Capt. Ron Loiselle: Watch the boat’s wake
All boaters at one time or another have been on the receiving end of large wakes caused by other boaters. Large wakes can cause a myriad of issues for boaters, property owners and smaller vessels such as canoes, small sailboats, kayaks or paddleboards, which may be less stable and prone to capsizing. Wakes can be especially dangerous around marinas, launch ramps and on-the-water assistance operations where hands, arms, legs and feet, etc. can get caught between a boat and a dock, or between two boats rocking back and forth.
In order to respect the rights and safety of others, boat operators should periodically look behind their vessel and check their wake, and be aware of everything around them.
Limit wake by slowing down, and following no-wake zone signs — they’re there for a reason!
Capt. Dennis Stamis: Boats don’t have headlights
A pet peeve for Stamis is boaters using docking lights as head lights. He is out often at night and regularly sees boaters using their docking lights.
Running these lights while driving at night blinds other boaters and ruins their night vision which can cause an accident. They should only be used when approaching the dock.
Capt. Barry Bridges: Don’t forget the anchor
There are many important things to have on a boat. One of the more important things that are often missing from a boat is an anchor. Anchors are not all about anchoring out for pleasure. An anchor can be important if there is a breakdown. It can prevent drifting up against rocks and damaging to a boat. That damage could be severe enough to cause a boat to take on water. Anyone that has a breakdown and is starting to drift should throw out the anchor, call SeaTow and give the boat’s location.
Bridges suggests boaters have at least 150 feet of rode (the line that connects the anchor to the boat) and preferably 200 feet.
Capt. Bob Santmyer: Keep a proper lookout
Never assume the other boaters remember the “rules of the road” learned during the boater safety course. Always keep a lookout.
Also, during spring, or after heavy rains, be extra vigilant watching for large debris in the lake that can cause harm to a boat or even injury to passengers.
Capt. Dave Sult: A sturdy extendable boat hook is a must
Boat operators or passengers should have it at the ready whenever they are:
n Entering and exiting a slip (Hands and feet should not be used to fend off or grab a dock. Momentum, wind gusts or unexpected waves can pin an arm or leg between the boat and stationary objects)
n Coming along side another boat (Deploy fenders early and use a boat hook).
n Retrieving an object from the water. (An extended boat hook can easily reach and hook a floating object. Many people have fallen overboard trying to grab something from the water by hand).
Capt. Jerry Hale: Wear a life jacket
Boat owners should always set an example by donning their life jackets before casting off and offering jackets to their crew/guests. If they choose not to wear them, they should be encouraged to put them at their feet or next to them in their seats. While most captains might feel queasy insisting adults wear life jackets, an offer of a properly fitting jacket is simply a gesture of caring.
Another tip is to do a quick check of running lights before setting out on a trip that will likely run into twilight is a good idea.
Also, even boats that don’t often pull skiers, boarders or tubers can benefit from a panoramic towing mirror. Periodic glances keep the skipper updated on traffic approaching from behind.
Capt. Randy Stow: A few crucial tips
n Colored LED party lights on boats can make it difficult for others to see navigation lights. This is an obvious hazard for both an approaching boat and the boat displaying the confusing lights.
n Depth perception at night is not very good. A white light ahead may appear far away but suddenly require a quick avoidance action. By the way, this issue typically becomes more pronounced with the age of the eyes.
n If a risk of collision exists and the boat ahead on the port side is crossing, that boat is required to alter course or speed to keep clear. The boat behind is required to maintain course and speed but keep a keen eye to confirm that the boat in front is taking adequate action.
n Try to avoid steering directly toward the sun when it is low in the sky. The glare can make it very difficult to see a boat, or person, in the water. A safer practice is to tack (i.e. steer slightly to the left or right of the desired course) where vision is better.
n When filling portable gas tanks or cans at a gas station, do not leave them in the vehicle. Place the cans on the ground to avoid the possibility of building a static charge that can result in a spark.
n Except when docking, if the boat is underway and moving, everyone aboard must be in the boat. Being outside rails or sitting on the bow, stern or gunwales is both dangerous and illegal.
n When pulling a skier or tube behind a boat, remember that the boat operator has no special navigation rights. The rules regarding “stand on” and “give way” boats still apply.
Capt. Nancy Ellett: Appoint a designated skipper
Each time a boat leaves the dock, someone should be appointed to stay sober and be responsible for the safe return of the boat and its passengers.
Capt. Rick Ellett: Keep a spotlight
Boaters should keep a high quality hand held spotlight on the boat. A spotlight is useful for finding shoal and channel markers and signaling for help. LED is the best. It is bright and low battery drain.
If using an alkaline battery powered spotlight, always keep an unopened pack of extra batteries on board. Batteries can be replaced quickly when needed. If using a rechargeable spotlight be sure it can charge on a 12 volt system or 120 volt system, and use the light while plugged into a 12 volt receptacle on the boat.
A rechargeable light will take time to recharge if the battery goes down during use. Waterproof is a plus. Most lights have high, low, and strobe settings. Some models even have USB plugs that can be used to recharge your cell phone or hand held GPS. Just google best marine handheld spotlights.