Prepare for boating season
If you haven’t started to prepare for boating season, it’s not too late to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer cruising experience.
Get yourself ready
Make sure all operators have and carry a state boater education card if required by your state.
Review the Navigation Rules to refresh your working knowledge of on-the-water boat operation.
Honestly evaluate your health and physical fitness and that of your crew. You want to ensure that everyone is ready for the rigors of boating under the conditions you are likely to encounter when cruising.
Take time to plan your summer cruising activities to stimulate excitement. Then, take time to prepare for what you plan to do and where you will go.
Ensure that your boat is properly equipped and maintained, so it’s ready to get underway on schedule.
Follow this spring commissioning checklist.
Get the boat ready
When preparing the boat, complete any tasks left undone at the end of last year’s season.
Perform required regular maintenance on your sails, electronics, cooking, refrigeration, freshwater, sanitary systems and other boat systems.
Replenish the spare parts and bulbs you carry on board.
Restock fresh supplies of food and other consumables.
Activate and test your systems and safety gear, including flares, dry cell flashlight batteries, first-aid supplies and fire extinguishers.
Sign up for a free vessel safety check with a qualified vessel examiner and correct any discrepancies.
Remember that all vessels must use shore-based pump-out facilities or approved disposal service pump-out vessels for disposal of all sewage unless they are operating at least three miles from U.S. shorelines prior to any discharge. Vessels previously approved for “flow through” sewage treatment and discharge systems must secure and cease use of these systems and use pump-out facilities instead.
Before you go
Before getting underway on any voyage, file a float plan with a trusted friend or relative.
Conduct a pre-underway briefing. Make sure your crew and guests understand the voyage and the safety equipment they might be required to use.
Make guests feel comfortable by assigning a life jacket for their personal use. Reassure them that you are a safe, well-prepared skipper and that they are aboard a well-found vessel ready for a safe and enjoyable cruise. —Viggo Bertelsen
This article first appeared in Bellviews, newsletter of Bellevue Sail & Power Squadron/16.
Feel at home on the water
Learn to boat with confidence by taking the Boat Handling course online from America’s Boating Club.