When on the water, you want to know someone’s got your back. Conditions can quickly change, accidents happen, and unexpected engine trouble or other unknowns can come fast. Of course, many of us prepare for the worst (and hope for the best) when we go boating but preparation can only do so much. We could all use a safety net in a worst case scenario, and that’s just what a float plan provides.
What is a Float Plan?
New boaters may not be familiar with the idea of a float plan but simply stated, it is a document that shares vital information about your planned trip. Before your trip, you can fill out this extensive form that includes specifics on your vessel, identification information, passengers and planned timelines/itinerary for your trip that could all help in your rescue, should you need it.
Once completed, this form should be left with a reliable person who will not be joining you on your trip. Let them know when you are expected to return, as well as your trip plans (locations, planned course, timetables). Update this person if your plans change, as they may mistakenly alert authorities if you are later than expected.
Why Do I Need a Float Plan?
You may look at the idea of a float plan as an unnecessary trouble, it is anything but that. As we stated at the top, there are plenty of ways even the best-planned boating trips can go south. The sheer amount of unknowns is enough to warrant this extra measure that could literally save your life in a worst-case scenario.
Not just cruisers or yachts need float plans either. Jet Skiers, kayakers, rafters, canoers and more should all prepare and share float plans as well–yes, even if the planned trip is a relatively short one.
Regardless of your vessel, the length of your planned trip or the extent of your planning, you could always use someone who has your back just in case the worst happens when you’re on the water. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this is certainly one of those times. Be safe out there, complete a float plan and we’ll see you on the water.
Whether you call them your four-legged friends, fur babies, or Fido, dogs are seen as extensions of family. As such, many boaters would love to bring their dog with them when they go boating, but are afraid of the dangers in doing so. Luckily, there are a few easily incorporated safety tips for boating with dogs that will keep your pet safe on the water.
Top Tips for Boating with Dogs
Life Jackets: Not just for humans, a well-fitting life jacket on your dog can save its life if it were to go overboard. Just like your own PFD, ensure the life jacket properly fits your dog, is a bright, easily spotted color and has a handle to help you rescue your dog, should the need arise. Once you find the right fit for your pooch, safely allow them to test out a bit of swimming to ensure they still have a full range of motion with the vest on. Even if your dog is a great swimmer, rough waters, rain or exhaustion can be real dangers for dogs without life jackets.
Fresh Water: Though boating can be fun, being out in the elements can work up a thirst in both people and pets. Make sure you have enough fresh water (and a bowl) for your dog to stay hydrated on your trip.
Get Acquainted: Some dogs can get a bit skittish in new environments–especially on a boat, with its loud noises, vibration and movement. Before starting the trip, get your dog well-acquainted with your boat, until they seem comfortable and know the general layout of the vessel. When beginning your trip, ensure your dog isn’t overly nervous or showing signs it may try to abandon ship.
Keep it Short: There is no telling how your dog will react to being on a boat for the first time, so plan on a shorter trip for their maiden voyage. If they seem to quickly get their sea legs and enjoy boating as much as you do, then you can safely begin to extend their time on the water.
Sun Protection: Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned. Try to keep your dog out of direct sunlight for too long, and be sure to apply dog-friendly sunscreen (unscented sunscreen or pet sunscreen), especially on their more exposed underbellies. Some even recommend “doggles” (yes, that’s goggles for dogs), which don’t only look cute but also protect your dog’s eyes from the harsh sun.
A Place to “Go”: When nature calls, make sure your dog has a place to “go.” So, place down pads, carpets or turf to keep their dog from relieving itself anywhere it sees fit on the deck. Also, be sure to walk your dog before disembarking to try to avoid accidents altogether.
Boating with dogs can be a lot of fun, but the above tips can help ensure your next trip is smooth sailing with your favorite furry friend. So, with your pooch properly strapped into a life jacket, equipped with doggles, protected by sunscreen, and properly hydrated (after a pre-trip bathroom break), we hope you have a great time on the water!
Boating is all about sharing experiences on the water. From the joy of taking your child fishing for the first time to a laid back Sunday spent with good friends, boat owners usually love the opportunity to share their passion. However, as generous as boaters are with sharing the joys of boating, that generosity ends right at theft. Though we hate to worry about it, boat security is definitely an important part of keeping your vessel and belongings safe.
