Boating Checklist

Boating can be an enjoyable experience for everyone as long as you follow a few simple steps and ask yourself a few questions. Preparation is the key. Are you ready for a fun filled day on the water?

Have you ever arrived at the boat ramp, prepared to launch your boat, and found that you left your boat key hanging on the key rack at home? Did you bring enough personal floatation devices? Do you have what you need in case of an emergency? Have you ever put the boat in the water only to find you forgot to insert your plug?

For example, a smart boater who’s planning on viewing underwater sea life reviews that he has the best full face snorkel mask for the experience.

Developing a boating checklist will help keep you prepared. Laminate it and keep it on your boat for reference during preparation. Avoid omissions or mishaps and expect the unexpected.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while you develop your boating checklist:

Pre-season preparation:

  • Walk the floor and deck of your boat; are there any soft spots?
  • Is the hull in good shape?
  • Are the batteries in good shape and will they hold a charge?
  • How do the wires look, do any need replacing?
  • How’s the fuel line and bulb?
  • Is the bilge pump working properly?
  • Are the drain holes clean and free of debris?
  • Does the steering turn freely?
  • Do the boat lights work?
  • Are the electronics in check?
  • Does the horn or noise making device function?
  • Is the fire extinguisher charged and functioning?
  • Are the boat and trailer registrations up to date?

Check all cleats, tighten any loose screws, and ensure that seating is secure. You should also do a driveway run to check if the water pump is working, how the starting system is working, and if motor needs any maintenance. Check your prop for excessive wear or damage.

Walk around your boat and look for anything out of the ordinary. Check your bow hook, wench, and bumper. Check your trailer to ensure that fenders and bunks are secure. Make repairs as necessary.

Before you leave your driveway:

  • Is the plug in?
  • Do you have the key?
  • Is there a tool kit loaded with essentials in case of an emergency?
  • Are my trailer lights working?
  • Is the trailer coupled properly to the ball hitch and are the chains attached?
  • How many PFD’s do we need? Do we have enough?
  • Are the water skies, tubes, or boogie boards secured in the boat?
  • Did you check the towline for the water toys for frays or wear? Are they in the boat?
  • Is the motor in trailer position and secured?
  • Is the boat secured to the trailer?
  • How about fishing rods, tackle, and bait or lures?
  • Do you have all your paper work and licenses on the boat and waterproofed?
  • Do you have at least two ropes for tying off or towing if necessary?
  • Are your docking fenders intact, loaded, and functional?
  • Is the noise-making device loaded?
  • Do you have your fire extinguisher?
  • Is your first aid kit onboard and stocked?
  • Do you have a working flashlight?
  • Is the oar onboard?
  • Is the cooler packed with ice, water, food, and an assortment of beverages? Is it loaded on the boat?
  • Do you have plenty of sunscreen, towels, hats, sunglasses, a camera and diapers for any little boaters?
  • Is there enough gas? If you have to stop for gas do you have what you need for mixing or additives when you get to the station?
  • Does anyone know where you’re going and when you expect to return?
  • Once your boat is loaded and everything you need for your excursion is secured, you should double-check your plug.

Before you launch:

  • Is the plug in?
  • Are the trailer lights unplugged?
  • Is the wench unhooked from the bow?

Aside from backing down the boat and launching it, you should not have to spend much time on the boat ramp. Remember courtesy. If you prepared your boat before you left your driveway, you should be set to launch without holding up the line.

A sample checklist:

  • Alternate Propulsion
  • Batteries Secured/Clean/Fully Charged
  • Battery On/Off
  • Bilge On/Off
  • Bimini Top Secured
  • Binoculars
  • Boat/Trailer/Fishing Licenses
  • Boat Key Onboard
  • Camera
  • Cell Phone/Radio
  • Drain Holes Cleared
  • Extra Bailing Device
  • Fish Finder/GPS Secured
  • First Aid/Sunscreen/Towels
  • Fishing Gear
  • Flashlight/Batteries
  • Hitch Coupler Pin Installed
  • Inspect Hull/Floorboard/Deck
  • Inspect Fuel/Oil Filters/Hoses
  • Inspect Prop/Steering System
  • Inspect Gauges
  • Mooring Lines/Fenders
  • Motor Lock Down/Up
  • Navigation Lights/Spare Bulbs
  • Oil/Fuel Additives Measured
  • PFD/Horn/Extinguisher/Flares/Rope
  • Plug In/Out
  • Safety Chains Attached
  • Snacks/Beverages/Ice
  • Spare Prop/Plugs/Parts
  • Swim Step/Anchor Stowed
  • Tie Downs Released/Secured
  • Tools
  • Trailer Lights Connected/Working
  • Trailer Tire Pressure Checked
  • Water Toys Secured
  • Winch/Chain Attached/Detached
  • Windshield/Hatches Secured
  • Do Others Know Plans?

