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Part Eight Boating Safety

Boating Alone is Not a Solo Venture

You decide to splurge in some alone time on the water with your beautiful Sea Ray boat. It's been a great day of relaxation, and you feel reinvigorated to tackle the world. However, as you are about to head for home, you discover that you are out of gas, your oil is low or perhaps your spark plugs have given out. The sun is setting and the lake is clear of other boaters. No help is available, and you have no radio. Does anyone know you are on the water? Do they know where you are boating? If they do, help could be on its way. If they don't, it's going to be a long and potentially dangerous night.

The difference between spending a few late hours on the water and a whole night's worth is considerable, so tell a loved one or a neighbor where you're going, what you're doing, and when you'll return. It's easy and absolutely necessary for safe boating. Write down a description of your boat and the registration number. That way, if you're late getting home, someone knows to send for help. A few hours waiting for help is a lot safer than a whole night on the water alone.

The facts state that more men drown in boating-related accidents than women. Theories lend themselves to the fact that men boat alone more often and fall overboard usually for one of a couple of reasons. A man might stand up in a boat to either 1) cast or retrieve a fishing line or some other object and slip or 2) "relieve himself." Almost 50 percent of male drowning victims are recovered with an unzipped fly ¿ a humorous but deadly stat. A simple solution is to never go boating alone, but if you must, consider the following:

    • Tell someone where you plan to boat and when you plan to return

    • Wear a Coast Guard-approved PFD floating device while in the boat

    • Know where you are at all times on the boat. Don't get so caught up in the experience that you lose your place

    • If you find yourself in the water, stay calm. When submerged, clothing can provide flotation via air pockets, but panic can increase water absorption and add to your
      body weight

    • Do not thrash about or try to remove clothing or footwear

    • Keep your knees bent, float on your back and paddle slowly to safety

    • Do not drink alcohol while in the boat

    • When on a smaller boat, use an empty jug onboard "when nature calls." It's safer and much more considerate

Going the Distance

For longer cruises, you can file a float plan with your marina, yacht club or friend. A float plan includes a description of your boat, who's on board, a description of the safety equipment you are carrying, where you expect to be and when you expect to be there. When you arrive at your destination or if your plans change, contact the person keeping your float plan to avoid wasting rescue efforts. If you do not arrive or return within a reasonable time (considering weather and other potential factors), the person keeping the float plan can notify the Coast Guard or other appropriate agencies.

There is no special or official form for a float plan, but there are convenient preprinted ones available in boating supply stores and catalogs, or you can create a customized form from the U.S. Power Squadron's website. (See below.)

To download a float plan template from the U.S. Power Squadrons' website go to: www.usps.org/o_stuff/fl_plan.html.

Bibliography:

    • All Volunteer Yacht Club (AVYC)

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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