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Ticks - Never a Friendly Sight
There are certain things that every boat should have
onboard before you even consider connecting the trailer to you car.
Sure, most of them are required by law. And, by the way, if you
don’t know the laws of the state into which you are bringing your boat,
spend a few minutes on the Internet to find out.) However, you will
save yourself a lot of anguish, a lot of fishing time and maybe even
a life if you and your boat are properly equipped.
Because once you are out on the water,
it is too late to discover that a very important item is missing. This
applies whether you are taking that old beat up “John” boat to a farm
pond or that brand new Lund to the backwoods of Minnesota.
Click on any of the product photos to
learn more about them.
Law requires that you have a PFD (Personal
Flotation Device) for every passenger onboard. Unfortunately, it
is not required that you actually wear the device. To me, PFD’s
– otherwise known as flotation vests or life jackets – are like
seatbelts: they can’t really help if you don’t wear them. I have
seen so many boaters heading out onto the lake at full throttle
without a life jacket on and sometimes in very rough water. Do you
think it’s not fashionable to wear one? Ask yourself a few questions.
“Can I still swim as well as I used to?” “What about the other people
in the boat?” “Do their lives matter?” I have one basic, simple
rule on my boat: If we are under way, the life jacket is worn. Otherwise,
the boat doesn’t leave the dock. Type III Devices are best and are
relatively inexpensive. Get enough for everyone… and make sure they
get used! You’ll also need a throwable cushion on board that can
be used as a life preserver.
Signaling Devices: All boats less than
12 meters in length must carry an efficient sound-producing
device that can be heard for one-half mile. Most often these are
whistles or horns. It’s probably a good idea to have one of each.
An air or electric horn is of no use if it doesn’t work. Purchase
a whistle… just in case. They are extremely inexpensive.
And even though most recreational boats are required to be equipped
with visual distress signals, I suggest every boat have one.
Know where it is located. A simple and inexpensive flare or signal
rocket may never get used, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
extinguisher: Most people may not think that this item
is very important. But what if a campfire gets out of hand
and you don't have a bucket handy to get water from the lake?
And engine fires are not all that uncommon either. Besides,
U.S. Coast Guard requirements include a working fire extinguisher
on most boats, so you might as well make sure that yours is handy.
Emergency Lighting/Beacon: Many people are
now buying bigger and bigger boats that come equipped with more
bells, whistles and gadgets than the average “fully loaded” Cadillac.)
But there are still those with older, smaller boats that don’t have
all the frills. At the very least, keep a strong flashlight, spotlight
that can be connected to a trolling motor battery or flashing beacon…
again, just in case.
At the very least, make sure that
you have sufficient rope to effectively moor or “tie up” your boat.
I also suggest that you have about 25 – 30 feet of strong nylon
rope stowed on board. It comes in handy for simple things like tent
lines (if you are camping) or getting towed (ever run out of gas?)
or towing someone else. But it’s also helpful in any number of emergencies.
Cell Phone: It used to be that most small
craft operators used to depend solely on marine-band radios for
communication with shore. Now that cell phones are something virtually
everyone has, it is a good idea to take yours with you on the boat.
There are very few places that do not have access to a cell tower
and the rage is obviously far greater than a radio. Waterproof lock-boxes
are available from most suppliers of marine/boating products. It
may seem a bit ostentatious to have a cell phone with you while
fishing, but you take it everywhere else. You may as well take advantage
of the available technology. Besides, you don’t have to have the
thing turned on all the time!
First Aid Kit: Finally – and perhaps most
importantly – have a first aid kit on your boat with basic supplies
like antiseptic, gauze, tape, band-aids and antihistamines. (You
never know how allergic to things like stinging insects you are
until you are far, far from home with no doctor close by.) And it
certainly wouldn’t hurt to do a little reading on Basic First Aid,
or how to remove an embedded fish hook or stop heavy bleeding.
It is extremely important that both you and your boat
are prepared to be on the water while away from home, often in a strange,
new environment. To make doubly sure that you have the basic requirements,
http://www.boatsafe.com/. We all take many things for granted.
Make sure that you and your passenger’s safety isn’t one of those. The
items on the list above won’t take up much space in your boat. They
could make your trip far safer and more enjoyable. Happy boating. I’ll
see you … On the Lake.