PACIFIC COUNTY - Winter is upon us and boating season is not that far away. Now is the time, since most of your boats are out of the water, to check your boat and equipment. Don't wait until you are crossing the bar to find out that something you might have checked or replaced quit working and now you and your crew/passengers lives are in extreme danger.
Here are just a few tips that make a difference:
1. Check the hull for cracks or damage.
2. Make sure your drain plug is in good condition and in place.
3. Check your engine completely. Add fuel preservative to fuel and replace fuel filters.
4. Check all electrical wire and connections.
5. Check expiration of your flares and replace them as necessary.
6. Don't bolt your fire extinguishers to a wall or cabinet. Bolt the bracket only and check the charge gauge for full charge.
7. Check your steering.
8. Check propane bottles for leaks and check line for cracks. Make sure tank is turned off when not in use.
9. Keep your fuel tanks full.
10. Carry serviceable personal flotation devices (life jackets) and look into the new ones which are much more comfortable to wear. Keep personal flotation devices under cover.
11. Make sure the anchor line is tied securely to the anchor and check the condition of the line.
12. Carry oars and/or a boat hook.
13. Carry a VHF radio on or in your boat, tuned to channel 16 for help. Cell phones are great for a backup but remember, you're only talking to one person. With a VHF radio, you are talking to everyone who has their radio on.
14. Be sure to have the bar report phone number at home and on your boat. All emergency numbers should be kept on board.
15. When you go out, let someone know where you are going and your estimated time of return.
16. Check your navigation lights and sound producing devices to make sure they are working.
17. Ventilation of the engine compartment and bilge is a must.
18. Check your propeller for damage and proper fastening.
19. Make sure your pump/ pumps are working and carry a spare.
20. Make sure you follow federal, state and local regulations.
If you do all of the above, you are on your way to a safe boating trip. But to make it even safer, call for a free vessel safety check performed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in your area. Contact Donna Reynolds at 665-2336 for a free vessel inspection.
No fish is worth a life! Stay safe.
-Lawrence M. Kellis
USCG Auxiliary, Flotilla 62
Public Affairs Officer