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Boating in Flooded Waters – Don’t Do It

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, June 15, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020

Boating in Flooded Waters – Don’t Do It

 

The sun is out and the weather is getting warmer making for a fantastic boating season.  However, the arrival of warmer weather also means that the chance of spring and summer storms increases which can lead to flooding. Although it may be tempting to take your boat out on your home rivers or lakes while the water is high or even go boating in an area that used to be a field or park but is now covered in water, it is imperative to stay away for your safety and the safety of others.

 

Some of the dangers that can arise when your local waterways are flooded include:

·         Submerged hazards and debris such as entire trees, fence posts, parts of buildings and other structures can be hidden beneath the water’s surface.

·         Strong currents can knock power poles and their lines and electrical equipment into the water. This can create energized areas of water where electric shock is a possibility. 

·         Faster currents make it much more challenging to operate your boat when the current is strong and rapid.

·         Markers such as buoys and beacons might be moved or damaged when an area is flooded and cannot be relied upon for safe navigation.

·         Water is still very cold this time of year even if the air temperature has started to warm up. Cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia and can lead to cold shock.

 

If you absolutely must go out on your boat when your local waterways are flooded, practice the following safety protocols:

·         Do not boat alone. Have an extra set of eyes and hands to look for submerged objects.

·         ALWAYS wear a good fitting life jacket. If you don’t have a life jacket, you can find a Life Jacket Loaner station near you at www.boatingsafety.com/map.

·         Carry a device that can be used to contact emergency personnel – such as a VHF radio, satellite phone, or personal locator beacon.

·         Bring along a lot of rope and practice your knots before heading out in case you need to use the rope to tie up your boat or to throw to someone who has fallen into the swift water. Do not enter the water to rescue anyone or anything during flooding.

 

It is important to remember that there are so many ways to have a wonderful boating experience. Going out in flood waters is incredibly risky and can cause serious harm. But remember, the best way to avoid the hazards of flood water is to stay away them.

 

Stay safe and keep boating!

Tags:  2019-20  boating in flood  boating safety  Education  flooding  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jackets  Weather 

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Anytime is a Great Time to Take a Boating Safety Course and Get Your Boating License or Certificate

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, February 7, 2020

Anytime is a Great Time to Take a Boating Safety Course and Get Your Boating License or Certificate

Many states make changes to boating laws and regulations throughout the year, so it is good to get a refresher now and then with a boating safety course. A boating safety course will make sure that you know everything you can about being a safe boater including the legal requirements before inviting friends and family out on your boat.

You should also be aware that many states are now requiring that boaters get their boating license or certificate before operating various types of boats. And the way to get a Boating  License or Certificate is by taking a boating safety course. The state laws may pertain to power boats, personal watercraft like Jet Skis or any other boats with engines. In addition, these laws may impact all boaters or just those of a certain age, so it is important to check the requirements of the state(s) where you will be boating and plan time to get your boating license or certificate, if it is needed.

You can find classroom courses that are offered locally in your area in the evenings or on weekends or you can take a class online from your home or office.  Boating Safety Courses are offered by state boating agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard AuxiliaryAmerica’s Boating Club and many other companies and organizations. Regardless of how the boating safety course is presented, the final test for your boating license or certificate will include questions on life jackets, fire safety, anchoring procedures, the Navigation Rules, emergency situations, and state-specific information that boaters should know to be safe on the water in their state. If you boat in multiple states, it may be good to take a course in each of those states to be certified and up to speed on the rules in each state.

As an added incentive to get this training, boating insurance companies frequently offer discounts to boaters who successfully complete an approved boating safety course. Check with your insurance company for a list of boating safety courses or you can visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s website to find a list of approved boating safety courses.

Tags:  2018-19  Americas Boating Club  Education  US Coast Guard Auxiliary  US Power Squadrons 

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Free Automated Radio Checks are Available Year Round

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Free Automated Radio Checks are Available Year Round

Your VHF radio is your go-to communication device on the water, so you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly before you leave the dock. As you get ready for boating season during this year’s National Safe Boating Week, consider taking advantage of Sea Tow’s free Automated Radio Check Service. You can use it to check your radio year-round!

Sea Tow provides this free service to boating communities throughout the nation. In fact, it’s available not only to Sea Tow members, but to all boaters as a public service. It helps prevent boaters from using VHF Channel 16 for radio checks, as this is the international channel designed for urgent issues and emergencies.

Instead, by providing non-urgent channels for automated checks, boaters can ensure their radios are functioning properly without clogging Channel 16.

It’s simple to ensure your radio is functioning properly through an automated check. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Turn your radio to the appropriate channel based on your community: 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, or 84.
  2. Conduct a radio check as normal.
  3. When you release the mic, the system will replay your transmission back to let you hear how you sound.

And that’s it! To find out which channel applies to your community, check out our list here.

We hope you’ll use the Sea Tow Automated Radio Check Service all year long before every boating trip. Our goal is to ensure boaters are equipped with an effective communication channel while they’re out on the water. After all, you never know when you’ll lose signal on your cell phone. Your radio is always going to be the trustworthy option and is designed specifically for communication out on the water.

