Chapter 3 X Vessel Operation
Choose your boat carefully You should select a boat by how you plan to use it. For example, a flat bottomed boat is not safe on the ocean, and boats with a deep vee hull will have difficulty navigating in shallow water. Choose a boat according to:
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You can receive a free, vessel safety check without risk or obligation. Specially trained members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons provide this service for recreational boats.
The intended boating activities or special purposes. The bodies of water where you’ll operate the boat. Your skill level.
Powerboats come in many types. Utility or jon boats are widely used for fishing and hunting in protected waters. Runabouts are commonly used for fishing, water skiing and cruising. Cruisers offer more room and special features, such as cuddy cabins, berths, heads and galleys. Personal watercraft (PWC) are for recreation or light duty. Before leaving the dock, start the engine while you review your pre-departure checklist of your boat and its safety gear. This will give the engine time to warm up. Check the weather reports. Look for any threatening clouds such as thunderheads or approaching fronts. Check the boat, engine and fuel lines for leaks. Check the battery, motor and propeller to make sure they work properly. Check the fire extinguishers, ventilation system and other safety equipment to make sure all of them are working properly. Check the oil and fuel levels. Plan on using no more than one-third of the fuel to reach your destination. To be safe, use one-third of the fuel going out, one-third to return and keep one-third as a reserve. Check the first aid kit and all safety equipment including life jackets, and engine cut-off switch (ECOS). Check the anchor and line. Check the radio to make sure it’s working. Check for your backup power source (oars, paddles, or a motor) and bailing equipment. Check that your float plan is filed with the local marina and a friend or relative. Remember to notify them when you return. If the trip is taking you offshore or to a remote region: Take along tools and spare engine parts. Useful tools include wrenches, screwdrivers, duct tape, a hammer and vise grips. Spare parts include spark plugs, a fuel pump, fuel filter for diesel engines, lubricant, sheer pins and drive belts. Have a back-up VHF radio and/or a cellular phone. Bring foul-weather clothing and survival suits in cold-water regions.
When weather reports indicate the possibility of thunderstorms, be on the lookout for the formation of cumulus clouds growing larger—the first indicator of an approaching storm.
WEBSITE For more information about courtesy vessel examinations, visit: www. safetyseal .net
California Course for Safe Boating
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