Few things are better than boating season in Florida if you love the water. And who doesn't?
Whether you're cooling off with a lazy dip, hanging with friends at a sandbar, out catching the "big one," or having an action-packed day of tubing and wakeboarding, RTI is here to ensure your boat days are both fun-filled and safe.
Boating is not without its share of pre-summer preparation. If you’re not on the ball early, it’s easy to find yourself midway through July still on dry land. Instead, RTI wants to ensure you’re first in line at the boat ramp. Here are a few tips for being ahead of the game:
- Tune it up. It’s always a good idea to have your boat winterized at the end of each season, but whether you did or didn’t get it done last year, make sure to get a full tune-up before you hit the lake this summer.
- Charge it. Make sure your battery is fully charged.
- Clear it out. If there’s a chance any bit of gas from last season is still in your tank, fill it up with fresh gas as well as a stabilizer; this will prevent buildup in the gas lines and injection system.
- Give it a test. Before you get the boat all the way into the water and off the trailer, lower your motor into the water and make sure it will turn over.
- Plug it up. Ensure your drain plug is in and the bilge pump is functioning properly.
- Double- and triple-check. The last thing you want is to be turned away at the ramp for not having an updated registration or missing your ski flag or life vests. Double check that your documents are updated and that your boat is fully stocked with everything you need.
Every summer, RTI gets calls from customers after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions.
Life Preservers: Not Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: More people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Life vests have come a long way in style. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!
Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don't let passengers "ski" or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Both Washington and Oregon made teak-surfing illegal in the last few years, after several tragic deaths. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats install devices for less than $100.
Alcohol and Boating Don't Mix. More than 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t boat and drive.
Boats Need TLC Too. When you're out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat's operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.
Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You may also be eligible to earn boat insurance discounts if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
While there are many reasons to love boating, hauling a boat on a trailer and launching it at the busy launch ramp can be challenging.
In fact, it can be downright stressful and dangerous and is often wrought with mishaps.
AVOID TRAILER DANGER.
It’s not too early to start getting your boat trailer in tip-top shape. To help make sure you can haul your boat to its destination and into the water smoothly, be sure:
- Coupler, hitch and hitch ball are of the same size
- Coupler and safety chains are safely secured to the hitch of the tow vehicle
- All fasteners are properly tightened
- Boat is securely tied down to trailer (winch line is not a tie down)
- Wheel lug nuts are properly tightened
- Wheel bearings are properly adjusted and maintained
- Load is within maximum load carrying capacity
- Tires are properly inflated
- All trailer lighting is working properly
- Trailer brakes are properly adjusted and working (if trailer is so equipped)
- Brakes and additional equipment meet all local and state requirements
Before you’re out there towing and floating your boat, take a look at your current boat and trailer insurance policies. OR - have you upgraded your boat or trailer recently? Check with your agent to be sure your coverage is adequate and that your policies are up to date and renewed. Just one accident involving a boat can result in extensive damage and serious injuries.