In addition, we’d like to extend a special thanks to our friends at Shakespeare Marine, who help make Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check Service possible. We’re sure you already know Shakespeare as a leader for all things related to marine antennae, and we’re thankful for their commitment to help fund and support this important public service.

 

Tags:  2018-19  Automated Radio Check  Boating Safety  Education  National Safe Boating Week  Sea Tow  Sea Tow Services International  Tow Bee 

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Tips for Cleaning Life Jackets

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Updated: Monday, May 18, 2020

Tips for Cleaning Life Jackets

Spring is a great time to clean your life jackets before getting ready to use them. Sometimes life jackets get put away for the winter and haven’t had a chance to dry out completely which can cause mold or mildew to grow. And southern locations where it is hot and humid throughout most of the year may find life jackets with spots on them. While this doesn’t look very pretty, it does not mean that the life jacket needs to be thrown away. They just need a chance to be cleaned and dried completely before use.

The following tips from our friends at Onyx Outdoor can be used to clean a life jacket of mold or mildew so that it can be safely used again. Just make sure you have a couple of days of dry weather in your forecast before starting.

  1. Use water and mild soap along with a soft brush or clean cloth to scrub the areas where the stains are located.
  2. Rinse with clean water.
  3. If you still notice stains, you may need to repeat the process a few times.
  4. When the life jacket is completely clean, hang it up to dry out of direct sunlight and do not put it back in use or into a storage container until it is completely dry.

Update added May 18, 2020

The following guidelines are provided by the Life Jacket Association on how to properly disinfect life jackets from the COVID-19 Virus.

1.      Use a 60-90% alcohol spray solution and spray the life jacket including the buckles, straps and zippers.

2.      While wearing gloves, hand wash the life jackets with hot water and mild soap. Rinse with clean water.

3.      Do not use bleach or put life jackets in a washing machine.

4.      Allow life jackets to dry completely for 72 hours (3 days) before reusing. Spreading them out in the sunshine and fresh air is the best option to dry them out completely.

Tags:  2018-19  Clean Life Jackets  Cleaning life jackets  Disinfecting life jackets  Education  Life Jacket Drive  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Mildew  Mold  Sea Tow 

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4 Spring Boating Safety Tips from a Sea Tow Captain

Posted By Gail Kulp, Sunday, March 17, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

4 Spring Boating Safety Tips from a Sea Tow Captain

With boating season upon us, it’s important to review safety standards before your maiden voyage of the year. The Sea Tow Foundation sat down with Capt. Mike DeGenaro of Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor to learn some tips to help prepare boaters for the water this spring.

“As spring fever sets in, we have a lot of boaters heading out on the water. For some, it’s been over a year since their last cruise and others have been boating on lakes and smaller bodies of water out of state,” said Capt. Mike. “It’s important to make sure that they know a few safety tips to guarantee they have a much better boating experience, no matter where they splash.”

  1. Always check the weather before heading out on the water. With the touch of a button, a marine forecast can be read on a smartphone. It’s important to realize the weather can easily change in a short amount of time. “This is even more serious when you’re in a small boat,” Capt. Mike cautioned. “Small boats are easily tossed around in wind and waves and can be easily swamped. When checking the forecast, look to see if a wind or small craft advisory is posted for the afternoon and plan your boating trip accordingly.”
  1. Have a way to call for help. “Cell phones may work well on land but should not be relied on out on the water where signals can be weak or non-existent,” Capt. Mike said. “VHF radios are the best option for a boater to call for help because they work even after getting wet and rescuers can put out a call to other boaters in your area to get you help even faster.”
  1. Know the area where you are boating and know how to communicate your location. “Telling a rescuer that you can see the blinking lights of a radio tower doesn’t help them find you when there are several identical towers in the same area that can all be seen for miles in any direction,” Capt. Mike noted. “What does help is knowing which boat ramp you left from, where you were heading and which marina you recently passed. This information will help rescuers find you.” A bonus is knowing how to read your instruments to give your exact latitude and longitude. This gives a precise location to rescuers and will save a lot of time, especially in a medical emergency.
  1. Always carry a life jacket, an anchor and signal lights. Even if you don’t plan to be boating after dark, you always need to be prepared with lights and signals and your life jacket should be on as soon as you notice trouble. “Don’t let your boat drift into shallow water or be pulled out to sea by the tide,” said Capt. Mike. “Put on your life jacket, set your anchor down and use your lights to signal for help so that rescuers can find you.”

Boaters uses the Sea Tow app to determine their position.

With a few simple precautions, you can enjoy a wonderful day of boating. Knowing you have a local Sea Tow Captain standing-by also gives you added Peace of Mind on the Water ™. Following these four tips and knowing basic boating safety will ensure a proper reaction in the event a situation that requires a call for help arises.

