Do These 4 Things Now To Help Ensure a Summer of Safe Boating
Boatyards, marinas and clubs are waking up after a long winter’s nap, and boaters have begun preparing their vessels for the season. While the boat needs to be looked at and readied for a summer of fun, so does your safety. The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water says that doing these four free or low-cost things now will help ensure a summer of safe boating.
1. Get a free Vessel Safety Check: Where else can you ask a professional to go over your boat to ensure it’s safe and has all the required safety equipment? And if the boat is not up to snuff, you won’t be penalized in any way and will instead get some welcome, friendly advice on how to improve. That’s what a Vessel Safety Check does, so schedule a Vessel Safety Check now. Offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons, Vessel Safety Checks are completely free, and you may be surprised by what they find.
2. Register your DSC-VHF Radio to get your MMSI number: Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radios can greatly reduce rescuer response times – but only if you have taken the time to register the radio and request your vessels’ unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. If it’s not registered, or still registered to the prior boat owner, you’re not helping yourself and could likely waste valuable response time in an emergency. BoatUS offers DSC VHF radio registration to the public for $25 or free to BoatUS members.
3. Inspect and prep your life jackets: Inflatable life jackets need to be opened up every season to ensure they are in good shape. Regular (noninflatable) life jackets need to be brought out of hiding, inspected, and placed in locations aboard the boat that make it very easy for passengers to access. Life jackets are no good (and not legal) if they are buried at the bottom of a storage compartment and not “readily available.”
4. Take a free boating safety course: The numbers don’t lie. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 81 percent of boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Recognize the upshot of these statistics and get instruction now at BoatUS.org/Free. The free online BoatUS Foundation state boating safety course easily fits into busy schedules, allowing course takers to stop at any time and pick up again later where they left off. It could also earn your state’s boating safety certification. BoatUS membership is not required.
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Gearing Up for the Fourth | Pontoon-Depot
8 Safety Tips for Boating’s Busiest Time of The Year
The nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boaters, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), says July Fourth is shaping up to be the busiest time of the year on the water for the nation’s recreational boaters, with boating traffic potentially surpassing last year’s levels. This also means boaters will face additional safety concerns with waterway congestion and nighttime operation.
In a recent survey of more than a half million BoatUS members, 88 percent of respondents say they are “very-to-extremely likely” to go boating during the 2018 July Fourth holiday period (June 30 through July 9). That compares to 73 percent who went boating over the similar period last year.
The BoatUS member survey also shows that about one in three (36 percent) of respondents are “very-to-extremely likely” to operate a boat at night to view a July Fourth fireworks display from the water. Three percent said that fireworks displays are the only reason they will venture out after dark all year long.
“With nearly 12 million registered boats on the water, boaters will need to take special safety precautions during the holiday period,” said BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water President Chris Edmonston. The Foundation is the nonprofit safety arm of BoatUS. “The mayhem of fireworks shows, overburdened launch ramps, crowded waterways and long days spent under the stressors of wind, waves and sun will require everyone to up their safety game and be courteous to fellow boaters.”
The BoatUS Foundation has these eight holiday boating tips:
- Wait to celebrate with alcohol. It could be a long day on the water, but waiting until after you’ve returned to homeport for the night before celebrating with alcohol is a wise move. Added to the effects of sun, wind and waves, alcohol lowers situational awareness and increases reaction times.
- The more lookouts at night, the better. Having extra sets of eyes – family members or guests – can help prevent accidents.
- Go slow after the fireworks. After viewing fireworks from the water and pulling up anchor, you may have the urge to rush home. Don’t. Slow down. Be cautious, and the odds for a safe return increase.
- Get kids’ life jackets for free. Everyone has extra guests this time of year, but they don’t always have properly-sized life jackets for everyone on board. The BoatUS Foundation’s free Kids Life Jacket Loaner program gives boaters a chance to borrow child-size life jackets for the day, afternoon, or weekend.
- Don’t overload the boat. Everyone should have a seat inside the boat, and be careful about adding extra coolers and gear. It’s also a bad idea to allow to passengers to ride on the top of a boat with an enclosed bow while underway.
