The Gulf Coast of Florida offers nearly perfect boating weather just about everyday.
While heading out to fish or simply to take a relaxing cruise, here are a few basic things we feel every boater needs to do before leaving the dock.
Check the weather conditions thoroughly for the full time you’ll be on the water and remember, storms can and do come from out of nowhere and can be potentially dangerous.
Make a Float Plan
Leave a completed float-plan and leave it with a friend you can trust to call the authorities if you’re overdue. A float plans specifies who is on board, what type of boat you’re in and its identifying markings, when your expected departure and return times are and where you’re planning to go. I’ve included a copy of the USCG Float Plan for your convenience.
Complete a vessel safety equipment check.
Assure that your boat has all the required Coast Guard regulated safety equipment, like a floatation device for each person on the boat and a working mobile phone or VHF radio. Remember – if you are offshore, there is no cell phone service; therefore a VHF radio is a must.
Other Items to check
- Check your fuel, oil, battery and gauges. Make sure you have plenty of fuel on board for the trip you’re taking.
- Check that you have extra lines and that your anchor is securely connected to the boat.
- Bring plenty of extra water, food and sunscreen.
- Take along up to date charts and a GPS if heading offshore.
- Make certain that your boat is NOT overloaded with people and weight. A vessel that is overloaded has a real potential to capsize or even sink.
- Follow these simple yet important safety tips, be prepared for any contingency, use your head and enjoy your time on the water.