National Safe Boating Week begins this Saturday, May 16 and continues through Friday, May 22.
This is an annual celebration of boating and a reminder of safe boating as most boat owners use the Memorial Day Weekend as the Opening Day for boating.
Boaters across the country bring their boats out for the first time after being is storage or covered with tarps, sitting dormant since last fall. So before the boats reach the ramps with family and friends looking for a fun day on the water, this week, and prior to that day is a good time to be reminded of some safety rules and preparations.
First of all the best thing to do is get your boat prepared for the water.
Get you boat out of storage and on your driveway for a dry test run. Make sure all batteries are fully charged. Water in the batteries should be checked and use distilled water to bring the levels up where needed. Also make sure that each battery is secure so they don’t move around in their compartments.
Check your lights and horn. They’re required by Coast Guard rules to be in good working order.
As odd as it may sound, make sure that little critters haven’t made your boat their winter home. This will happened on occasion and you could find chewed up life preservers, wire coating chewed off, wood damage and more. Fix and replace everything if you find a problem.
Too often boaters get to the ramp, launch their boat then find that it just won’t start. Hopefully you used a gasoline stabilizer product at the end of last season to keep the gas in the boat good. It’s a cheap insurance policy to do this every time you put your boat away for a long period of time.
If you ran your tanks dry last season, obviously fill them up with good fresh gas. Where you need to add oil to the gas, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you have an oil reservoir, check and fill to the top with fresh marine oil.
Start your motor up on your driveway at home. You can buy a pair of muffs to put on your motor’s lower unit to feed it water from a garden hose. Don’t run the motor dry. If you try to start your motor without water, turn it off immediately it if starts and leave it at that.
This is also a good time to check your prop for any dents or dings. Fix or replace it if necessary. Check for fishing line wrapped around the prop shaft. Remove any that you find. Check your lower unit oil too. This should be changed annually. If you can’t handle it yourself, take it to a marine dealer and have the work done there. They can inspect to see if you need a new water pump too.
As for the life preservers, you’re required to have one for each passenger in the boat and they should be of the size that is proper for the person wearing them. Children can’t wear adult preservers and adult must have one that’s large enough so they can zip it up or buckle it closed.
Wear life preservers at all times when the boat is in motion. It doesn’t hurt to have them on at all times.
Check the expiration dates on flares. They’re required when on big water like Lake Michigan and connecting tributaries.
When on the water, pay attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going. Be aware of other boaters and where they’re going. Always be on the look out for persons in the water. And after a big rainfall, be on the lookout for debris floating in the water. Logs and big branches could bring your boat to a dead stop and send passengers flying.
Boating is fun. And it’s even more fun when you have safety in mind and you’re prepared for a day on the water with no boat issues. Get ready during National Safe Boating Week and have a great time getting Back in the Outdoors.