 

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  2018-19  Education  LIfe Jacket  Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  VHF Radio  Weather 

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How to Avoid Common Boating Mistakes

Posted By Gail Kulp, Sunday, January 6, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2020

How to Avoid Common Boating Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, even the most seasoned boaters. They don't have to be the end to a great day on the water. With these tips from the Sea Tow® captains, you can be back on the water in no time!

Shifter in Neutral?
Sea Tow Captains ask the operator of a stalled boat a very simple question: Is the boat’s engine in neutral when they try to start it? “It can be something as simple as the boat being in gear or the safety lanyard not connected,” explained Capt. Ryan Bayley, owner of Sea Tow Great South Bay in Oakdale, N.Y. “With kids running around and people going back and forth on board, the shifter and the safety lanyard are often the cause of a boat not starting.”

Out of Fuel?
Boaters don’t always top off their fuel tanks—and that can lead to confusion over how much gas or diesel actually is in the tank. “The gas gauge is notoriously unreliable on a boat,” said Capt. Gary O’Reilly, owner of Sea Tow North Chesapeake out of Galena, M.D. “The gauge says half and before they know it, they are out of fuel.”

Keeping a fuel log will help you keep tabs on your boat’s fuel level. By knowing the capacity of your fuel tank, how many hours the engine has been run and the average number of gallons you burn per hour, you can get a rough idea of how much fuel is left or how many hours you may continue to run until empty. And always remember the golden rule for how much fuel you should have and how far you should go: Use 1/3 of your fuel for your trip out and 1/3 for your trip in, while keeping 1/3 in reserve for the unknown.

Be Weather-Wise
Knowing the current weather conditions and the forecast for your boating area can help you avoid problems when bad weather threatens, either by altering the float plan, bringing along extra gear, or postponing your outing. “It might be warm and calm at your port but blowing hard where you are going,” said Capt. Bayley. “Once you get everyone down to the boat, it’s harder to call off the trip. Make sure you’ve done the research on the weather so you can make a good decision in advance.”

Battery Switch Savvy
“Knowing how your battery charger works, and whether to have the switch on 1, 2 or “All” (or “Both”) is a big deal,” said Capt. O’Reilly. “A lot of people think “All” is the place to be, and then they run down their batteries and can’t start the boat.”

Boaters should start off with two fully charged batteries, then choose one of the two available battery switch positions for running, either 1 or 2. Only use the “All” or "Both" position if it is an emergency when both batteries are discharged to the point that neither of them alone will crank the engine over but two can do it together. How do you know which battery switch setting to use? One way is by alternating their use, using 1 for odd-numbered days and 2 for even-numbered days.

The Sea Tow Foundation also reminds boaters to make sure that they keep boating safe and fun for everyone by always designing a Sober Skipper before every boating trip. For more information on Sea Tow or to subscribe to their blog, please visit them at www.seatow.com.

Tags:  Education  Fuel  Sea Tow Great South Bay  Sea Tow Northern Chesapeake  Sober Skipper  Tips  Weather 

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Winter is a Great Time to Take a Boating Safety Course

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, January 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Winter is a Great Time to Take a Boating Safety Course

As the days get colder, it seems like the summer will never get here. Although your boat and gear may be stored away for the winter, you shouldn’t let your skills and knowledge get put away, too. Many states make changes to boating laws and regulations over the winter months, so it is good to get a refresher now that the New Year is here. A boating safety course will make sure that you know everything you can about being a safe boater including the legal requirements before inviting friends and family out on your boat in a few months when it warms up again.

You can find classroom courses that are offered locally in your area in the evenings or on weekends or you can take a class online from your home or office.  Courses are offered by state boating agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, America’s Boating Club and many companies and organizations. Regardless of how the course is presented, the test will include questions on life jackets, fire safety, anchoring procedures, the Navigation Rules, emergency situations, and state-specific information that boaters should know to be safe on the water in their state. If you boat in multiple states, it may be good to take a course in each of those states to be certified and up to speed on the rules in each state.

As an added incentive to get this training, boating insurance companies frequently offer discounts to boaters who successfully complete an approved boating safety course. Check with your insurance company for a list of courses or you can visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s website to find a list of approved courses.

 

Tags:  2018-19  Americas Boating Club  Boating Safety  Education  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  US Coast Guard  US Coast Guard Auxiliary  US Power Squadrons 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip! Take a Boating Safety Course

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip! Take a Boating Safety Course

Boating safety courses are a great way to brush up on your knowledge while getting a discount on your boat owner's insurance at the same time. There are many different options available when it comes to choosing a course. First, make sure that the course is approved for the state(s) in which you will do the majority of your boating.

Click here to find a list of courses

Then, you will need to decide what course format to take. If you want to take the course at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home, you can take one of the many courses offered online like the one offered by our partners at BoaterExam.com. There are also classroom-based courses which can be completed in one sitting (usually on a Saturday) or you can take the course over a series of a few days or weeks. The classroom courses may be taught by a representative from the state boating agency, the U.S. Power Squadrons, Coast Guard Auxiliary or a private company.

Tags:  Boating Safety Course  Education  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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