Boat Security Systems
Just like your home or car, there are many different boat security systems worth your consideration. Depending on your specific needs, you could choose a:
Local Alarm: This system is the most traditional of security systems. Acting like you might expect a car alarm to, if the sensor is tripped, an audible alarm will sound, alerting all within earshot to the break in.
Remote Alarm: Taking the local alarm a step further, this security system will alert the boat owner remotely (via text, email or call) when the alarm is tripped.
Interactive: If even a remote alarm isn’t enough, there are boat security systems that allow you to remotely activate floodlights, kill engines or even release a deterrent gas into the cabin.
Once deciding the right line of protection for your vessel, do some research and find a model you can trust. Prices can vary widely depending on features and you definitely want to know that what you’re buying isn’t overpriced for your needs or an unreliable waste of money. Regardless of which boat security system you go with, we hope you never have to use it. However, as they say, it’s better to be safe than get your boat stolen.
For more guidance on this very subject, we highly recommend the in-depth boat security article from Boat US, which we used to gather much of the information for this blog post.
We hate to be bummers, but we have to say it: the sun? Kind of overrated. Don’t get us wrong, we love getting a nice tan and defrosting after colder winter months. However, what you don’t hear about far often enough is just how tough the sun can be on all of us who enjoy spending their days in the great outdoors. If you’ll be spending the last weeks of summer boating and basking in the sun, you need to be protected.
Best Methods of Sun Protection When Boating
Use Sunscreen, and Often: This one is a no-brainer but worth remembering. Sunscreen isn’t the only line of defense against the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays, but it’s an incredibly important one. We recommend using an SPF 50 or higher and reapplying regularly to not only avoid a nasty burn, but also protect your skin from long-term damage and cancer risks. Even some clothing isn’t enough to fully block UV rays, so we recommend getting as much coverage as possible before hitting the water.
Keep an Eye Out for Sunglasses: Since putting sunscreen on your eyes is a bad idea, your first line of optical protection is a good pair of shades. Sunglasses, especially those with polarized lenses, can both protect your eyes and give you added visibility–an important element of safe boating.
UPF-Rated Clothing: Though certain fabrics can block out UV rays better than others, clothing that is rated for its ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is designed for sun protection. Many sportswear companies provide long-sleeve, breathable shirts, neck gaiters, hats and more for those trying to take extra steps to keep from baking while on their boat.
In combination with the above three tips, staying in the shade of a canopy and enjoying a bit of time below deck can help keep you from getting extra crispy on your next boating trip. Don’t get us wrong, fun in the sun can be a great time. However, you can’t underestimate those destructive UV rays and the less-than-fun results of spending an hour or two too long in them. Stay safe, enjoy the last hurrah of summer and do what you can to stay golden instead of well-done.
When a tornado is on its way, most have the common sense to get out of its way or seek shelter. Unlike hurricanes, the warning period before a tornado strikes is minutes instead of days, leaving people little time to prep and reach safety. As boaters, as much as we fear the wrath of hurricanes, waterspouts, much more akin to quickly-developing tornadoes, are another natural threat that every boater should know about.
What You Need to Know About Waterspouts
Not Quite Tornadoes: Though they may look similar, waterspouts form over water and are usually less intense than tornadoes. That being said, waterspouts can make landfall and develop into tornadoes.
Two Types: There are two distinct varieties of waterspouts: fair-weather and tornadic. Fair-weather waterspouts are more common than the tornadic variety and far less powerful. As you may assume, fair-weather waterspouts can form without intense storms powering them. Tornadic waterspouts, however, can contain winds up to 100mph, making them as strong as an EF1 tornado. These are formed when warm waters meet cooler air and form a vortex.
Safety Suggestions: As we said before, waterspouts are pretty unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t warning signs. Keep your radio tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and keep an eye on forecasts to steer clear of any potentially dangerous storms. If you spot a funnel cloud or fully formed waterspout, navigate away from it. Though these natural wonders may be a sight to see, never forget that they can seriously damage your vessel and cause injuries. If you cannot navigate away from the vortex, get yourself and passengers below deck after taking down sails and closing hatches. Once the waterspout has passed, you may put in a mayday call if necessary.
Though the Florida Keys are the hotspot for this extreme weather phenomenon, waterspouts can occur as far north as the Great Lakes. Before you hit the water, check the weather forecast and steer clear of dangerous storms that can spawn tornadoes and waterspouts. Stay safe, watch the skies, and have a great time with the ones you love.