- Be a safe paddler. Kayak, canoe or stand-up paddlers should understand all of the nautical rules of the road, practice defensive paddling and assume no one can see you. At night, paddlers are required to show a white light – colored glow sticks around the paddler’s neck don’t cut it. Avoid crowded anchorages and congested ramp areas.
- Never swim near a dock with electricity or in a marina or yacht club.
- Avoid the two biggest hassles. The nationwide TowBoatUS on-water towing fleet traditionally reports hundreds of battery jumps and anchor-line disentanglements over the holiday. To avoid having to contact BoatUS 24-hour dispatch (BoatUS.com/app) monitor your battery drain, go slow while hauling anchor line, and be super vigilant so you don’t run over someone else’s anchor line after the show ends.
HOW TO PLAN A FAMILY FUN DAY ON A PONTOON BOAT
There is nothing better than spending a day on your pontoon boat. But as you may know, it can be very stressful if you don’t properly plan your excursion. Imagine a day on a pontoon boat where you visit the same area and do the same activities as the time before, more for lack of imagination than because of the fun quotient. Not to mention the chaos that can ensue if there isn’t enough food, water, or sunscreen for everyone in the party.
Aside from the “dos” and “do nots” for planning a day on the pontoon, there are numerous fun ideas you and your family should try:
- Explore: Instead of visiting the same place every time, mix it up and boldly go where you haven’t been before.
- BBQ: If your pontoon boat has a BBQ on it, why not enjoy a beach BBQ?
- Scavenger Hunt: Invent a scavenger hunt where you stop at various places and solve clues. Will there be buried treasure at the end?
- Mega Raft: If your friends all have pontoon boats and families, tie up all the boats together and make a mega raft.
- Waterproof Camera: There is no better way to capture the day and take some memorable underwater photos.
Remember proper and creative planning, and you are sure to have an exciting day on the water.
Download our infographic for more tips for family fun on the water.
- Amy Cabanas
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Pontoon Boat Prep: Before the Season Starts…
If you’re like most pontoon boat owners, you’re itching to get back on the water once the season starts. If you don’t live somewhere with year round warmth, you may have stored the boat away for winter—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for the spring and summer season now!
Read on to see a few things you can do to get your pontoon boat ready for fun once the warmer weather rolls around.
As boat owners, we’re always looking for ways to make our next trip even better than the last. This might mean making improvements to your pontoon boat that make it more enjoyable for everyone on board. If you’ve been thinking about adding features such as a ladder, slide or tent cover to your boat, now is a great time to do it. By the time the season starts up again, your pontoon boat will be decked out and ready to go!
Clean up your pontoon boat and make necessary repairs
There are, of course, practical issues you may need to take care of during your offseason time. If there are any repairs you need to make on your pontoon boat, now would be a good time to check those out and pick up the necessary parts you may need. If all your boat needs is a bit of freshening up, devote an afternoon to cleaning it up and getting it back to looking like new.
Plan your next adventure
A fantastic way to keep yourself and your family occupied during the winter months is to plan your next adventure. Whether this is to a local spot or a bona fide vacation destination, everyone will enjoy having a say in the planning process. It’s also a great way to keep your mind focused on the water fun you’ll be having—without actually being on the water.
Give it a name
If you have not yet given your pontoon boat a name, do it this winter! Every boat needs a good name, both for practical reasons—so help on the water can find you easily, should you ever need it—and fun ones. Every pontoon boat has its own unique personality, just like the people who use it, so be sure to give yours a name that sticks.
Purchase your new pontoon boat
Like many boaters in search of a fun alternative to traditional powerboats, you may be considering purchasing a brand new pontoon boat this year. Why wait until the season’s already underway to do it? The winter months are the perfect time to think about the style and design you want and get your new boat ready for fun on the water in 2018.
If you fit into this category, get in touch with us today! We can make your pontoon boat wishes a reality in time for the season ahead.
Can’t wait to get back on the water? Try these ideas and hold on just a little longer—you’ll be seeing fellow boaters on your favorite waterways in no time at all.
- Amy Cabanas
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