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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Review First Mate Checklist Before Leaving the Dock!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Updated: Friday, March 27, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Review First Mate Checklist Before Leaving the Dock!

Have all the First Mates aboard perform these important safety checks before your next boating outing such as: checking that everyone has a properly fitted life jacket; that everyone knows where the fire extinguishers, emergency flares, and first aid kit is kept on the boat; and to help the captain perform a radio check; and more!.
 
Click here to  the First Mate Checklist before your next boating outing!
 
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Tags:  First Mate Checklist  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Tips for Loading and Unloading Your Vessel at the Boat Ramp

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, June 13, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tips for Loading and Unloading Your Vessel at the Boat Ramp

With boating season for most of the country underway, countless boaters are already out sharing in one of America’s greatest pastimes. This can sometimes lead to lines at the boat ramp and busy waterways, which at times, can lead to problems. In light of this, we wanted to make sure our members are prepared with a few boat-ramp tips to keep in mind as they kick-off the new season.

One Sea Tow member, Randall, recently reached out to tell us about he and his family’s recent fiasco at their local boat ramp. Instead of letting it bring him down, Randall wanted to share it as a learning experience to his fellow members far and wide.

Randall and his family were finishing up a fun day of jet skiing on their local waterway. Upon returning to the ramp, he and his son-in-law were loading the jet skis back onto the trailer when peril struck.

With constantly changing conditions – whether it’s weather, water current or something else – no two boating excursions are identical. The same can be said for loading and unloading at the ramp, something Randall and his family experienced firsthand.

Randall’s son-in-law approached the ramp and got out of the vehicle as he’d been taught – engine off and emergency brake set – however, it was low tide. The ramp was wet and the algae that had accumulated throughout the summer made the surface extremely slippery. Long story short, before they knew it, the truck had slid into the water.

In light of the situation, Randall wanted to share a few tips to help boaters who might find themselves in a situation similar to his, with the hope they might come out the other side safe, sound and dry. Below are a few of his tips:

  1. “If the tide is half-to-low tide, I will lock the front axles on my four-wheel drive truck so that the front tires are mechanically locked in on drier pavement.”
    Sea Tow Says: This is a great practice to incorporate into your routine. Before backing down a ramp, note where the algae begins to accumulate and attempt to keep your vehicle off this area; you may not have the traction to recover your boat and trailer with the extra weight.  It may be necessary to wait until a higher tide, use a different lane of the ramp, or use a different ramp all together.
  2. “If my son-in-law (or someone else) is unloading or loading, we use wheel chocks and have a driver stay in the seat.”
    Sea Tow Says: It’s always a good idea to have a buddy help you load up so that someone is readily available to react if things don’t go according to plan. Wheel chocks are a great tool to prevent any sort of sliding, but only if if they are used against the wheels that are NOT on algae.
  3. “Those who are not helping load or unload should stay on land. No passengers are allowed in the truck if it’s on the ramp, just in case the vehicle does slide down.”
    Sea Tow Says: Follow in Randall’s family’s footsteps and have your friends and family wait on shore while you load up on the ramp.

In addition, we have a few tips of our own that both new boaters and those with years of experience can always practice to make sure the loading and unloading process goes as smoothly as possible.

  1. Take the time to make sure everything is ready and aligned before you start loading or unloading. Inspect the ramp’s conditions. Ensure your trailer and boat are ready to be moved. Line everything up carefully to ensure a smooth and safe process.
  2. Only back your trailer in as far as necessary. Backing it in too far may mean getting into the algae with your vehicle, as well as making it more difficult to properly seat your boat on the rollers or bunkers as you drive back up the ramp.
  3. Be aware of conditions. Make note of the tide, wind speeds and current. If you’re fighting rougher conditions, it can make it very difficult to align the vessel properly. Try handy little tips like facing the trailer ever-so-slightly downstream to make things a little easier.
  4. Make sure you’re ready for the worst. Your Sea Tow membership and a corresponding Sea Insure insurance plan can help you in case things go south.

Take the time to load and unload your boat the right way. Don’t become preoccupied with busy ramps or rushing to get home. Give yourself plenty of time and space. Take the proper care and you’ll be much more likely to have a safe and fun-filled day out on the water. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

This article has been republished by permission of Sea Tow and was published on their blog at https://www.seatow.com/BlogList/international/2019/4/Boating%20101%20Loading%20and%20Unloading%20Your%20Vessel%20at%20the%20Boat%20Ramp.  If you’d like to share your own boating story for consideration in the Sea Tow monthly newsletter, send them an email at info@seatow.com.

 

Tags:  2018-19  Boat Ramp  Sea Tow  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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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.

 

 

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Tags:  2018-19  Education  LIfe Jacket  Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  VHF Radio  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 Tips Dangers of Fire On A Boat!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips Dangers of Fire On A Boat!

One of the scariest things that can happen while you are on a boat is to see flames. A lot of people make the assumption that being surrounded by water will keep you safe because you can put out the fire using the water, but these people soon find out that they are wrong. Water should NEVER be used on a chemical or electrical fire and the majority of boat fires are caused by the burning of fuels or an electrical problem. This is when it is important to have a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Marine Type B fire extinguisher on board. In fact, any boat less than 26 feet in length is required to carry at least one Type B fire extinguisher and, as the size of the boat increases, the number and/or size of required fire extinguishers that are needed on board also increases.

It is also important to keep your fire extinguisher in a readily accessible area and to know how to use it before you have to use it. This is where the acronym P.A.S.S. can help you out: Pull pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle and Sweep from side to side. If a fire does erupt on your boat, stop the engine immediately and make sure that everyone on board is wearing a life jacket in case you have to abandon the boat. If possible, position the boat so that the fire is downwind and then use the fire extinguisher. If the fire continues to burn after using the extinguisher, place a MAYDAY call on your VHF radio and prepare to abandon ship.

Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips

 

Tags:  2016-17  Fire  Fire Extinguisher  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Keep Life Jackets on Hand!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

2016-02-09 Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Keep Life Jackets on Hand!

No matter what body of water you call home, it’s required by law to have enough life jackets on-board for each of your boat’s passengers. And, they need to be the correct size for each passenger. This means that if you have children on board, the orange horse-collar life jackets stored under your seats won’t work. First of all, you’ll need to make sure to have child-size life jackets in the correct size for each child. Secondly, you’ll also need to make sure any children under the age of 13 wear their life jackets at all times while underway as this is required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the adults to put on their life jackets, too. Comfortable options including inflatable life jackets are now available and will keep the day on the water safe. After all, 87% of people who drown every year were within reach of a life jacket, but they didn’t have time to put it on.

So, if you’re heading out with new guests, make sure you have properly-fitting life jackets for everyone. If you don’t have enough life jackets or need a specific size to fit a new guest, be sure to stop by one of our many Life Jacket Loaner Stations located at boat ramps, fuel docks and marinas all over the country and borrow one for the day at no charge!
Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips!

Tags:  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: File a Float Plan Before Each Outing!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

2016-02-09 Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: File a Float Plan Before Each Outing!

Thousands of hours and dollars are spent searching for missing boaters each year. While many of these searches are for good reason, a number of them are due to the fact that no one knew when the boaters were supposed to be back or where they were going in the first place.

Taking five minutes to fill out a float plan would have prevented many of these needless searches or allowed rescuers to narrow down the area in which they are searching. The purpose of a float plan is to explain where you plan to boat, how long you will be gone and when you plan to return as well as provide a phone number to call if you fail to return by the appointed time. Then, you give your float plan to a trusted friend staying on the shore. And, at the end of your boating trip, don't forget to call your friend to cancel your float plan and let him/her know that you made it home safely.

Click this link to US Coast Guard Float Plan Form

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Tags:  Float Plan  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Designate a Sober Skipper!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Designate a Sober Skipper!

Tow Bee wants all boaters to know that a fun day on the water shouldn’t have to end in tragedy. Did you know that alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents? Even just one drink can impair boaters, especially considering the effects from the sun, wind and movement of the boat.

Boat operators must be clear-headed and able to make quick decisions to avoid collisions while on the water. Consuming alcohol or taking drugs, even some over-the-counter or prescription medicines can decrease reaction time and the ability to think clearly.

That’s why it’s vital that every time you head out on the water, you designate a Sober Skipper to take the helm. You wouldn’t head out for a night on the town without a designated driver, so don’t leave the dock without a Sober Skipper!
Click here to learn more about becoming a Designated Skipper

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Tags:  Sober Skipper  Take the Pledge  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Dangers of Fire On A Boat!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Dangers of Fire On A Boat!

One of the scariest things that can happen while you are on a boat is to see flames. A lot of people make the assumption that being surrounded by water will keep you safe because you can put out the fire using the water, but these people soon find out that they are wrong. Water should NEVER be used on a chemical or electrical fire and the majority of boat fires are caused by the burning of fuels or an electrical problem. This is when it is important to have a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Marine Type B fire extinguisher onboard. In fact, any boat less than 26 feet in length is required to carry at least one Type B fire extinguisher and, as the size of the boat increases, the number and/or size of required fire extinguishers that are needed on board also increases.

It is also important to keep your fire extinguisher in a readily accessible area and to know how to use it before you have to use it. This is where the acronym P.A.S.S. can help you out: Pull pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle and Sweep from side to side. If a fire does erupt on your boat, stop the engine immediately and make sure that everyone on board is wearing a life jacket in case you have to abandon the boat. If possible, position the boat so that the fire is downwind and then use the fire extinguisher. If the fire continues to burn after using the extinguisher, place a MAYDAY call on your VHF radio and prepare to abandon ship.

Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips

Tags:  Fire  Fire Extinguisher  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  VHF Radio 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Choose the Right Fuel for Your Boat!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips: Choose the Right Fuel for Your Boat!

Do you ever pull up to the fuel dock and wonder to yourself what all those numbers mean? Much like your car or truck, your boat has specific needs when it comes to fuel. While your typical fuel pump at the gas station down the street has options for Regular, Mid-Grade and Premium gasoline for your car, the pump down at the local marina is a bit different.

These days, nearly all gas, whether it’s for your car, truck or boat, contains a chemical called ethanol. When mixed with gasoline, these ethanol blends help to reduce carbon emissions and limit environmental impact caused by traditional fuel. In fact, they are often sold for Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV).

The problem comes when introducing ethanol into marine engines in boats. When ethanol comes into contact with water, it will create a corrosive mix that can harm the boat’s engine, which could leave you stranded in the middle of your favorite waterway.

While some areas around the country may still have access to the ethanol-free gasoline that was the norm decades ago, most will have some sort of blend. Keeping the ethanol content at or below 10% is critical when purchasing fuel for your boat.

For example, gas sold as E15 has 15% ethanol whereas E85 is 85% ethanol, so both of these options would provide too much ethanol for your boat’s engine. E10 fuel is right at the 10% mark and would work on most gasoline boat engines, but it is important to check with your boat and engine manufacturer to be sure.

The next time you pull up to the fuel dock, remember to use either an ethanol-free gasoline or an E10 blend in your boat. Making sure you use the correct fuel will save you the headache of having to call your local Sea Tow captain for a tow when your boat’s engine stops working and it will also save you thousands of dollars to repair or replace a damaged motor.

 

Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips

Tags:  E15  E85  Ethanol  FFV  Fuel  Tow Bee  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  Tow Bee Safety Tips 

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