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Think Boating Safety – There is No Time Like The Present...

by Wayne Spivak, Branch Chief – Training Department, USCG Auxiliary


There is something that every boat owner can be doing during the down time between winterizing your boat and getting ready for the upcoming season.

Think Boating Safety!

There is no time like the present to examine the past boating season, and plan for the next. Maybe you just sold your boat, or are in the process. What type of boat and boating are you now looking forward to? How does this impact the safety of you and your passengers? Are you in need of more boating education? Do you have enough piloting and operating experience in the class of boat that you are purchasing?

Maybe you’re keeping your boat for next season, but found you had some difficulties maneuvering her, or confusion about buoys and how to read them. Again, additional boating education may solve this dilemma.

In either case, you are going to need to either check and see if your safety equipment is current (now is a good time to do this) or what type of equipment you may need to purchase.

Here’s a list of removable or portable safety equipment (I’m taking a very broad view on the word safety). While not all inclusive, it should cover the majority of the equipment you have, whether federally or state mandated or just common sense items:

  • anchor’s and anchor rodes – look for corrosion and fray;
  • batteries – discharge and service;
  • charts, other reference and/or navigational material – check to see if need to be updated;
  • coolers – clean them and look for mildew and cracks and replace, if necessary;
  • emergency rafts – service;
  • fire extinguishers – discharge;
  • first aid kits and other personal hygiene items- take inventory and replenish;
  • flares and other pyrotechnics – check for expiration;
  • foul weather gear and harnesses – check for mildew and corrosion and repair as needed;
  • lines – check for chafing and fraying;
  • LP – look for corrosion and replenish;
  • PFD’s – disintegrate, discharge and corrode;
  • PIW kits – corrode, disintegrate and repair;
  • radio’s, EPIRB’s and other electronics – look for corrosion and dead batteries;
  • rags, towels and other protective clothing – clean and replace as necessary;
  • sound producing devices – look for corrosion and replenish;
  • tool kit – look for corrosion and service;
  • weather forecasting equipment – clean, repair and adjust as necessary.

That can be a lot of gear! Use your time expeditiously and it isn’t an “insurmountable task. Remember, the last items to replace are those that have an expiration date – such as flares, and other pyrotechnics and first aid supplies.

Service your equipment, making sure it’s in the best possible shape for the next boating season and that the equipment matches the type of boat and boating habits you intend on using. Take some courses. First Aid courses, small engine repair, safe boating and navigation courses can make this great sport of ours not only more fun, but safer for you, your passengers and the other boaters that you encounter.

For more information about USCG Auxiliary safe boating courses, contact your local Flotilla via either your local Coast Guard unit or on the web at The Coast Guard can be found in your yellow pages or on the web at