The warm season is upon us once again, which means that boaters of all stripes are looking to get their boats on the water as soon as possible, rain or shine. You might be tempted to hurry this process up without planning ahead, but it’s better overall for you to take safety considerations into account and do some preparatory work before your next boating excursion, especially if it’s the first one of the season — or your maiden voyage as captain of your newly-acquired ship! As your local boat dealership, Tom-n-Jerry’s of Mount Vernon knows what it means to practice boating safely, so we’ve prepared this list of need-to-know tips.
One of the easiest ways to prepare for your boating trip is to check the weather before you go. Looking at the forecast a few days in advance and then double-checking it the day of can spare you from heading out on water, particularly the open ocean, when a storm is blowing in. Pacific Northwesterners are used to managing daily life around frequent rain, so while clouds and sprinkles aren’t a dealbreaker, you’ll want to be aware of anything serious brewing off the coast. Tides can be rough when winds pick up, too, which is especially important to consider in smaller crafts.
Before you tow your boat to the water, you should inspect it for damage that might need repairing while you’re still at home or near a dealership that can provide professional maintenance. Check the hull for cracks, look over your engine for any leaks or malfunctions and make sure your lights and navigational tools are functioning.
Another step you should take involves letting others know where you’ll be. While this may seem excessive or unnecessary, it’s a good safety precaution in case anything should happen to you out on the water. Let a friend or neighbor know where you’re boating and how long you intend to be gone so they can send help accordingly. You should also name an assistant skipper to take over your controls if you become unable to operate your boat. This person needs to know where safety equipment is stowed and how to use the boat’s controls, so take the time to teach them these things before you go. Finally, you and your passengers should know how to swim and keep yourselves afloat before heading out on the water. Your boat is not infallible and if you end up in the water, you don’t want to flounder and sink.
The most important gear for every passenger on your boat is a life jacket. Even if you won’t wear this all the time on a larger craft, they’re essential on small boats and if you’re engaging in any watersports like skiing. A throwable personal flotation device or life preserver should be on board, easily visible to all passengers. You should also carry a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, signals such as flares, a flashlight, a radio and your phone in a waterproof bag or container.
Finally, you should always follow best practices when you’re on the water, whether it’s a day fishing on the lake or operating personal watercraft along the coast. As the boat operator, you should not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before your trip. You need to remain sober to ensure that your reflexes are fast and your mind is sharp so you can react to obstacles and steer sensibly around them. Give other water users space and pass other boats to the right. Watch out for swimmers in the water and give them a wide berth. Know the ability of your boat to handle the waves and keep it from running aground in shallow waters.
In search of the perfect boat to take out for a marine adventure? Come down to our dealership today to see the new and used boats we have in stock. If your current boat needs service, we can help with that, too! Tom-n-Jerry’s serves the greater Seattle metropolitan area to the south with its convenient Mount Vernon location, including Tacoma, Washington. We’re also here for our customers coming down from the Last Frontier state of Alaska!