Following some form of the above checklists will ensure a safe and fun time on the water. Enjoy your boating experience!

Categories: Blog

Boating After Dark

When was the last time you cruised a twisty mountain road at night or rode your bicycle down a wooded path in the dark? Boating at night is similar to these high-risk experiences, but without the headlights in the former example and the hand brakes in the latter.

Before you decide to go boating after dark, consider the safety precautions that you and your family must take before climbing aboard. Do you know the laws in the area where you will be boating? Are you familiar with the natural lay of the land? It’s never a good idea to go boating at night when you haven’t done so during the day.

Lighting Your Path

Navigating Long Island Sound in the dark will be a far different experience from riding around at night in your neighborhood lake. Busy waterways surrounded by commercial or residential communities will have far more lights, which can actually be more confusing than helpful.

If lots of lights distract you, take the time to figure out what each light is. The one on the corner? That’s the Double Tree Hotel. The softer one to its left? The biggest mansion on the lake. Once you know where the lights are coming from, you’ll be less likely to get disoriented.

If, however, you’re faced with a sea of inky blackness, you’ll need to use your own nav lights and pay attention to how it refracts in the darkness. Most buoys marking sandbars are lined with reflective tape, as are bridges and abutments. You can’t always rely on lights to guide you through murky waters.

Knowing the Law

The laws of boating at night are different depending on where you are and the type of boat you drive. The laws for a sixteen-foot boat in Lake Michigan, for example, will be far different from the laws governing a twenty-three-foot boat in Galveston Bay. In neither area, however, do you want a ticket from the coast guard.

You’ll need to make sure you maintain a “reasonable and prudent” speed for the conditions of the water and surrounding communities. Docks, harbors, bridges and swimmers can approach rapidly if you aren’t paying attention, and you’ll be the one responsible for any damage or injury that occurs.

Furthermore, remember that boats drifting more than two hundred feet from shore are required to display a single white light from sundown to sunrise. If you see such a light, cut your speed in half until you can discern its exact position. Unfortunately, the cliches are true: darkness can play nasty tricks on your eyes.

Choose a Designated Driver

A boatman doesn’t have to be under the influence of anything but good humor to get into an accident in the dark. If you’re going out boating with lots of people, designate a driver who can keep his eyes on the path ahead and navigate everyone safely back home.

It’s also never a good idea to “explore” while boating at night. Save your adventuresome excursions for broad daylight and stick to familiar territory after dark to avoid an unfortunate accident.

Categories: Blog

Maine’s Boating Infrastructure Grant

Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG) total $12.5 million in 2009 and have been awarded to 11 states. This $12.5 million funds 14 projects for boating infrastructure and includes construction boat slips, boat docks an ore facilities that are relate to recreational boating. They are also used to fund maintenance, renovation or construction of tie-up facilities for boats that are considered to be transient, which is a boat that remains at the facility for 10 days or less, that are at least 26 feet long an are not transportable by trailer. These grants also provide funding for public awareness materials that are geared toward the Boating Infrastructure Grants.

Boating Infrastructures Grants, which are made available by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, are funded by the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust fund. This trust fund is funded by an excise tax that ahs been put on fishing an boating equipment as well as boating fuel.

The recipients of the Boating Infrastructure Grants were chosen by a panel of United States Fish and Wildlife Service representatives and a committee formed by the Sport Fishing an Boating Partnership Council. The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council is federally chartered and advises the Secretary o the Interior and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on the issues affecting the recreational and fishing boats.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service received 31 proposals from a total of 14 states for the Boating Infrastructure Grant and 14 of these 31 proposals were chosen. These 14 proposed projects chosen are taking place in 11 states.

Maine received $363,000 in 2009 from the BIG program. This grant provides funding for the construction of 20 transient moorings, 16 transient boat slips and renovating existing transient amenities at Dolphin Marina. This project is funded by $363,000 from the BIG program plus the Maine Department of Transportation and Dolphin Marina matching funds with almost $134,000.

The United Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant program is in place to fun projects by both public and private agencies and marinas. Facilities that area constructed from funding aware by the BIG program are required to be secure, safe an have available service, designed and built to last at least 20 years, to be use by transient boaters, designed or use by boats that are at least 26 in length and must have a low water depth of at least 6 feet. Facilities built with this funding must also be constructed on water that has been designate navigable, there musts be a public pumpout with in 2 miles, they must be open to the public, they must be have maintenance for the entire time they area in use.

Categories: Blog