National Safe Boating Week 2015

National Safe Boating Week comes along at a good time of year.  Mechanical failures are common, particularly if you use your boat a lot.  Here are a few pre-launch considerations to elevate your level of play.

Have enough life jackets for the individuals on board. There are different types of life jackets for different activities. The Safe Boating Campaign is a great resource for determining if a life jacket is right for you. Children, especially, should wear life jackets at all times when on board.

Check your anchor. If your outboard breaks down you’ll need to stop your drift.  Match your anchor to your environment and use a Danforth for soft bottoms or a Navy anchor for rocky bottoms.
Anchor rode. Use the model of seven feet of anchor line for each foot of water   depth.

Have an emergency kit bag. Pack a waterproof kit bag with flares, a whistle, a mirror, PFD’s, water, extra clothing (fleece or wool keep you warm when wet), and some high-energy bars.

File a float plan. Many ramps have harbor masters who accept float plans.  If you’re using a simple ramp such as a town landing be sure that someone knows your departure time, destination, and estimated time of return.

A few options for all weather conditions. It may be a bright sunny day when you leave the dock, but a change in wind direction could result in a rapid change in weather.  Give some thought to areas that offer protection from wind, rain, or thunder/lightening.

Radio channels. While it’s fun to listen to the chatter on Channel 68, be sure to monitor your WX channel every few hours.  By keeping track of fronts moving in or changes in wind direction you’ll stay safe by staying ahead of the curve. 

Make this season one you’ll remember, and one way to do that is by staying safe when you sail. For other safety tips, take a look at our boat safely checklist

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at