Six Clean and Safe Boating Tips for the Summer

By Kara Lynn Dunn, New York Sea Grant

historic round boat discover clean and safe boating educational vessel
This historic round boat is the Discover Clean and Safe Boating educational vessel for 2016. The campaign developed by New York Sea Grant uses a different style of boat each year. Credit: Brian P. Whattam

Is it a spaceship? An amusement park ride? No, this historic seven-feet round boat is New York Sea Grant’s Discover Clean and Safe Boating vessel for 2016. The Circraft, dating to the early 1970s, helps to teach clean and safe boating tips when it appears at events including the Aug. 9-11 Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls and at the 2016 Great New York State Fair, Aug. 25-Sept. 5 in Syracuse.

“This boat catches everyone’s attention and provides us with the opportunity to talk with them about wearing a life jacket, being prepared for a sudden emergency on the water, and how they can practice clean, safe and environmentally-friendly boating on New York waters,” says David G. White, a recreation and tourism specialist with New York Sea Grant (NYSG).

There are six boating tips that will come in handy this summer for those venturing out on the water for recreation:

selecting proper life jacket
Selecting the proper life jacket for everyone onboard is a key to keeping captain and passengers safe. Credit: Brian P. Whattam

No. 1:  Wear a properly sized and approved life jacket. In New York waters, boats more than 16 feet long must have a throwable floatation device onboard. Your state or provincial regulations may differ.

No. 2: Have the proper and working equipment onboard before leaving the dock. Standard equipment includes:

  • Current navigational charts
  • A proper device to receive weather alerts
  • Working boat horn, whistles, distress flag and other means of signaling distress
  • Working vessel lights and flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Onboard fire extinguishers and flares with future expiration dates.
coast guard auxiliary
Left to right: US Coast Guard Auxiliary instructors Dale Currier and Gene Little and NYSG Recreation and Tourism Specialist David G. White show a marine SOS flag. Credit: Brian P. Whattam

No. 3: Encourage non-boaters to take Suddenly-In-Command training offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary on how to remain calm and act properly in the event of an emergency on the water.

With nearly 457,000 registered powerboats and about 300,000 non-power watercraft in New York State alone, safety education is a must both for boaters and those who enjoy boating but perhaps do not know how to operate a vessel. The New York Sea Grant’s Clean and Safe Boating campaign offers an abbreviated edition of the Suddenly-In-Command training that educates non-boaters on how to assess an emergency situation, stabilize a vessel, summon assistance, and potentially pilot the boat to shore.

Participants see various types of floatation devices and inflatable life vests, and learn basic boating terminology and how to properly signal distress with a marine SOS flag, three types of emergency flares, whistle, marine radio, and cell phone.

No. 4: Use a fuel nozzle bib and bilge sock to keep marine fuel from spilling into the water. The bib fits over the neck of a fueling hose to catch overflow and drops. The bilge sock soaks up marine fluids in a bilge compartment where oil and petroleum products can accumulate.

No. 5: Practice Clean, Drain, Dry inspection of watercraft, trailers and gear to remove aquatic invasive species and debris each time you enter and leave new water.

new york sea grant waterfront steward points out areas on boat trailer
A waterfront steward points out areas on a boat trailer that can trap aquatic debris and unwanted species that should be removed before traveling to new waters. Credit: New York Sea Grant

No. 6: Clean and safe boating tips and laws apply to non-motorized as well as motorized vessels.

new york sea grant us coast guard auxiliary state parks marine services bureau
New York Sea Grant, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and New York State Parks Marine Services Bureau personnel will be at the Aug. 9-11, 2016, Empire Farm Days event in Seneca Falls with in-water demonstrations of clean and safe boating for non-motorized vessel users. Credit. Brian P. Whattam

In August 2016, non-motorized vessels take center stage for in-water demonstrations by NYSG, US Coast Guard and US Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel, and New York State Parks Marine Services representatives at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls. The 300-acre showgrounds for the largest outdoor agricultural show in the northeastern United States includes a pond on the Rodman Lott and Sons working farm where demonstrations will include an emphasis on kayak, canoe, and paddleboard safety. Audience members represent all ages and boating experience and include a perhaps-underserved group, New York’s Mennonite community. The dates for the in-pond demos are Aug. 9, 10 and 11.

Kara Lynn Dunn is a publicist for the New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Program.

3 thoughts on “Six Clean and Safe Boating Tips for the Summer”

  1. I love being out on the water either boating or paddle boarding. Staying safe is a good thing to do when you do activities on the water. So, I like that you pointed out that you need to wear a life jacket no matter how good of a swimmer you are.

  2. My family and I have been thinking about going on a boating trip and we wanted to know some safety tips before we go. That is a great idea to make sure that the boat has proper and working equipment before we leave anywhere. We wouldn’t want to have equipment that doesn’t work if something were to happen. Thanks for the tips!

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