boat safety

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A boating trip should be fun, safe and hassle-free. Before heading out make sure your vessel is in good working order and properly equipped. Start with an inspection of the hull: look for cracks or other damage. If your vessel is equipped with an engine, check that the throttle is operating smoothly and is not sticking or binding. Verify that the steering is operating properly. Check the oil and fuel levels - a good rule of thumb for fuel is: one-third for the trip out, one-third for the return, and one-third as reserve. Check hoses, clamps and belts. Check the battery's charge and its fluid levels. Remember to verify that the drainage plug is in place before setting off.

What is the weather forecast?
Any local hazards or boating restrictions?
Do you have maps or charts?
Are there enough personal flotation devices of appropriate size for everyone on board?
All safety equipment in good working order?
Ample reserves of fuel for the trip or will you need to refuel?
Is your VHF radio working properly?
First aid kit, basic tools and spare parts?
Have you let someone know where you're going, when to expect you back and what your boat looks like?
Is your drainage plug in place?

Avoiding hazards
Being prepared goes beyond having your boat and equipment in tip-top shape. Check your marine charts to determine whether you will be encountering any overhead obstacles, bridges or underwater cables in the area where you will be boating. Reading marine charts with related publications such as Sailing Directions, and Tide Tables and Current Atlases will help you safely plan your trip by indicating water levels, times of low, slack and high tides, and the direction of flow.

Understanding weather and water conditions is a key aspect of boating safely. Boaters need to know how to obtain current, relevant information before they head out. They also need to know how to get updates while out on the water, which requires the knowledge and skill to use a marine radio. A receiver for continuous marine weather forecasts is also available, and it is distributed through marine supply outlets. When you get to the water, make sure the conditions you see match those predicted. Once under way, remember to "keep your eye on the sky." If the sky looks dark and cloudy and conditions are changing rapidly, head for shore (check your charts in advance to know where to seek shelter). Summer thunderstorms can strike quickly and unexpectedly. Other good indications of approaching bad weather are falling barometric pressure, increasing winds and changes in wind direction, which generally lead to increased wave action.

Light winds are winds less than 12 knots.
Moderate winds are in the range of 12-19 knots.
Strong winds are sustained wind speeds in the range of 20-33 knots.
Small craft warnings are issued when sustained wind speeds are expected in the range of 20-33 knots.
Gale force wind warnings are issued when sustained wind speeds are expected in the range of 34-47 knots
Storm force wind warnings are issued when sustained wind speeds are expected in the range of 48-63 knots.
Hurricane force wind warnings are issued when sustained wind speeds reach 64 knots or more.



Personal safety
- one personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board
- one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15 m in length
- one lifebuoy that is attached to a buoyant line of not less than 15 m in length
- reboarding device

Boat safety

- an anchor with not less than 30 m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
- one bailer
- one manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose
- the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel
- fire extinguisher

Distress Equipment

- watertight flashlight
- flares

Navigation Equipment

- sound-signalling device or a sound-signalling appliance
- navigation lights that meet the applicable standards

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