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May 24, 2016

Boating Safety

It’s National Boating Safety Week and I thought it might be a good idea to visit what you should do after you purchase your equipment, See it’s one thing to have it on board and be in compliance with the rules and regulations, but it’s a whole other thing knowing how to utilize it correctly.

When it comes to safety equipment, most boaters start out doing just the right thing: We purchase products with a reputation for saving lives. However, after taking this crucial first step, we often just hang the gear on the rail or pack it away in a locker, assuming that our job is done. But it isn't. Buying proper safety gear simply initiates our comprehensive, planned, and practiced on-the-water safety regimens.

Life Jackets

It's one thing to buy a quality life jacket. It's another to practice putting it on and taking it off, then trying to climb back into a boat with one on. If you've never pulled the cord on an inflatable, getting an idea of what it's like to land in the water and have your comfortable inflatable life jacket burst into a couch cushion-sized flotation device can be an eye-opener. There are two ways to get this real-world experience: 1. Jump into the water and try your life jacket yourself, which will also give you an opportunity to learn how to replace your CO2 canister and bobbin. 2. Attend a hands-on boating-safety seminar or course near you. Many programs give you a chance to try out a variety of different life jacket types in a safe environment so you can build familiarity through practice.

Crew-Overboard Gear

Specialized crew-recovery equipment, such as a throw rope or a Life preserver requires not just practice but planning that's specific to your boat. Each boat and crew needs to have a well-conceived plan that everyone is ready to implement, and it's important to play this plan out in advance when things are completely calm on board your boat. Your plan may be as simple as the skipper designating a spotter who points continuously toward the victim in the water while the crew tosses flotation to the victim, then returns on a reciprocal course, shuts off the engine, and makes contact with the victim using a throw rope or life ring. Boats with swim platforms have a built-in advantage, but you still have to know how to get your crewmember safely to the stern while avoiding the prop. Fortunately, this drill is easy to practice on the water by attending a hands-on-safety course or doing it on your own by using a seat cushion or life jacket as a stand-in for a person in the water.