2015 New York Safe Boating - 34
BEST BOATING PRACTICES
Getting Ready to Launch...
Once you're on the water, always keep an eye to the sky.
Watch for worsening weather conditions, like increasing or
shifting winds, or increasing or darkening clouds. If a storm is
developing, make sure that everyone is wearing a PFD. Stow
or secure all unnecessary gear and turn on the running lights.
If a storm catches you on the water, you have two choices
make for the nearest shore or try to weather the storm on
the water. The best course of action is to head for safety
on shore, if possible. If the shore is too far away and you're
forced to ride out the storm on the water, keep the boat's
bow headed into the waves and wind.
A simple checklist can help you ensure that you have all of
the proper equipment and supplies you need on board. It's a
reminder to confirm that all of your mechanical and electrical
equipment is functioning properly. It's all about minimizing
the risk. If you're well-prepared, you're more likely to have
a safe, enjoyable boating trip and you'll be ready to respond
to an emergency, breakdown, or other problem. Help is
not always readily available on the water. A good operator
should be prepared to help themselves.
Supplies and Equipment
Most bodies of water have a current, and current can affect
the way your boat handles. Current will have an impact
on most boats' ability to maintain course or speed, and
may limit maneuverability during docking or anchoring. A
current is the flow of water moving continuously in a certain
direction. A simple example is the moving water in a stream.
When moving downstream the current adds to the boat's
speed, making the shore pass by more quickly. When going
upstream, the boat's speed will be decreased by the current.
Create your own checklist taking into consideration how you
plan to spend your time on the water (such as fishing, water
skiing, cruising), the conditions you expect to face (check the
weather forecast), and the expected length of your voyage
(hours, all day, overnight). At a minimum, your list should
include all the safety equipment and back-up mechanical
equipment that your boat requires. In addition, your checklist
should include the operations you must complete before
setting out on the water:
Are the fuel tank(s) and hoses in good condition?
Do you have enough fuel? (Use the one third rule;
one third out; one third to return; and one third in
In coastal waters there are normally four tides each day.
Tides are movement of water that will affect the depth of
the water and the height of the waterline. Tides will create
currents in ocean inlets and in rivers that empty into an ocean.
The downstream flow of rivers creates a natural current.
As you approach the ocean on a river, the ocean tide can
create either a positive or negative effect on the downstream
current. Many rivers have unique changes in conditions and
unpredictable currents. If you are new to a river, check with
people who may have knowledge of any possible hazards and
the changing conditions. Keep in mind that the Hudson River
up as far as Albany and the waters in and around New York
City and Long Island Sound are subject to tides.
Is the oil level OK?
Are there any leaks apparent in the bilges?
Did you check the local marine weather forecast?
Is the electronic equipment (VHF, Radar, G.P.S., etc.)
Are the battery, lights, horn, motor, blower and bilge
pump all in good working order?
Is the propeller and/or outdrive in good condition and
free of weeds and debris?
Is the boat plug in? (Remarkably, but people forget to
Inland waters are "non-tidal," but currents can exist. Winddriven waves over an extended period of time on a lake can
create a temporary current which can be very evident when a
boater comes along side a dock or is traversing shallow water.
check the boat plug all the time!)
Is gear properly stowed and secure?
Do you have the correct number and type of PFDs
When traveling a long distance on open water you need to
be aware of the "set" and "drift" of a current. Set is the
direction the water is flowing and is measured in compass
degrees. Drift is the speed of movement of the water and
is measured in knots. Over time, if you don't take account
of the set and drift, a current will force your boat to fall off
course. You will arrive sooner or later than expected or you
may arrive someplace you didn't intend to go!
for all of your passengers? Are they serviceable and
Are all your passengers seated?
Have you informed all your passengers about basic
Make a thorough list and check it twice. If you do, you'll
have a great time on the water, and will be able to handle
most problems that may arise.