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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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Spring Break Boating Safety Tips

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, March 9, 2020

Spring Break Boating Safety Tips

Spring is here which means it is time for that epic spring break trip that you’ve had planned for months! Warm weather, sunny skies, and fun with friends or family members on the boat are just days away, but before you pack those bags and head out on your spring break trip, the Sea Tow Foundation has some tips to help you have a safe AND fun spring break trip.

1.    Take a Boating Safety Class Now. Many states or other countries require a boating license or for the boater to at least take a boating safety class before renting a boat or putting your boat in their waters. Whether you’re a new boat owner or have years of experience, you’ll pick up some pointers and boost your marine confidence as well as satisfy requirements for boaters in that particular location. Courses are offered online or in person through our friends at the USCG Auxiliary or the America’s Boating Club.

2.    Ask for Advice. Spring break trips often involve traveling to new and exciting destinations. If you are unfamiliar with the bay, lake, river or ocean you’re headed to—especially on vacation—it’s smart to talk to locals. Sea Tow captains in the area will happily share water conditions, current patterns, routes and (bonus!) wildlife watching tips.

3.    Pack the sunscreen. If you’re not used to the sun and warmer temperatures or with being outdoors for a good portion of the day, you will soon by surprised by a nasty sunburn. Put on some sunscreen and don’t forget a hat and sunglasses, too.

4.    Reserve now. If you are planning to rent a boat during spring break, make sure you’ve got the rental confirmed well in advance of your trip and reach out to the company ahead of time to see if you need to bring anything for the boat with you. They should provide you with an orientation to your rental boat as well as all of the safety equipment required. If you are taking your own boat on spring break, make sure your boat trailer is ready to roll and that you know the boat ramp locations as well as where you can park your vehicle and trailer while you’re out on the water.

5.    Once you get to your trip, follow the ABCD rule.

 

a.    Always Wear Life Jackets. Every passenger should wear a properly fitted U.S Coast Guard (USCG)-approved life jacket. And remember that adult-size life jackets aren’t meant for children. If you’ve forgotten to pack your own or need extras, you can always stop by a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station to borrow them for the day.

b.    Bring along safety gear. Emergency preparation = peace of mind. No matter the size of your boat, these are the absolute essentials to keep on board:

  •                         Marine VHF radio
  •                         First aid kit
  •                         Fire extinguisher
  •                         Tool kit
  •                         Flashlight and extra batteries
  •                         Duct tape
  •                         Bucket
  •                         Waterproof whistle or horn
  •                         Lines
  •                        Signaling mirror

c.     Check—and Recheck—the Weather. Choppy waters can’t always be predicted. If conditions aren’t favorable, don’t chance it. There are many apps and websites that help you know the conditions before you go. One of our favorite tide and weather apps can be found at Windfinder.com.

d.    Designate a Sober Skipper. Never, ever operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The wind, sun and boat vibration all contribute to increased impairment, even after a single beer. Responsible boaters carry plenty of water, non-alcoholic drinks and food on board. To learn more check out our  Sober Skipper program.

6.    Share Your Trip to Social. Did your spring break boating trip really happen if you didn’t document it? Be sure to tag us in all your photos and adventures on Instagram (@seatowfoundation) and Facebook (@SeaTowFoundation)

 

Have a fantastically fun and super safe spring break!

 

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety Course  Fire Extinguisher  Float Plan  Life Jacket  Sober Skipper  spring break  Weather 

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Visiting a boating museum can be a fun winter activity

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Visiting a boating museum can be a fun winter activity

Winter in the northern states can be a tough time of year for boaters. With the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, it is not ideal to spend time on a boat, but that doesn’t mean that all boating activities have to end. And, even in a warmer weather state, a bad weather day can still ruin plans for a boating trip. On days like that, take a trip to a local boating museum near you!

The Sea Tow Foundation staff had the chance to visit the Finger Lakes Boating Museum this winter. Located in Hammondsport, NY just a couple of hours from Buffalo, Rochester or Syracuse, this museum focuses on the education and preservation of the boating activities and boat building heritage of the Finger Lakes region.

Sea Tow Foundation's Michael Wesolowski and Gail Kulp met with Andrew Tompkins at the Finger Lakes Boating Museum.

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum has over 200 boats on display representing over 40 commercial builders who built boats in the region within the last century. The museum’s campus is the site of the former Taylor Wine Company and includes 19 buildings across 14 acres. While the museum exhibits currently occupy the main building, plans are underway to renovate and move into additional buildings over the coming years to expand the boats on display.

Andrew Tompkins, Executive Director, provided the Sea Tow Foundation with a personal tour and showed off just some of the hundreds of canoes, rowboats, inboards, runabouts and sailboats on display as well as the enormous mural on display downstairs. Andrew noted, “The Finger Lakes Boating Museum sees over 5,000 visitors each year from around the country and we also host a number of school field trips as well.”

So if being on the water is not an option because of the weather, look into visiting a local boating museum like the Sea Tow Foundation staff did this winter. You’re guaranteed to have a good time and you may even learn something!

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Tags:  Behind the Scenes  Partner Stories  Weather  Winter 

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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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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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Tow Bee Safety Tip: Check Weather Forecast Before Each Outing!

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

Tow Bee Safety Tip: Check Weather Forecast Before Each Outing!

A beautiful morning on the water can quickly turn into a windy, stormy afternoon. This is why it is important to check the weather forecast before you head out on the water. You can check the marine forecast for your area as well as access the Weather Channel on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Marine Forecasts page.

It is also important to continue checking the weather while you are out on the water. You should keep an eye out for changes in wind direction and/or wind speed. And you can also watch for the buildup of dark clouds, especially in the western sky..

If you have a VHF radio, you can tune to the weather channel frequency. Broadcasts of local and coastal marine forecasts run on a continuous cycle from the National Weather Service. Tidal information and real time observations from buoys are also included.

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For additional boating safety tips throughout the various seasons, check out our blog posts linked below:

Fall

Winter

Spring  

Summer 

Hurricane Season   

 

Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips

Tags:  National Weather Service  NOAA  Tow Bee  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  Tow Bee Safety Tips  VHF Radio  Weather 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips!

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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