Boating is Texas is alive and well, with thousands flocking to popular beaches, bays, rivers and lakes for some world-class fishing or scenic cruising in the Lone Star State. If you’re a local or simply visiting Texas for a bit of leisure time, make sure you know these quick takeaways before hitting the water. From age requirements to education courses, these must-learn facts can help you chart your course before heading into unknown waters.
5 Considerations Before Boating in Texas
- Who to call during a boating accident? If you are involved in a boating accident that results in injury (requiring treatment beyond first aid) or death, or causes damages to property in excess of $2,000, you must report it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). You only have 48 hours to report an accident resulting in a fatality, but 30 days to report less serious accidents.
- Where can I complete my boating education? To legally operate a boat or PWC with more than 15 hp, you must first complete a boater education course, unless you were born before September 1, 1993.
- Can I drink while operating a boat? Open container laws do not apply to watercraft. However, operating a boat while intoxicated is a crime that could result in a driver license suspension, fines, or even jail time if involved in an accident while intoxicated.
- What identification do I need to carry while boating? Boaters must carry a picture identification card, as well as a boater certification card (if applicable).
- What’s the minimum age requirements for boating? Though boating in Texas can be fun for all ages, operators of vessels with more than 15 hp must be at least 13 years old. The same applies for windblown vessels of more than 14 feet.
The TPWD is a fantastic source of info for first-time boaters in Texas, so we highly suggest starting your research there if you have any questions about your next boating adventure. Texas is known as a big state, but also one that’s full of variety. Take advantage of that variety by exploring all the beautiful state has to offer, both on and off the water.
Maybe you already own a boat or perhaps you’re a brand new dabbler in the watercraft scene. Either way, you may be looking for a bit of guidance before buying a jet ski, since they and other personal watercraft (PWC) come with their own set of unique considerations to take into account. These vessels may seem a bit intimidating and can cause a bit of apprehension before diving into the specifics of ownership. Taking that into consideration, we’ve all marveled at jet skis zipping across the open water; why not explore what it takes to get in on the fun yourself?
Tips to Consider Before Buying a Jet Ski
- Do Your Homework: Like any other purchase, you should always do some research before buying a jet ski or other PWC. Though not as pricey as full vessels, there is little worse than investing in a PWC that goes unused or underused. Consider speaking to dealers, consulting with friends that own PWCs and even renting a jet ski for an afternoon to see if you like how they perform on the water.
- Utility: How many people do you plan on cruising with? Similar to motorcycles, seating is often limited on jet skis and PWCs; some can handle having up to three people, including the operator, on board.
- Don’t Forget Safety: When buying a jet ski or PWC, many forget to consider safety equipment and boating regulations. For instance, jet ski operators must have an engine cutoff switch lanyard attached to their person, as well as wear an approved personal floatation device.
- Need a Lift?: Though you may think finding a boat lift for such a small vessel as a PWC or jet ski would be a time consuming and difficult task, you’d be wrong. We offer a variety of options that are custom made for PWCs. Built with the same strength and durability as our big boy boat lifts, getting a lift you can trust shouldn’t even be a concern after buying a jet ski.
Taking a look at the numbers, PWC accidents and fatalities were lower in 2014 than they were in years past. Even so, we always recommend you always enjoy the water with safety in mind. After doing a bit of research, considering what your needs are, remembering the necessary steps to safety and finding the right lift for your prospective vessel, you may just be ready to enjoy a jet ski adventure or PWC excursion this summer.
From sweltering heat to monsoon-like downpours, The Sunshine State has weather that’s just a tad on the extreme side. That being said, your boat is bound to take a beating. How can you protect your boat from suffering while out in the elements? From boathouses to waxes, we have a few suggestions to keep your boat shipshape in Florida’s famous sunshine.
How Can I Protect My Boat From the Elements?
- Rinse and Repeat: A vital first step to keeping your boat protected is to clean up your act the right way. Wax and other protectants will not work correctly if you don’t clean your boat thoroughly. Only use boating-specific soaps, however, since some soaps may actually repel the protective waxy coat, you may apply this later.
