Saturday, June 4, 2011

Boating safety

Albert Rasch posts a timely reminder that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, particularly when you're out in a boat.  Weather can change suddenly, someone can call overboard, and fire is perhaps the sailor's oldest terror.

The only thing that I'd add to his excellent suggestion is to check in your area to see if the Coast Guard Auxiliary are offering their free Vessel Safety Checks:

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a volunteer organization that performs safety checks, search and rescue, and harbor security patrols - for example, keeping people from anchoring in the ditch zone at the Quonset Air Show.  It's made up of boating enthusiasts who get quite a lot of training and who volunteer their time.

If you can't find them in your neck of the woods, you can get the Vessel Safety Check PDF checklist here.  It's entirely sensible, and you can check yourself off before casting off.

Full disclosure: I used to be in the CG AUX.  While I'm no longer active in the group, I know a lot more about boats now then when I joined up.


doubletrouble said...

Hey! I did not know you were CG Aux; I was an actual Coastie back in the day.

Borepatch said...

Doubletrouble, you've discovered by Secret Power. ;-)

But (naturally) we all had a ton of respect for you Coasties. We weren't allowed to go out if wind (mph) + seas (ft) > 35. That's because you guys did it.

As you well know, there's some nasty weather off the Stellwagon bank, and you guys covered it, not guys like me.

I had a lot of respect for the USCG. They have bigger stones than I do.

Goober said...

Another important one that seems to kill a few people out in these parts every year, and just took a father and his two-year old daughter this weekend on the same river where I was fishing just outside of Lewiston, ID (I pray that they are with God now)...

Anchoring - and more specifically, anchoring in current.

If you don't know what you are doing, you can and will sink your boat hard and fast. If you don't understand why anchoring can be so dangerous, then you don't understand how the dynamics of current and anchors and so forth work enough to even try - just don't do it, please.

Last year it was two guys who dropped anchor off the stern of their boat in a 4 mph current. The anchor dragged along the bottom and then suddenly set up. The river came over the square stern in less than a second, and they were swimming in the river faster than their minds could comprehend what had just happened. The father/daughter loss this weekend was anchored off the bow, but didn't have enough line out, so when the anchor set up, the line pulled the bow under from the force of the current and swamped them.

If you don't know what you're doing, then don't try it. You will at least lose your boat, and at worst, end up fish food. Even a slow current can overtop a gunnel so fast that you cannot react and you're on the bottom.