What To Do With ‘Down Time’?
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Gives Great Suggestions
December 15, 2012
Are you patiently waiting for the ice to thaw or the weather to warm up so you can get your boat back on the water again? Then why not use the down time productively and take a boating-safety class conducted by your local Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla or AZGFD, the local U.S. Power Squadron, or the Lake Pleasant Sailing Club?
The Coast Guard Auxiliary (as do the others above) offers numerous boating courses for the public, but you may want to go with the basic “About Boating Safely” course or the more in-depth “Boating Skills & Seamanship” course as a refresher prior to the start of your 2013 boating season.
“About Boating Safely” is an eight-hour beginner boating class designed to give you the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in many states. Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete “About Boating Safely”.
“Boating Skills & Seamanship” is a more comprehensive, multiple session program designed for both the experienced and the novice boater. The course consists of eight core-required two-hour lessons plus five elective lessons, providing up-to-date knowledge for safely handling boats in all conditions.
Downtime Also A Good Time To Check Safety Gear
Don’t arrive at a launch ramp this spring and find your on-board safety equipment missing or in need of repair. Use “downtime” to check your boat’s safety equipment and make sure it’s in top operating condition. The following safety items are essential (and required by law):
• Life jackets –one wearable Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board in good, serviceable condition, of appropriate size and type for the intended user and readily accessible.
• Throwable floatation – Boats 16 feet and longer (except kayaks and canoes) must carry one throwable device (cushions, ring buoys, etc.)
• Visual distress signals – Vessels over 16 feet must be equipped with day and night visual distress signals; vessels less than 16 feet are not required to carry day signals but must carry night signals from sunset to sunrise. Signaling devices include pyrotechnic devices (flares and smoke), orange distress flags and electric distress lights. Check if you are unsure of what devices are required for your vessel.
• Fire extinguishers – Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers are required on boats propelled by machinery mounted where they can be easily reached away from locations where a fire is likely start.
• Sound producing devices – include bells, horns, and whistles.
• Navigation lights – Vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). Check the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules, International-inland for details.