Marine-industry advocacy groups are joining forces to help National Safe Boating Week 2022 live up to its name—keeping boaters safe and having fun this week and developing safe operating habits to carry them through the boating season.
Information that marina staff can share with boaters this year includes:
Learn more from Discover Boating about personal flotation devices and the different types—absolutely crucial safety items that could save you and your crew—by clicking here. And check out the Watersports Safety Guide.
The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water shares reminders for boat operators about three recent U.S. Coast Guard regulation changes:
• Fire extinguishers: As of April 20, the USCG enacted a regulation allowing them to enforce fire extinguishers having a 12-year expiration date from the date of manufacture. Additionally, the regulation specifies the minimum Underwriter Laboratory (UL) classification of extinguishers to be carried aboard certain vessels—depending on the boat’s model year.
Vessels on the water today that are less than 26 feet and model year 2017 or older may continue to carry older, dated or undated “B-I” or “B-II” disposable extinguishers. However, when they are no longer serviceable or have reached 12 years of age since manufacture, they must be replaced with newer class “5-B” or greater extinguishers. Boats less than 26 feet and 2018 model year or newer must carry unexpired “5-B,” “10-B” or “20-B” fire extinguishers. Having older “B-I” and “B-II” types do not meet the new carriage requirements.
• Engine cutoff switch: As of April 1 last year, boat operators have been required to use either a helm or outboard lanyard or wireless engine cutoff switch (ECOS) on certain vessels less than 26 feet when traveling on plane or above displacement speed. These vessels include (1) boats that have a functioning engine cutoff device installed at the helm or on an outboard engine or have wireless ECOS, or (2) boats manufactured beginning January 2020.
Exceptions to the ECOS requirement include if the main helm of the vessel is in an enclosed cabin or the vessel is not operating on plane or at displacement speed. Low-speed activities such as fishing or docking do not require use of an ECOS. The vessel operator is also exempt if the boat’s motor produces less than 115 lbs. of static thrust—or about the size of a 2-horsepower engine.
• Electronic visual distress signals (eVDSD): Newer electronic visual distress signal devices (eVDSD) use either a white or combination of orange-red/cyan LED lights with infrared (for rescuers with night vision) and are now U.S. Coast Guard-approved. However, for daytime distress situations you’ll still need to carry aboard an orange distress flag to avoid carrying pyrotechnic devices. eVDSD prices start at about $100 for the white light version.
Sea Tow also offers suggestions for National Safe Boating Week:
• Have a checklist. Before leaving the dock, have a pre-departure checklist to review all critical systems (i.e.: engine check, battery levels, fuel levels, and the like.).
• Don’t solely rely on the fuel gauge. Boaters should keep a fuel log so they know how much fuel their boat uses, when they last filled up, how many hours the boat has run, and how much fuel is left.
• Follow the rule of thirds. Be sure to have enough fuel to allow for: 1/3 of fuel to head to the destination, 1/3 of fuel to head back to the dock and 1/3 of fuel “just in case.”
• Check the charts. Review the intended voyage plan and be aware of sandbars, shallow areas, channel and buoy locations, etc. so the boat doesn’t run aground, and there are no surprises.
• Carry extra lines and fenders. Both are needed when rafting up with friends or when tying up at a waterfront restaurant.
• Safety first. Boaters should inform passengers of their boat safety rules such as where life jackets are located and that they must remain seated while the boat is underway.
• Keep two anchors aboard. You never know when one might get away, so always have a spare and make sure it’s the appropriate size for the boat and where the hook will be dropped.
• When in doubt, slow down or stop. Trying to figure things out while underway can often lead to hitting something or running aground.
• Be courteous. Boaters should always watch their wake and wave when fellow boaters pass by. It’s one big community on the water, so be a good neighbor and be friendly!
Enjoy time on the water during National Boating Safety Week from May 21 to May 27.