Six tips for smooth sailing this boating season
Warm weather means long relaxing days out on the water with friends and family. But regardless of how long you've been boating, it's helpful to brush up on some safety best practices to help avoid an accident.
Inspect the boat.
Hoses and other rubber parts may be affected by dry rot. Also, take at look at all the metal surfaces and electrical areas for corrosion. The Vessel Safety Check is a free public service offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteers.
Check the fluid levels.
Just like a car your boat needs several fluids to run smoothly. Make sure your oil, power steering, power trim, coolant and gear oil are all at satisfactory levels before you head out.
Test the battery.
If your battery is more than four years old, it's probably time for a replacement. Sailors for the sea recommend charging and checking for connection corrosion at the beginning of the season.
Pack your safety gear.
Make sure your boat has all the appropriate safety equipment on board. This includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, a bailer, an anchor, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a bell or whistle. You should also make sure to bring a fully charged cell phone with you whenever you head out.
Pay attention to the weather.
No one would think of taking a boat out in a thunderstorm. Yet boat owners often don't think twice about other weather conditions that could prove just as dangerous. Avoid boating on exceptionally windy days since waves could capsize a smaller boat or cause passengers to fall out.
Develop (and communicate) a float plan.
This includes all pertinent information to your trip including contact information for the trip leader, the boat type and registration information and where you plan to boat. Give someone at your marina a heads-up, or a family member, especially if you're going somewhere remote.
While routine maintenance is not covered under a boat policy, boat insurance can help cover you, your passengers and your boat as well as other people and their property.
*Reported first by Yahoo Finance and Erie Insurance