As bass fishermen, we spend a ton of time on our boats on very familiar bodies of water as well as unfamiliar bodies of water. In either situation, it is always a good idea to be prepared for the worst.
Safety and preparedness are not something to be taken for granted. Not only are our lives on the line, but also those of our family, friends, and co-anglers. Not to mention that, come tournament day, a lot of money can be on the line.
First and foremost are the legal requirements for safe boating. There are legal requirements for items you have to have on your boat. These can be found on the California Department of Boating & Waterways website. These day-to-day items include life jackets, air horn, fire extinguisher, an oar etc. Make sure you know all of your water hazard and safety signs.
In many states other than California boating licences are required. Sites like BoaterExam.com offer boat safety tips and free study guides to help you pass the exam.
Boat Safety basics:
Next comes the other obvious and not-so-obvious items I keep on my boat. These are the things I've used over the last decade to help myself and others on the water.
- Extra set of boat and truck keys
- Phone charger
- Extra set of dry clothes for that day you go in
- Lake maps
- Jumper cables
- Basic tool kit including a volt meter
- Extra trolling motor prop and main prop
- Flash light and headlight
- Zip ties
- Duct tape
- Extra bulbs for your nav lights
- Plenty of rope
- Rain gear for warm and cold days
- Life jackets for everyone on my boat
- Basic first aid kit
- Registration and insurance info
Aside from things I keep on my boat, there are a number of things I do before I even leave to go to the lake:
I make sure I tell someone where I am going to be. I do a walk around my trailer to check lights, tie downs, and tire pressure. Once I'm on the water I (always) wear my life jacket anytime the big motor is running. Attached to that (always) is my motor cut off switch. If it is winter and I am wearing a lot of rain gear I wear my Mustang Suspenders self inflating life vest.
I don't care who you are, if you're wearing all that extra clothing and you fall into 40 degree water, swimming is not an easy thing. Suspenders are not constricting like normal foam vests and you'll barely notice you have them on after a while. As long as you are aware of what's going on all around you, you're gonna have a great day on the water.
Some personal extra things I have picked up on over the years includes keeping a check book in my boat. This has saved my butt many times as I spent my last dollar in my pocket on cheeseburger and then realized I don't have money to launch my boat.
I take my phone out of my pocket and leave it in a compartment. This keeps my phone for emergencies if I go in the drink its not wet too.
Just recently I had a bilge pump break and was not able to fix it right away. I went to the hardware store and picked up a couple PVC plumbing caps. This kept water from entering my boat until I could spend the four hours to replace it.
My personal favorite is my handsaw. I have not needed it for any emergencies, however I've been able to get into some tight backwaters with it.
These are great thing to keep on your boat, I can guarantee you or someone you know will need them eventually.
This post on boating safety was sponsored by BoatExam.com, providers of navigational safety information and test prep materials for state boating licenses.