Landlubbers make resolutions for the New Year. Recreational boaters, however, will usher in 2014 wishing for good fishing, wind in the sail, or a full tank of fuel. But that’s not all that sometimes happens on the water. Murphy and his “law” make appearances. “It’s hard to track some of these things, because no one likes to admit it,” said BoatUS Vice President Public Affairs Scott Croft. “But based on past experience, we know some of these boating ‘moments’ will happen to boat owners in the New Year, so we’ve gathered some tools and tips to avoid these troubles.”
Hit the dock a little too hard: Wind, waves or current can foul up the best-laid docking plans. Here’s a video, “How to Dock in Four Easy Steps,” that can help improve your technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKc7ApaJCzQ. If you need more help, try the Dock-IT online docking game: www.BoatUS.com/dockit.
Misjudge the weather: Some smart phone apps can help track summer weather patterns and keep boaters out of trouble. Check out the online story, “Weather Wonders: How To Know When To Get Off The Lake,” at: www.BoatUS.com/trailering/2013/february/WeatherApps.asp.
Hit bottom: Whether it’s a motorboat prop or a sailboat keel, for many boaters it’s not a question of if you will strike the bottom, but when. The good news is most boat groundings are not serious. Boat owners can practice this winter staying out of thin water by using an online boating simulator at www.BoatUS.org/games. If the worst still happens, a good back up plan is to have an on the water boat towing plan and a solid boat insurance policy with full salvage coverage.
Go on the wrong side of the marker: Street signs for boaters are much different than those for motorists. Here’s an online “toolbox” with nautical rules of the road, along with many other practical safety topics: www.boatus.com/foundation/toolbox.
Swim from a marina dock: Other than the issue of dangerous boating traffic, electric shock drowning as a result of poorly-maintained 110V dock and boat shore power wiring is a threat to swimmers near docks with electrical power: To learn about “ESD,” go to the online story: “ESD Explained: What every boater needs to know about Electric Shock Drowning,” at www.BoatUS.com/seaworthy/magazine/2013/july/electric-shock-drowning-explained.asp.
Pay a lot of money for fuel: There isn’t a power boater who does not talk about the price of fuel they just put in the tank. In the New Year boaters can save up to 10 cents per gallon of fuel at over 350 BoatU.S. Cooperating Marinas across the country: www.BoatUS.com/ServiceLocator.
Put a child in a wrong-size life jacket: It’s a big mistake to put a child in an adult-sized life jacket, especially when you may be able borrow one for free at one of 570 locations across the country. Find a kids jacket loaner site near you with the BoatUS Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner program: www.BoatUS.org/life-jacket-loaner.
Fall overboard: Do you have a way to get back in the boat? Here’s a look of the different types of boat ladders and some video showing how difficult it can be to get back aboard – even on small boats: www.BoatUS.org/findings/44/.