BoatUS has an eye toward 2014 with a how-to guide on avoiding problematic or embarrassing situations on the water.
“It’s hard to track some of these things, because no one likes to admit it,” said BoatUS Vice President Public Affairs Scott Croft. “But based on past experience, we know some of these boating ‘moments’ will happen to boat owners in the New Year, so we’ve gathered some tools and tips to avoid these troubles.”
• Hit the dock a little too hard: Wind, waves or current can foul up the best-laid docking plans. “How to Dock in Four Easy Steps” video at youtube.com/watch?v=DKc7ApaJCzQ can help. If you need more help, try the Dock-IT online docking game: BoatUS.com/dockit.
• Misjudge the weather: Some smartphone apps can help track summer weather patterns and keep boaters out of trouble. Check out “Weather Wonders: How To Know When To Get Off The Lake” at BoatUS.com/trailering/2013/february/WeatherApps.asp.
• Hit bottom: Whether it’s a motorboat prop or a sailboat keel, for many boaters it’s not a question of if you will strike the bottom, but when. The good news is most boat groundings are not serious. Boat owners can practice this winter staying out of thin water by using an online boating simulator at BoatUS.org/games. If the worst still happens, a good back up plan is to have an on the water boat towing plan and a solid boat insurance policy with full salvage coverage.
• Go on the wrong side of the marker: Street signs for boaters are much different than those for motorists. An online “toolbox” with nautical rules of the road helps, along with many other practical safety topics: boatus.com/foundation/toolbox.
• Swim from a marina dock: Other than the issue of dangerous boating traffic, electric shock drowning as a result of poorly-maintained 110V dock and boat shore power wiring is a threat to swimmers near docks with electrical power: To learn about “ESD,” go to “ESD Explained: What every boater needs to know about Electric Shock Drowning,” at BoatUS.com/seaworthy/magazine/2013/july/electric-shock-drowning-explained.asp.
• Put a child in a wrong-size life jacket: It’s a big mistake to put a child in an adult-sized life jacket, especially when you may be able to borrow one for free at one of 570 locations across the country, including River Hills Marina on Lake Wylie. Find a kids jacket loaner site near you with the BoatUS Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner program: BoatUS.org/life-jacket-loaner.
• Fall overboard: Do you have a way to get back in the boat? Here’s a look of the different types of boat ladders and some video showing how difficult it can be to get back aboard – even on small boats: BoatUS.org/findings/44/.