water beneath your boat’s keel could make breathing difficult or disable you in minutes after an accidental fall overboard. Wear a comfortable life jacket, and if going solo, rig a self-boarding ladder that you can deploy from the water.
- Make backup plans. Having an on-water towing plan can help during a routine breakdown underway. However, you should leave a note or a float plan with friends or family members advising them of your expected return. That’s because early in the season there are few boaters available to provide aid if something unexpected happens, 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.
- Take your time. The number one reason why boats sink in the springtime is boaters 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 for a fitting out checklist.