When you are new to boating, making simple mistakes is easy. Often, boating mistakes happen because of not paying attention, being in a rush, or a combination of both. Fortunately, most of them result in nothing but a dented ego.
However, lacking to follow basic boating safety procedures can end up in fatal consequences. Small open powerboats account for more than half of all Canadian boating-related deaths, followed by canoes. It’s important to be aware of all the safety risks and procedures when operating any type of boat.
If you’re a rookie that’s planning to be out on the water this summer, take a look at these common mistakes to ensure you look like a professional and stay safe until you get back to shore.
You Didn’t Install the Boat Drain Plug Before Launching
Installing the drain plug is the first topic of boating 101, and yet, on any given weekend, there’s always a boater who will forget to follow this basic procedure. Adding to this problem is that a lot of boat models have several plugs. Thus, skipping this step usually results in a boat full of water.
In spite of how basic this might sound, it does occasionally slip the minds professionals as well. Moreover, even emergency crews make this mistake every once in a while. Therefore, never assume that the plug is in — always check.
You Didn’t Pay Out Enough Line When Anchoring
Apart from a boat that won’t move, the other most frustrating thing in boating is a boat that will not stay in one place. Stumbling upon a hot fishing spot is among the most pleasurable experiences, which can be spoiled by a boat that won’t stay put. However, anchoring correctly involves some arithmetic.
The scope, or the amount of line required to anchor the vessel, should be seven times the depth of the water during calm weather, and ten times the depth during rough sea conditions or high winds. When you do not have the correct scope, your vessel might drag the anchor and drift out to sea or into another boat.
Your Charts Aren’t Up-to-Date
To guarantee the safety of everyone on board, a smart boater always carries a chart of the waters they are traversing. At any given time, you must know where you are, what is around you, and what is under you. A chart will enable you to know how deep the water beneath you is and what lies beneath you. Without an updated and appropriate chart, you may risk getting lost or hitting a submerged object.
Fortunately, we are living in the digital age, and digital charts are now a thing that you can access on your computer or mobile device. Additionally, you can find digital charts online for nearly all coastal areas and large lakes. Nevertheless, their drawback is that if you lose your power, you will no longer have a chart. Therefore, ensure that you always have a back-up paper chart that is updated as a safety measure.
You Forget Where You are
Many boaters typically go out during the day and often depend on recognizable landmarks to guide them home. However, during the night, the script changes as these landmarks literally disappear making it impossible to know where home is.
A smart boater will make a few runs at night to get oriented with how their route looks at night. Again, this is why should always have your nautical chart with you; be prepared for all kinds of possibilities when out boating.
You could also carry a VHF-FM marine band radio with you. The Coast Guard can use your radio’s signal to locate you in case you get lost.
You Overloaded Your Boat
The most common cause of swamping, sinking, or capsizing in small and open-constructed boats is overloading. The thing about these kinds of boats is that they often have a small freeboard, even when empty. The freeboard is the distance between the waterline and the top edge of the boat. When they are loaded, the freeboard is even smaller. Because it is easy to overload a small vessel unintentionally, you run the risk of it capsizing as overloaded boats are very likely to capsize even in calm waters.
Be sure to note your vessel’s maximum loading capacity at which the boat can operate safely, and never exceed its maximum capacity. When carrying loads, keep the heavy cargo near the centre line and secure it if you can. This will ensure that it does not move around and rock the boat.
You Tied Your Fishing Line Around the Stern Drive or Prop
Inexperienced boaters might just shrug it off so long as the prop keeps rotating. Expert boaters, however, know that the line may cut into the prop seal causing oil to leak out and water to get in. The aftermath of these events can be potentially catastrophic and can be avoided by not tying the line to the prop in the first place.
Slamming the Dock
You by now that whenever you approach the dock, anyone within your vicinity will be watching you. And even though nobody wants to see you have an accident, there’s also some sort of morbid curiosity at work. Somehow, people want to see you dock like a dork and have a good laugh. Follow good docking habits and always be careful when docking; it could save you some embarrassment and unnecessary damage to your boat.
Putting Water into the Oil-Fill
This rookie boating mistake will result in serious damage that will cost a pretty penny to fix. You can avoid it simply by being aware of what you are doing, and double checking before pulling the trigger.
Boating is one of the most pleasurable activities you could indulge in during the summer. However, too often, people make rookie errors that end up in fatalities, thousands of dollars in damage, or just a bruised ego. To avoid such outcomes, apply the above boating safety procedures to ensure you have a thrilling experience.
As you prepare for your boating experience, you are probably thinking about the various places that you could take your vessel out for a spin. Fortunately, Loughborough Inn Resort in Ontario is located on the shores of the pristine Loughborough Lake. Our resort boasts of some of the hottest fishing spots in Ontario in addition to a full-service Marina, and is just a few minutes from Kingston, Ontario.