- Wax On, Wax Off: Though not a necessary step after every boating trip, you should absolutely take the time and energy to wax your boat after washing it. Similar to the benefits of waxing your car, a thoroughly waxed boat will not only have a beautiful sheen but will also be protected from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Again, ensure that you use a boating-specific wax to ensure that you’re using the right tool for the job.
- Welcome Home: Consider utilizing a boathouse. Boathouses have been used for ages to protect boats from the elements, safely shading them from the sun and rain. With boat lifts made specifically for boathouses, your vessel can be safer than ever.
Though boating is a great way to enjoy some fun in the sun, don’t forget that that very sunshine can cause big issues for your boat’s finish. Prepare by washing your boat regularly, waxing on occasion and keeping your vessel under the cover in a boathouse. Just remember, keeping your boat clean isn’t all about looks; regularly cleaning and waxing is important for both the resale value and long-term care of your vessel.
Water, especially water with high salinity, can be a big headache to many a metal surface if not properly protected. Unfortunately, many first timers and novice boaters do not know how to prevent corrosion on their vessel, often leading to costly repairs. Others fail to see the warning signs or truly understand how corrosion begins. We take a look at this ugly and potentially costly problem in order to discover the best methods of prevention.
Two Common Types of Corrosion
Stray Current Corrosion: Coming from internally or externally, this type of rapidly corroding reaction occurs when poorly insulated wiring causes electrical currents to run through the metal of your boat to reach a ground. A galvanic isolator is a viable solution for this fashion of corrosion, though it is also important to ensure that all of your wiring is properly insulated and secure as well.
Galvanic Corrosion: If two, electrochemically different metals are submerged in an electrolyte-heavy liquid, you’re bound to find corrosion. This is most prevalent in boating when looking at parts that use both aluminum and stainless steel. Since stainless steel is more active than aluminum, you may find that your aluminum parts show signs of corrosion more quickly than the steel. To help prevent this issue, many boaters use sacrificial anodes, designed to attract this corrosion away from the important and pricey parts that would otherwise be sacrificed. Look out for paint blistering and chipping away, as well as a whitening effect on your metals.
Though there are other forms of corrosion that pose a danger to your vessel, these are the two that can be the most dangerous and destructive. Ask a boating professional for further tips on what to look for when inspecting your boat, as well as how to prevent corrosion after enjoying your time on the water. A little preparation can go a long way towards saving you big money on your boat.
For more on understanding corrosion: BoatUS.com
We all know “he’s” checking his list and checking it twice, but are you? Now that your holiday shopping is through (hopefully), and you may be fortunate enough to enjoy some time off from work, it is the perfect time to create or review your semi-annual boating checklist; an important practice even for the most experienced of boaters.
A boating checklist very easily helps you keep track of maintenance and safety measures that can be literal lifesavers on your vessel.
Semi-Annual Boating Checklist
- Corrosion: Inspect your vessel from top to bottom in order to assess if there is any sign of corrosion to the engine control linkage, gear case, engine mounts, through-hulls and more.
- Electrical: Ensure that all wiring is approved for marine use, all wires are clear from the exhaust system and that the entire electrical system is protected by fuses or circuit breakers. Also, ensure that your battery is stored in a watertight container and adequately secured.
- Fuel: When refueling, be sure to never use gasoline that’s more than 10% ethanol, which could damage your engine. Check for any gas leaks, inspecting for rust, a loose fuel tank, cracked or stiff hoses and other signs of damage. Always have a fuel shut-off valve at both the tank and engine.
- Kitchen: If you have a kitchen onboard, be sure that your stove and heating devices are all for marine use, your cabin is ventilated to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning and your shut-off valve is properly secured.
- Safety: Check guardrails for corrosion, ensure that fire extinguishers have been checked within the past year and are easily accessible in case of a fire. In addition, inspect all personal floatation devices for damage and ensure that you have an EPIRB onboard to be easily found in an emergency situation.
A full semi-annual boating checklist can be found on the Discover Boating website, along with a conveniently downloadable PDF to print and utilize. Staying on your boat’s nice list has truly never been easier. With these important six-month reminders you can ensure that both you and your boat stay safe into the new year and beyond.